Search Results for: energy caucus

Ballentine named to Energy Panel


Last week the SC Department of Administration released their much-anticipated report of recommendations for the plans to purchase, reform or manage South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility – Santee Cooper. As one of the largest power providers in South Carolina, Santee Cooper directly serves more than 165,000 residential and commercial customers in Berkeley, Georgetown, and Horry counties and was initially formed as part of the President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930’s. Lately, Santee Cooper was responsible for half of the largest nuclear fiasco in our state’s history at VC Summer in Fairfield County. Over 5,000 jobs were lost and Santee Cooper was left with billions in debt.

House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement regarding the SC Dept. of Administration report on Santee Cooper,

“Today, the General Assembly begins the process of debating the ultimate disposition of Santee Cooper. The results of months of work, led by Director Marcia Adams and the Department of Administration, have been released to the General Assembly and the public for consideration.

The House will be led by the facts contained in this document and will push for the solution that is the most advantageous to the ratepayers and taxpayers of this state. The goal of the House is to reach the most fiscally prudent disposition for Santee Cooper and to protect those whose dollars are at stake in this decision. The House remains committed to maintaining a thorough, comprehensive and transparent process on this matter. All decisions will be made in a set of extensive public hearings and after ample debate at every level. The actions taken in the coming weeks and months are of significant consequence, and we will not take them lightly. I am hopeful we can determine the best outcome that will protect our citizens as well as the momentum of our economy.”

In response to the report, the following Ad-Hoc Committee was appointed – Ways and Means Committee Chairman G. Murrell Smith, Jr., (Chm.), Rep. J. Gary Simrill, Rep. Jackie Hayes, Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, Rep. Alan D. Clemmons, Rep. Nathan Ballentine, Rep. J. Todd Rutherford, Rep. J. David Weeks, Rep. Bruce W. Bannister Rep. Joseph S. Daning.

“Even with our 30-day time constraint, and the budget process picking up in committee, I am confident this ad-hoc committee will work with diligence and vigilance,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Murrell Smith. “I look forward to leading the next step forward on this incredibly important issue.”

Representative Ballentine has experience building broad based policy coalitions including helping to form and lead the SC Energy Caucus just weeks after the VC Summer debacle in the summer of 2017. In a short time, Ballentine pulled together members from both parties and both legislative bodies to focus on solutions to our energy policy problems in the state. Rep. Ballentine strongly believes it is important for us to have more energy choices and competition.

“I am excited to be joining this important committee,” Rep. Ballentine said. “My goal has been and will continue to be whatever is in the best interest of the South Carolina taxpayer. We’ve started to give state ratepayers more choices, but frankly we need to do much more.”

A vote on Santee Cooper’s future in the SC legislature is expected before session ends this May.

“The days of the utilities deciding our energy policy are over”

You may remember last year when I helped lead the efforts to provide energy options to our state. More options means more competition – means cheaper prices for the ratepayer. It’s that simple.

You may also remember how that turned out .

Over the summer and fall, we circled the wagons in order to be sure that this year, the people’s voice will be heard from across our state.

This week, the push officially began again…

COLUMBIA, S.C. A bipartisan group of state lawmakers, environmentalists and solar-energy advocates is renewing its push to ease South Carolina’s restrictions on rooftop solar customers.

Lawmakers gathered at the State House on Thursday to announce details on solar bills filed in the state Senate and S.C. House to allow suppliers to provide alternative energy options.

“The days of utilities deciding our energy policy are over,” said state Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Richland, co-chair of the S.C. Energy Caucus.

Read more from The State

Lower cost energy options for our state

While many in our area prepare for Spring Break this week, I’ll be working towards improving our state’s energy options and keeping ratepayers at the top of the conversation. (Along with work at my paying job)

For many months, I’ve been immersed in learning more and more about energy in our state. From the monopolies that are the state’s current utility companies to smaller (and growing) energy alternatives for our citizens, there’s much to learn.

Last summer, the Speaker of the House appointed me to the House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee which was chaired by Representatives Peter McCoy (R-Charleston) and Russell Ott (D-Calhoun). At the same time, a bipartisan group of House Members and Senators launched the SC Energy Caucus. The Senate never got fully involved; but the House has continued the caucus have brought speakers in front of House Members and the public to learn more about these topics. I was honored at our first meeting to be named one of the co-chairmen of this caucus along with Representative Russell Ott (D-Calhoun).

A few weeks ago, I sat on a panel at a forum held by CRESForum and maybe like you, was surprised to see that other conservatives understand the significance and importance of looking ahead and improving our models.

