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 I will push for a replacement from our area as we have multiple county run parks that are very outdated compared to the others in Richland.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

www.nathansnews.com

House of Representatives, District 71

Richland-Lexington Counties

320A Blatt Building

Columbia, SC 29221

More than 250 pre-filed bills. Your thoughts?

politics-stack

Since last session, I’ve been hearing from many of you on a variety of topics. Mainly: Roads and Ethics. To that extent, I focused my time and research on those topics and introduced (or re-introduced) legislation that can help. It won’t be the “end all; be all” but it’s a step in the right direction and does more than what we currently have in place.

I have additional legislation I am finalizing in the coming weeks dealing with additional ethics reforms, autistic children and consumer privacy. As those develop, I’ll pass along for you to read.

What are your thoughts on these bills and the links below to the other House and Senate prefiled bills that were priorities to 176 elected officials the state sent to Columbia?

H. 3009 (Word version) — Reps. Ballentine, Norman, Long and Atwater: A HOUSE RESOLUTION TO AMEND RULE 1.9 OF THE RULES OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, RELATING TO THE APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEES AND THE ELECTION OF COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE CHAIRMAN OF A COMMITTEE MAY NOT SERVE MORE THAN FIVE CONSECUTIVE TERMS.
Referred to Committee on Rules

H. 3010 (Word version) — Rep. Ballentine: A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, TO ENACT THE “SOUTH CAROLINA MARKETPLACE AND INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENT ACT” BY ADDING SECTION 12-36-960 SO AS TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE TO TAKE CERTAIN NECESSARY ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS IN THE EVENT THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES ENACTS LEGISLATION REQUIRING STATES TO COLLECT SALES AND USE TAX FROM REMOTE SELLERS, TO PROVIDE THAT IF THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES ENACTS LEGISLATION THAT PERMITS STATES TO COLLECT SALES AND USE TAX FROM REMOTE SELLERS, THE DEPARTMENT SHALL REQUIRE THE COLLECTION OF SALES AND USE TAX FROM REMOTE SELLERS, AND TO PROVIDE THAT SALES AND USE TAX REVENUE COLLECTED PURSUANT TO THIS ACT MUST BE CREDITED TO THE STATE HIGHWAY FUND FOR THE CONSTRUCTION AND IMPROVEMENT OF ROADS AND BRIDGES.
Referred to Committee on Ways and Means

H. 3011 (Word version) — Rep. Ballentine: A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 11-11-275 SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT IF THE BOARD OF ECONOMIC ADVISORS ADJUSTS ITS FORECAST FOR THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR AFTER THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES GIVES THIRD READING TO THE ANNUAL GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT, ANY INCREASE IN PROJECTED REVENUE ONLY MAY BE APPROPRIATED TO THE STATE NON-FEDERAL AID HIGHWAY FUND.
Referred to Committee on Ways and Means

H. 3012 (Word version) — Rep. Ballentine: A BILL TO AMEND SECTION 1-11-730, AS AMENDED, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO ELIGIBILITY IN THE STATE HEALTH AND DENTAL PLANS, SO AS TO DISALLOW CERTAIN FORMER MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY FROM PARTICIPATING IN THE PLANS IF THE MEMBER IS CONVICTED OF, PLEADS GUILTY OR NOLO CONTENDERE TO CERTAIN CRIMES.
Referred to Committee on Judiciary

H. 3013 (Word version) — Rep. Ballentine: A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 11-35-3017 SO AS TO REQUIRE CHIEF PROCUREMENT OFFICERS OF GOVERNMENTAL BODIES TO UNDERTAKE LIFE-CYCLE COST ANALYSIS FOR ALL PUBLIC WORKS CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS THAT ARE EXPECTED TO COST MORE THAN ONE MILLION DOLLARS; AND TO AMEND SECTION 11-35-3020, RELATING TO ADDITIONAL BIDDING PROCEDURES FOR CONSTRUCTION PROCUREMENT, SO AS TO AUTHORIZE ALTERNATE INFRASTRUCTURE-TYPE BIDDING PROCEDURES FOR PUBLIC WORKS CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS.
Referred to Committee on Ways and Means

House Bills prefiled on 12/11

House Bills prefiled on 12/18

Senate prefiled bills

COMMUNITY UPDATE: September 2010

While I don’t have an opponent in November, I’m always talking with neighbors at their doorsteps and out in the community to hear what’s important to them and learn what I can from the voters! A friend once told me that elected officials who stay in touch year round – and not just at election time – always have a better chance of staying informed and doing the best job for their constituents!

