Sales Tax Free Weekend: August 2 – 4

During the annual Sales Tax Holiday, a variety of back-to-school essentials are exempt from the state’s 6% Sales Tax and any applicable local taxes. Tax-free items range from clothing, accessories, and shoes to school supplies, backpacks, and computers. Shoppers will also find tax-free items for their home or dorm room.

Broadly, exempt items include: clothing and accessories; footwear; school supplies used for school assignments; computers, software, and printers; certain bed and bath supplies. Check out the shopping lists on this page for examples of exempt and non-exempt items.

For more info, visit: SC Department of Revenue SC Tax Free Weekend website!

2017 Equifax Data Breach impact you?

July 2019


In September of 2017, Equifax announced a data breach that exposed the personal information of 147 million people. The company has agreed to a global settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and 50 U.S. states and territories. The settlement includes up to $425 million to help people affected by the data breach.

To read more and to easily check if you were impacted, click here and follow the instructions.

More about 2017 can be found here . And, of course, we all remember the 2012 incident in our state as well.

Am I the only one leery of even clicking where that link advised and putting in “last name” and “last 6 of social”. Hate to be paranoid but last week got me really thinking “big brother” is out there !

I went ahead and did it. Took Karen and I 30 seconds to see we were NOT impacted. Hope you weren’t either! Fingers crossed.

Richland County Recreation News

You may recall the past mess that was the Richland County Recreation Commission .

Once the delegation was able to make changes, we finally had someone from our area serve – and serve well, she has. Cynthia Shepard served for the past two years and recently stepped down to focus on other things in life. I’m hopeful the 14 Democrats and my fellow Republican on the delegation will support replacing Cynthia with another qualified individual from our area – so that we are not forgotten about while other parts of the county are seeing vast improvements and we are left with two antiquated parks.

Bill Malinowski is our county councilman and works directly with the county budget. I’m trying to help use some state funds that are set aside for each county to use in their parks. The county commissions must request the funds and our commission hasnot since 2017.

Today, I have again asked the county to support Friarsgate Park and Ballentine Park in our community. Because the majority of the delgation refuses to meet more than once a year, it will probably be January before I can hopefully give a positive update on my email to the County Recreation Commission Assistant and my colleagues on the legislative delegation.

As I learn more, I’ll obviously update!


To: Cornelia Watts;Jimmy Bales;Wendy Brawley;Beth Bernstein;Ivory Thigpen;Kirkman Finlay;Christopher R. “Chris” Hart;Todd Rutherford;Seth Rose;Leon Howard;Kambrell Garvin;Annie McDaniel;John Scott;Dick Harpootlian;Darrell Jackson;Mia McLeod;Thomas McElveen;
CC: Kim Janha

Ms. Watts, please share this email with the Chairman and Board. I do not have their emails.

Chairwoman Cotten and others,

First, thank you for your tireless service to the county and the commission. I cannot tell you how glad I am we no longer hear of the former turmoil and activities that occurred prior to your service.

As you know, a board member from my community recently resigned. We greatly miss Cynthia and I hope the delegation will meet soon and appoint a replacement. I will push for a replacement from our area as we have multiple county run parks that are very outdated compared to the others in Richland.

I’m sending this email to you and the delegation for 3 reasons:

1) Let’s appoint a replacement commissioner in the next 60 days – per notice by law, etc. I can certainly find very qualified individuals from the Irmo/Chapin area.
2) Can you and the Board contact the Irmo Little League (run from Friarsgate Park) and ask what safety and other improvements they NEED for that park?
3) Can you and the Board contact the Ballentine Civic Association (who, along with others, use Ballentine park) and ask what safety or other improvements they NEED for the park?

Today I received a packet from Alseha Cushman with SC Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism showing the Richland County PARD account balance is $513,308.08. I also see there have been no requests for 2018 or 2019 or for the upcoming 2020 budget year.

I’m certain our parks – especially the two mentioned above (Friarsgate and Ballentine) could use improvements that these funds were created for.

I’m also certain any matching funds could be raised by the groups that use the facilities.

Please call me if you have any questions or if you need contact information for Irmo Little League or the Ballentine Civic Association. It’s my hope the delegation will discuss and support requests this year to help our county parks – and keep county funds servicing county parks.

I hope you’ll visit my website often to stay informed about what’s going on in the State House and in our community!

Nathan Ballentine

House of Representatives, District 71

Richland-Lexington Counties

320A Blatt Building

Columbia, SC 29221

UPDATE on proposed housing projects in the area

Received this email Tuesday (screen shot below) after I followed up for a constituent about the status of the two proposed housing projects in our area.

Our community has experienced this before and I’m not sure what the final outcome will be. I’ve learned much during the past several years about these situations and frankly it comes down to “how much money is in the (federal) program” and “how may projects will that money cover”. The agency pretty much starts with high score and goes down the list of scores until money runs out.