A recap of the forum can be found here . When we return to the House, I will work with others (in my party and across the aisle) in hopes of passage of H.4421 which is a huge step forward for saving jobs (and growing jobs) in our state; while also reducing energy costs for our ratepayers.

Chairman of Economic Development Subcommittee

Today I was notified I would again chair the Economic Development subcommittee for Ways and Means. In addition, I will serve on the Criminal Justice subcommittee which gets first shot at appropriating dollars in the state budget for various agencies.

As always, I believe being a good steward of your tax dollars is the number one job for elected officials. I’m honored to have moved to Ways and Means in 2016.

During my time in office I have served on 5 of the 6 standing committees in addition to serving on the House Ethics Committee and Legislative Oversight Committee. Equally important to learning and being able to serve you better, I’ve also served on numerous ad-hoc committees as well as serving as a Majority Whip and Co-Chairman on the SC Energy Caucus.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me or my office anytime I can be of service to you or anytime you have advice or opinions to share!

Home: 803-834-4613
108 Tapp Pointe, Chapin, SC 29036

Office: 803-734-2969
320B Blatt Building, Columbia, SC 29201

2021 House Re-organization Session

The 1st Session of the 124th General Assembly will convene on Tuesday, January 12, 2021.

For lots of information the entire General Assembly and more, visit our website www.scstatehouse.gov

This week the House had our organizational session where 124 members were sworn-in for their two year term, members elected officers, received committee assignments, selected seats in the chamber, and new members learn their new offices.

Some quick info for you:

The House has 124 members

*81 are Republicans and 43 are Democrats
*15 are freshmen
*34 are African American
*24 are female

3 new members made it to the coveted Ways and Means Committee: Chandra Dillard, Craig Cagnon, and Lee Hewitt
There is a new Judiciary Chairman: Chris Murphy

I again serve as one of only 2 Republicans on the Richland Delegation (15 Democrats, 2 Republicans) and have been in the same office suite since my first election. 320B Blatt Building. Please stop by anytime; but call ahead to schedule appointment as our days vary from week to week.

Anytime we are in chamber, feel free to send a note in via the pages located directly out front of the House Chamber. PLEASE list your mobile number and email incase we are in the middle of debate and I cannot make it out to visit with you!

My office phone is 803-734-2969
My home phone is 803-834-4613
My legislative aide is June Cornelius

Email is NathanBallentine@schouse.gov
Website: www.nathansnews.com

My committee is Ways and Means where I serve as a subcommittee chair. I also currently serve as Co-Chairman of the SC Energy Caucus (a bipartisan committee we formed after the VC Summer fiasco).

Rep. Nathan Ballentine recognized with Green Tie Award

Rep. Nathan Ballentine was born in Richland County, graduated from the University of South Carolina, and has worked, lived, and raised his family in the Irmo/Chapin area of the Midlands for almost three decades.

Rep. Ballentine has served his community in the SC House since 2005, first running as a CVSC- endorsed candidate focused on restoring funding to the South Carolina Conservation Bank. Over his 7 terms in the House, Ballentine has built a reputation as a conservative leader who relies on common-sense values to improve his community and its quality of life.

Over his House tenure, Ballentine has earned an 82% lifetime score on the CVSC Conservation Scorecard. He has consistently supported land protection efforts like the Conservation Bank and worked to advance a clean energy future for our state. Ballentine formerly served on the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee where he was a champion for increased energy competition and clean energy. He now sits on the influential Ways & Means Committee.

In the wake of the VC Summer failure, Ballentine helped to form the bipartisan South Carolina Energy Caucus and currently serves as one of its Co-Chairs. In this role, he facilitated multiple briefings in 2018 and 2019 on clean energy legislation and aided in the passage of the Energy Freedom Act. As both a cosponsor of the Energy Freedom Act and tireless champion for clean energy, Ballentine has worked with his fellow conservatives to build a strong, pro-solar majority in the South Carolina House. He quietly works behind the scenes in the Republican caucus to ensure that conservation continues to have strong conservative support, reminding his colleagues that conservation is a bipartisan South Carolina value.

To read more, click here.

Headed to DC

No, no plans to run for office in Washington.

Just heading up with a few others from our state later this month for a policy discussion on clean energy.

I’ve been fortunate to learn and be involved in energy solutions for our state and after serving as Co-Chairman of the SC Energy Caucus and finally seeing the “solar bill be signed into law this year, I’m looking forward to helping others across the country navigate the political hurdles involved in fighting big utilities.

