COMMUNITY UPDATE: August 2010

Where has the summer gone? Hopefully you and your family have been able to get away for the weekend or longer and head to the beach for some quality time together! Karen, the kids and I have enjoyed our summer and also enjoyed meeting many new neighbors after our move to Lakeside at Ballentine last month. For years we’ve been in the 29063 zip code and now we’re just down the road in 29036. Our home phone number is still the same, so call anytime!

*** STATE HOUSE ***

Every two years, all 124 members of the SC House of Representatives are up for re-election. (Note: Senators serve four-year terms and will not be on the ballot until 2012). This year there were 9 House Republicans and 2 House Democrats that did not run for re-election to the House. That meant heading into the June primaries the SC House would see at least 11 new members when we return next year. After the primaries and runoffs, we saw 5 incumbent House Members lose their election to challengers. That increased the number of new members in the House next year to at least 16 with the possibility of more should one party gain/lose current seats. Presently the SC House is 73 Republicans and 51 Democrats.

South Carolinians also know the nominees chosen by both parties for statewide Constitutional Offices, the US House and a US Senate seat this year. As I shared 11 months ago (yes, campaigns start the far in advance), it seems this season has been politics as usual on the campaign trail . Hopefully, the general elections will focus on the issues and allow voters to determine who can best improve state government and who will best represent the voters’ voice. Otherwise, it’s our citizens who miss out by becoming disengaged and either not voting or voting strictly off what the hired-guns (political consultants) want you to focus on: which rarely are the issues that matter most.

If you’re not registred to vote, haven’t voted in the past, or have moved since the last election…contact your local Election Commission and be sure you’re prepared to have your voice heard on November 2nd.

For a brief recap of this year’s legislative sesion, watch this video with me and Representative Anton Gunn (D-Richland) or read this post from last week: 2010 General Assembly Major Issues.

*** YOUR MONEY ***

Starting 12:01 am August 6 and ending a midnight, August 8, you’ll be able to enjoy another Tax Free Weekend. The concept originally began with the intention of focusing on “Back to School” items; however, that definition is much broader than people think.

Piggy-backing off that topic, I’d like to share with you that in a few months the Tax Realignment Commission is scheduled to present their proposal to the SC General Assembly. As you’ll see from that link, I am hoping that “politics” can at least stay out of those discussions until this committee can give us THEIR opinion on how we should reform our tax structure. Obviously, once we elected officials start debate, we’ll quickly inject politics; but shouldn’t we at least have as “unbiased” proposal as possible to begin our discussion?

Constituents in House District 71 will have several opportunities in the month’s ahead to share their opinions on these proposed changes (and other topics) at one of my constituent service nights throughout the district. For some “grass roots” advice on how best to connect with your representative or Senator, here’s a post I wrote last year: An Engaged Constituency.

*** COMMUNITY***

Greater Irmo Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon is Wednesday, August 11th from 11:45 am to 1pm at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church. Cost $7. Speaker Simon Whitely of LifeNet SC.

Greater Chapin Chamber of Commerce SIZZLING HOT AUGUST AFTER-HOURS Tuesday, August 17, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. At The Tipsy Toad on Beaufort Street Free Admission & Food / Cash Bar with Drink Specials Lots of Great Door Prizes!

216 upscale housing development at Lake Murray Marina? A few years back proposals were floated but ultimately nothing began. Now? Could be closer to happening than you think . Contact our local county councilman, Bill Malinowski , with any questions/comments and stay informed by attending the Ballentine-Dutch Fork Civic Association meetings.

I know it’s pnly August but the next few items I mention below are important enough in our community that I wanted to give you advance notice so you can get involved and make plans to participate!

The 5th Annual Irmo Community Prayer Breakfast will be next month, Thursday morning September 23rd at 7:30 at First Baptist Church of Irmo. Once again, Representative Huggins and I will be relying on generous members/corporations in the community to sponsor the event . We’re hoping this event continues to grow as it’s done every year. Check back to Nathan’s News in the next few weeks for more information. For the past four years, this event has been the unofficial kickoff to The Okra Strut. If you would be willing to help sponsor the event again, or for the first time, please contact me via Nathan’s News and I will get you the information to consider.

Before The Okra Strut though, it’s the Chapin Labor Day Festival (September 4-6) . I always look forward to the Labor Day Parade and learned years ago…I better not run out of candy for the kids!

*** SCHOOLS ***

The school year starts August 19th for Lexington/Richland School District Five! To learn more about your child’s school, visit the district web page or stop by one of the many Open House/Orientations that will be held in the near future.

If you’re interested in serving on the Board of Trustees (a/k/a School Board), filing for those offices begin at noon on August 2 and closes two weeks later at noon on August 16. Four of the seven seats will be up for re-election. Two seats in Richland County and Two seats in Lexington County. Prospective candidates can contact the County Election Commissions for more details: Richland 576-2200, Lexington 785-8361.

New Football Coaches: The Silver Foxes (Dutch Fork) take to the field under the direction of new head coach, Tom Knotts. Meanwhile, the Eagles (Chapin), will have Justin Gentry lead the team into the 2010 season. I hope to be able to again catch a game or two this season and see the excitement both coaches bring to their program.

** THANK YOU **

Thanks again for the privilege to return to Columbia and represent the Irmo/Chapin/Ballentine/Dutch Fork community! If you have events or people you’d like me to share with the community through Nathan’s News, please let me know and I’ll do my best to help!

I’m always eager to spend time with you at your Homeowners Association Meetings, Churches, and other civic events in the community! Let me know dates and times and I’ll work to be there!

During the summer and fall months, please contact me here through Nathan’s News anytime
I can help!

Nathan Ballentine
www.nathansnews.com
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29221