Chapin Farmers Market is open again!

Second Saturdays in Chapin are the best time to visit our community. The Chapin Downtown Farmer’s Market begins on May 14.

Railroad Crossing repair: Rauch Metz Road


Spoke with DOT officials today and they informed me work should be completed by 6pm Tuesday.

This road (Exit 97) is very widely used in the area, so I appreciate your patience.

Lots of improvements in our community so there will be some “growing pains” as SCDOT works to ultimately improve our wait times getting to and from work/schools/ballfields/etc.

The Weekly Rewind: Week of May 2nd

House Floor Review
May 5, 2022

By the time you read this update (Thursday, May12), the SC House will have adjourned Sine Die, or the end of the 2021-2022 regular Legislative Session. There is work still left to complete and so we will come back to Columbia in the coming weeks and into the summer.

The Budget

First and foremost, we have the finalization of the budget process to look forward to. Weeks ago, we passed our House version of the budget which focused on the 4 R’s: Reserves, Raises, Relief, and Roads. The Senate has come up with its own version of the budget which is drastically different from ours. These differences will be reconciled over the summer to ensure that we have an appropriate budget that properly serves the people of South Carolina by our deadline of July 1.

If you haven’t seen the news headlines, last week week was marked by the Compassionate Care Act legislation, otherwise known as the medical marijuana bill , on the House Floor. A point of order was raised by an Upstate Representative based on a House Rule and the State Constitution. Our Constitution requires any measure that raises or creates a tax to originate in the chamber closest to the people – the House. Since this was a Senate bill and contained a tax, the Presiding Officer was obligated to rule it out of order as he did. There was an appeal and House members voted on that appeal. Narrowly, the appeal was denied as the majority of my colleagues understood the significance of following our constitution and the duties of both House and Senate. While I voted against the appeal (meaning I voted to uphold the ruling the bill was out of order), I was disappointed we did not get the debate we were looking to have. Many of you continue to let me know your support of the bill, and I agree with you. Years ago, I would have been against it; but as I learned more, researched more, and listened more, I came to the conclusion I would support the bill. I expect a House member will file a similar bill next year that won’t be ruled out of order, and we will finally get a debate in the House and a vote.

Restructuring DHEC

As your Representative, one of my goals is to make government and its agencies run more efficiently. My committee (House Ways and Means) met last Thursday to discuss a bill that, done right, will do just that by breaking up the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Senate 2 is a bill that will (as of July 1, 2024) break DHEC into:
the Department of Behavioral and Public Health (which will be the public health arm of the current DHEC) and,
the Department of Environmental Services (which will be the environmental side of current DHEC)
The Department of Mental Health and the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services will be operating as usual until the Department of Administration reaches their conclusion on how to incorporate these departments, and the General Assembly votes on it. This legislation passed out of House Ways and Means and I suspect by the time you read this column, will have passed the full House.

Cutting Taxes in SC
During this year’s session, the House passed an impressive state income tax overhaul that restructured our state’s convoluted and outdated tax bracket system. It provides significant relief to almost all taxpayers with a focus on relief for the working middle-class people. Once fully phased in, this plan will cut over $1 billion in taxes for South Carolina taxpayers and exempts all military retirement from taxable income.

S. 1087 was the Senate’s response to our tax plan. When comparing the House and Senate plans, our plan saves more money for more South Carolinians. That is what matters.We are not focused on just bringing down the top tax rate, but rather, we are focused on collapsing the middle rates to help hard-working middle-class people – where most South Carolinains find themselves. This is why during a meeting of the full House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, the committee voted to strike the Senate language and insert our tax plan, sending it to the Floor for a vote. I believe the House will approve our plan again and we will have a conference committee in the coming weeks to iron out the details of a plan both chambers can approve.

I look forward to getting the chance to support this legislation, which will significantly lower state income taxes for the majority of South Carolinians.