For more information: CRES Forum: Real Clean Energy and Climate Change Solutions

The Weekly (and yearly) Rewind – May 24th

rewind-t3951k

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your State Representative in Columbia! This week we finished the first session of the 123rd General Assembly and I want to briefly touch on legislation that many of you have followed and asked me to focus on for our state.

To simplify things, I share that we had a focus on Education, Energy, and Economic Developement (while adding that I continued my push for more Ethics reforms).

During his State of the State address in January, Governor McMaster proclaimed this year to be the ‘Year of Education,’ and the House took that charge seriously by passing a transformative education bill aimed at fundamentally reforming the way we educate our children. The legislation we passed was the culmination of several years of work and meetings throughout our state with many stakeholders: our neediest school districts, district personnel, teachers and parents. While the bill sits in the Senate, I can share more below about other ways we focused on education in our state budget.

While not all of the bills that passed the House were passed by the Senate or signed by the Governor, here are a few of the major accomplishments from the House this session. As a reminder, this is the first year of a two-year session, so legislation that did not pass the Senate can be continued when we return next January.

The Education Budget

The 2019-2020 budget is built on the foundation of protecting taxpayers, a renewed commitment to being resourceful and efficient, funding core functions of state government, and providing value for every dollar we spend.

We devoted over $300 million for education in this year’s budget. Some highlights include:
$159 million to provide every teacher a pay raise
$15 million to increase base student cost
$68 million for workforce partnerships in technical schools
$10 million for school resource officers
$20 million for new textbooks
$19 million for new school buses
$2.2 million for mental health counselors
$44 million to colleges in exchange for an agreement to freeze the cost of tuition for in-state undergrad students
We funded pay raises for state employees, law enforcement, firefighters, and judges.
We funded education and treatment programs to combat the opioid crisis.
We devoted $25 million for disaster relief for farmers from crop loss and damage related to Hurricanes Michael and Florence.
We committed $40 million for new voting machines to ensure fair and secure elections.
We provided taxpayers a one-time $50 rebate from last year’s budget surplus.

More on Education

The House passed a comprehensive education reform bill that includes raising teacher pay, decreasing statewide testing, consolidating small school districts, and creating a committee that will monitor the education achievements from pre-K to post-graduation. The bill, crafted with input from Governor McMaster as well as teachers and educators from across the state, was sent to the Senate where parts of our bill (offered in smaller separate bills) have been moving forward. We are hopeful that when the Senate comes back in January, they move forward with passing the House bill.

Highlights from The S.C. Education, Career, Opportunity, and Access for All Act:

· The act raises the minimum salary for starting teachers by almost 10%. All other teachers will receive an average raise of 4.8%.

· It eliminates 4 of the 6 state assessment tests to allow more time for classroom discussion.

· It adds a 30-minute duty free break for all teachers during the school day.

· It requires school districts with fewer than 1,000 students to consolidate with neighboring districts to share resources and save money.

· It increases funding for school mental health services, school resource officers, new school buses, and updated instructional materials.

Energy Solutions – Solar

The Energy Freedom Act passed the legislature unanimously and was signed by the Governor. The bill expands rooftop solar energy options by removing the existing 2% net-metering cap, allows solar customers to be compensated for the energy they produce and send back to the grid, and establishes a regulatory structure for future solar energy to compete with larger utility companies. Solar energy in our state is booming. In 2016 there were 1,160 cumulative installations; today the state is home to more than 18,000 solar systems and is expected to add 22,000 systems over the next five years. You may recall last session’s battles that I and others fought against the utility companies in our states. This bill would not have passed without support from the SC Energy Caucus which I co-founded and served as the first co-chairman with Rusell Ott (D-Calhoun). That bipartisan effort, along with a push from many conservative Republicans who stood with me, enabled this year’s bill to pass with ease in just a few months. As I shared on Facebook last week, nothing worthwhile comes easy – this bill and movement is a testament to that!

Energy Solutions – Santee Cooper Update

The legislature is moving forward with the process of deciding ultimately what to do with Santee Cooper in wake of the $9 billion debt accumulated from the failed VC Summer nuclear plant by the state-owned utility. Locally, our damage was mainly done by SEC&G. For the coops and others around the state, the next shoe will soon drop. Like we did during the SCE&G hearings, we must determine the best way to alleviate further damage to our ratepayers. The Department of Administration will seek binding offers from companies interested in purchasing Santee Cooper as well as offers from companies interested in managing Santee Cooper. In addition, Santee Cooper will be asked to submit its own plan on how they would improve if allowed to maintain ownership. The Department of Administration is charged with evaluating offers from these companies and bringing the best proposals to the General Assembly to consider by January 15, 2020.