Just this week I ran into a few community members that follow me on Twitter and Facebook and they always appreciate how I keep everyone informed of more than just the “political stuff”.

I probably write too much about the kids, my musical “tastes” (80s mainly) , where I’m going , the Gamecocks and things like that – but that’s just me. I do talk politics a good bit but 140 characters probably isn’t the best way to hear about your concerns or learn about legislation you think can move our state forward.

*** STATE HOUSE ***

A few weeks ago, many members of the House Republican Caucus met to continue crafting an agenda we feel can best move our state forward and improve our economic climate and education system, streamline government and improve our quality of life.

I was pleased to see the cohesiveness of how many of our Republican members are anxiously looking forward to returning and working with one of our former members, Rep. Nikki Haley (R-Lexington), should she be elected as our next Governor this fall.

Reforms, that were once discussed and never made it out of committees, seem to have new life and should have a good chance of getting to the floor for full House debate next year (and hopefully Senate). Each election cycle seems to return power to the voters and elected officials get a chance to hear loud and clear what their constituents demand and how the “status quo” is no longer what the voters are looking for in goverment – local, state, and national.

In other news, many of you have spoken with my legislative aide, Eileen Fogle, over the past six years. She’s the one who keeps the office running and makes sure I’m returning my calls and emails! Unfortunately, her mother passed away this morning after weeks in hospice. Please keep Eileen and her family in your prayers.

*** YOUR MONEY ***

As many know, a significant portion of House District 71 is in Richland County. If you are not already aware, a Transportation Penny Sales Tax will be on the ballot this November. I’d encourage each of you to make next week’s meeting in our area to hear first-hand the details of this plan.

September 15 at the Harbison Recreation Center (106 Hillpine Road) from 6pm to 7pm

*** COMMUNITY ***

Monday was the Chapin Labor Day Parade and later this month, the Irmo Okra Strut will kick into high gear! This year, I hope you’ll join many in our community at the 5th Annual Irmo Community Prayer Breakfast to be held at First Baptist of Irmo. We’re almost at 200 RSVPs already to hear Gamecock Football Chaplain, Adrian Despres! This guy is someone you’ve got to hear. Thanks to our sponsors, the event is again FREE this year. Simply RSVP by September 16 to Elizabeth Donehue (843) 864-9414 or elizabethdonehue@gmail.com

If you’re not a member of the Ballentine-Dutch Fork Civic Association (BDFCA), you may not be aware of all the recent details of the proposed apartment complex for Lake Murray Marina. Here’s an article from The State from July but there have been ongoing meetings between the Association and the developer.

Speaking of the BDFCA, this weekend we learned of the passing of a very active member: Phil Kuzlik. Phil did for many things for our community: he served on the BDFCA board, he helped with missions, was active in the Richland County Law Enforcement, and one thing he enjoyed the most was playing Santa for the kids! Phil will be missed by many.

*** OUR SCHOOLS ***

As you’ve probably noticed (at parades, signs along the road), we have School Board elections this November in both the Richland and Lexington side of House District 71. The district’s website has more information and for the sake of fairness and impartiality, I’m not linking any candidate’s websites in this update.

I mentioned Twitter earlier in the update and wanted to share some new additions from our community that you may want to follow related to the schools. Dutch Fork Principal Gregg Morton is now “tweeting” as is Dutch Fork High School Football. If you know of other schools, teachers, teams with social media sites, please share with me so that I can pass along to others in the community!

Lastly, I wanted you to know that I try to update you every Saturday morning with the area’s football teams’ records and whether they won their game on Friday. I can’t be at all the games but sometimes I’m even getting updates from students or parents who are sitting the stands! Thanks for keeping me informed so I can keep others informed as well.

** THANK YOU **

Thanks again for the privilege to return to Columbia and represent the Irmo/Chapin/Ballentine/Dutch Fork community! If you have events or people you’d like me to share with the community through Nathan’s News, please let me know and I’ll do my best to help!

I’m always eager to spend time with you at your Homeowners Association Meetings, Churches, and other civic events in the community! Let me know dates and times and I’ll work to be there!

During the next few months, please contact me here through Nathan’s News anytime
I can help!

Nathan Ballentine
www.nathansnews.com
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29221

COMMUNITY UPDATE: May 2010

*** STATE HOUSE ***

We’re into the final weeks of this two-year session and the House has passed several bills of significance since my last Community Update. Briefly, I’ll list a few that might interest readers.

H 4657 (conference committee likely) “The Budget”
H 4282 (in Senate) Bans Texting While Driving
H 3305 (on ballot November,2010) Constitutional Amendment allowing secret ballots for union elections
H 3442 (became law) Creation of Department of Workforce
H 3047 (in Senate) Spending Accountability Act (aka “ On-the-record Voting “)
H 3396 (on ballot November,2010) Constitutional Amendment to increase state’s General Reserve Fund
H 4248 (became law) Criminal Background checks for substitute teachers and others
H 3584 (overrode Gov veto) Cigarette Tax increased by 50 cents
H 3418 (in conference committee) Voter ID bill
S 191 (overrode Gov veto) SC Reduction in Recidivism Act of 2010 (aka “Warrantless Searches)
H 3645 (still in Senate) Lose driver’s license if dropout of school

*** YOUR MONEY ***

Can the House and Senate agree on a budget this year? Or more likely, when will a budget pass?

Let’s not kid ourselves, there simply is little will to “shut down government” in Columbia (which obviously we should NOT do; however, it could get to that point). However, instead of making some tough decisions or fighting for constituents and taxpayers , many members will hold their nose, make a vote to pass the budget, and end the session and come back in January (or earlier to deal with vetos). Trust me, the budget always passes; but this year it might be one of the closest votes I’ve seen in six years.

Just weeks ago, after an all-night session, the House barely mustered up enough votes (64-52) to send the bill to the Senate. Nathan’s News readers already know a few of the sticking points that will need to be addressed this week or next before final passage of some version of state spending can happen.

Look for House Democrats to play the role of “fiscal conservatives” this year and fight against fee increases placed by the Senate. If approximately 15 Republicans join too (which, last I checked Republicans should be conservative), that’s enough to keep anything from passing the House.

Gonna be interesting. Definitely will see some arm-twisting and deals being cut. While the House has 124 members, honestly only 20 (if that) craft the budget. Perhaps if more were given a role in the process, things could be smoother. I don’t have all the answers but I do know many officials feel disenfranchised with the process. Imagine how the people of the state feel?

*** COMMUNITY***

Next month voters across the state go to the polls for primary elections (Republicans and Democrats). Here locally, we’ll be voting for our Richland County Councilmember. Bill Malinowski (incumbent) is being challenged by Ronald Colley . As you know, I don’t endorse in local contests and am willing to work with anyone the community decides to elect to represent us.

Later this fall, we’ll have elections for Lexington/Richland School District Five Board of Trustees. I always say education doesn’t have an R or a D behind it, so regardless of party, be sure to vote for who you think can best serve our community and children.

Thank you for your continued support of my service to the area. I’m honored to finish my third-term as your Representative and look forward to continuing work for more responsible government and lifting our state to higher ground in the near future.

*** SCHOOLS ***

On a personal note, I can’t believe J.C. is almost done with kindergarten (RiverSprings) and that this week will be the last time we drop one of the kids off at Gateway Baptist PreSchool (Emma). Sarah’s looking forward to Chapin Middle next year while JC and Emma will be “back together again” when they both go to Lake Murray Elementary.

I’m in the final stages of awarding this year’s Ballentine Scholarships . I have several more finalists to interview and every year I’m very impressed with the students our community graduates.