Since we are now out of regular session, I will start campaigning to earn your support again to return to Columbia for another term. With Representative Huggins (House District 85) retiring, I’m more determined than ever to assure we maintain my experience in office to continue to guide you and your families through issues with state agencies or to improving our quality of life. I also look forward to working with the winning candidate to replace Rep Huggins next year. As you know, I never endorse locally – so be sure you educate yourself on the candidates offering to serve you and our community here in Chapin and Irmo.

Our large signs are out at business supporters and soon you will see the individual yard signs popping up in your neighborhood. If you would like to show your support of People, Not Politics – please let me know and I will personally deliver a sign to you.

Thank you for the honor and privilege to serve you in Columbia in House District 71! Please call my office 803-734-2969 or home 803-834-4613 anytime. You can also email me at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov. Please put CONSTITUENT in the subject line so that I can more quickly return your email.

Large signs going up!

Wanted to thank a few of the local businesses that are again supporting my re-election campaign by having large 4×8 signs on site for the next 6 weeks. These businesses are all located within House District 71 and I’m honored to represent them in Columbia!

In the past, I’ve received the endorsement of one of the largest small business advocacy groups in the country. I understand what these businesses and individuals face on a daily basis. NFIB is the voice of small business, advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven. Since their founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses, and remains so today.

Beckham’s Barn
Cassell Brothers
Heritage Fields Farm
Marine 360
Silver Fox Grill
Stanick Sheet Metal and Roofing
Stow-Away Storage

In the weeks ahead you’ll see more businesses displaying their support with large signs and yard signs.

I’ll also be personally delivering yard signs to the more than 200 families that have let me know they will proudly support our campaign and my re-election.

The election is June 14th and once our legislative session ends later this month, I’ll be ramping up the campaign activities. For now, I’m focused on doing the job you have elected me to do!

The Weekly Rewind: The Week of April 26th

HOUSE FLOOR REVIEW
April 28, 2022

The House gave second reading to H. 4568, Chemically Induced Abortion Reversal Medical Information, and it was ordered to third reading. If enacted, this proposed legislation would require a medical disclosure of specific effectiveness information to anyone seeking a mifepristone or misoprostol induced abortion, including, but not limited to a Plan B or a “morning after pill,” with a few stated exceptions.

The Senate amended, then returned to the House, H. 4919, an absentee ballot and other comprehensive voting reforms proposal. This bill would, among other things, establish Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. early voting in South Carolina for the two weeks preceding any general election, and enact various other voting reforms as well. A county’s population and square mileage would determine the number of early voting locations to be established. After receiving the proposed Senate amendments to this bill, it was referred back to the House Judiciary Committee.

The House sent H. 5183, the Transparency and Integrity in Education Act, to the Senate. H. 5183 consists of three distinct concepts–a statement of legislative intent, a guide for non-biased instruction citing prohibited concepts that may not be included or promoted in the course of instruction in curriculum but also encourages a broad scope of history, and lastly, a uniform complaint process.

Legislative Intent
This section posits that South Carolina should have a fair and open education system where students, parents, educators, and the community are valued and included.
Students should have a positive learning environment that is welcoming, supportive and respectful.
South Carolina is fortunate to have teachers and administrators who strive to provide the best educational opportunity possible to students and parents.
Standards should be fair and well written to ensure a complete history of the state, nation, and world.
Ideological and viewpoint biases are not appropriate.
Students, parents, teachers, administrators, and communities should work together to support schools.
Parents are encouraged, but not required, to sign a “Pledge of Parental Expectations.”

Instruction
Instruction should be non-biased and include a broad scope of history:
Instructional material and professional development should not promote that one race, sex, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is superior, inherently privileged, or determines moral character. Moreover, those traits should not cause the assignment of fault or bias to an individual or group.
Students and teachers cannot be required to attend gender or sexual diversity training unless it is part of a corrective action plan mandated by the district.
Districts are allowed to teach state academic standards, including concepts such the history of an ethnic group, the impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history, and the impartial instruction of the historical oppression of a group of people based on race, ethnicity, and other characteristics.
SDE must create and make model lesson plans accessible to districts.

Complaints and Appeals
The State Department of Education must create a complaint policy and process for districts to use.
Districts must report information regarding complaints to the General Assembly.
If a complaint cannot be resolved locally, an appeal can be made to the State Board for a final determination. If the district violates the law, it must work with SDE on a corrective action plan.
The Department may withhold funds from a district if it fails to adhere to the corrective action plan.
Extra time is added for review of instructional materials.
The House amended the bill to further strengthen and protect the procedures for corrective action if a LEA violates the Act, partly among them: no preliminary information gathered by the Department concerning misconduct reasonably believed to constitute grounds for disciplinary action, including the name and certificate number of the certified educator, may be disclosed to any third party.
In an effort to stem the tide of inappropriate materials, the House further amended the bill to hold that a “school may not accept teaching materials or technology which contains an application, link, or other access to pornographic or other prohibited materials. A school district that receives such materials must receive disciplinary action as stated in the complaint process.”

One amendment expanded the range of materials subject to this Act, while the final adopted amendment prohibited the instruction or instructional materials that create a narrative that the United States was founded for the purpose of oppression, that the American Revolution was fought for the purpose of protecting oppression or that United States history is a story defined by oppression.

The House made appointments to a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on S. 1090, relating to the Department of Employment and Workforce’s authority to set a weekly maximum amount of unemployment benefits.

The House recalled S. 236 pooling city election precincts from the House Judiciary Committee. City election precincts could be pooled under this proposal, so long as the pooled precincts do not exceed three thousand voters. This new amount represents an increase from the former one thousand five hundred voters limit. In addition, these pooled municipal polling places could not be more than five miles, up from three miles, from the nearest part of any pooled precinct, if this legislation becomes law. It is now on the House calendar for consideration.

The House gave third reading and returned to the Senate with amendments S. 227, a bill that enacts the “Massage Therapy Practice Act.” Among many things, this bill updates and strengthens the licensure requirements for massage therapists. The bill adds an option of a completed approved program in place of a high school diploma or GED. “Massage therapy” means the application of a system of structured touch to the soft tissues of the human body with the hand, foot, knee, arm, or elbow, whether or not the structured touch is aided by hydrotherapy, thermal therapy, a massage therapy device, or application to the human body of an herbal preparation. Massage therapy includes, but is not limited to, bodywork modalities as approved by the board. The bill increases the massage therapy required educational hours and also requires passing the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB) or any other board-approved examination. No person shall use the words “massage therapy,” “bodywork therapy,” “massage-bodywork therapist,” “massage therapist” (MT), “bodywork therapist,” “massage or licensed massage therapist” (LMT) or any other words identified by the board in regulation unless the person is licensed. The bill requires a state criminal history records check, supported by fingerprints, by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, and a national criminal records check, supported by fingerprints, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The bill outlines disciplinary actions if licensee is considered not to be in compliance. In addition, the bill replaces the Panel for Massage/Bodywork with the Board of Massage Therapy under the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The House gave third reading and returned to the Senate with amendments S. 1059, a bill that adds intermediate care facilities for persons with intellectual disability and nursing homes to the list of facilities authorized to allow unlicensed persons with documented medication training and skill competency evaluation. The bill also adds that for nursing homes only, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) shall develop a Medication Technician Certification Program. The program should include standards not limited to curriculum, training and competence and testing certification requirements. As a result, DHHS is to create and maintain a Medication Technician Registry.

The House gave third reading and returned to the Senate with amendments S. 506, a bill that allows home based food production operations to sell online and mail order or to retail stores including grocery stores. The bill expands the types of non-potentially hazardous foods that may be sold to include non-potentially hazardous foods. A home-based food production operation does not include preparing, processing, packaging, storing, or distributing low-acid canned goods or charcuterie boards. Any retail stores, including grocery stores, that sell or offer to sell home-based food products must post clearly visible signage indicating that home-based food products are not subject to commercial food regulations.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H. 3606 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides clarification on what sort of decks can be built by homeowners and what other kinds of improvements to residential property can be undertaken by owners for their homes without becoming subject to requirements for obtaining building permits, inspections, and licensure. The legislation also revises residential specialty contractor provisions including: increasing the minimum value threshold for repairs, improvements, and other undertakings from two hundred to five hundred dollars; adding solar panel installers to the listed areas of contracting; and, establishing provisions prohibiting residential specialty contractors from undertaking work outside the scope of their licenses or registrations, including employing, hiring, and contracting or subcontracting with others to perform such work on their behalf.

The House did not concur in Senate amendments to H. 3729, a bill addressing charges for storing towed vehicles.

The Weekly Rewind: Week of April 19th

House Floor Review
April 21, 2022

With less than a month to go in the legislative session, expect to see a lot of attention given to the bills being debated these next few weeks! Since this is the last year of our two-year session, any legislation that does not become law before we adjourn will have to start the process over again next January.

Readers at www.nathansnews.com know about many of these issues coming to the House floor for debate: Educational Scholarship Accounts, Medicinal Marijuana, Certificate of Need, and – of course – our state’s budget.

Last week, the House passed H. 5183 the “Transparency & Integrity in Education Act” to address which many people around the country are calling the push for “Critical Race Theory” to be taught in our classrooms.

I have heard from many of you about your concerns and desire to “stop CRT” and also heard from many who believe this legislation could be a form of censorship and could prevent students from learning about the ugly parts of our state’s and nation’s history. This legislation (which now heads to the Senate) is just the opposite of that. This bill requires lessons in SC public schools to be impartial and age-appropriate. A concept I believe we can all find agreement.

The bill has three main concepts:

The first concept is a statement of the General Assembly’s intentions. At its heart, the bill declares that public education in South Carolina should be a fair and open education system where students, parents, educators, and the community are valued and included.

Students, parents, teachers, administrators, and communities are urged to work together to ensure and support for the state’s schools.

The second concept is that instruction should be non-biased and include the broad scope of history–both inspirational and shameful. To assist districts in doing this, the State Department of Education must create and make model lesson plans accessible to districts. The bill also ensures that material provided to students is age appropriate.

The third concept is that there must be a uniform complaint process and procedure that is fair to students, parents, and teachers. Disagreements will be encouraged to be resolved at the local level, but an appeals process to the State Board will be established.

The department must create a complaint policy and provide details of the complaint process. Districts, through the department, must report information regarding the complaints to the General Assembly. If the district violates the law, it must work with SDE on a corrective action plans. Funds may be withheld from a district if it fails to adhere to the corrective action plan.

What the bill does NOT do:

The bill is not simply a “mash up” of other bills. It was created only after 18 hours of public testimony, hundreds if not thousands of pages of written testimony, and assistance from the State Department of Education.

The bill does not discuss student feelings and subjective language is not used. Superintendent Spearman and others repeatedly told the committee that language prohibiting instruction that makes students feel uncomfortable would stifle teachers and be difficult to enforce. That language is not in the bill. Instead, teaching and instructional material should not promote or demean a particular race, sex, ethnicity, religion, or national origin.

The bill does not prohibit the teaching of controversial topics. Instead, it specifically provides that schools CAN teach the history of ethnic groups as described in state standards. They can allow for the impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history, and can have instruction of a particular group of people based on race, ethnicity, class, nationality, religion, or geographic origin. When doing so, the instruction must be impartial and done so without bias.

The bill does not cause extra work for teachers. During testimony, the committee heard that course syllabi is already (or should be) provided to parents and students at the beginning of the course. This bill merely affirms what should be in the syllabi. Because Superintendent Spearman ensured that every district has a Learning Management System in place, it has never been easier for schools to post the instructional materials that are used in the classroom.

This bill does not punish teachers for teaching controversial subjects. Yes, teachers can face disciplinary actions if they fail to teach those concepts in a fair and impartial manner, but the bill sets in place a process for a fair appeal by a teacher if a parent complain. The bill prohibits hearsay and groundless accusations and gives teachers, parents, students, and administrators an understandable and fair system for resolving differences.

The intent of this bill is to establish a transparent policy for teachers, parents, and students to maintain a high quality education not clouded by biases based on race, ethnicity, class, nationality, religion, or geographic origin.

Once session ends, I will begin my campaign to hopefully earn your support again in the June 14th Republican primary! I don’t like cluttering up the community with signs, but it’s the nature of the business. Please know that I place all my signs only where the property owner has given permission. I’m pleased again to have so many businesses and families offer to show their support in the weeks ahead. If you have any questions or concerns during the campaign, give me a call at home 803-834-4613.

It’s an honor to serve you and your family in Columbia!

8 weeks away from June 14th Primary!

We’re 8 weeks away from the June 14th Primary! I never take your support for granted and am humbled by the calls, emails, donations, and offers to display yard signs in the coming weeks! Asking for money stinks. Especially in these times of high gas, groceries, everything else, but if you can help, I’d appreciate it.You know I will spend it wisely.

Click here to donate!

The Weekly Rewind: Week of April 5th

House Floor Review
April 7, 2022

The House amended, gave third reading and sent to the Senate H. 4608, the “Save Women’s Sports Act.” The bill expresses the intent of General Assembly “to maintain opportunities for female athletes…and to provide them with…numerous other long-term benefits that result from participating and competing in athletic endeavors.” Athletic teams and sports must adopt a sex-specific designation in order to “maintain fairness for women’s athletic opportunities.”

The following activities are covered by the bill: interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, and club athletic teams sponsored by a public secondary school or public postsecondary institution. Teams or sports must be expressly designated as one of the following: males, men, or boys; females, women, or girls; or, coed or mixed (both males and females). Male sports or teams may allow female participation; however, female sports or teams are not open to males.
For the purposes of the bill, biological sex is determined at a team or sport member’s birth. A birth certificate is considered to correctly state an athlete’s biological sex if it is filed at, or near, the time of their birth. Students subjected to retaliation or other adverse actions by a school, public postsecondary institution, or athletic organization for reporting a violation of the law may file a private cause of action for injunctive relief, damages, and other relief available under law. Schools or public postsecondary institutions that suffer direct or indirect harm as a result of a violation of this section may bring a private cause of action for injunctive relief, damages, and any other relief available under law against the governmental entity, licensing or accrediting organization, or athletic association.

The House sent H. 5215 to the Senate. The bill authorizes a “University of South Carolina 2017 and 2022 Women’s Basketball National Champions’ Special License Plates.”

H. 3205 Constitutional Convention of the States was ratified as R. 141, and then sent to the Governor for his signature. It authorizes making an application to the US Congress to call a convention for proposing constitutional amendments pursuant to the US Constitution, Article V. The scope of this convention is limited to proposing amendments that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and Congressional members.

The House approved and sent the Senate H. 5198, a bill to restructure the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees. The legislation provides for the terms of the current elected and appointed trustees to expire on June 30, 2023, and makes provisions for a reconstituted board that is reduced in number from twenty to thirteen voting members (with no holdovers allowed).

Under the revisions, the General Assembly elects one board member from each of the state’s seven congressional districts, rather than from the sixteen judicial circuits. The General Assembly elects four at-large members each of whom must reside in a county in which the University of South Carolina operates a branch campus. No board member can reside in the same county as another board member. The legislation establishes a two-year term for the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and provides that a Chairman may serve no more than two terms.

The Governor appoints two at-large members. In addition, the Governor cannot preside over any meeting of this board. In addition to these thirteen voting members, the reconstituted board has three nonvoting ex-officio members: the governor, the president of the Greater University of South Carolina Alumni Association, and the president of the student body of the University of South Carolina’s Columbia campus. In any event, the student body president’s term will last while they serve as such, and no longer.

Elections will be held to set up this newly-constituted board, and initial board members’ terms staggered so that all board positions will not expire at the same time again. Nothing in these revisions prevents current board members from seeking re-election to this board.

The House approved the proposed committee amendment, gave third reading and sent to the Senate H. 3840, a bill that establishes the “Audiology and Speech-Language Interstate Compact Act.” The purpose of this compact is to facilitate interstate practice of audiology and speech-language pathology with the goal of improving public access to the services. Among many things, this bill sets minimum education and training requirements for audiologist and speech language pathologist in member states. In addition, a participating licensee must have a current unrestricted license to practice in home state and must have no history of disciplinary actions or criminal records that violates the rules of the compact. The bill adds that the department shall require a national criminal records check, supported by fingerprints, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The House approved the proposed committee amendment, gave second reading, and sent to the Senate H. 4614, a bill that allows Sunday hunting on wildlife management area (WMA) lands owned by the Department of Natural Resources or leased from the USDA Forest Service. Currently, there is a ban on Sunday hunting. The department must submit a regulation dealing with Sunday hunting to be filed for General Assembly review no later than December 31, 2022. The bill also includes that prior to final regulation submission, the regulation shall be referred to the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee for approval. This bill outlines that the purchaser/buyer of real property is solely responsible for investigating off site conditions of the property including but not limited to adjacent properties being used for agricultural purposes.
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H. 5057, annual tax conformity legislation. The legislation updates references to the federal Internal Revenue Code in state income tax law provisions to provide for coordination between state and federal income tax law provisions. For tax year 2021, South Carolina adopts the federal exclusion from gross income for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan advances received from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the federal exclusion from gross income for restaurant revitalization grant amounts received from the SBA as provided in the American Rescue Plan Act.

H. 3730 was ratified as R. 142, and then sent to the Governor for his signature. This bill would provide the additional circumstance of “other on-track equipment” (e.g., maintenance equipment) that would require a driver of a motor vehicle to stop a vehicle approaching a railroad grade crossing in order to obey a signal that indicates an approaching train. The House earlier concurred in the Senate’s amendments to H. 3730. The Senate deleted a section that included restrictions and fines on railroad companies for loitering locomotives and tardy trains, believing this to be a federal prerogative.
H. 4618 was ratified as R. 144, and then sent to the Governor for his signature. The bill regards bus definitions and stopping requirements at railroad tracks. The House amendment also clarified stopping requirements involving hazardous materials. These changes conform with federal law.
The House amended, gave third reading and sent to the Senate H. 4999, legislation giving DHEC another method to address hazardous waste cleanup. The legislation introduces the option of doing a site specific cleanup approach using a risk-based methodology, which means that each site would be viewed individually and evaluated with respect to its specific circumstances and risks posed to that site, its neighbors, air, land, surface, and groundwater. Current and future planned uses would also be taken into account. Current hazardous waste cleanup laws have not been really updated in the last 40 years, and this legislation takes into account that incidents do not need the same clean up approach. This, as a result, allows for a quicker turn around in the cleanup process. It is noted that some hazardous waste cannot be cleaned up to a suitable level and would require land use restrictions for the property. [Read more…]

House Floor: Save Women’s Sports

Leave a legacy at Lake Murray Dam

ORDER BY CLICKING HERE AND COMPLETING YOUR INFORMATION

From WLTX

LEXINGTON, S.C. — Area tourism officials announced on Saturday that Lake Murray will soon get its own welcome sign through a new project that will get the community involved.

The Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board announced the new “Welcome to Lake Murray” sign project by email and through social media on Saturday morning. When complete, the new signage will be located at the Lake Murray Dam at the intersection of North Lake Drive, Lake Murray Boulevard, and Bush River Road.

In addition to providing a notable gateway to one of the area’s most well-known lakes, the new signage is also expected to give locals a chance to be part of the historic process.

Through its “buy-a-brick” campaign, donors can have their names – or the names of loved ones – etched into individual bricks.

“Your engraved brick will serve as a permanent and lasting memory in this community and the signage will help welcome the 1 million+ visitors that visit this region each year,” Miriam Atria, the tourism board president, said in a statement provided to News19.

The tourism board said that the period to purchase a brick will continue through May 31, though space is limited.

Those interested in purchasing a brick for the project can visit LakeMurrayCountry.com/brick, call 803-781-5940 Ext. 200 or stop by the Lake Murray Country Visitor’s Center at 2184 North Lake Drive, Columbia.