Economic Development

The legislature passed a bill that will allow professional sports teams the same tax incentives as other large corporate companies who choose to bring their business and create jobs in the Palmetto State. The Panthers are moving their practice facilities and corporate offices to the Rock Hill area, which will officially bring the North Carolina NFL team into South Carolina’s economy. This move is expected to bring at least 5,700 jobs and more than $3 billion in economic development to South Carolina. As a realist, I’m not sure $3 billion will be the figure; but also as a realist, I know the state will receive far more benefit than the investment we are making. I’d like to remind everyone that opponents saying “we’re giving $115 million to a liberal billionaire” are being disingenuous. We are not giving your money or money we currently have to anyone. We are letting a business keep a portion of their tax dollars only after they commit to investing and contributing to the bottom line of our state revenues.

Ethics – no more Golden Parachutes

After years of having my bill sit in committee without a hearing from a former Chariman, I was able to finally have a hearing on a bill that would save taxpayers from paying for “Golden Parachutes” for officials convicted of public corruption. The new Chairman of the House Judiciary committee gave me a hearing and the subcommittee unanimously passed the bill that, simply stated, lets all public officials (not just House/Senate…we’re talking mayors, councilman, schoolboards, etc) know that if they are guilty of public corruption, they lose their state retirement and state health benefits. The bill didn’t make it to the Senate (yet) but will when we return in January.

One other important piece (that doesn’t begin with the letter E) is close to my heart. As the son of a combat veteran (Vietnam) as well as grandson of veterans, i’m pleased to share that the legislature passed (and the Governor signed into law) a bill to elevate the South Carolina Department of Veterans Affairs to a cabinet level agency. The Governor also signed into law a bill that will give in-state tuition for military personnel and their dependents regardless of the amount of time they have spent in that state. The House passed the Workforce Enhancement and Military Recognition Act, which removes the present limit in relation to the income deduction of military retirees. It also allows military retirees at the age of 65 to deduct any military retirement income that is included in their taxable income. The Senate has yet to take up this bill. These bipartisan bills reflect South Carolina’s strong military tradition and show appreciation to our veterans.

I wish everyone to have a safe and enjoyayble summer. While Rep Huggins and I are out of session in Columbia until January, please know we will be visiting with you again and working on any state matters you need help with over the next several months.

Be sure to SAVE THE DATE (Wednesday, August 14th) for my “once every two years” COMMUNITY COOKOUT which will be held again in Chapin! As always, we will have state, local, and most likely federal officials present for you to interact with in an casual setting on the shores of Lake Murray! I’ll share more on my website at www.nathansnews.com. The event is FREE to the public thanks to the generosity of our Sponsors, Hosts, and Supporters! Hope to see you and your family there!

As your State Representative, I am honored to serve you in Columbia. Please feel free to contact me with any comments, issues, or concerns that you may have or tell me in person on August 14th!

The Weekly Rewind – January 11th

rewind-t3951k

This is the first of a weekly series in the Irmo News and Lake Murray News to keep everyone in our community informed. Each week, Representative Huggins and I will rotate our columns and are always happen to answer any questions or hear any advice from you.

I am honored to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee alongside my desk mate, Representative Chip Huggins. This is my 14th year in office and Chip’s 20th year. That’s a lot of experience and relationships working for the Irmo, Chapin community. Thank you for always staying in touch to help us serve you better!

Again this year, I’m serving as a Republican Party Whip as well as Co-Chair of the bi-partisan South Carolina Energy Caucus. Representative Huggins was also again unanimously elected by our peers as Chairman of the House Regulations Committee. You can reach my office at 734-2969 and Rep. Huggins office at 212-6812.

Throughout each week, you can read updates from me at www.nathansnews.com. I took a break during the fall to focus on family and my paying job, but I will begin writing more often while we’re in session through May. I ask that you please email me at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov to ask to be added to my monthly Community Update. Each update provides information to not only news at the State House; but also around our community and school. I know Representative Huggins also has a weekly email that many of you receive, too.

The beginning of 2019-2020 legislative session kicked off in a big way with inaugural festivities for Governor Henry McMaster, Lt. Governor Pamela Evette and our seven other Constitutional officers. Gov. McMaster’s inauguration address focused heavily on tax reform, education reform, infrastructure and making sure South Carolina has a bright future ahead of us.

