Changes ahead….

Debate from the House Floor : Protecting Life

As I shared from the House Floor, I didn’t wake up Tuesday expecting to take the podium during this debate. But when I saw how the debate was going and how, once again, the chance to do something (ie, our job) was about to lose out to doing nothing (bill being defeated) – I had to speak up.

On the way to the State House , I wanted to thank y’all for responding to this year’s Legislative Survey and let you know: I heard you and I would be there for you. Overwhelmingly whether you identified as a “Trump Republican”, “Republican” or “Independent”, you wanted exceptions placed into the abortion bill for rape and incest. That’s how I voted and, ultimately, that’s what got into the bill that now heads to the Senate.

In the past few weeks, word was that there were going to be thousands of amendments placed on the desk and that this debate could go days, even into the weekend. That turned out not to be the case as we only had 20-25 amendments and debate was over by 7pm Tuesday night.

Early in debate two amendments to place exceptions were defeated… first only 25 supported , later 41 supported (we picked up more support when the reporting piece regarding rape was added to the earlier amendment). Ultimately after a 2 hour recess from the house floor, the House agreed to placing exceptions into the bill and the bill passed 67-38.

What was surprising (and I explain in video above) was that the Democrats voted against adding exceptions into the bill. Anyone in politics knows that the Democrats vote was not their true beliefs, instead it was their way to help accomplish their ultimate goal – defeating the bill . If the Democrats had kept exceptions off the bill, that bill would have never passed the Senate. If you’re confused, that happens sometimes in politics. You use the tools you’re given and the strategies you can to get the ultimate outcome you want. UNFORTUNATELY in this day and age of politics, is those votes that are used by opponents (usually primary opponents) to try to paint the official as “out of touch” or “not one of us”. What do I mean? A citizen wanting to run for office in a Democratic primary could take that vote and say “See. Representative Smith is out of touch. He voted to force women who were raped to have a baby”. (And that is not what most Democrats would believe).

I’m getting way into the weeds here, but that’s stuff you voters need to know. Don’t look at ONE vote from an official (especially when it’s highlighted on a campaign mail piece from opponent) and assume that’s the whole story.

Long story short, what was accomplished yesterday was this: saving a bill from dying ( it actually WAS defeated when it had no exceptions in it ) and sending a stronger bill than we had passed in 2021 with the SC Fetal Heartbeat Bill.

In layman’s terms:

The SC Fetal Heartbeat bill 2021 – banned abortions after 6 weeks except for rape or incest (allowed up to 20 weeks) or life of the mother

Recently that law had been “stayed” by the SC courts. That meant, Roe v. Wade was still law of the land.

So….do we pass nothing or do we pass something? Something that actually does more than what we did in 2021?

This bill which finally passed – bans abortions after Day One except for rate or incest (allowed now up to 12 weeks).

While some wanted NO EXCEPTIONS, that bill was never going to become law – much less pass the House . And had some Republicans not had the courage to “vote for exceptions” (against immense pressure from outside the chamber), the outcome would be WORSE in Republican eyes since we would have lost an opportunity to do something – even better than we did in 2021 – to protect life.

In the end, to those who said if you add exceptions, you are not pro-life, you now see that is far from reality. You now can see how this new bill is the strongest pro-life bill ever passed in South Carolina.

The end justifies the means and, again, cooler heads prevailed in the Republican Caucus. For those in SC who consider themselves pro-life, you now have an even stronger bill than you did in 2021.

Back to Columbia: Protecting Life

Stop me if you’ve heard this before….Richland County Election Issues

Like you, I learned of the recent resignation via the news media . Like you, I’m not shocked or surprised anymore. But I am curious as to why the Richland County Elections Director resigned. I will be calling her to see what she will share.

I won’t berate the issues we’ve all seen and experienced through the years (click here for a few). What I will do is simply state this….as one of only TWO Republicans in the Richland County Delegation, it is very frustrating to see things happen over and over and still not be in position to help remedy. The FIFTEEN Democrats control the boards and commissions The Election Commission being one of those. By rules, there is ONE member “of the minority party” (that’s Republican in Richland County) that serves on the board, but you can imagine he/she’s influence is miniscule to any decisions the board makes.

From The Post and Courier

COLUMBIA — Richland County’s elections director submitted a letter of resignation after two years in the position.

The county’s Board of Voter Registration & Elections chose Alexandria Stephens for the job in June 2020 after a year of searching for someone to fill the historically troubled position.

Stephens’ resignation is effective Aug. 29. The letter did not say why Stephens resigned or where she may go next, board Chair Anjanette President said.

Stephens was not at the Aug. 18 meeting where the board accepted her resignation. She could not be reached for comment.

″(Her resignation) was a shock and it was very concerning to me,” President said. “I’m not sure what the issues were or her concerns, so it was a shock to the board.”

