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SC Budget heads to Governor’s desk

We returned this week to finalized next year’s budget (which ultimately passed 84-28 in the House and passed 30-9 in the Senate). In the coming days, Governor McMaster will get to issue his vetoes – and I look forward to seeing many of those and hope we can sustain those that are not the best use of your tax dollars.

If you ever wanted to dive into the budget, here it is. Click and “enjoy”.

Below are some highlights for the areas most often asked about by constituents.


 $22 million to fully fund Constitutional Reserve Funds, which brings the
reserve fund total to $515 million ($364 million – General Reserve; $151 –
Capital Reserve)
 Reduced the total budget by $2.4 billion by removing double-booked funds
and items in higher education that are not state funds
 $599 million in direct tax relief for South Carolinians


 $32 million to fund the General Fund employer cost of Year 2 of the multiyear
plan to bring down the multi-billion pension liability
 $56.4 million to cover 100% of the state employee health and dental
insurance increases so employees will have no additional monthly
premium cost
 Expanded to cover Well Visits as a contractual service, which will require copays but
also count towards deductibles
 Small increases to patient liability in deductible and copays


Teacher Salary Increases
• $31 million for a statewide teacher salary increase of 1%
• $7.8 million to increase the statewide minimum starting salary for a
teacher with 0 and 1 year experience from $30,000 to $32,000
Increased School Funding
• $55.8 million to increase the Base Student Cost by $60 per pupil to
• $13 million for SC Public Charter Schools student growth
• $11 million for Technical Assistance for low-performing schools
School Buses
• $12 million in recurring, non-recurring, and lottery funding for new
school buses
• With this new funding, all 1995 fire-prone buses will be off the road
by the start of the school year
School Resource Officers
• $2 million recurring for hiring certified law enforcement officers to
serve as School Resource Officers
• Funds are available for school districts that otherwise would lack the
adequate resources to hire their own SROs, with districts of the
lowest index of taxpaying ability receiving priority consideration
• Allows any retired Class 1 law enforcement officer to return to
employment as an SRO without affecting the monthly retirement
School Safety Upgrades
• $15 million in the Lottery for School Safety and Critical Facility and
Equipment Improvements
• Funds are for life safety infrastructure for school facilities including
door locks, security cameras, metal detectors, lifesaving medical
equipment and SRO equipment


Scholarships and Tuition Aid
 $11 million for Workforce Scholarships to provide grants for tuition, fees, transportation,
or textbook expenses to SC residents enrolled in a career education program at a
technical school or professional certification program
 $3.9 million to create Palmetto Promise Scholarship Pilot program that awards
scholarships to students from the Abbeville plaintiff school districts
 For the third year in a row, fully funded LIFE, HOPE and Palmetto Fellows Scholarships
through the Lottery, including the increases from the 10-point grading scale
Technical Colleges
 $4 million in recurring increases for all technical colleges
 $9.4 million for the successful ReadySC job training program, which provides customized
training for new and expanding business and industry
 $11 million for High Demand Skill Training Equipment to be distributed to all technical
Colleges and Universities
 $20 million in recurring to help bring colleges and universities closer to pre-recession
funding levels
 $50 million non-recurring for capital projects and maintenance needs at colleges around
the state