When the House gaveled into our first session of the year, we saw 500 pre-filed bills cross the desk. Each of these bills was assigned to a Committee. Those bills will be deliberated, developed and made ready for full debate on the floor of the House. (You can read about the bills I pre-filed by going to my website www.nathansnews.com).

It’s my hope that Republicans, Democrats, Senators and House Members (as well as the Governor) are united in our desire to increase the quality of life for every South Carolinian. My fellow House Republicans have an aggressive legislative agenda, and we’ve worked hard with Gov. McMaster to sync our priorities with his to ensure an excellent opportunity to make much needed comprehensive reforms for our state.

This week focused on comprehensive education reform:

Paying our teachers more. We will fight to increase teacher pay so our students have access to the best teachers possible.

Letting teachers do their job. We will fight to eliminate paperwork and excessive testing in schools, so teachers have more time to teach.

Workforce Development. There are 64,249 jobs available in South Carolina, yet our unemployment rate is at 3.3%. This is because we do not have a labor force to fill these jobs. We must increase our investment in developing a skilled workforce.

Our top priority will be to fundamentally change the way we educate our children, so they get the best education possible and become the future generation of the South Carolina workforce. As a conservative, I’ve rated by many as a good steward of your tax dollars. While it’s time to invest more into the teachers and classroom, it should be noted that SC ranks 24th in education funding but last in test scores and college readiness. Ensuring quality teachers stay employed – as well as freeing them up to teach (ie less paperwork, mandated/outdated testings) – should be our focus – along with being sure money is getting to the classroom and following our children.

This week, I was excited to see more than 30 of my colleagues join me for a press conference to continue our fight to save jobs, provide more energy options, and most importantly provide cheaper energy prices for our state. You may recall last year, the utilities once again blocked efforts to expand solar and it’s long past time we send the message that the utility companies do not dictate our energy policy in our state. I feel the next 100 days are very important to making the changes we need and the changes you deserve.

While work has begun inside the State House, there’s much work going on outside the State House – particularly on the roads of South Carolina. Now, you can directly have an impact! After recent heavy rainfalls wreaked havoc on our roadways, SCDOT is launching a statewide “pothole blitz” …and they’re asking for our help! You can report potholes directly by calling their Hotline at 1-855-467-2368 or by visiting the website http://dbw.scdot.org/workrequest/. And remember, SCDOT employees will be working extended hours to fix these potholes, so please use caution and watch for SCDOT maintenance crews making repairs.

Thank you again for the honor and privilege to serve you in Columbia! Please contact me using any method above – phone, email, or website www.nathansnews.com.

Statement on Special Election for Open SC Senate Seat


Conservative Reformer Will Focus Efforts to Finish What He Started, “Clean Up” State House

(Chapin, SC) Today, State Representative Nathan Ballentine issued the following statement on speculation he might enter the race for the open State Senate seat in District 20:

“For more than a year while our community had no Senator in office, I have worked with other State Representatives in the Midlands to help continue constituent service and give those impacted a voice in State government. I understand better than most the frustration many of these individuals have with the corruption scandal and the effect it has taken on this state.

Recently, calls and emails encouraging me to run in this special election for Senate have increased. Not until our House campaign ended last Tuesday, did I give any attention to seeking another office.

However, I have decided to stay in the SC House and not run for the SC Senate at this time.

I ran for reelection to the State House this year because we need the best representation possible for our community – and state. My tenure and relationships in the House are important and can impact the lives of those who reside in this community.

The battle over energy choice has finally become front page news. In the aftermath of VC Summer’s Nuclear plant shutdown, I helped form the SC Energy Caucus to develop more energy options in South Carolina. I also helped lead the fight in the House to save over 3,000 Solar jobs in SC. There is much more to be done and I will continue to work and put our state on the correct course for a brighter future.

Whether reforming the SC Department of Transportation so we can finally get our state roads and bridges fixed or pushing for meaningful ethics reform including On The Record voting, we must continue to fix our state government to work for the people and not the politicians.

The recent corruption scandals involving members of both the House and Senate must end; and legislators must do more to make sure this never happens again.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. We have passed term limits for our House Speaker and now we must term limit our House Chairmen. The power held by so few can ultimately harm so many.

That is why I have decided to stay in the SC House and continue this fight for more reforms. I truly appreciate the kind words, encouragement and friendship others have shown me this last week. It has meant a great deal to both me and my family.

I am sure there will be many good qualified candidates that will announce in the coming days. Like many other voters, I will be looking forward to help elect a reform minded public servant who is willing to work with others to focus on people, not politics.”