One very interesting item is that during this past session (just months ago) a bill came to the House floor that would EXPAND this program to include STATE DOLLARS. Based on the feedback Rep. Huggins and I have received from y’all over the years, we quickly looked to amend the bill. If STATE DOLLARS are going to be used in the future, Rep. Huggins and I can have impact on that. As it stands currently, this program runs pretty much like I shared above.

As always, we will keep you informed as we learn more.

To view the scorecards of all projects in the state, click here .

D5 teachers, we need your input!

Hat tip to Ali Hendrick, a Dutch Fork High School social studies teacher, who was District Five’s 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year. Following her Twitter feed , I came across this:

From the SC Department of Education Website

At the direction of the South Carolina General Assembly through a Joint Resolution, the State Department of Education shall develop recommendations for reducing and streamlining the amount of paperwork and reporting required of teachers, schools, and school districts. These recommendations must include information on required reporting and administrative paperwork at the classroom, school, district, and state levels, the entity requiring the data or report, the method of reporting, and frequency of the report. The department shall report its recommendations to the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and the Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee. The department has compiled the following survey questions in an effort to best prepare these recommendations.

Click here to help with recommendations!

What changed today? Monday, July 1st


The S.C. General Assembly passed scores of new laws this year, some of which take effect Monday with the July 1 start of the state’s 2019-20 budget.

Here is a rundown of those changes and how they will affect South Carolinians.


The state’s 32,000 employees will get at least a 2% pay raise, starting in July.

On top of that, workers who earn less than $70,000 a year also will get a one-time $600 bonus.

Lawmakers are spending an extra $61 million this year on the raise and one-time bonus in an effort to retain state workers who have complained their low pay leads to high turnover and poor morale.

Most state employees haven’t had a raise in two years.


Improving South Carolina’s struggling public schools was the No. 1-stated priority of the General Assembly this year.

While state lawmakers failed to pass comprehensive education reform, they did agree to spend roughly $159 million more a year, starting July 1, to raise teacher pay in an effort to keep frustrated educators from fleeing the profession.

The money will raise pay for all 52,000 public school teachers in South Carolina by at least 4%.

Younger, less experienced teachers will get bigger raises than their more experienced counterparts as lawmakers seek to attract new educators and keep them in the classroom. The raise also will bump first-year teachers’ salaries by nearly 9.4% – to $35,000.

Teachers who choose to be paid only during the academic year – and not the summer – will see the increase in their paychecks when students return to school in August.

Read more of Avery Wilks’ story at The State

2019 COMMUNITY COOKOUT – coming soon!

I still remember the first time I hosted a Community Cookout in our area.

It was before the election in 2004 and I didn’t know what to expect as far as turnout. It was my first time running for office and I was running against a 16 year incumbent who was my party’s Majority Leader in the State House. Who was going to come? I assumed it’d be my family and maybe a handful of campaign volunteers and supporters – and that would be it.

Much to my surprise it was packed at the Rusty Anchor! I remember running out of food and I thought “everyone will be upset and mad now”. My consultant told me “Are you kidding me?? It’s a GREAT thing you ran out of food. You had far more people than we ever thought would be here!” Fast forward, I won the election weeks later and decided that going forward, I would always have an event like that for our area .

The cookout has grown and after that first year, I began inviting local and state elected officials to come so that you and your neighbors could mingle with them in a casual setting here on Lake Murray.

Every Governor since I’ve been elected has attended. Along with other statewide constitutional office holders, our national Senators/Representatives, local state Senators, Representatives, Mayors, County Council, School Board, Sheriff, Coroner and more!

We’ll have food, drinks, music and a great time on the shores of Lake Murray right here in Chapin!

Here’s a video of our last cookout (I host these every two years). The weather was bad, but everyone enjoyed it!

The invitation is above. It’s free to attend thanks to many sponsors, hosts and supporters! Please contact DREA BYARS at 804-413-5951 or to RSVP. All cookout sponsors, hosts and supporters will have a pre-reception before heading outside to join everyone else.

All contributions are appreciated! You an easily donate in 2 minutes by clicking here – or you can send a check to Ballentine for House, 108 Tapp Pointe, Chapin, SC 29036.

Please RSVP so we have a good headcount for food. As always, Jim LeBlanc will be playing his guitar for the crowd (he’s been playing at every cookout…I think 7 cookouts so far!)

Hope to see you there!

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

Pride in 5!

Every year, I love being present to watch our graduates walk across stage and begin the next chapter of their lives!

Whether it’s a four year or two year university or college, the work force, or serving our country in the military, each one has their whole life ahead of them to find out God’s plan for their life.

This year I missed Irmo’s graduation, but below are photos from the other three high schools in our community: Chapin, Dutch Fork and Spring Hill.

You can learn more about the success of each of these classes by going to my Facebook page. Incredible accomplishments and no doubt a reason for all of us to have #PrideIn5!

Veto! What are your thoughts on these?