Heath and Human Services – Medicaid Budget
 $26.4 million for the state Medicaid Maintenance of Effort and annualization to
continue current level of services without expending agency reserves
 Includes Increased revenue assumptions and lower targets for managed care rates
 Continued funding for the Healthy Outcomes Proviso, serving over 14,000 highutilizers
of emergency rooms and/or inpatient services through coordination with all
Medicaid-designated hospitals, 70 primary care safety net providers, and three
behavioral health clinics state-wide
Health and Human Services – Rural Health Initiative & Telemedicine
 $3.5 million in increased funding for the Rural Health Initiative. DHHS will continue
to partner with the USC School of Medicine in the development of a long term
strategic plan for addressing medically underserved communities in the rural areas
of the state through services such as the iCARED initiative.
 Aimed at supporting and developing medical education in rural areas through rural
residency placements and infrastructure improvements
 $5 million in non-recurring through Telemedicine Proviso for continued
infrastructure build out and $1 million increase in recurring funds for Telemedicine
operations – this brings total recurring dollars for the SC Telehealth Network to
$11.5 million in combined funding through DHHS and MUSC
Health and Human Services – Autism Spectrum Disorder
 $4.8 million increase in state recurring funds for increased rates for autism therapy and
service providers ($9.4 M in matching federal funds)
 Rates for ABA line therapists will increase from $17.38 to roughly $30/hour with
increases to the supervisor rate from $58/hour to $64/hour
 Agency has updated the rate methodology to reflect cost-driven structure and avoid
blending the supervision rate with line therapists
 Rates are indexed against national standard cost of employment information, and
proposal is being distributed to providers by the end of the month
 DHHS is continuing to explore opportunities to increase capacity in the workforce, so
that children are not placed on waiting lists – 20% increase in enrolled providers since
November 2017
DHHS, DAODAS and MUSC – Opioid Abuse Prevention
 Over $11 million in increased state funding specifically aimed at addressing the Opioid
Epidemic through DHHS and DAODAS
 $5 million in state funds for the MUSC Hospital Authority Health Innovations Program,
which includes funding to expand the Emergency Department MAT pilot established in
FY 17-18 to additional hospitals
 Proviso 117.142 will use these funds to implement many of the House Opioid Abuse
Prevention Study Committee recommendations
 $4 million in non-recurring through HOP proviso 33.20 for capital improvements to the
behavioral health facilities based on need as determined by DAODAS and DHHS
Other Health Agencies
 DSS – $23 million in recurring funds to address required components in
settlement agreement and continue child care match for $8.65 million in
federal funds, $25 million in non-recurring for the continued development of
the Child Support System
 DDSN – $11.3 million to increase the department’s direct care staff starting
salaries agency wide from $11/hour to $12/hour and a 3-4% increase to direct
care wages for employees working with the department for at least 5 years,
$500,000 increase to the Greenwood Genetic Center for Autism Research,
$650,000 for in-home Autism Support services
 DMH – $6.9 million to increase funding for Supported Community Housing,
Child and Adolescent Intensive Community and Residential Services, and
enhanced School Based Services
 DHEC – $2.4 million for the EMS Performance Improvement Center and the
Credentialing Information System, Enhanced Communicable Disease
Prevention and Treatment, including funding specific to HIV/AIDS, Breast and
Cervical Cancer, and Colorectal Cancer [Read more…]

The Weekly Rewind – April 13th


April 13, 2018

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4182, the “STATE INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION EFFICIENCY ACT”. The legislation establishes a process that allows South Carolina’s public universities and colleges to exercise greater authority and bypass state regulatory oversight, including approvals by the Commission on Higher Education and the Joint Bond Review Committee, when undertaking capital projects and making investments utilizing funds that are not derived from state appropriations or undergraduate tuition in auxiliary activities related to research, housing, food services, stores, and athletics. The legislation makes provisions for annual reports on the financial activities of higher education auxiliary divisions and audit requirements to insure that their financial arrangements and borrowing is not secured by the state. An institution of higher learning may adopt a procurement policy for an auxiliary division’s purchasing and contracting, which, upon approval of the policy by the State Fiscal Accountability Authority, exempts the division from the South Carolina Consolidated Procurement Code. The Commission on Higher Education retains its oversight authority over core functions, such as the approval of new academic programs. Purchases, borrowing, and financial transactions using state funds remain subject to state regulatory protocols through such oversight bodies as the Joint Bond Review Committee and the State Fiscal Accountability Authority. The legislation applies to the Citadel, Clemson University, Coastal Carolina University, College of Charleston, Francis Marion University, Lander University, the Medical University of South Carolina, South Carolina State University, Winthrop University, and the University of South Carolina’s main campus in Columbia and its Aiken, Beaufort, and Upstate campuses.

H.4421, a bill facilitating the more expansive use of SOLAR POWER AND OTHER DISTRIBUTED ENERGY RESOURCES by customers of investor-owned electric utilities, was rejected at third reading, having failed to receive the two-thirds affirmative vote that Article X, Section 3 of the South Carolina Constitution requires for the approval of a property tax exemption.

The House approved S.1101 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation EXTENDS PROVISIONS DISALLOWING THE USE OF EMINENT DOMAIN POWERS BY PRIVATE, FOR PROFIT PIPELINE COMPANIES, including publicly traded for profit companies, that are not defined as a public utility so that these provisions are set to expire on November 30, 2020, rather than the original sunset date of June 30, 2019. The extension affords additional time for the temporary Petroleum Pipeline Study Committee to report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly.

The House approved S.340, revising the APPOINTMENT OF SOUTH CAROLINA’S POET LAUREATE by the Governor, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. In making an appointment, the Governor is required to select from a list of qualified candidates recommended by the South Carolina Arts Commission. A four-year term is established for a poet laureate who may be reappointed to serve one additional term. The poet laureate shall respond to requests of the Governor and participate in other relevant public programming.

