Public Service Announcement: NEED v WANT

Today I had Jury Duty.

Two weeks ago, I had a colonoscopy.

Forgive me for the “overshare” because you’re either thinking “that’s too much information, Nathan” or “dang, Nathan, that’s two bad events”.

Turns out, neither experience was as bad as I had thought and I’d do both again to “do my part”. Did I WANT to have both of these events over the past two weeks? No. But did I NEED to have them? I’d say “yes”.

Many know I turned 50 a few months ago and that’s apparently the age most people have “the procedure”. (As info, my doctor says now that studies show FORTY FIVE is the age for people to consider it…your call though). Unlike years ago when friends drank “gallons” of fluid prepping for the procedure, all I had was to take 2 pills and drink a 10 oz bottle (magnesium citrate) at 12:30 and repeat both again at 4:30 the day before the colonoscopy. Sure, I couldn’t eat any solids the day before but that actually never was a problem. I thought it would be, but I never once said to myself “I’m hungry”. I ate my “last meal” Saturday with friends around 9 and didn’t eat Sunday or again until Monday morning when we were finished around 9am. Only had water, a cup of chicken broth, and a cup of green jello for about 36 hours. Talk about some weight loss!

In any event, sometimes you gotta do things in life you don’t WANT to do – but you NEED to do.

Obviously monitoring your health is one of those (as info, I got a great report). Another “need to do’ in life is CIVIC DUTY. You don’t have to run for office. You don’t have to serve on a board. But when asked, you NEED to serve as a juror. Today, Judge Manning really stressed how important it was just seeing everyone offering for service and how it happens in every community in our country. It’s NEEDED in every community.

Many who showed up requested to opt out (various reasons) and since the General Assembly is in session this week, I’m sure I could have avoided serving as well. But, I felt like I owed it a as a member of society to serve. Other people have jobs, too, and they were there. I should be too. I needed to serve.

Long story short….we sat around for about 2.5 hours, some were excused, 30 of us were asked to “call back Monday after 6pm” and about a doze of us ended up being asked to “call back Tuesday after 6pm”. I may not end up being chosen for a jury; but I needed to experience it….I got to see one of our judges in action… to see a room filled with people from not just my community out here in Chapin/Dutch Fork/Irmo but throughout all of Richland County. Young, old. Black, white. Working, unemployed. We were a community of different people – but everyone wanting to serve and do our part.

It reminded me years ago when a House colleague (Rep. Bessie Moody-Lawrence) was at the podium speaking and I turned to my then-deskmate Nikki Haley and said “I have no idea what she’s talking about (referring Rep Moody-Lawrence). Then-Representative Haley reminded me that “(Rep Moody-Lawrence) was female and you’re male. She’s black, you’re white. She’s old, you’re young. She’s from rural part of state, you’re from suburbs.” That’s when it hit me. Not everyone sees things through the same spectrum. Not everyone has the same backgrounds. Not everyone thinks or acts the same. We are all different; but we all make up our state, community, homes.

I write all this to not just remind you to do the things you NEED to do for your health and community, but as a way of saying I continue to NEED and WANT to hear from everyone in the district on issues important to you. With more than 40,000 living here, obviously my votes can’t please everyone all the time; but my service can, and should.

If you aren’t receiving my COMMUNITY UPDATE emails every month, let me know by emailing me at You can also call my office (803) 734-2969 or even call my home (803) 834-4613. I’ve been staying in touch for more than a decade. It’s when I send those updates, that I get the most feedback, advice, ideas on how to continue to work to make our state a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

I hope everyone continues to stay safe – and that everyone continues to stay in touch!

The Weekly Rewind – Week of April 6th

We are 13 weeks into the 2021-2022 Session but we are not slowing down. After “budget week” two weeks ago, this week was ‘crossover week’, meaning we spent the week pushing to get as many important bills passed out of the House as possible. This deadline is important as it makes the bills passed by our chamber more likely to be considered by the Senate this session rather than next year. Some of the issues we honed in on this week were establishing tax conformity (not on most people’s radars, but every important), enhancing penalties for heinous crimes, improving education and protecting the 2nd amendment.