Stephens, who had previously worked as an elections coordinator in Alabama, stepped in after the June 2020 primary in which some Richland County voters had to wait up to seven hours because there weren’t enough workers to staff every polling place. She earned the praise of state lawmakers that year when the November 2020 election went smoothly despite a significant number of absentee ballots.

Problems arose again in November 2021 when the state demanded to oversee a partial recount of the Columbia mayor runoff election before polls closed because voters had reported being turned away because of faulty machines.

President said the board will ask the South Carolina Election Commission for help in the November election, including requesting someone from the state to act as director.

Deputy Director Terry Graham will assume the responsibilities of the role for the upcoming Nov. 8 election. Graham was tapped in as interim director after Stephens’ predecessor, Rokey Suleman, resigned in 2019 and the interim director appointed after him left the position.

“I’ll always be the last man standing,” Graham said. “I’ve been through this before; didn’t want it to happen again, but of course I’m here. I’m committed and want to make sure the citizens of Richland County get a fair and impartial election.”

Graham said while he understood Stephens probably had a reason for moving on, he was sad to see her leave.

“I know we were heading in the right direction,” Graham said. “I’m a little bit disappointed because I was in for the long haul with her.”

Graham has plans for the upcoming election. He wants to increase the stipend poll workers receive, which currently ranges from $135 to $195, to help incentivize more people to sign up.

“What I did in my former location in Chester was a $30 increase, and if I can get that $30 supplement for all poll workers it’ll be a great improvement,” Graham said. “I think you wouldn’t have as many problems trying to get people to come and work.”

Richland County elections have historically been a hotbed for issues.

Suleman’s resignation came after the county failed to count more than 1,000 votes in the November 2018 election, which led Gov. Henry McMaster to remove the entire board.

In March 2019, the new elections board voted unanimously to hire another elections director, Tammy Smith, from Wilson County, Tenn. But Smith turned down the job because she and the board couldn’t agree on a contract.

The county’s problems with elections date back more than a decade. In 2010, the county failed to count 1,100 votes, causing it to incorrectly certify the election. In 2012, voters dealt with long lines because the county failed to roll out enough voting machines. In 2016, the state stepped in to help after the county missed a recount deadline.

Board member Shelia Washington said the county will make sure the November election happens without issue.

“We’re doing our best to make sure the election runs smoothly and nothing goes slacking,” Washington said. “And we do want all support from the community.”

Road work – Forrest Shealy Road beside Lake Murray Elementary

Thanks to a call from a constituent, we may avoid a few headaches next week when school begins.

I reached out to SCDOT and informed them Forrest Shealy is heavily traveled during school hours and asked that if construction has to happen next week, they need to be aware and have the contractor plan accordingly.

Here’s what I received back:

“Nathan, in regards to Forrest Shealy, the contractor will not be allowed to work in the road during the following timeframe: Mon-Fri 7-9AM / 2-4 PM”

Again, we avoided more of a mess thanks to a constituent bringing to my attention. I ask everyone to be my eyes and ears and continue to bring your concerns to me so I can help. Whether it’s legislation at the State House and navigating state agencies, or local matters where I can connect the right personnel for you. Please let me know!

Lake Murray levels to be lowered

From WLTX website

LEXINGTON, S.C. — Lake Murray is 41 miles long and stores approximately 763 billion gallons of water. However, the lake will not stay that way much longer this year.

The elevation of the water level is normally 358 feet and will be dropped down to 350 feet.

“We are hoping to drop the level down much lower than what it is now, and it will definitely be a noticeable difference,” Dominion Energy representative, Matt Long said.
Long explained that the water levels in the lake are normally brought down in the winter months. Dominion will lower the water starting in October to dehydrate the plants and kill them.

“It’s routine maintenance that happens every few years. The last time this happened was in 2018,” Long stated.

Dominion says the plants in the lake can effect boats on the water if they get too tall. Weeds and vegetation can get caught in boat motors and effect fishing trips for people like Brad Rutherford.

“I like to fish and I know the fish but more when the levels go down. I don’t really want them to cut the grass down though. The fish use the grass under to help them grow really big. I think they [Dominion] should just leave that alone,” Rutherford explained.

By killing the plants off, Dominion Energy hopes to improve water quality as well.

Columbia Water explained that customers who receive water from the Lake Murray Water Treatment Plant may sometimes have an earthy taste to their water.

The musty taste is caused by algae, fungi, and bacteria growing in the lake. The plants in the water can be a breeding ground for the algae blooms.

Dominion explained that they believe water quality can be impacted by sediments in the water as well. The drawdown will also push sediments, which help these weeds grow into deeper levels of the lake.

Mike Ludlow, walks on the dam frequently and loves looking at the water. He says he has no problem with Dominion doing maintenance work.

“If they are improving the quality of the water, then I’m all for it, why wouldn’t we want cleaner water out here,” he said.

The lake water is expected to raise back up to normal levels by spring of 2023 with rain and river flows feeding into the lake.

17th Annual Irmo Community Prayer Breakfast

Hope to see you there! RSVP today and let Desiree know if you’d like to sponsor a table!