The House approved S.796 and enrolled the joint resolution for ratification. The legislation creates a SOUTH CAROLINA AMERICAN REVOLUTION SESTERCENTENNIAL COMMISSION to plan and execute a proper observance of the upcoming 250th anniversary of the Revolutionary War and South Carolina’s role in attaining American independence.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4799, a bill providing authorization for South Carolina to join the multi-state PHYSICAL THERAPY LICENSURE COMPACT to facilitate interstate practice of physical therapy with the goal of improving public access to physical therapy services.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3684, a bill authorizing the Department of Revenue to implement INTERNET FILING AND INDEXING OF TAX LIENS for public inspection online. Replacing the existing system of filing tax liens with county clerks of court, the legislation allows the Department of Revenue to implement a centralized system of filing and indexing liens which is accessible to the public over the Internet or through other means.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5145, a bill facilitating the issuance of DRIVER’S LICENSES THAT ALLOW DEPLOYED MILITARY PERSONNEL TO OPERATE MOTORCYCLES while stationed abroad. The legislation directs the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles to contract with the United States Department of Defense to administer Class M driver’s license examinations for active duty military members assigned outside of the contiguous United States.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.5231, a bill restoring revenue generated from the sale of recreational and commercial marine fishing licenses, permits, and tags to the MARINE RESOURCES FUND. The legislation discontinues the practice, adopted during the revenue shortfalls experienced during the recession, of diverting a portion of the funding to support law enforcement activities at the Department of Natural Resources.

The Weekly Rewind – February 9th


February 9, 2018

The House of Representatives concurred in Senate amendments to H.3653, a bill imposing LIMITATIONS ON NUISANCE SUITS RELATED TO MANUFACTURING AND INDUSTRIAL USES OF REAL PROPERTY, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. Addressing situations where urban growth has prompted residential development to expand into previously outlying areas where established industrial facilities have been operating, the legislation imposes limitations on nuisance suits that nearby residents can bring against pre-existing industrial, manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing facilities that are complying with environmental permits and are otherwise operating lawfully. Affording legal protections like those already provided for agricultural operations, the legislation proposes to codify the common law defense of ‘coming to the nuisance’ as a means of promoting economic development.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3529, a bill establishing the GENERAL ASSEMBLY’S EXCLUSIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE REGULATION OF AUXILIARY CONTAINERS, such as plastic grocery bags, disposable cups, and takeout food boxes. This legislation provides that any regulation regarding the use, disposition, sale, or any imposition of any prohibition, restriction, fee imposition, or taxation of auxiliary containers must be done only by the General Assembly. This authority supersedes and preempts any local ordinance enacted by a political subdivision, but the legislation does not apply to auxiliary container regulations adopted before January 31, 2018, including regulations with a delayed implementation date or that are conditioned on future municipal action. A municipality located within a county that has adopted an ordinance before January 31, 2018, may pass the same or similar ordinance. The legislation does not impose limitations on county or municipal ordinances regulating solid waste disposal or recycling programs. The legislation does not apply to the use of auxiliary containers within the boundaries of a State park, on a property owned by a county or municipality, such as coastal tidelands and wetlands, or on a public beach, river, or other body of water maintained by a county or municipality.

The House approved S.297, a bill relating to PERFORMING SECURITY OFFICER DUTIES PENDING THE ISSUANCE OF A REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The legislation revises provisions relating to private security officer registration certificates issued by the State Law Enforcement Division, to provide that, pending issuance of a registration certificate, a security officer may perform professional duties for up to thirty days, rather than twenty days, after receipt by SLED of his application for registration.

The House returned S.185, a bill providing FUNERAL SERVICE CONSUMER PROTECTIONS that address solicitations from remote, out-of-state companies, to the Senate with amendments. The legislation establishes provisions that target the practice of allowing or permitting an Internet service provider, unlicensed person, establishment, or entity to engage in the practice of funeral service, embalming, cremation, or conducting business as a funeral home, funeral establishment, crematory, or mortuary. Under the legislation, an advertisement must include the physical address of the funeral home, funeral establishment, mortuary, or crematory where the advertised services will be provided. The State Board of Funeral Service is charged with promulgating regulations establishing additional requirements for advertisements relating to providing funeral services, including Internet advertisements.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4655, the “SOUTH CAROLINA INSURANCE DATA SECURITY ACT”. The legislation establishes standards for data security and standards for the investigation of and notification to the Director of the Department of Insurance of a cybersecurity event that impacts insurance licensees.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4654, a bill REVISING FINGERPRINTING REQUIREMENTS FOR INSURANCE PRODUCER LICENSURE including provisions that allow these criminal background screening requirements to be satisfied without submitting a new set of fingerprints when a set of fingerprints is already on file, such as when a license is being renewed.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4656, a bill UPDATING AND ENHANCING FINANCIAL SOLVENCY REQUIREMENTS FOR REINSURERS to bring South Carolina into compliance with the most recent standards of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners so that the state can retain NAIC accreditation and continue to enjoy legal reciprocity with other states.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4612, legislation authorizing SURETY BONDS FOR GENERAL AND MECHANICAL LICENSURE APPLICANTS. Rather than providing financial statements showing a minimum net worth, this legislation affords applicants for general and mechanical licensure the option of satisfying financial requirements by providing a surety bond in an amount of two times the required net worth for the applicant’s license group. The surety bond option is offered as a means of accommodating those who operate under an employee option stock program arrangement which makes it difficult to satisfy minimum asset requirements.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4827, a joint resolution providing an EXTENSION FOR THE SEIZURE SAFETY IN SCHOOLS STUDY COMMITTEE so that the deadline for the committee to submit its report is January 31, 2019.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4868, a bill that establishes a staggered timeline for performing required AUDITS OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA PUBLIC EMPLOYEE BENEFIT AUTHORITY.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4869, a bill REMOVING NOTARIZATION REQUIREMENTS FOR CERTAIN SOUTH CAROLINA PUBLIC EMPLOYEE BENEFIT AUTHORITY TRANSACTIONS in order to better accommodate online filing.