Tax Conformity

Each year, the House passes a tax conformity bill that puts the State and Federal tax codes in line. My dad is a retired CPA so he really knows this sort of stuff; but ask any “normal” person and they are not familiar with it – at all. Honestly, before serving in office, I wasn’t either. This is an important bill to ensure when you go to file your taxes, our State rules match those of the Federal Government. If not, that’s a problem. This year we had a very large amount of people file for unemployment in SC due to the pandemic conditions and shut-down. This bill exempts the first $10,000 of benefits these folks received from State tax income, ensuring that these people are not penalized for the hardships they involuntarily faced. This bill, H. 4017, unanimously passed the House.

Education Bills

Life Scholarships (H. 3588)- This bill amends the criteria for Life Scholarships, requiring certain English, Mathematics, and Computer Science coursework to be completed for eligibility. This completion takes place during a student’s senior year to better prepare them for college.

Non-Certified Teachers in the Classroom (H. 3590)- This bill allows public school districts to hire non-certified teachers (such as those who are retired or switched careers) for any school, career, and or technology center that have open teaching positions up until 5 days before the school year. Although these teachers may not comprise more than 25% of the staff and must have certain experience/academic requirements, this ensures that students have a teacher in the classroom no matter what. This passed by a vote of 99-17. I know it sounds odd to have “non-certified teachers” but with the shortages in the teaching profession, this is designed as a stop-gap measure as well as allows many with “real world experience” to come back and share with our students.

SC WINS (H. 3144)- This bill came through my subcommittee and establishes the SC Workforce Industry Needs Scholarship (SC WINS). This means that certain students attending a two-year technical school are eligible for a scholarship upon meeting certain criteria and requirements. Basically, makes it a free-ride for most. This passed the House on Wednesday by a vote of 105-1.

Second amendment

Also this week, the House sent the 2nd of two bills (H. 3094 and H. 3096) designed to bring SC more in-line with the rest of the country. Currently SC gun laws are similar to states like California and New York. Who knew? I was very surprised to learn that and shared that with readers at last month.

Weekly COVID-19 Update

South Carolina is in Phase 1C of the vaccination process. Under these guidelines, anyone 16+ is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine with an appointment.

Visit to make a vaccination appointment at a provider near you.

34.5% of South Carolina citizens have started the vaccination process. 20% of SC citizens are fully vaccinated. 2,169,505 vaccines have been given to South Carolina residents to date.

Want to see how your area is doing in the fight against COVID-19? Visit the interactive ‘Vaccination Dashboard by following this link,

*Numbers updated April 8th.

I’m at your service!

It is my honor to be of service to you and your family here in the Chapin/Dutch Fork/Irmo community. If you need assistance navigating through the flow of information on COVID-19, navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me at home 803-834-4613 or the state house 803-734-2969.

If you are currently not receiving my regular COMMUNITY UPDATE emails, please let me know to add you to the distribution by emailing me at I have sent these updates almost every month for more than a decade and they help keep you informed not only with what’s going on in Columbia but also here in our community with roads, schools, and other issues. Please be sure you stay informed and get on the distribution.
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Dominion opens boat ramp, beach area remains closed

Lake Murray is a reservoir in the U.S. state of South Carolina

CAYCE, S.C. (April 6, 2021) — Dominion Energy will open a public boat launch on the Irmo side of the Lake Murray dam for the 2021 recreation season on Wednesday, April 7.

In Dominion Energy’s ongoing response to the coronavirus, the beach and recreation area on the Lexington side of the Lake Murray dam will remain closed at this time. The Lake Monticello beach swim area in Fairfield County will also remain closed, although the Monticello boat launch stays open year-round. There are no fees for the Lake Monticello recreation sites.

“Dominion Energy is taking these steps to protect the health and safety of visitors to the parks and the general public,” said Billy Chastain, Dominion Energy South Carolina Manager of Lake Management. “Boaters are urged to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on social distancing and avoid gathering in groups.”