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster Wednesday vetoed a total $40.7 million from the state’s $9.3 billion spending plan — leaving in place hundreds of millions of dollars to give pay raises to teachers, state employees and judges, and to return some money to taxpayers.

Below is his official veto message that I always like to share with my constituents. If you see a veto of interest to you, please let me know. To override the veto, it takes 2/3rd of the House and Senate. To sustain the veto, it only takes 1/3 of one body.


Dear Mr. Speaker and Members of the General Assembly:

I am vetoing and returning without my approval certain line items in R110, H. 4000, the
FY 2019-20 General Appropriations Act. However, I am happy to celebrate our successful
partnership in producing a resounding win for the people and prosperity of South Carolina.
South Carolina is on the rise. In the last two years alone, we have announced over $9
billion dollars in new capital investment and over 28,000 new jobs. Our agricultural base is
accelerating, our tourism industry is thriving, and we have become a major high-tech
manufacturing hub. South Carolina is the nation’s top exporter of tires and of completed

Our average annual manufacturing employment growth is 16%, the highest in the
southeast. Over and over we are recognized as one of the best places in the country to do
business, to visit or to vacation.

The current economic competition for jobs, investment, business, knowledge and talent is
as fierce and sophisticated as the world has ever known. It is a competition between states,
nations, companies and continents which offers reward and security for those who succeed.
Viewed in this context of economic competition, it is clear what we must do for future
generations of South Carolinians. We must compete. We must win.

In my inaugural address, I asked my colleagues in the General Assembly to work with me
in a new spirit of communication, cooperation and collaboration. We may wear different
jerseys, but we are all on the same team.

My executive budget contained bold proposals to keep South Carolina winning, and the
General Assembly has embraced and adopted over sixty of them in this state budget.
Together, we recommitted ourselves to providing the highest quality education for all of
South Carolina’s children. Recruiting and retaining excellent teachers was enthusiastically
embraced by both chambers and parties, resulting in the first of many steps to continue investing
in our teachers and our classrooms. Increasing teacher compensation was our first bold step, and
we will take more.

As I have previously noted, being perceived as weak in education is not good. But being
perceived as weak in education and not being committed to fixing it is disastrous.
The Rural School District Economic Development Closing Fund proposed in my
executive budget and included in this budget will provide the “spark” for recruiting jobs and
investment into our state’s most impoverished school districts. This funding will enhance
recruitment of companies in areas of the state which they might not otherwise consider – creating
jobs, infrastructure and long-term revenue.

Creating jobs and careers in these school districts will help transform these communities –
providing stability, keeping families together and offering the opportunities of prosperity. This
state budget emphatically begins the process of making the words “Corridor of Shame” a fading

Our classrooms and schools must also be safe, free from distraction and violence. That’s
why I proposed placing a School Resource Officer, a trained law enforcement officer, in every
school, in every county, all day, every day. The General Assembly has commendably provided
significant recurring funding to begin this process right away.

This state budget also fully supports my proposal to provide every public school in our
state with access to a mental health counselor through the Department of Mental Health’s school
services program. This way, the warning signs of troubled behavior and violence can be detected
before it occurs.

Thanks to a strong and vibrant South Carolina economy, our state enjoyed an unexpected
surplus in state government revenue. A surplus offers a rare opportunity for prioritizing the
essential needs of state government and then returning the balance to the taxpayers. While not
as large as I proposed, the General Assembly did embrace my proposal for a refund. For the first
time in recent history – and I hope not the last – South Carolina taxpayers will receive a one-time
rebate check.

This state budget also funds my proposed one-year freeze on tuition and fees for in-state
students at our public technical schools, colleges and research universities for the 2019 – 2020
academic year. I hope that this one-year tuition freeze will serve as the first step toward a
comprehensive overhaul of higher education funding and tuition reform.

Prosperity requires that we increase our investment in developing a skilled workforce to
fill the demands of today and tomorrow. The skills required in today’s modern workplace require
us to stay ahead of demand and adapt with rapid advancements in technology.

Accordingly, this budget directs more resources and funding toward enhancing workforce
training and development than ever before. Workforce scholarships and grants, apprenticeships,
skilled trade recruitment, and partnerships through our state’s technical colleges will continue to
provide South Carolina businesses with a pipeline of future employees who are ready to work.

One of the most important roles of government is to provide for the safety of its citizens.
Maintaining a sufficient law enforcement presence in South Carolina requires keeping
experienced officers in their jobs, as well as hiring and training new ones. This state budget
includes several of my executive budget proposals for public safety, including pay raises,
retention bonuses and the hiring of new officers. There are no finer law enforcement officers in
the United States than our own in South Carolina.

To my colleagues in the General Assembly I say: The people of South Carolina saw the
year begin with our pledges of cooperation, communication and collaboration. I believe this
state budget embodies that commitment. Let us continue to work together vigorously, thereby
ensuring that future generations of South Carolinians can keep winning and prospering.\

In that spirit, I ask that the General Assembly thoughtfully consider and sustain each of
the following vetoes: