The Weekly Rewind – January 25th


Working closely with Gov. Henry McMaster, leaders in the House and Senate promised to be bold this legislative session, and this week showed just how serious we are. It should be apparent that the overarching themes of this session will be education and tax reform.

Wednesday, the Governor devoted almost one-third of his entire State of the State speech to the need to find solutions to our outdated education system. On top of that, House Speaker Jay Lucas released a comprehensive education reform package. I will be posting a link to these bills on my website ( for all to see. I also plan to share with our local school board and Superintendent at our annual breakfast this week. I’m interested in hearing from all sides before signing on to these bills. While much of the focus has been on our teachers (rightfully so), there needs to be a focus on the student as well. Please take time to review these bills and share your input.

One of the key parts of this comprehensive education reform package is legislation (H.3759 which is 84 pages long) that tackles the fundamental changes we need to make to modernize our education system.

That bill, introduced on Thursday morning, includes a Student Bill of Rights that ensures every student has highly qualified teachers, excellent principal leadership and a system that puts the student’s successes first. I am committed to doing what is best for the next generation and it’s past time to imrpove the way we educate our students into the 21st century.

Additional highlights from the bill:

– Making sure third graders are promoted to the next grade level with the ability to read by revising definitions and exemptions in the 2014 Read to Succeed law.
– Requiring school districts with fewer than 1,000 students to consolidate with neighboring districts to share resources and save money.
– Dissolving school districts that have four consecutive years of failing scores.
– Increase the salary of first-year teachers to $35,000 next school year and provide an across the board 9% pay raise for all teachers over the next two years.
– Improving communication efforts from pre-school through college by creating a Zero to 20 Committee that is overseen by the Governor.
– Eliminating three end-of-year standardized tests in elementary schools.
– Requiring high school students to pass an admissions test before entering a technical college to ensure they are prepared for the next level of education.
– Requiring school boards to adopt ethics policies and training.

This particular bill focuses on policy, but more education reform bills are still to come. H.3759 is expected to be debated on the House floor in March so please share your thought with me before then.

One of my priorities this session is to continue to be a steward of the taxpayer’s dollar and to make sure the tax code is the best it can be for South Carolinians. I am also continuing my push to clean up Columbia by again working for passage of common-sense legislation that, simply put, would stop the gravy train for any official convicted of public corruption. The state should no longer be required to provide these individuals with taxpayer funded health and dental plans – as well as their retirement plans. Would you agree?

Please call me at my State House office (734-2969), my home (732-1861), email me at or connect via Facebook or Twitter. And, of course, stop me out here in Irmo or Chapin anytime you see me and want to offer support or advice!

Check your email box next week for February’s COMMUNITY UPDATE! If you haven’t been receiving these over the past decade, please email me and I’ll add you to the distribution list.

The Weekly Rewind – January 18th



For more information on any bill listed, click here , and type the bill number under “Quick Search”

January 18, 2019

The House of Representatives approved S.2, relating to the PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE in the South Carolina General Assembly, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation brings state statutes into conformity with the amendments to the South Carolina Constitution approved by voters and ratified in Act 214 of 2014 to allow for the joint election of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. These changes, which allow a gubernatorial candidate to select a running mate, have also eliminated the legislative duties of the Lieutenant Governor. With the Lieutenant Governor no longer serving as the presiding officer of the Senate, the Senate elects a President from its membership. This legislation amends numerous statutes to reflect the revised roles of these officers.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3630, a joint resolution that provides a three-month EXTENSION IN REAL PROPERTY TAX PENALTIES FOR WORKERS LEFT UNPAID DURING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN. For property taxes due on January 15, 2019, this legislation provides a three-month delay in the penalty schedule for unpaid property taxes and assessments that applies to real property owners who are federal government employees who have not been paid their salaries since the shutdown began on December 21, 2018. The extension also applies to federal government contractors who have lost a substantial portion of their income because of the shutdown.

District Five – public information meeting

From D5 Website:

CHAPIN – School District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties has scheduled a public information meeting Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, concerning proposed design plans for a new elementary school. The planned location for School District Five’s Elementary School 13 is on Amicks Ferry Road in Chapin, S.C.

The meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Center for Advanced Technical Studies in Chapin. The meeting will have a drop-in type format with displays for viewing, and members of the public will have the opportunity to provide written comments. Formal, verbal comments will not be taken during this meeting. Project information, including meeting materials and comment forms will also be available on the project website at

“The purpose of this meeting is to provide an opportunity to review and discuss individually with representatives the proposed design plans for Elementary School 13,” said School District Five School Board Chairman Robert Gantt. “Another purpose of the meeting is to gather information from the public on questions or concerns. We have strived to be transparent throughout this process. Personnel from the design firm will be available to answer questions and discuss the project with interested members of the public individually.”

Project information, including meeting materials, will also be available after the meeting on the project website at Members of the public may also submit input through the online comment card through January 31 by visiting the project website.

The Weekly Rewind – January 11th


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 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 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

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 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

Tired of that pothole?

The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) has launched a statewide effort after weeks of heavy rainfall have brought with it an increase in the number of potholes.

In order to help combat the pothole problem, SCDOT is launching a “Pothole Blitz” across the state by focusing our Maintenance crews on repairing potholes across the state for the next several weeks.

Deputy Secretary for Engineering Leland Colvin said “It is expected that these additional efforts will take several weeks before we return to normal patching activities,” adding that employees will be working extended hours. “Please use caution while driving and watch out for our work crews out on the roads trying to make these temporary repairs.”

The public is asked to help SCDOT by reporting potholes via SCDOT’s website or calling the SCDOT Pothole Hotline at 1-855-GO-SCDOT (855-467-2368).

“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

I’m back!

Yesterday began the 1st regular session of the 123rd South Carolina General Assembly.

After focusing on family and my paying job over the summer and fall, I’m back to my website where I will regularly post 2-3 articles each week.

Thanks for following along. You can also email me at to ask to be added to my monthly COMMUNITY UPDATE email that I have sent regularly since my election over a decade ago!

I have always believed elected officials that stay in touch regularly with their constituents are able to do a much better job!

Thank you again for the honor and privilege to represent House District 71 in Columbia.


Richland County needs you!

I’m hopeful we have constituents in Irmo/Chapin willing to serve on and, in many cases, improve upon, our Boards and Commissions. I could spend all day talking about the process and the outcomes.

Our Delegation is looking for good people to volunteer their time and expertise to our county boards and commissions. See press release below for more details and click here to print application (please submit to the county – and let me know by contacting me at

If you have any questions about the boards/commissions, please reach out to or contact me.

Thanks in advance for your interest!

*Note: For those with attention to detail, you’ll notice the Delegation Office hasn’t updated letterhead yet. You’ll still see names of individuals no longer on the delegation.

Richland County Land Development

While I’m always here to help (and this week alone have been involved fixing multiple “county issues”) our local Richland County Councilman is the first point of contact for any county issues – particularly zoning and development. As your State Representative, I have no vote on those matters. However, I did want to share this article with you that I ran across this week. I’m certain many of you are interested and can provide great input as the county seeks to update their standards.

New Land Development Manual Aims to Better Protect Water, Road QualityWednesday, June 27, 2018

Richland County is seeking input on a new set of guidelines aimed at limiting the negative effects construction projects may have on the surrounding environment.

The “Land Development Manual” establishes minimum standards for engineers, developers, plan reviewers, inspectors, contractors and other parties to abide by during the planning, designing and construction of land development and redevelopment projects in Richland County. The manual specifically targets stormwater issues and puts measures in place to ensure privately built roads meet S.C. Department of Transportation standards.

“Richland County development standards have not been significantly updated since 2001,” said Tracy Hegler, Richland County Director of Community Planning & Development. “We are requesting and encouraging input from every resident, developer, design professional and special interest group within the County.”

The Land Development Manual has four main objectives:

*Reduce how stormwater affects the water quality of nearby waterways (Stormwater is untreated water that enters storm drains and flows directly into nearby creeks, streams, rivers, lakes, ponds or dams. Pollutants that enter storm drains can negatively affect the animals and plants that rely on those waterways, and debris that enters storm drains can contribute in localized flooding.)
*Protect areas downstream of a construction project from adverse stormwater impacts
*Accept into the County’s road maintenance inventory roads built to specific standards
*Explain all County procedures associated with land development or redevelopment regulations

Residents are asked to review a working draft of the Land Development Manual online at and submit feedback about the draft document by contacting Engineering Associate and Plan Reviewer Kathleen Hatchell at or 803-576-2383.

The deadline to submit comments is 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30.

Residents can view a hardcopy of the manual at Richland County Development Services on the first floor of the County Administration Building, 2020 Hampton St., Columbia.

Tax Free Weekend – August 3rd – 5th

Official list from SC Department of Revenue – click here

From The State

With back to school just around the corner, South Carolina is rolling out once again its tax-free weekend.

Each year at 12:01 a.m. on the first Friday of August, the state waives its 6 percent sales tax on a wide range of selected items.

There have been no major changes this year, according to S.C. Department of Revenue spokeswoman Bonnie Swingle. No new items on the list. No items taken off.

Last year, tax-free weekend shoppers saved $2.2 million buying everything from ink pens to computers. And those savings extended to online purchases as well.

