COMMUNITY UPDATE: January 2012

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STATE HOUSE
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The General Assembly reconvened last Tuesday for our final year of the 119th session. As you can imagine, there hasn’t been much debate on the House floor because our calendar was cleared when we left last summer and much legislation lies in our committees. Any pending legislation will “die” if does not become law before we adjourn this summer. Our sessions run every two years (as do House members terms) but this year you will also see all 46 Senators up for consideration at the ballot box just like all 124 House members. (Senators serve 4 year terms)

The House passed several bills last year that currently reside in the Senate and we hope our colleagues will consider those bills this year before session ends. In the meantime, my House colleagues will primarily focus on tax reform, pension reform, and of course the annual budget which is expected to have an additional $700M+ in revenues to be allocated.

Many members of our community have already been emailing me and speaking with me regarding those upcoming debates listed above. I hope you’ll also share your opinions with me as well. In addition to contacing me here through the website or calling/visiting me in my State House Office, you can speak with me anytime around town or at my constituent service nights. This year I may try something different to provide more people a chance to participate in constituent service nights. I am considering “tele-townhalls” which allow you to stay in the comfort of your kitchen or den and hear from me and ask questions right over your phone. More details to come.

Personally, I will ask my colleagues to support bills I have filed previously dealing with term-limits , healthcare and property tax relief.

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YOUR MONEY
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For the past several months, I have served on the SC House GOP Tax Study Committee and can share with you that soon we’ll share our proposals and plan for debate and hopeful passage this year with more items passed in the coming years.

First and foremost will be the elimination of more than half the current sales-tax exemptions that several question the real need to our citizens. Unlike proposals and political sound bites of “eliminate all of them”, our intent is to still keep the ones most would feel are not “special interest”. Exemptions like gas, groceries, electricity, etc. With the removal of a majority of exemptions it’s our hope to reduce other areas of taxation to provide relief to citizens, small business, and also lead to further job creation in state.

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COMMUNITY
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Anytime I learn of a national figure visiting our community, I like to pass that information along. Tomorrow, my candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, will visit our community again and I hope you’ll join Representative Huggins and me there at Seven Oaks Park. The rally starts at 7:15 pm but please get there early and RSVP to let us know you’re coming (803-575-0698)

Congratulations to recently elected new Mayor of Irmo, Hardy King ! Hardy won a spirited contest and has worked tirelessly for the town since first being elected a councilman in 2005. Hardy’s election leaves a vacancy on Irmo Town Council. There will be a special election on March 6, 2012 to fill the vacant Council seat and complete the unexpired term (ending November 30, 2013). Former Councilwoman Kathy Condom and political newcomer Josh Smith are running to fill that vacancy

What’s going on around town?
A neighbor (Karen Owens) recently started Chapin Chatter and I encourage you to check it out to stay informed of recent announcements, local businesses, and learn more about our community and neighbors!

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OUR SCHOOLS
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Last month, a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony was held at Chapin High School. While largely ceremonial, the Chapin community looked forward to the event for many months. Parents, students, teachers, staff, and community leaders attended the celebration. A construction contract was recently awarded that will add new classrooms, increase the school’s capacity to 1,700 students, and modernize and expand other existing spaces. In addition, changes will be made on the school campus that will improve parking and traffic flow.

Twenty-three teachers in Lexington-Richland Five recently earned the distinction of becoming National Board Certified Teachers. They join the 333 teachers in the district who previously received national certification, taking the district’s total to 356. The National Board process defines the knowledge, skills and accomplishments that symbolize teaching excellence. It was created so teachers, like professionals in other fields, can achieve distinction by demonstrating through a demanding performance assessment they meet high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do. To see the names of these teachers, visit the district’s website.

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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