COMMUNITY UPDATE: February 2014

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STATE HOUSE
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The biggest news our first month back this year was that Governor Haley signed the Department of
Administration bill
into law to a packed crowd in the Statehouse lobby. This marks another major step in making our state government more efficient. While the bill was not perfect, my House colleagues decided to accept the majority of items in the bill and concede the State Procurement structure to the will of the Senate. This journey was started by the late Governor Carroll Campbell, and his family was on hand for the bill signing.

Also last month, the Department of Workforce and Employment announced that our unemployment rate dropped to 6.6 percent. That’s below 7 percent for the first time since 2008, and below the national average for the first time since 2001. Nobody can take all of the credit for this, and surely a lot of people are trying. For more than a decade, my House Republican colleagues have made job creation a central plank in our agenda each year. We have lowered the tax rates small businesses pay, enacted sweeping lawsuit abuse reforms, and worked to eliminate undue regulatory burdens. Government can’t create jobs, but we can create an environment where it is easier for the private sector – notably small businesses – to create them. Despite the great news, 6.6 percent unemployment is still too high, and we need to continue working so everyone in our state who can work has a job. In my role on the House Labor, Commerce, and Industry committee; my focus is to be sure we are helping put South Carolina back to work every chance we get!

One more item of significance was the election for Supreme Court Chief Justice between current Chief Justice Jean Toal and Associate Justice Costa Pleicones. You may have seen stories or received emails about this race over the past few weeks as it became contentious on both sides. Toal won the election by 95-74. Both Toal and Pleicones were extremely professional after the election, hugged in the House gallery after the vote, and pledged that this will not affect their relationship on the court. Toal will have to retire in 2015, and Pleicones announced that he will run again when Toal retires.

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YOUR MONEY
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The weather has lessened our time in the chamber this session,; but work behind the scenes in committees continues. This time of year the House Ways and Means committee carries the heaviest burden as they continue to draft this year’s budget proposal to be debated on the House Floor later in March. To see a calendar of key budget dates, click here. One of my more recent posts, which has received several views, shared some budget numbers/information that people apparently found interesting. Last June, after a close vote to pass the budget, this post received some attention as well.

If you have suggestions or questions about this upcoming budget debate, please contact me here or call my State House Office at 734-2969.

NOTE: The week of February 11-13 will the House’s first furlough week. Each week the House is on furlough saves the taxpayers $50,000 (at least). Not a huge amount in a $7 Billion Budget (General Fund) but a savings, nonetheless. We have a few furlough weeks scheduled this year and it continues to lead to the debate of how long should our session actually be every year ?

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COMMUNITY
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The Greater Irmo Chamber of Commerce next membership luncheon will be February 12th at St. Andrews Presbyterian. This month it will be a Speed Networking event hosted by BB&T Insurance. Plan to be there at 11:30 am to maximum your opportunities to meet and learn about other businesses in our community!

The Greater Chapin Chamber of Commerce February Membership Breakfast – Feb. 18 at Chapin Town Hall. Sponsored by Lexington Medical Center. Join us for an informative breakfast meeting as we will learn about ways to improve our heart health with the Take 5 Initiative. Lisa Minges with Healthy Directions will be our guest speaker and she will also cover employee wellness programs, too. We will also get an update on the Penny for Progress campaign and learn about two important events coming up for the Chamber this spring – the annual golf tournament and a silent auction fundraiser for the Chamber House. To register online, click here or call 345-1100.

Community Open House: Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge: Six years after I first mentioned it to Nathan’s News readers and just over a year after the “Topping Off” ceremony , our community will finally see the inside of our newest hospital! Come joine me and see firsthand how the wait was worth it! Palmetto Health is inviting the community to an open house at its newest hospital, Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge, Saturday, March 1, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. At the open house, Palmetto Health will offer hospital tours; samples of the fresh, local food that will be served at the hospital; musical entertainment; a personal gift to remember the event and more. In addition, Palmetto Health has planned a special celebration to start the day that highlights its strong commitment to the community. Starting at 10 a.m., approximately 900 community members from churches, schools, local businesses and the Palmetto Health team, will join together to form a “Circle of Health” around the building as a show of unity. Interested in participating in the “Circle of Health”? Contact Ali Walker, Parkridge Community Advocates Coordinator, at 803-434-4482.

Saluda Shoals Foundation’s Annual Oyster Roast Fundraiser Shuckin’ on the Shoals is a annual event at the Environmental Center at Sauluda Shoals Park. Bring your oyster knife and gloves to enjoy delicious oysters, smoked chicken gumbo, beer & wine. The event will be Sunday, February 23 from 4:00pm to 7:00pm. Foundation member tickers are $45 per person or $75 per couple, non-member tickets will be $50 per person or $90 per couple. Sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information call 213-2035.

Ballentine-Dutch Fork Civic Association : Next meeting will be March 3rd at 6:30pm at Ballentine Park. For more information about the association, click here.

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OUR SCHOOLS
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Dutch Fork Football State Champion Seniors visit the State House I was pleased to be joined by Representative Huggins as we welcomed Coach Tom Knotts and his outstanding senior class to the chamber of the SC House of Representatives last month! To read the House Resolution about this great accomplishment, click here.

Chapin High School Principal Dr. Akil Ross, featured on television special. Lexington-Richland School District Five administrator Dr. Akil Ross was highlighted in a local television special, aired on Feb. 2 and again on Feb. 3. Officials with WACH FOX say the Chapin High School principal was chosen for the segment on pioneering African-Americans in the Midlands because of his leadership and positive influence in the community. To watch the video, click here.

Dutch Fork High School dubbed ‘Cool School’: A Lexington-Richland School District Five high school has been dubbed a ‘cool school’ and featured on a local television station’s morning show. Dutch Fork High School was profiled on WIS-TV’s Cool Schools segment on Feb. 7. The feature, which spotlights Midlands area schools, included a prerecord segment on the school and live show. Dozens of students and staff with the school’s band, STEM program, Teacher Cadet program, football team, pep squad, cheer team, and Dazzlers dance team showed up for the early morning taping. To watch the video, click here.

District Five Snow Day Make-Up Date Monday, February 17 will be used as Lexington-Richland School District Five’s snow day make-up date. This day was previously scheduled as a student holiday and one of several planned make-up days on our published school calendar. Students should report to school as normal on that day. As of this COMMUNITY UPDATE’s posting (Sunday 2/9) the Joint Resolution to waive snow days had not passed the Senate and it’s not known what (if any) impact that will have on the district’s schedule of 2/17.

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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