You can make a difference!

One of the great things about being a public servant is being able to help others.

In order to be the best elected officials we can be, we need to constantly stay in contact with our constituents and we need to encourage them to reach out to us and be our eyes and ears around town.

NathansNews readers are always willing to share their advice about legislation and also letting me know where our community needs help!

Whether it’s traffic/safety improvements , housing development issues , potholes , new neighbors in the community ,helping elderly lady keep electricty on, saving an abandoned, malnoursished dog, or all sorts of other issues, it’s YOU that help make a difference by bringing to my attention.

In the past few weeks, residents of Wescott Ridge have come to me about their concerns. And those concerns are now being looked into.

Thanks to Wescott Ridge residents Chris Dornburg and Mark Hendrick bringing to my attention the neighborhood’s concerns, I’ve contacted SCDOT about possible sound barriers as well as safety improvements:

“Representative Ballentine – Thank you for forwarding Mr. Dornburg’s concerns regarding the traffic and speed along Broad River Road near Wescott Ridge subdivision just off the Peak Exit. I have assigned this study to our District One Traffic Engineering staff to complete. Typically, these studies take 45 to 60 days to complete. We will respond with our results once complete.

Additionally, the original encroachment permit for the subdivision stated that an updated traffic impact study would be performed once they had full build-out of the subdivision to determine if a traffic signal would be warranted. If the study shows the signal would meet engineering warrants, this signal installation would be at the developers cost. Our District Permit staff will be following up on this as well.

Please feel free to contact me should you need additional information regarding this request.”

Also “the noise study will be starting next month. If the noise study comes back at a certain level, we are required to put up sound barriers according to federal law”

If you or your HOA needs assistance anytime, please continue to let me know. I’m happy to point you in the right direction, make some calls, and get results for you! Since I was elected back in 2005, I continue to send regular COMMUNITY UPDATES, mailings, and calls about issues important to us here in Irmo/Chapin and at the State House. If you aren’t receiving those updates, please let me know so I can add you to the distribution list so you can stay in touch – and help me stay informed too!

As a friend once told me, “Elected Officials that stay in touch year round are better able to do their job than those politicians that are just around during election time.”

The Weekly Rewind: Week of May 2nd



May 6, 2016

The House of Representatives concurred in Senate amendments to H.4717 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation responds to the unprecedented damage of the October 2015 floods by creating the “SOUTH CAROLINA FARM AID FUND” to assist farmers in order to prevent the economic collapse of many of the state’s farms which could cause a severe disruption in the state’s economy and food supply chain. Established with a $40 million appropriation from the 2014 2015 Contingency Reserve Fund, the South Carolina Farm Aid Fund is created for making financial awards to farmers who have experienced a verifiable loss of agricultural commodities of at least forty percent as a result of the catastrophic flooding of October 2015. Grant awards must be used for agricultural production expenses and losses due to the flood which demonstrate an intent to continue the agricultural operation, such as purchases of seed and fertilizer. Awards may not be used to purchase new equipment. Grant awards that are falsely obtained or misspent must be refunded. Criminal penalties are provided to address fraud. The legislation makes provisions for each grant to equal up to twenty percent of the person’s verifiable loss of agricultural commodities, and establishes limitations so that grants may not exceed one hundred thousand dollars and may not, when combined with losses covered by insurance, exceed one hundred percent of the actual loss. The grant program is to be administered by the Department of Agriculture in consultation with the Department of Revenue and a Farm Aid Advisory Board composed of: the Commissioner of Agriculture, or his designee, who serves as chairman; the Director of the Department of Revenue, or his designee; the Vice President for Public Service and Agriculture of Clemson Public Service Activities, or his designee, the Vice President for Land Grant Services of South Carolina State Public Service Activities, or his designee; one member representing South Carolina Farm Bureau appointed by the Commissioner of Agriculture; one member representing a farm credit association appointed by the Commissioner of Agriculture; one member representing the crop insurance industry appointed by the Director of the Department of Revenue; and, one member who is an agricultural commodities producer appointed by the Director of the Department of Revenue. Sunset provisions are included so that the Farm Aid Fund and the Advisory Board are dissolved no later than June 30, 2017.

