COMMUNITY UPDATE: July 2013

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STATE HOUSE
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After narrowly passing the budget in the House (54-52) earlier in June, the House and Senate returned last week to vote (override/sustain) 81 gubernatorial budget vetoes. That is usually the last bit of work we do for the year; therefore after we voted on the vetoes, we adjourned this 1st regular session of the 120th General Assembly.

We will return Tuesday, January 14, 2014 to finish the last year of our two-year session.

As I wrote earlier on the website, no budget is ever perfect . Almost every member has something in the budget he/she doesn’t like and the gubernatorial vetoes are the last chance for us to have impact on the state’s spending priorities. In the years I’ve served, it seems we have sustained more vetoes this year than in years past. A good sign that some things can slowly change in Columbia.

In the coming weeks, I’ll update you on major legislation that became law this year and other legislation that fell short. All bills are “alive” until next year’s session ends so while it’s frustrating important items like Ethics Reform and Department of Adminsitration have not passed both chambers, I do expect them to be debated next year in hopes for passage of the best possible legislation the House, Senate and Governor can agree upon.

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YOUR MONEY
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I’m tired of having to write about the Richland Election Fiasco; but feel a duty to keep everyone informed – especially since local taxpayers are paying $100,000 for the mess (not counting our share of the one-billion dollar tax increase that passed in November – after failing the previous time it was on the ballot).

Hopefully, the billion dollars will be spent wisely and with the most impact for our citizens and business community. Frankly, there are only a few items on the list that are in our area and I will work to see those come to fruition ( the intersection at Kennerly Road and Coogler Road being one of the most needed for safety ).

Every time I see the video of hundreds of you waiting in line , it bothers me more and more how our local Elections Office totally mismanaged the process. I have continued since then to offer solutions and keep voters informed so that future fiascos can be avoided.

Earlier this year, you may recall that the House passed my bill to reduce our precinct sizes in our House District . In the last few weeks of this session, other Richland colleagues wanted their precinct sizes reduced as well, and so we joined together on one county-wide bill that has now become law . With the recent Supreme Court ruling that South Carolina no longer has to get any changes “blessed by Washington”, look for your new voter registration information in early 2014. I will also work with the local Election Office to find additional voting places for these precincts OR may have voting precincts share a facility (example: one precinct votes in cafeteria of school, while another votes in the gymnasium). Obviously, having less people vote at each location (gym, cafeteria, etc) should help reduce the wait times…as well as having an Election Office send the appropriate number of machines out to the voters this time.

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COMMUNITY
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This year’s COMMUNITY COOKOUT is set for August 13th again at the Quarterdeck/Rusty Anchor from 6pm to 7:30 pm. Ever since I was elected, I’ve worked to bring national, state, and local elected officials together for our community to meet and talk with in a casual setting. Be sure to RSVP for this year’s event. BBQ and drinks will be served and music will be provided by Jim LeBlanc! Bring the whole family!

By now, you’ve probably heard about the “Wendover Project” that is applying for tax-credit, low-income housing in the Ballentine area. I will continue to keep you informed and have been working with other elected officials, community leaders, and concerned neighbors to be sure your feedback is heard at the SC State Housing Authority. For the latest update here on my website click here . I believe by the end of the month we will know for sure if tax credits were awarded to the project or not.

Two weeks ago, The Greater Irmo Chamber of Commerce announced their board members for the 2013-2014 year. If you’d like to meet them and other chamber members, plan on attending the next Membership Meeting,Wednesday, July 10th, 11:30 a.m. St. Andrews Presbyterian or signing up for the 2013 Purple Martin Cruise (with Palmetto Health Parkridge and the Spirit of Lake Murray). This annual summer event is set for Monday, July 29th and will set sail at 7:00pm.

The Greater Chapin Chamber of Commerce has their Monthly Membership After Hours & New Member Reception July 16th at Ava’s Copper Pot Bistro from 5:30 – 7:30 pm . They will be welcoming all the new members who have joined the Chamber since last summer so this will be a great opportunity to meet them and learn about their products or services!

Turning to other organizational meetings in the area this month: the Ballentine-Dutch Fork Civic Association has no meetings during the summer.

MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR : Please be sure to email me news of accomplishments of your friends and neighbors in the community! Recent neighbors I’m proud to share with you are: Miriam Atria and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. I try to regularly update the website with people around town who are doing great things right here in Ballentine, Irmo, Chapin and White Rock. 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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As I watched 2 of our 3 high schools’ commencement ceremonies, I was again reminded of how good we have it in Lexington/Richland Five. (Missed Irmo’s due to work obligation I couldn’t get away from). I was also pleased to see the recognition of graduates who will be serving our country’s armed forces next year and also seeing one of the ceremonies end with a benediction.

From the District’s website : Lexington-Richland School District Five’s graduating classes of 2013 earned a record number of scholarship offers. The amount totaling more than $125 million includes academic and athletic scholarships for students from Chapin High School, Dutch Fork High School and Irmo High School. More than 1000 District Five students graduated during ceremonies on Friday, June 7.

Chapin High School graduates were offered more than $32 million in college scholarships, said Annette Moore, the school’s guidance director. “This is over $6 million more than last year’s scholarships, and there were three students from this class who were offered full tuition scholarships. Congratulations to all students in the class of 2013!”

At Dutch Fork High, the number of scholarships offered totaled more than $51.7 million. That’s a $2 million increase over 2012 and almost double the school’s scholarship totals in 2011.

Irmo High School’s 2013 graduating students were offered more than $41.8 million in college scholarships, said Robert Taylor, the school’s guidance director.

The scholarship amounts represent awards at four-year, two-year and technical colleges and universities in South Carolina and other states. Scholarships were earned based on several criteria including academic performance, athletics and community service.

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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
803-734-2969
www.nathansnews.com
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29201