The past few weeks, I’ve seen several individuals from the area visit as shadows for Representative Huggins or myself or to see what goes on in Columbia. I’ve also enjoyed welcoming our outstanding teams and students to the State House. The next State Champion to stop by will be the Chapin High School 3A Boys Tennis Team who defeated Camden this weekend for the state title. I look forward to recognizing Coach Rodgers, team leader Kyle Koch and the rest of the young men for this accomplishment that will stay with them a lifetime.

Once again, I’ll be present to see all three area high schools walk across the stage next month at Carolina Coliseum. Our district graduates some of the brightest young men and women who will go on to college, military or workforce and make our community proud. Congratulations to the Class of 2010 (and the parents)!

** THANK YOU **

Thanks again for the privilege to return to Columbia and represent the Irmo/Chapin/Ballentine/Dutch Fork community! If you have events or people you’d like me to share with the community through Nathan’s News, please let me know and I’ll do my best to help!

I’m always eager to spend time with you at your Homeowners Association Meetings, Churches, and other civic events in the community! Let me know dates and times and I’ll work to be there!

Please contact my office, 734-2969, or contact me here through Nathan’s News anytime
I can help!

Nathan Ballentine
www.nathansnews.com
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29221

COMMUNITY UPDATE: March 2010

*** STATE HOUSE ***

We’ve almost completed two months of this year’s session and have passed several reforms in advance of the upcoming Budget Debate in two weeks. For a recap of each week in the House, simply click on the following Weekly Rewind links that I post every week: Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five, Week Six. (This week’s rewind will be posted Sunday)

*** YOUR MONEY ***

Monday, March 9th, the budget (as passed by the House Ways and Means Committee) will be on our desks for review. This will be the first chance all 124 House Members get to see the final version – before we begin full debate the following Monday, March 15th . One thing we shouldn’t have to worry about in this year’s budget are any hidden earmarks . Simply put, this year’s budget will be the “ugliest” our state has seen for many years. There are certainly no winners and there are several losers…specifically deep cuts to several agencies. When you’re faced with over $1 billion in revenue shortfall, every decision is critical.

The amendments are always interesting every year. Fortunately, I know of one amendment that is sure to pass: “fixing” cuts that were slated for DDSN . After that, it’s anyone’s guess what may change in the plan that has been worked on for months. Usually amendments RARELY pass. Obviously, there are many attempts to move funds or remove certain provisos (one year “instructions” tucked in the budget); but usually they all fail to muster enough votes to pass.

I believe everything happens for a reason and it’s my hope that my colleagues will further understand that when we ever see a “windfall” in revenues, we will be more responsible in our decisions and put the state’s interests ahead of bringing pork back to our districts. I’m actually impressed to see that in this session, there has been less focus on pet-projects and more discussions/debates over what the primary functions of state government should be.

What is very distrubing though is the thought about what will happen when we return in 2011 and the budget is no longer propped up by “stimulus funds”. We elected leaders need to focus daily on how to improve our economy, jobs and education in South Carolina.

*** COMMUNITY***

Tuesday, March 9th is a great opportunity for you and your family to Meet and Greet my good friend , and gubernatorial candidate, Nikki Haley at Wild Wing Cafe on Bower Parkway (off Harbison). I’ve asked Nikki to give our community this special chance to learn more about her and her vision for South Carolina in a up-close setting. For too long, our state has made the news for the wrong reasons. Nikki will be a breath of fresh air that will make our state proud with her common-sense approach to fix what continues to hold our state back. If you have not yet determined your candidate, I hope you’ll stop by. The Republican and Democratic primaries are only a few months away!

Speaking of great events in the area! I hope you’ll also join Karen and I next month (April 1, 2010) for the Innagural Keven Cohen Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Kick-Off Cruise aboard The Spirit of Lake Murray located at Dockside Marina in Balletine. The evening will consist of great food provided by The Melting Pot and Alodia’s as well as a live auction and a 3-hour cruise! For ticket purchases ($75 each) please contact Paul Jeter (803) 731-4060 or paul.jeter@lls.org. *** I’d like to point out that Keven is a member of our community, as are the owners of the Melting Pot, Alodias and the Spirit of Lake Murray. Let’s rally behind our community members and this great cause and raise money for a very deserving cause!

For those neighbors that live within the City of Columbia limits, don’t forget to vote for a new Mayor, April 6. There are several candidates, including my friend, Stephen Benjamin , whom I served with in the USC Senate as well as served as his chief-of-staff many years ago. Kirkman Finley , currently on City Council, is also running.

*** SCHOOLS ***

District Five will see several new leaders in our high schools (and on the football fields) next year. Irmo High will welcome Rob Weinkle as their principal in July; while Akil Ross has been named principal of Chapin High , also effective July. On the athletic fields, Dutch Fork’s football team will have it’s second Head Coach in the school’s history when Tommy Knotts takes over for retiring coach/AD Bill Kimrey. Meanwhile Chapin High is still in the process of finding a replacement for first-year coach Scott Earley who leaves after only one season to cross the dam to Lexington High School.

Chapin Middle will also have a new leader when Jane Crawford retires. Michael Lofton , currently asst. principal at Dutch Fork Middle, will make the short drive down 76 to become Chapin Middle’s new principal.

Congratulations to Stuart Hope and Nate Polley (both Chapin High wrestlers) on their 3A State Champion titles! Sutart (who went an incredible 52-0 in matches this year) was the 112-pound state champion and Nate wa the 130-pound chapmion. Irmo’s T.J. Dudley also is State Champion in the 171-pound division of 4A.

The Dutch Fork’s girls basketball team had a great run this season (21-6A) come to an end in the 4A Lower State Championship last week but I’m expecting even bigger things from the team next year!

** THANK YOU **

Thanks again for the privilege to return to Columbia and represent the Irmo/Chapin/Ballentine/Dutch Fork community! If you have events or people you’d like me to share with the community through Nathan’s News, please let me know and I’ll do my best to help!

I’m always eager to spend time with you at your Homeowners Association Meetings, Churches, and other civic events in the community! Let me know dates and times and I’ll work to be there!

Please contact my office, 734-2969, or contact me here through Nathan’s News anytime
I can help!

Nathan Ballentine
www.nathansnews.com
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29221

COMMUNITY UPDATE: November 2009

There’s a lot to share this month!

ACCEPTING PAGE APPLICATIONS IN NOVEMBER: If I represent your family in House District 71 and your son/daughter is a college-student in the Midlands that would like to serve as my page for 2010 session, please contact me this month. Page work in the House is for 12 hours each week ($7.25/hour) and includes being assigned to a specific committee or the House floor, running errands, filing, some computer work and some research.

** STATE HOUSE **

Last week was one of the most enjoyable weeks in my short-tenure as your state representative and I hope it’s the beginning of a new era in Palmetto State politics . First and foremost, we worked together for the benefit of our state with no partisan bickering and no “us v. them” finger-pointing. We also stayed focused on what is important to the people who elected us: jobs, jobs, jobs. Here’s a brief summary with details on what we accomplished in two short days.

Soon, we’ll be able to pre-file bills for the session that begins January 12, 2010. If you have suggestions for legislation or have bills of interest to you, please contact me directly through Nathan’s News (Click “Connect”) so I can research, consider drafting legislation and also watch those bills closely on your behalf. The pre-file dates are November 17 and December 15. Please know that this is the second-year of a two-year session so it would be extraordinary for a bill filed this month to become law in just five short months. We’re also expecting more furlough weeks this session: February 9, March 29 and April 6 which will also make passage of newly filed bills very uncertain.

As you know, a year from now will be another General Election for the House of Representatives and all statewide constitutional offices. Several campaigns are already in full-swing and, like all political races in South Carolina, it’s probably just a matter of time before the mud starts slinging . I’m hopeful for a new day in Palmetto Politics; but while we may have appeared to work together last week, you can bet that all will change when the two parties (and political consultants for each candidate) start campaigning against each other. Unfortunately, many campaigns use the “stragegy” of attack, smear and slander, in hopes that voters will believe anything and not actually focus on the issues and ideas that can improve our state. I’m sure I’m like you when I write I would rather hear candidates talking about their ideas and qualifications and not attack (factually or otherwise) their opponent. Hey, we can all hope; can’t we?

** YOUR MONEY **

One year ago this month, 58% of voters supported a $244 million bond-referendum for school renovations and additions. District Five is keeping everyone informed of the progress you’ll be seeing over the next few years. The scope of the each proposed project is subject to change and I have learned that bids are coming in much lower than originally expected. [Read more…]

COMMUNITY UPDATE: July 2009

We’re at the halfway point of summer and I hope you and your family have had a chance to relax and spend time together at the lake, beach, mountain or wherever it is you can relax (and try to stay cool)!

As you can tell, I haven’t written as many blog posts this summer but will be more regular now that our vacations are behind us . For the first time in several years, I didn’t have a monthly update (June). Sorry about that! Come back often and let me know your thoughts!

STATE HOUSE

What more can I say after the shocking news from the State House last month? Before I left for vacation, I shared my thoughts here and here on my blog. Again, I can only hope that something good can come out of all this for our state. Certainly my prayers are with Mrs. Sanford, the boys and our Governor during these times.

Focusing on our state is what we need to be doing though and the House Republican Caucus will be meeting next month to share our ideas and agenda items we’d like to see pass next session. Since January 2010 marks the last year of this two-year session, we’ll need to focus on building consensus (within party, with Democrats, with Senate, with Governor’s Office) if we are to make real improvements in jobs, education, healthcare, our tax system and the overall well-being of our citizens. Any legislation that does not pass by next June will be dead.

YOUR MONEY

While the overall economy is struggling, there are a few things we can all do to help stretch our dollar . One thing my family does when we go out to east is try to take advantage of Kids Eat Free nights . Karen also uses coupons at the grocery store, we buy generic items (mostly), and she’s a regular with the “1 cent coupon” at Publix. You can also save a little bit on gas by driving a few more blocks down the road or using Kroger, Sams, Walmart cards. Many folks are also refinancing as mortgage rates continue to hover around 5%. If you can get a home equity loan to payoff higher-rate credit cards, I’d recommend that because Prime is very low now (beware, it can – and will – go up though). You can buy clothes from consignment stores or Ebay and you can also sell clothes there as well. Lastly (and I’ll admit we do NOT do this here at home) you can turn up your thermostat a little and water your yard a little less.

Those aren’t earth shattering actions but if you aren’t already doing some, you might want to consider. I’d be curious to learn of other ideas you have too. Please feel free to share with the readers!

COMMUNITY

I’ll be hosting a COMMUNITY COOKOUT next month that I hope you can attend. I first hosted the event two years ago and was pleased to see almost every local elected official in attendance. When elected officials stay in touch regularly (instead of just during an election year), I feel we are better able to do our job. This cookout is a great way for you to meet/talk with school board members, mayors, county council members, town council members, Representatives, Senators, and statewide elected officials. I’ll post more information later but go ahead and put down Tuesday, August 18th at the Rusty Anchor in Chapin on your calendar. Much like the Irmo Community Prayer Breakfast that Rep. Huggins and I started 4 years ago, this cookout is an event I hope will continue for many years to come!

RICHLAND 101: From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m, July 23, children ages 6-12 can learn about county government at Dutch Square Center. A free lunch will be provided. Children will learn about animal care, climb inside a firetruck, and ambulance and talk insets with the county’s bug man – among other activities. For more information or to register call 576-2067 or click here.

LEAGUE OF CHAMPIONS: The Irmo Little League has again produced state champions this season! Coaches Pitch, Minors and Majors leagues all had state/division championship teams. Some will go on to represent our state in national tournaments later this week and next month!

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT: Since my August update might not go out the first week, I wanted you to know August 4, 2009 is National Night Out. Last year I rode with Law Enforcement and attended events in various neighborhoods. If your neighborhood is having events that night, please let me know and I’ll try to arrange to be there. Last year I again visited Waterford, Riverwalk, and the Village at Hilton.

SPIRIT OF LAKE MURRAY: NathansNews readers already know about the newest vessel on Lake Murray. Joining the Southern Patriot will be the Spirit of Lake Murray (hosting Sunday lunch cruises this summer). Now there are two great ways to enjoy the crown jewel of the midlands – Lake Murray!

SCHOOLS

Last month, I mentioned that our school district was now on Twitter . You can get insight from following the district there or, of course, the district’s website . I had lunch with Dr. Berg last month and appreciated his frank, open conversation about where our district was, what got us here, and his vision on where he’d like to go next. Board Members already confirming their attendance at this year’s community cookout are Carol Sloop, Jan Hammond, Roberta Ferrell, and Ellen Baumgardner.

In late May, I announced the 2009 Ballentine Scholarship Winners . Every year the selections get more difficult as our district has outstanding bright minds with leadership qualities! During graduation ceremonies this year, I was pleased to learn of the highlights of our Class of 2009 in District Five: scholarship money, National Merit Scholars, sports/club state championships, etc!

THANK YOU

Thanks again for the privilege to serve you in Columbia! If you have events or people you’d like me to share with the community through Nathan’s News, please let me know and I’ll do my best to help!

I’m always eager to spend time with you at your Homeowners Association Meetings, Churches, and other civic events in the community! Let me know dates and times and I’ll work to be there!

Please contact my office, 734-2969, or contact me here through Nathan’s News anytime I can help!

Nathan Ballentine
www.nathansnews.com
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29221

Budget Stimulus Debate: Give Peace a Chance

When I first spoke with my pastor years ago about possibly serving our community and state, he told me “Politics isn’t Sunday School.” That phrase has stuck with me (and been proven, time and time again). But tonight, maybe the two worlds collided? My daily devotional made me think – maybe this stimulus “battle” can get behind us; if we give peace a chance.

“It is Satan who kindles the flames of contention in men’s hearts, and then stands and warms himself at the fire” – Thomas Watson (c1620-1686).

The devotional goes on to say “God is a peacemaker….He is referred to as the God of peace… and Jesus is described as Prince of Peace….While our peacemaking includes being ambassadors for Christ and spreading the gospel…it goes beyond that, too….it includes working toward unity within our body of Christ….our love for one another greatly affects our influence with those outside the church….being a peacemaker means getting involved in difficult relationships for the sake of the gospel and God’s glory…it’s what sons of God must do.” It ends with “Bottom Line: Being a peacemaker is about putting others before yourself because it isn’t easy work. It’s necessary work, though, and it’s what God calls His children to do.”

Now, I’m not sure if I’m making my point or not but I’m getting at is this: Can’t our state leaders get together and compromise on the stimulus funds? Let’s be honest….what it’s going to take is this: Governor Sanford, Speaker Harrell/Cooper, Senate ProTem McConnell/Leatherman to sit down (leave egos at the door – if possible) and just say “how far will you/can you go” to move on with this?

Seriously. That’s it. One group wants to spend $700 million the way they want and the other guy wants $700 million spend the way he wants.

Right now, lines are drawn in the sand. The Senate will debate their version on the floor this week but it appears we’re heading to spending it all. Unless something miraculous happens this year. Has the “William Wallace Caucus” grown enough to make a bigger difference this year in our party? “The Common Sense Caucus” had some gains in the House this cycle but not enough to put us in the majority of our own party.

Folks, I was one of 8 in the House who voted against the stimulus but when I saw that wasn’t gonna happen (108-8 was the vote to spend it) I worked with like-minded colleagues to get as many reforms as we could in the budget to protect taxpayers . Likewise, since it appears the House/Senate are intent on spending the money anyway, can’t we (House/Senate) at least protect the taxpayers as much as possible? Can’t the Governor do the same instead of risking all the money being spent?

Look, I’m for principled stands and I truly believe spending this “Budget Stabilization Money” is gonna come back to bite us in 2 years but here’s what I see happening: House/Senate spend all the money in the budget; governor either can’t veto items or either he does veto items BUT they get overridden; then the whole $700 million for next 2 years is spent.

Remember, everyone appears to be on record “not wanting to spend the money” so why not put SOME aside for debt repayment instead of spending it all (mainly on recurring programs)?

Seriously. If we can’t get 5 grown men to compromise and move a little, God help us. Of course, anyone paid attention to the Budget and Control Board lately?

(Note: I fully expect both sides (and both parties) to dislike what I have to say; but, then again, maybe that means I’m on to something here…or maybe I shouldn’t post at midnight and should’ve just gone to bed earlier. We’ve got some long weeks ahead.

COMMUNITY UPDATE: January 2009

If you have events you’d like me to share on the website, please contact me directly through NathansNews and I’ll be happy to see how I can help pass along the news.

I hope everyone’s started their year off on the right foot and I wish everyone a very prosperous 2009 – personally and professionally.

STATE HOUSE

One week from today, the 118th General Assembly will convene for the first year of a two-year session. I am very excited to go back – even though we are in tough times here in our state. I believe this year will create our biggest challenges and biggest opportunities since I’ve been in office. We can and MUST work through these tough times, learn from them, and work quickly to get us on a better track (one that we can stay on for years to come).

There’s a lot at stake for South Carolina each and every year. Again this year, many of us are trying to lay the groundwork for government reforms that can benefit our state for years to come. It takes more than officials pushing bills and working for change, it takes you – the people.

Today, I was at a luncheon where a fellow House member mentioned that Immigration Reform would not have become law without the public’s outcry. I agree. While we are elected leaders, there are 170 of us in the state legislature. We each have our own vision and own ideas for where the state should go but YOU need to help us by also sharing your ideas and talking with us. If you find an issue important to you, call your representative. In order to have enough votes to pass common sense reforms and improve not only state government; but also, your quality of life, more than 60 members of the House must agree! (That’s no small feat either) Remember, the General Assembly is full of people from all professions but we all can use your expertise and opinions to help improve our state. It’s my resolution to be sure everyone remembers they have a voice and can and should be heard. Get involved and stay involved > www.scstatehouse.net

Over the past several months I’ve mentioned the changes we’ve seen since last session, the issues we continue to face, and have gone from not only doing regular blog entries; but also, beginning to “Twitter” and “Facebook.” I believe I can learn more about you, my constituents, and you can learn more about me and state government through these networks.

If you aren’t following me (or the other elected officials who twitter and facebook), feel free to start now. There’s bound to be lots of information to share in the next several months. As the push for more transparency continues, I’m pleased to share that the House Republican Caucus will soon unveil an improved website that should also incorporate many of the tools that I and others have been using to keep our constituents informed.

YOUR MONEY

Budget Committees have been meeting to begin the arduous task of constructing our state budget. A task further complicated by the fact that state revenues have dropped considerably (like other states in the country). [Read more…]

Welcome to the new site!

“Always accessible” is the theme I had in mind when I chose to launch a new website September 5, 2007!

For the past three years, I’ve constantly kept my constituents informed via monthly COMMUNITY UPDATE emails, annual surveys, important mailings (tax free holidays, elections, referendums, etc), civic organization talks, as well as Open Office Hours and Constituent Service Nights. Now, I want to take it even further into the “21st century” with regular blog entries, videos, and updates on what’s going on inside the State House as well as in our community.

Please visit often – especially during the January through June session – to read my “live from the floor” blog posts of what’s going on with your tax dollars and what bills are being debated that will impact the lives of all South Carolinians.

To start things off, I’m sharing a picture of my family from yesterday’s Chapin Labor Day Parade. Nothing’s more Americana than spending the day at a parade/festival with thousands of community neighbors,friends, and your family! Pictured with me and my wife, Karen, are the kids: Sarah (10), Emma (2), J.C. (3), and Annie, the family dog (6).

If you have a question/concern/advice or you would like me to speak with your neighborhood association, church, school, or civic group, please email me through the site or directly at BallentineN@scstatehouse.net.

It’s an honor and privilege for me to represent you in Columbia!

Jeremiah 29:11