The House returned S.277, the “STATE TELECOM EQUITY IN FUNDING ACT”, to the Senate with amendments. Responding to innovations in such areas as wireless communications and Internet-based services that have transformed the telecommunications marketplace over the course of recent years, the legislation revises statutory requirements for telecommunications service providers to make contributions to the Universal Service Fund as well as to the program that provides specialized telecommunications services to those who are deaf or have other hearing or speech impairments. Act 488 of 1990 authorized the Public Service Commission to establish a statewide program to provide telephone access to individuals with hearing or speech impairments through a dual party relay system that allows those who are deaf, hearing, and speech impaired to communicate through an intermediary party, and authorized that the program be funded through monthly surcharges imposed on all of a local exchange telephone company’s residential and business lines. This legislation revises the funding mechanism for the dual party relay program so that surcharges are collected not only on traditional land line telephones, but also on the full array of telecommunications services offered in the contemporary market, including commercial mobile radio service (CMRS), prepaid wireless service, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service. The legislation revises statutory provisions for the state’s Universal Service Fund, which is used for initiatives to guarantee access to affordable telecommunications services in sparsely-populated rural areas and other places that may be underserved by the marketplace, to accommodate the collection of surcharges not only on traditional land lines, but also on wireless telecommunications services. The legislation revises provisions that govern the maximum size of the state’s Universal Service Fund to establish a new, lower, cap on USF funds. A carrier of last resort authorized to receive funds from the USF is subject to random compliance audits and other investigations by the Public Service Commission Office of Regulatory Staff. The Office of Regulatory Staff is also charged with new responsibilities for making regular reports to the to the Public Utilities Review Committee on the status of the Universal Service Fund detailing funding needs and appropriate levels of USF distributions.

The House returned S.1035, the “SOUTH CAROLINA TELEMEDICINE ACT”, to the Senate with amendments. The legislation revises statutes governing the practice of medicine to incorporate provisions for telemedicine which involves the use of such means as electronic communications and information technology to allow a physician to practice medicine in one location while the patient is in another location. The legislation establishes requirements that address such issues as record keeping and the proper conduct of an evaluation and diagnosis when the physician is at a distance from the patient rather than in a more traditional in person medical care setting. The legislation makes provisions for how a physician patient relationship is established through telemedicine.

The House returned S.338, a bill establishing NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR ESTABLISHING RESIDENTIAL FACILITIES FOR RECENTLY PAROLED PRISON INMATES, to the Senate with amendments. The legislation requires any public, private, or nonprofit entity helping to rehabilitate and reintroduce paroled prison inmates into communities that also provide residential housing to these parolees to publish notice in a newspaper of general circulation all addresses for these residential housing facilities at least sixty days prior to opening them. They also must conduct a public hearing at least thirty days before the first residential facility opens in the community where all residents of the community must be given an opportunity to comment on the program and on the location of any or all of the proposed facilities. These requirements only apply to a county, incorporated municipality, or town where there are no zoning requirements.

The House returned S.916, a bill INCREASING AGES WHEN INDIVIDUALS ARE CONSIDERED CHILDREN AND JUVENILES IN CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS, to the Senate. These adjustments of ages provided in various statutes impact such issues as when a case may be transferred to Family Court and when the Department of Juvenile Justice exercises its responsibilities.

The House returned S.788, the “MANAGED TIDAL IMPOUNDMENT PRESERVATION ACT”, to the Senate with amendments. The legislation exempts property that is deemed eligible under a general permit issued by the United States Army Corp of Engineers from state Department of Health and Environmental Control permitting requirements for routine, normal, or emergency maintenance or repair activities of tidal impoundment fields and adjacent nontidal fields. These coastal properties are commonly former rice fields that are now being used as duck hunting preserves.

The House approved S.1272, a joint resolution affording the Department of Education access to certain funding relating to the federal INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES EDUCATION ACT (IDEA), and enrolled the legislation for ratification.

The House approved S.780 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation revises provisions dealing with importing, possessing or selling imported fish, to clarify language in current law that the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will continue to issue permits for the importation, breeding, and possession of GRASS CARP or grass carp hybrids. The legislation revises statutes to incorporate references to the more familiar designation of grass carp alongside the more technical and less recognizable name for the fish, white amur.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.5299, a bill establishing authority for TRANSPORTING NECESSARY GOODS AND SERVICES TO DISASTER AREAS DURING CURFEWS. The legislation revises the Governor’s authority in times of emergency to make provisions for a certification process to authorize someone to enter a disaster area and operate during times when a curfew has been imposed in order to transport necessary commercial goods to the curfew area, assist in ensuring the availability of these needed goods, or to assist in restoring utility services.