Back at Union United Methodist Church this year!

Speaker – Mike Millington with Northern Midlands SC FCA.

For information past Prayer Breakfasts, please click here .

For quick 2 minute videos from past breakfasts, you can click here: 2008 , 2009 , 2010 , 2011 , 2012 .

2021 East Lake Community Church – speaker, Dr. Christina Melton
2020 Gateway Baptist – speaker Rob Settle, Executive Director The Providence Home
2019 St Andrews Presbyterian – speaker Brittany Maier & Tammy Maier-Scher
2018 Riverland Hills Baptist – speaker Jose Alvarez, retired Atlanta Braves Pitcher, FCA
2017 River Springs Church – speaker Dr. Wendell Estep, retired First Baptist Church of Columbia
2016 Union United Methodist Church – speaker Marcus Lattimore
2015 St. Paul AME Church – speaker in memory of Senator Clementa Pinckney
2014 Gateway Baptist Church – speaker Chris Joye
2013 St. Andrews Presbyterian – speaker Shelley Bryson King, Miss South Carolina 2006
2012 Riverland Hills Baptist – Jim “Soni” Sonefeld – member Hootie and the Blowfish
2011 Seven Oaks Presbyterian – Steve Arnold, operator Chick-fil-A Ballentine
2010 First Baptist of Irmo -speaker Adrian Despres, chaplain USC football team
2009 St. Mary’s Episcopal – speaker Eddie Walker, then principal of Irmo High School
2008 Gateway Baptist – speaker Jeff Davis, former Clemson football player
2007 St. Andrews Presbyterian – speaker A.V Strong, director A Better Way, Project Gang Out
2006 Riverland Hills Baptist – speaker Bob McAlister, McAlister Communications

Check your mailbox! Need your input

This week, my 2022 Legislative Survey should arrive in area mailboxes!

If you do not receive one by the weekend, call me at home and let me know your address and I’ll be sure to get one to you!

Home number: 803-834-4613

Junior League Softball World Series – what a run!

Thank you ladies for representing South Carolina well – on and off the field!

From The State

Irmo’s bid for a Junior League Softball World Series championship came up short Saturday. Michigan scored two runs each in third and fourth innings to defeat Irmo 5-1 in the championship game in front of a nationally televised audience. It was Irmo’s only loss of the tournament and the postseason. They were the first South Carolina team to ever advance to the World Series.

Irmo won the Southeast Regional, outscoring its opponents 53-5, and was 6-0 at the World Series entering Saturday’s game. Michigan advanced to the championship game with a pair of extra-inning wins over Connecticut 3-2 on Thursday and 9-8 over Nevada on Friday.

Autumn Dennis had two hits and an RBI and Callie Naber had two hits for Michigan, which benefited from three Irmo errors in the game. Pitcher Makenzie Cammenga got the complete-game win, allowing a run on four hits while striking out seven. Olivia Hill had two hits to lead Irmo. Pitcher Stephanie Jones drove in the team’s lone run in the third on an RBI single that scored Eve Smither and cut the lead to 2-1. Irmo had a chance to tie the game, but Hill was tagged out at the plate while trying to score on a wild pitch. This was the first time the World Series has been held since 2019 because of COVID.

Members of the team are Stephanie Jones (Ben Lippen); Layla Peppers (Dutch Fork); Haley Alderman (Dutch Fork); Olivia Hill (Dutch Fork); Eason Davis (Chapin); Allie Bickley (Chapin); Reagan Haggard (Chapin); Makenna Reimer (Irmo); Katie-Grace Hill (Dutch Fork); and Eve Smither (Ben Lippen). Coaches are Robert Peppers, Bryan Jones and Aaron Reimer.

Lakeside Litter Sweep – September 17th

End the summer with a splash while making a difference in our community! Join Keep the Midlands Beautiful, Dominion Energy, PalmettoPride and our other 20+ event partners in our effort to clean up Lake Murray. The 2022 Lakeside Litter Sweep will be held on Saturday, September 17 which is the statewide Beach Sweep/River Sweep day sponsored by the SC Department of Natural Resources.

Choose one of following three check-in/out locations:

Southshore Marina in Leesville
Lighthouse Marina in Chapin
Dreher Island State Park in Prosperity

Volunteers may choose to pick up litter…

On land around the check-in location,
On islands using your own boat,
From the lake’s surface using your own kayak or canoe,
From islands with help from a free boat ride from AquaFun Boat Rentals & Tours and other event partners (NOT currently available from Dreher Island State Park),
From beneath the water’s surface if participating with a dive team.

Pre-registration is required by Sep. 10th. Registered volunteers will receive a t-shirt, sandwich lunch, thank you gift and entry for larger prizes from local businesses.

Spread the word, bring a friend and let’s have some fun while cleaning up the Jewel of the South!

Register here by Sep. 10th!

To save time at check-in, download the appropriate waiver form below and return by Sep. 10th to