COMMUNITY UPDATE: February 2012

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STATE HOUSE
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Less than a month into session and we’re starting to see bills move from the subcommittee and committee level onto the House floor. It should be noted that 14 bills from last year’s SC GOP House Agenda were passed by the SC House and still rest in the Senate awaiting passage.

While we await Senate passage of those bills, we’re currently working on pension reform, tax reform, the state budget, and other bills to improve our business climate and hopefully enable continued job creation and job announcements for our citizens. A very important piece to getting our unemployed citizens back to work is improving the coordination between our state’s job training entities and job placement in our state.

As you have read before, this is the last year of the two-year session and it’s important that legislation be debated and voted upon before we adjourn in June. Legislation that does not pass both House and Senate will die and work must start again for next year. Please be sure to let me (or your House member, Senator) know what issues are most important to you so that we can work for passage quickly.

To follow what the House passed each week, be sure to visit the Weekly Rewinds that I post here on Nathan’s News ( Week of 31st , Week of 24th ).

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YOUR MONEY
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The House Ways and Means Committee has been receiving testimony and debate as they begin to craft the first draft of our state’s budget. While I’m not a member of that committee, I do want to share that there have been discussions to give our state employee’s a raise this year. I support some level of increase and have shared that with my colleagues who serve on the committee.

There will also be debate on how best to spend (or I prefer to say “invest”) the additional revenue that has been projected for the upcoming budget. Again, it’s important for you to share your thoughts. I certainly do not want us to grow government back to the $7 billion general fund size we had a few years ago. At the same time, there are critical areas that could use additional revenue that ultimately lead to savings down the road. In addition, we must address our long-term liabilities in the pension program(s).

There are no easy answers and, this being an election year for House and Senate; you can expect several “gotcha amendments” during the full floor debate in March. Example: amendment to move money from “kids” to “law enforcement” (or vice versa). Whichever you pick, political consultants will be sure to highlight that vote in the most unflattering manner. Welcome to politics in SC though.

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COMMUNITY
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2012 Irmo Chamber of Commerce Award Winners : Special congratulations to those community members who were recognized last night at the annual Irmo Chamber Gala. (Click link for award winners, gala committee members and Board of Directors)

Irmo Chamber Member’s Meeting: Wednesday, February 8th, 2012 11:30am – 1:00pm St. Andrews Presbyterian Church 6952 St. Andrews Road, Irmo

Chapin Chamber Members’ Meeting: Tuesday, February 21st, 12 – 1 p.m. at Crooked Creek Park. Sponsored by: Lexington Medical Center. Catered by: Kelly’s Cuisine. RSVP required. Chamber Members Free / Guests $10. NOTE THE MEETING IS A LUNCHEON and not the usual breakfast!

Meet your neighbor: Please be sure to email me news of accomplishments of your friends and neighbors in the community! Previously I would regularly update everyone of people I knew around town who were doing great things right here in Irmo, Chapin. I’m willing to help promote their work/cause and simply need you to let me know what’s going on!

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OUR SCHOOLS
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A few weeks ago, Representatives Huggins, McLeod and I joined Senator Cromer for a breakfast meeting with most of our School Board members and administration. As always, this is a great opportunity for interaction on educational issues important to our state and more importantly, our local district. There are certainly challenges at both the state level and local level when it comes to education; but our delegation usually works in tandem -most times we’re fortunate that votes we cast that help support the entire state or entire education of our school children also help our local district. Sometimes that may not always be seen as the case (school choice, for example) but open conversations between state and local officials can help correct any misinformation. Fortunately most understand the larger role of a state legislator and that , while “only” 30,000 people can vote for each representative (or 100,000 people vote for Senator), state officials are charged with representing the best interests of the over 4 million citizens in our state.

2nd Annual Walk Across the Dam: I hope you’ll join my family next month! The District 5 Foundation for Educational Excellence, School District 5 of Lexington and Richland Counties, the Community Roundtable and Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission have partnered to offer the second annual Battle on the Dam. The event will be held on Saturday, March 3 beginning at the Irmo side of the Lake Murray Dam. The focus of the event is to encourage active lifestyles for students and the Lexington-Richland Five community. The walk starts on the Irmo side of the Lake Murray Dam and finishes on the Lexington side, where vendors will have tables offering information about their goods and services. For more information, visit the website.

Dr. Hefner to speak to Ballentine Dutch Fork Civic Association : The February meeting of the BDFCA will have a special speaker, Superintendent Dr. Hefner. If you’ve never been to the BDFCA, or if you’ve never heard Dr. Hefner, please try to attend. Monday, February 6th, 7pm at Ballentine Park

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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