The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.3133, a bill that establishes a protocol allowing SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN PLACED IN THE JUVENILE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY TO PETITION THE FAMILY COURT TO REMOVE THE PERSON’S REQUIREMENT TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER once the individual has reached twenty one years of age and has been released from the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice, South Carolina Department of Corrections, or South Carolina Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.5245, which provides authorization for a manufacturer, brewer, importer, or retailer to offer consumers COUPONS AND REBATES FOR THE PURCHASE OF BEER, including retailer instant redeemable coupons, mail in rebates, and coupons and rebates offered or redeemed through any electronic means.

The House voted to continue H.4544, a bill to establish requirements and conditions that must be met in order for ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION DRUGS to be prescribed, so that the legislation may not be considered this session.

The House voted to continue H.3229, a bill revising provisions for TASTINGS AND RETAIL SALES OF ALCOHOLIC LIQUORS AT LICENSED PREMISES OF A MICRO DISTILLERY OR MANUFACTURER, so that the legislation may not be considered this session.

Final Report Card: 2014 General Assembly

Feel free to grade the work of the 170 members of the SC General Assembly. There’s report cards from numerous groups that are always “grading us” but we all know it’s the grade of our constituents that matter most. Most people never really follow politics (can’t blame them really) and some may forget some of the “lesser bills”; either way, here’s the summary prepared by House Research and I wanted to share with you. It’s long.

As important to hearing from you about “how we did”, it’s equally important to hear “what you’d like to see us accomplish” next session!

That session begins with reorganization (for the House, that’s usually done in December….committee assignments, seat selections in chamber, etc) and we can prefile legislation beginning in December.

So…if you have time…here’s a “Year in Review”. Feel free to provide feedback or a grade if you’d like.

2014 Legislative Overview from the House Research Office summarizing major issues as of June 27, 2014.
June 27, 2014

In its second regular session, the 120th South Carolina General Assembly authorized the most significant government restructuring that the state has seen in twenty years by approving the “South Carolina Restructuring Act of 2014” (S.22) which makes comprehensive changes to the organization and oversight of state government that are geared towards enhancing accountability and efficiency. This restructuring initiative abolishes the State Budget and Control Board and transfers the majority of the board’s functions, including facilities management, property services, vehicle fleet management, information technology, and human resources responsibilities, to a new Department of Administration that is established in the executive branch as a cabinet agency. While the Governor assumes greater responsibility over most of the day-to-day running of state government operations, certain major financial responsibilities continue to be shared among key public officials in the executive and legislative branches of government. Composed of the Governor, Treasurer, Comptroller General, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the State Fiscal Accountability Authority houses such offices as the State Auditor, the Procurement Services Division, and the Insurance Reserve Fund, and is given approval authority over all decisions that relate to the state’s bonded indebtedness, lending, and major transactions involving state property. A Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office is created comprising the Board of Economic Advisors and other components of the Budget and Control Board that relate to state revenue forecasts, the preparation of the state government budget in the legislature, estimation of the fiscal impact of proposed legislation, economic research, and precinct demographics. The legislation also includes new provisions for the legislative oversight of executive departments that empower legislative committees to conduct periodic reviews and launch special investigations for the purpose of determining which state government programs continue to serve worthwhile purposes and which should be reorganized, scaled back, or eliminated altogether.

The General Assembly approved new legislation (S.137) to combat drunk driving designated as “Emma’s Law” in memory of Emma Longstreet, the six-year-old Lexington County girl who was killed in a collision with a repeat DUI offender as her family was traveling to church on New Year’s Day 2012. The new law provides for a more expansive use of ignition interlock devices installed on the vehicles of driving under the influence offenders that are designed to prevent a vehicle from being started and operated by someone who has consumed alcohol. The legislation revises current requirements for ignition interlock devices to be installed on the vehicles of repeat DUI offenders and establishes a new requirement for installing an ignition interlock device on the vehicle of someone convicted of a first offense DUI violation with a breath test registering an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher. Those who refuse a breath test and are subsequently convicted of a first offense DUI violation are also subject to requirements for enrolling in the Ignition Interlock Device Program in order to be eligible to drive. New ignition interlock requirements are imposed upon those convicted of a DUI offense involving death or great bodily injury and those found guilty of drunk driving that has endangered at least one passenger under the age of sixteen. Emma’s Law also enhances penalties for those who fail to comply with ignition interlock device requirements.