Dominion Energy will continue to evaluate the situation in South Carolina and follow guidance from health experts before any decision to reopen the parks.

Parking fees will be collected at the boat-launch area on the Irmo side of the dam from April 7 through Labor Day to partially offset the cost of maintenance, security and improvements at the parks. Fees will be $5 for all vehicles. Season passes can be purchased for $50 per vehicle.

For additional information about Lake Murray, call the Lake Management Office at 803-217-9221 or visit

Sheriff Lott named 2021 Sheriff of the Year

From Cola Daily

Richland County Sheriff’s Department officials announced Monday that Sheriff Leon Lott has been named the Sheriff of the Year by the National Sheriff’s Association.

The award is officially known as the “NSA Ferris E. Lucas Award for Sheriff of the Year,” and it will be presented during the NSA’s annual national convention in June.

Lott said receiving the award is a tremendous honor to him, personally, and for the state of South Carolina. “This is the first time a S.C. sheriff has been named national Sheriff of the Year. And to be recognized by this 81-year-old organization with a history going back to the 19th century in which some of the most important local and national law enforcement policy has been legislated, makes it all the more rewarding to me,” said Lott, who received the announcement letter from the NSA Monday.

The National Sheriff’s Association represents thousands of sheriffs, deputies, and other law enforcement and safety professionals nationwide, according to RCSD. Its roots stretch back to the Interstate Sheriff’s Association, founded in 1888.

According to the association’s website, the NSA serves as “the center of a vast network of law enforcement information, filling requests for information daily and enabling criminal justice professionals, including police officers, sheriffs, and deputies, to locate the information and programs they need.”

The Weekly Rewind – The Week of March 22

March 24, 2021

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H. 4100, the General Appropriation bill, and the House approved and sent the Senate H. 4101, the joint resolution making appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund, which together comprise the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 State Government Budget. The budget includes $9 billion in recurring state general fund revenue, after $650 million is transferred to the Tax Relief Trust Fund that provides for the residential property tax caps. The budget’s nonrecurring funds include $36.3 million in surplus funds estimated for Fiscal Year 2020-2021, $104 million in the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Contingency Reserve Fund, and $176 million in Capital Reserve Funds.

$500 million in nonrecurring funds is allocated to a Pandemic Stabilization Reserve Fund.

$50 million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated for the Disaster Relief and Resilience Reserve Fund that is to be used for disaster relief assistance, hazard mitigation and infrastructure improvements, and statewide resilience planning.

In public education, the base student cost is increased to $2,500 per pupil, utilizing an additional $50 million in recurring general funds.

$48 million is provided for instructional materials.

$10.2 million in Education Improvement Act funding is used to expand 4K programs through the First Steps to School Readiness Program.

$5.5 million in Education Improvement Act funding provides for a school nurse in every South Carolina school.

Charter schools are afforded $15 million in recurring Education Improvement Act funds and $9.5 million in nonrecurring EIA funds.

$2 million in EIA funding is used to add more school resource officers.

$1.5 million in Education Improvement Act funding is devoted to a GED Incentive Program which allows someone receiving unemployment benefits to receive a $500 one-time payment for earning a GED.

Full funding is provided for the LIFE, HOPE, and Palmetto Fellows higher education scholarship programs through $318 million in Education Lottery funds.

$31.5 million is allocated to a Scholarship Trust Fund that is to be used to cover scholarship costs should the state experience lottery revenue shortfalls in future years or an increase in the number of eligible students.

The Lottery Tuition Assistance Program is afforded $51 million.

The Commission on Higher Education is afforded $60 million in lottery funds for need-based grants. $20 million in lottery funds is provided for tuition grants.

$750,000 in lottery funds is provided for college transition program scholarships for individuals with disabilities.

$16 million is provided for workforce scholarships that provide grants for tuition, fees, and textbooks expenses to SC residents enrolled in a career education program at a technical school or professional certification program.

The Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education is afforded $17 million in lottery funds for SC Workforce Industry Needs scholarships that help provide full tuition at technical colleges for SC WINS recipients seeking degrees in industry sectors with critical workforce needs.

The Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education is provided $18 million in lottery funds for high demand job skill training equipment.

$2.5 million from the Capital Reserve Fund is allocated to the Ready SC Program which provides worker training at the state’s technical colleges that is customized to the needs of new and expanding business and industry.

The Capital Reserve Fund is devoted primarily to capital needs at the state’s colleges, universities, and tech schools with most of the $176 million in these nonrecurring funds allocated among the institutions for repairs, renovations, and maintenance of various facilities.

The Commission on Higher Education is charged with determining which of the state’s public institutions of higher learning are in compliance with statutory requirements for providing instruction on the nation’s founding documents: the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers.

SC State PSA receives $350,000 in nonrecurring funds for small business assistance and training.

The budget emphasizes assistance for the state’s tourism sector which has been hard hit by the shutdowns and disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism receives $15 million in nonrecurring funds for destination-specific tourism marketing, $5 million in nonrecurring funds for tourism advertising grants, and $1.1 million in nonrecurring funds for SC Association of Tourism Regions.

$1.5 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for statewide community arts grants through the Arts Commission.

$3.7 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for the Deal Closing Fund that the Department of Commerce uses to recruit new business to the state.

$30 million in nonrecurring funds is devoted to expanding broadband access statewide. Priority is given to completing projects begun through the use of CARES Act federal funds.

Provisions are made for an Office of Broadband Coordinator within the Office of Regulatory Staff to serve as the central planning body to coordinate with all levels of government and the private sector to expand access to the high-speed Internet connections that can further distance learning, telework, and telehealth and enhance economic development opportunities. The Coordinator is charged with producing a broadband map of South Carolina that can be used to determine where connections exist and which underserved areas are in need of infrastructure improvements.

The Department of Health and Human Services is afforded $16.5 million in recurring funds for Medicaid maintenance of effort to address program cost growth.

Provisions are made for a statewide Mobile Health Units Coordination Project that charges the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare with providing technical assistance and coordination to make the most of the state’s mobile health units. These units are to deliver services that increase access to preventative and diagnostic health care, and reduce health inequities for rural, vulnerable, underserved, and displaced populations in South Carolina.

The budget includes a provision for the Department of Health and Human Services to transfer $1 million to the Medical University of South Carolina Hospital Authority to develop a comprehensive approach to advancing the awareness, detection, treatment, and scientific knowledge of sickle cell disease and trait within South Carolina. The MUSC Hospital Authority is authorized to partner with independent research entities to advance curative therapies for sickle cell disease and trait and is authorized to endow one or more nationally leading academic research centers with a research chair named the “Rena N. Grant Endowed Chair for Hematology” in furtherance of this goal. Additionally, to improve the quality of care provided to sickle cell patients, the authority is charged with performing statewide cultural competency training in all hospitals, including urgent care centers, in this state in order to educate and increase the awareness of health care professionals that are most likely to treat sickle cell patients on the symptoms and stigma associated with sickle cell disease and trait, especially pain relief.

The Department of Mental Health is afforded $27 million in nonrecurring funds for two new VA nursing homes certification state match.

The Forestry Commission is provided $1 million in nonrecurring funds for firefighting equipment.

$3.8 million in recurring funding is allocated to implement the new firefighter cancer health insurance benefit plan.

$250,000 in recurring funding is appropriated for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder for firefighters and other first responders. $250,000 in recurring funding is appropriated for PTSD treatment for law enforcement officers.

The budget emphasizes funding for step salary increases and retention programs for law enforcement and correctional officers across the seven agencies that employ officers.

$90 million in flexibility from federal CARES Act funding is used for upgrades at Department of Corrections institutions to enhance the safety of the public, officers, and inmates.

$1.6 million in recurring funding is utilized to establish an Insurance Fraud Division within the Department of Insurance, with responsibilities transferred from the Attorney General’s Office.

The Judicial Department is afforded $10 million in nonrecurring funds for case management modernization and $7.6 million in nonrecurring funds for virtual courtroom expansion.