Here’s the list of items that are tax free this weekend:

Adult diapers

Aerobic clothing

Antique clothing


Athletic or sport uniforms or clothing (but not equipment such as mitts, helmets and pads)

Baby bibs

Baby clothes

Baby diapers, cloth or disposable

Baby shoes



Bath mats

Bath rugs

Bath towels (all sizes, including beach towels)

Bath washcloths

Bathing caps

Bathing suits

Bathing trunks

Beach capes and coats

Bed comforters and bed comforter sets

Bed duvets and covers

Bed linens, including baby bumper pads, canopies, baby crib padding, bed skirts, box spring covers, dust ruffles, mattress pads, mattress toppers, pillow covers and shams.

Bed pillowcases

Bed pillows (e.g. baby pillows, body pillows, husband pillows, throw pillows)

Bedsheets and bedsheet sets


Belt buckles


Blankets such as afghan, baby, electric and throw blankets


Bobby pins


Boots, including climbing, hiking, riding, ski, waders, fishing, cowboy

Bow ties


Bridal gowns and veils (must be sold; rentals are taxable)

Capri pants


Coats, capes and wraps

Computer hardware service contracts sold in conjunction with computers

Computer software

Computer software service contracts sold in conjunction with computer software

Computer software service contracts when the true object of the contract is to obtain computer software updates during the contract period

Computers: see end of post ***

Corset laces


Costumes (must be sold; rentals are taxable)


Daily planners or organizers when used by school children as a school supply

Dress shields



Elastic ponytail holders

Fishing boots

Formal clothing (must be sold; rentals are taxable)



Garters/garter belts


Gloves, including those for batting, bicycle, dress, garden, golf, ski, tennis


Graduation caps and gowns (must be sold; rentals are taxable)

Gym suits

Hair bows

Hair clips

Hand muffs






Hunting vests

Ice skates (rentals are taxable)

In-line skates (rentals are taxable)



Jogging suits


Leg warmers

Leotards and tights









Personal Digital Assistants or PDAs (PDAs are handheld computers used as daily planners. Please note that the exemption does not apply to cellphones with a PDA, computer applications or similar components.)


Pillows (all types)


Printer supplies

(Note: replaceable ink cartridges used in printers are exempt from tax as “printer supplies.”

Printers, but replacement parts are taxable)

Prom dress (must be sold; rentals are taxable)



Rain wear

Riding pants


Roller skates, provided the skates are permanently attached to the boots.



School supplies, including, but not limited to, pens, pencils, paper, binders, notebooks, books, blue books, book bags, lunchboxes, musical instruments (but only if the musical instrument is used in the classroom or at home in relation to school assignments).

Note: Items such as refrigerators, toiletries, bicycles and food purchased by college students are not school supplies and not exempt from the tax.

School uniforms

Scout uniforms

Shawls and wraps


Shoes, including ballet, baseball, bicycle, boat, boots, bowling (taxed if rented), cleated, cross trainers, flip-flops, football, golf, jazz/dance, soccer, track, in-line skates, ice skates, running, etc.) (rentals are taxable)


Shoulder pads for dresses, jackets, etc. (but not athletic or sport protective pads)

Shower curtains and liners (shower curtain hooks and rings and shower curtain rods are taxable)

Ski boots (snow) (rentals are taxable)

Ski masks

Ski suits (snow)

Skin diving suits







Sport clothing and uniforms, but not equipment such as mitts, helmets and pads.

Sport jacket



Support hosiery




Sweat suits





Towels of all types and sizes, including bath, beach, kitchen and sport towels. Paper towels are taxable.


Tuxedo (must be sold; rentals are taxable)




Wet and dry suits


(The following are examples of devices that are not considered computers for purposes of the sales-tax holiday exemption: cellphones, smartphones or any other handheld devices that allow users to make telephone calls; handheld devices that are primarily used to download and listen to music; handheld devices that are primarily used to download and watch videos; and devices that are primarily used to download and read books (e-books).

However, portable devices that have computing and media functions, allow users to access the internet and have a multitude of software applications (or the capability to download a multitude of software applications) are considered computers for purposes of the sales-tax holiday exemption, provided such devices do not allow users to make telephone calls.

Note: The sale of a computer monitor, keyboard or scanner by itself would not be exempt during the sales-tax holiday. If a monitor, keyboard or scanner is purchased as part of a package that included the computer processing unit, then that is one transaction to purchase a computer and the sale of the packaged unit (CPU, monitor, keyboard, scanner) is exempt. The sale of a digital music player, digital camera, cellphone or a smartphone, whether or not purchased in conjunction with a computer processing unit (CPU), is not exempt during the sales tax holiday.