Legislators approved a prohibition on texting while driving (S.459) which makes it unlawful for a person to use a handheld wireless electronic communication device to compose, send, or read a text based communication while operating a motor vehicle on the public streets and highways of this state. Exceptions are included to cover such circumstances as summoning emergency assistance and using a navigation system. A violation, which is not a criminal offense, is subject to a fine of up to twenty-five dollars. During the first one hundred eighty days after the law goes into effect, law enforcement officers must only issue warnings for violations. Law enforcement officers are prohibited from seizing wireless devices or performing searches in enforcing a violation of this prohibition on texting while driving, and a violation must not be included in the offender’s motor vehicle records or criminal records and must not be reported to an insurer. The legislation preempts all local government ordinances, regulations, and resolutions relating to the use of wireless electronic communication devices while driving on the public roads of this state.

The “South Carolina Read to Succeed Act” (S.516) was approved to establish a comprehensive K-12 initiative for promoting reading proficiency in the state’s public schools with an emphasis on early intervention to assist students who are not demonstrating an ability to read at grade level. Early grade students who are not demonstrating proficiency in reading must be provided intensive in-class and supplemental reading intervention, and, beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, students are subject to new requirements for being retained in the third grade if they fail substantially to demonstrate grade-level reading proficiency. Prior to retention, students who score the lowest in reading assessments are afforded the opportunity to enroll in a summer reading camp. Each elementary school must employ a reading coach to serve as the school’s resource for professional development in order to generate improvement in reading and literacy instruction and student achievement. Teacher certification and professional development requirements are revised to incorporate a new emphasis on literacy instruction.

Lawmakers approved legislation (H.3893) on the adoption of statewide education standards and assessments for use in the state’s K-12 public schools which addresses issues relating to national Common Core academic standards that have become aligned with federal programs and waivers offered through the U.S. Department of Education. Under the legislation, all proposed new standards and revisions to existing academic standards that are developed by anyone other than South Carolina’s Department of Education must be sent to the General Assembly for review so that lawmakers may approve or reject them. The General Assembly and the Governor must be notified whenever the State Department of Education or the Education Oversight Committee seek to change an existing standard. The legislation accelerates the review of state content standards and requires new college and career readiness state content standards to be implemented for the 2015 2016 school year. A timeline is established for the prompt procurement of new assessments, with a September 2014 deadline, under a protocol that requires the advice and consent of a temporary special assessment panel. The legislation provides that South Carolina is no longer part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. A “South Carolina Department of Education Data Use and Governance Policy” is also established that includes prohibitions on collecting individualized student data directly from students or families and transferring individualized data to the U.S. Department of Education.

Legislation (H.3428) was approved to provide for the reauthorization of the South Carolina First Steps To School Readiness Initiative and to make revisions to this program for providing enhanced early childhood development, education, and family support services to enable children to reach school ready to achieve academic success. New accountability provisions are established to assess student progress, evaluate the performance of programs, and require state funds to be spent only on programs that are considered proven or promising according to research and evidence. Local First Steps partnerships are afforded flexibility to enter into multicounty arrangements and collaborate in order to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the services and programs they provide to children and their families.

A temporary School Safety Task Force was created (H.3365) that is charged with developing standards for district level policies to promote effective school discipline and mental health intervention services and examining how improved collaboration and organization could make the most of mental health resources and funding for school-based mental health services. The legislation provides for the membership of the task force and requires its recommendations to be reported to the General Assembly by the end of the year, at which time the task force must be dissolved.

The “Back to Basics in Education Act of 2014” (H.3905) was approved to add cursive writing and memorization of multiplication tables to the required subjects of instruction in public schools and to require students to demonstrate competence in each subject before completion of the fifth grade.

The General Assembly approved legislation (H.3853) to provide enhanced accountability for charter schools, particularly at the charter application and school closing stages. Charter schools are required to adhere to national industry standards for quality. The legislation also includes authorization for creating alternative education campuses designed to serve at-risk and challenging student populations.

[Read more…]



Even though no new bills can be filed until January, that doesn’t mean legislators aren’t working over the next several months to improve our quality of life in South Carolina. If you’re a constituent (or someone reading from outside the area), please let me or your local representative know of any suggestions you have that we can consider in the last year of this two-year session.

We report back in January but will need time to research and draft legislation before then. One issue that recently came to my attention deals with taxes on watercraft. I’ve met with local individuals and also the Department of Natural Resources and will work to help individuals from the unexpected “back taxes” sometimes owed by previous owners when title changes hands. Dealers usually help avoid this for buyers but if you purchase a boat directly from an individual, this can happen without you even knowing what is owed. It forces the new owner to basically pay taxes for something he/she hadn’t even used…and often in a different county than where they live. This needs to be addressed.