A child welfare provider protection provision is included in the budget to prevent state funds for adoption or foster care services from being used in a manner that discriminates against religious organizations or individuals with sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.

The budget funds the constitutional reserve accounts that the state uses to cope with revenue shortfalls.

$5.9 million in recurring funds is included to cover the increased costs of operating the state’s health and dental insurance plans so that employees will have no premium cost increases.

A total of $32 million from the General Fund and $4 million in Education Improvement Act funds is devoted to the 1% increase in the employer contribution rates for the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System that is in keeping with the schedule for addressing the unfunded liability facing the state’s pensions established in Act 13 of 2017.

The budget includes $17.6 million for full funding of the Local Government Fund that is consistent with the revised approach for sending revenue to political subdivisions established in Act 84 of 2019.

$1 million in Education Lottery funds is devoted to increasing aid to county libraries.

The State Election Commission is directed to submit a report to the General Assembly by August 1, 2021, on the number of election fraud investigations conducted regarding the November 2020 election. The report must also be posted on the commission’s website.

The Conservation Bank is afforded $2 million in nonrecurring funds.

$250,000 in recurring funds is provided to establish the South Carolina Office of Resilience.

$12.7 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for the state FEMA match for Hurricane Dorian.

The budget legislation includes a provision that any funds received from the Federal government that are not allocated directly to a state agency must be expended through the legislative budgeting process.

From the House Floor: Budget Debate

I briefly took the podium yesterday to honor my word by showing support for our state employees. Most times that I can recall throughout the year, it’s always Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, alone, speaking on behalf of this group during budget debate. Yesterday, she was not alone. After she and I spoke, the Ways and Means Chairman (aka Budget Chairman) spoke and affirmed his desire and intentions to join us in a pay increase this year.

The video speaks for itself, but for background, our state employees often are not on the top of any budget lists in the General Assembly. Frankly, many times the Senate increases their pay/benefits after the House send our budget to them. (To be fair, most times, the revenue estimates are much higher for the Senate to work with due to the timing of the process and the economic numbers being updated).

In any case, I will work to be sure our state employees receive a raise (and hopefully not just a bonus) when the House returns in the coming months to consider additional funding.

Road Work Continues: Exit 97 to Peak

Was asked tonight for an update on the (ongoing) issues with 176 (Broad River) and wanted to pass along what SCDOT shared with me earlier this evening:

“Good evening Nathan, we have started with asphalt repairs on Broad River Road. Based on recommendations from our Research & Materials, we h ave begun to tackle the 10 mile stretch up near the Chapin Rd to Newberry County line with our internal forces. The section from Chapin Rd to Ballentine (Chickfila) will require a more extensive reparid and we currently (are) seeking extensions to existing paving contracts in order to complete the repairs this year. We will keep you posted on this as we progress.”

When we finished a 10 hour budget debate today (no breaks), I came home on Exit 97 (which is the Exit I take everyday – but I go left across 26) and filmed the above video with similar comment as this post.

For background on this and other work in the area, you can search Nathans News or click here for a few posts.

Opening Day: Irmo Little League

Twenty five years later, SC no longer like NY and CA

Yesterday, the House passed H. 3094, the Open Carry with Training Act, by an overwhelming vote of 82-33.

While some gun groups think H. 3094 does not go far enough, this is a huge step for South Carolina. If passed by the Senate, the legislation would bring South Carolina in line with 45 other states that have some type of open carry of a handgun. Currently, South Carolina is one of 5 states that does not have ANY type of open carry of a handgun, putting us in the group with New York, California, Florida, and Illinois. We can do better.

The House will also consider another standalone bill H. 3096 which passed out of the full House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and is scheduled for floor debate in mid April. This bill is commonly referred to as the Constitutional Carry bill which requires no training.

I caught some grief yesterday from those that don’t know me and thought I was “anti-gun” (obviously they don’t follow me on Facebook with my hunting pics). What was their grief? They were upset that the House voted down an amendment that would have said “carry without training” – which is what H 3096 allows. Fifty Republicans voted this down along with Democrats. Why? Because a bill to allow that is coming to the floor and there was no need to risk placing that amendment on H. 3094. Many times, floor amendments end up hurting more than helping and many times amendment language is inartfully (and quickly) drawn. Obviously any floor amendments have not been vetted during the subcommittee and committee process to truly weigh the cause/effect.

If H. 3096 (Constitutional Carry) passes later next month, that would mean two strong, pro-Second Amendment bills will have been sent to the Senate for consideration. If you have any opinion on the upcoming H.3096 bill (Constitutional Carry – aka no training required), please continue to let me know.

The Weekly Rewind – Week of March 16

2021-22 State Budget

This week, the House Ways and Means Committee worked diligently putting the final touches on our state’s budget to send to the full House for consideration. The Committee unanimously passed a conservative bill that will likely hit the floor the week of March 22nd for debate. We took into account the recommendations made in Governor McMaster’s executive budget that focuses on COVID-19 relief, pay raises for law enforcement and rebuilding our state’s reserve fund.

This year’s budget recognizes the uncertainties caused by the pandemic. It also invests millions of dollars in K-12 education and our state’s struggling hospitality industry to recover from devastating COVID-19 impacts.

Here are some of this year’s budget highlights:
– $500M Fund for pandemic stabilization
– Relief fund allocating $50M in the case of a devastating natural disaster
– 30% expansion of the state’s 4K program
– Funding for a school nurse in EVERY South Carolina school
– Step Increase Pay Raises for Law Enforcement Officers
– PTSD treatment for Law Enforcement and Firefighters
– $30M to expand broadband internet access in rural and underserved areas
– Grants for Tourism Marketing following COVID-19 pandemic’s hit on tourism industry

Open Carry with Training Act

This week, the Open Carry with Training Act (H. 3094) passed the full House Judiciary Committee. This bill, introduced by Rep. Bobby Cox, protects the right of citizens to openly carry a firearm given sufficient training and appropriate certifications. There are many not satisfied with this compromise – but that usually means we must have done something right. Some feel there are “too many guns” already and think passage of the bill would lead to the “wild west”. Others feel there should be NO training restrictions in place. I’ve heard from many of you and it seems most are practical by understanding training (very much like current training to carry a concealed weapon) is acceptable.

Teachers & Law Enforcement to be Vaccinated Beginning Monday

This week, the Governor announced the great news that South Carolina is moving into Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccination plan. Additionally, we have seen many more vaccination sites opening around the state and with this week’s approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccination, we are finally arriving on the other side of the pandemic. Here is what we know:

Starting March 8th, the following groups may schedule an appointment to receive their vaccine:
– Anyone over the age of 55
– People 16 and over who have a high-risk medical condition
– Teachers, store clerks, law enforcement and other frontline jobs that put an individual within 6ft of other people for more than 15 minutes
Visit for more information

As of March 4th, over 995,309 doses of the COVID-19 vaccination have been given in South Carolina. This is due to the hard work and sacrifice made by volunteers, medical professionals, the National Guard, and many other folks in our State. I am proud and thankful for the progress we continue to make and the fellowship our state has shown during these tough times.

COVID-19 NEWS: On Friday, Governor Henry McMaster modified his COVID-19 emergency orders, returning remaining state employees back to the workplace full-time. Additionally, the face-covering requirement in state government building and offices has been dissolved to a recommendation. For more info,

Resources and Helplines:
– DHEC Care Line: 1-855-472-3432
– COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line: 1-866-365-8110
– Find a vaccine location near you here:
– Information about qualifying for SBA loans:
– Mental health/substance abuse services related to COVID-19: 1-844-724-6737
– For other COVID-19 resources, visit the Accelerate SC website:
– To see if you may qualify for unemployment, visit:
– For updates from the Governor, visit

As always, please call my office (803)734-2969 anytime you need assistance with state government OR anytime you have suggestions/advice on how to improve our quality of life. It’s an honor to serve you and your family in Columbia and I hope you’ll call me anytime you need help!