COMMUNITY UPDATE: November 2011

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STATE HOUSE
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We’re less than two months from the start of the 2nd legislative session of the 119th General Assembly and both the House and Senate have been working the past few months on several items we hope to address when we return.

Each House member can prefile legislation on November 29th and again on December 6th in preparation of the January session. The past few months, I have been working with constituents and others throughout the state and plan to file additional legislation primarily focused on taxation and our senior citizens/healthcare. Last year, I again saw legislation I filed become law ; but still have several bills pending that I will also work on this session.

If you haven’t yet shared your ideas or suggestions on how we can improve state government or the quality of life for our citizens, please be sure to reach out to me quickly.

For those that follow state government closely, you’ve already noticed the new State House Website . If you have not, be sure to visit and become acquainted with the new design. Just like last year, the upgrades were made to help keep you more informed!

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YOUR MONEY
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I’ve mentioned on Nathan’s News before that I serve on the House GOP Tax Study Committee and that is one of the main things we’re working on in the House for 2012. We continue to have meetings and hope to have legislation prepared by January to revisit our tax structure.

While I (and many) had hoped for “comprehensive tax reform” during this upcoming session, we have all been reminded that Rome wasn’t built in a day . In order to reform this correctly it will take several steps so that we don’t find ourselves/our state in situations where unintended consequences actually impede the overall goal of the reform.

In addition to reviewing the millions (billions) in sales tax exemptions, we are open to the possibilities of eliminating the corporate income tax, reducing corporate property tax, finding a solution to the disparity in 6% v 4% property tax rates as well as possibly flattening the personal income tax brackets.

Of course, we also have the state budget to craft and have been working on that as well. This year, revenues are expected to be higher than first thought. It will be interesting to see what priorities the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office has for the new additional funds. There are several possibilities ranging from restoring cuts to agencies, payments towards our pension liability, refunds to taxpayers or a combination of those items.

As you know, the House takes up the budget first and then sends to the Senate. Be sure to share your ideas sooner rather than later. Once the budget comes to the floor of each body, amendments are very difficult to approve and have any substantive change.

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COMMUNITY
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Town of Irmo Elections: Voters recently elected councilman Hardy King as Mayor after current Mayor John Gibbons announced his retirement. In addition to the mayor’s election, the town re-elected Harvey Hoots to another term on council and returned Paul Younginer (former councilman) back to office. Congratulations to these individuals and to all that offered their service.

Irmo Chamber: tonight is the 16th Annual Chuck Larsen Silent & Live Auction. I hope to see you there!

Chapin Chamber of Commerce: Friday is the annual Awards Gala & Auction celebrating 20 years in the community!

Irmo Community Prayer Breakfast another huge success! Representative Huggins and I again thank the sponsors and guests who made this 6th annual event a wonderful start to the day several weeks ago! Next year, we’re back at Riverland Hills Baptist and we hope you’ll join us (always the Thursday morning before the Okra Strut).

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OUR SCHOOLS
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Chapin High bid approved: The bid for the renovation and expansion of Chapin High School was approved Monday night with a vote of 6-1, but not without opposition from those questioning the school’s student capacity.

District Five receives “Excellent” Ratings: Lexington-Richland Five remains at the top of the state in terms of academic performance, based on annual school and district Report Card ratings for 2011, which were released by the South Carolina Department of Education. Sixteen schools in Lexington-Richland Five received an Absolute rating of Excellent or Good. All schools maintained their Absolute ratings from last year or improved them. Each high school and middle school in the district received Excellent Absolute ratings. Twelve schools received an Excellent rating on both Absolute and Growth. Those schools include Ballentine Elementary, Chapin Elementary, Irmo Elementary, Lake Murray Elementary, Nursery Road Elementary, Oak Pointe Elementary, River Springs Elementary, Chapin Middle, CrossRoads Middle, Dutch Fork Middle, Irmo Middle and Dutch Fork High. The district as a whole earned an Absolute rating of Excellent and a Growth rating of Good.

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THANK YOU
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Thanks again for the privilege you give me to represent the Irmo/Chapin/Ballentine/Dutch Fork community! If you have events or people you’d like me to share with our community right here 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!

Nathan Ballentine
www.nathansnews.com
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29201