What are other ideas or areas that you feel we should address for the Lake Murray area, Midlands, and entire South Carolina? Please let me know by contacting me here.


Sales Tax Holiday Weekend started yesterday and goes until midnight Sunday. Enjoy the “back-to-school” savings and be sure to check this list to see what is tax exempt and what is not tax exempt.

For months, many in the area have been concerned about a housing development in the works on Bickley Road. I’ve kept Nathan’s News readers informed and recently let everyone know that NO tax credits were awarded to the project. While a developer is certainly within his/her right to continue with the project (because it was already zoned accordingly), it’s my understanding these projects usually do not proceed unless they receive the tax credits. As information, for any zoning issues, our first contact should be our local county councilman. Out here in Northwest Richland County, that’s Bill Malinowski. If you have questions about developments and zoning, be sure to let him know.


Community Cookout: This year’s COMMUNITY COOKOUT is set for August 13th again at the Quarterdeck/Rusty Anchor from 6pm to 7:30 pm. Ever since I was elected, I’ve worked to bring national, state, and local elected officials together for our community to meet and talk with in a casual setting. Be sure to RSVP for this year’s event. BBQ and drinks will be served and music will be provided by Jim LeBlanc! Bring the whole family; but RSVP with your headcount no later than August 6th! We’ve planned meals for 200 people and we’re almost over the number already!

Chapin Labor Day Festival : Starting August 31st, join your neighbors in several events around town: Run or Walk A Crooked 5K for Meals on Wheels at Crooked Creek Park on Saturday, Aug. 31; a Bluegrass Concert Celebration at Chapin Presbyterian Church on Sunday, Sept. 1; and a full day of events on Labor Day including the famous Chapin Labor Day Parade at 9:30 AM, the Chapin Champion talent contest, rides, arts and crafts, vendors, concessions, Gospel concert at Chapin Christian Counseling and Grace Chapel, Classic Car Cruise-in, Friends of the Library Book Sale and more. Click here for registration and more information.

The Greater Irmo Chamber of Commerce No membership meeting this month; but definitely don’t miss the Summer Luau at Pine Island on August 8th from 6:30 to 8:30pm. Tickets are 1 for $10 or 2 for $14. Pay at door or call/visit chamber to reserve yours today!

The Greater Chapin Chamber of Commerce Membership Luncheon, August 13th. Topic: Future Workforce Development. Sponsored by Midlands Technical College. LOCATION: Center for Advanced Technical Studies (916 Mt. Vernon Church Road) The lunch meeting begins at noon and upon completion of the meeting, the staff at the Center will be offering brief tours of its state-of-the-art campus. If you have not seen this fantastic facility yet, you won’t want to miss our Aug. 13 meeting. Admission is free for Chamber members and $10 for guests. Register online or call 345-1100 to reserve your space.

Ballentine-Dutch Fork Civic Association : has no meetings during the summer. Next meeting will be September 9th at 6:30pm at Ballentine Park.

Meet your Neighbor: Please be sure to email me news of accomplishments of your friends and neighbors in the community! A recent neighbor I’m proud to share with you is Kelly Jones: Richland Library Ballentine Manager. I try to regularly update the website with people around town who are doing great things right here in Ballentine, Irmo, Chapin and White Rock. I’m willing to help promote their work/cause and simply need you to let me know what’s going on!


The Chapin Eagle Club : Hope you can join Karen and I at the 5th Annual All Sports Benefit/Auction. Saturday, August 10th, 6:30 to 9:30 at the Columbia Conference Center. For more information, click here .

Time for Kickoff! Dutch Fork wants to “finish the job” after falling just short of a State Championship last year. While Chapin fields another strong football team, it’s Chapin’s Cheerleaders who consistently win State Championships. Look for them on the sidelines this season and see why they regularly bring home the title. Bob Hanna’s Irmo squad will be led this season by QB Demetrius Lewis who recently tied for the Top Senior Award at the 3rd annual QB1 Challenge .

District Five Retains “A” Rating Under Federal Accountability System: Lexington-Richland School District Five again has received an overall “A” rating under the current federal accountability system. The formula used for this rating is part of the state’s approved Flexibility Request from certain provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), commonly referred to as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). School districts also receive a state report card rating which is usually announced in November. District Five is the only district in the Midlands with the “A” rating. The new ratings, released August 1 by the South Carolina Department of Education, shows that 14 schools in District Five received a grade of “A” and five received “B” ratings. No schools in the district received below a “B” rating.

School’s back! District Five teachers start August 13th and all students start the following week, August 20th. For the District’s 2013-2014 calendar, click here.


Thanks again for the privilege you give me to represent the Irmo/Chapin/Ballentine/Dutch Fork community! If you have events or people you’d like me to share with our community right here 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!

Nathan Ballentine
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29201

NOT FUNDED! Bickley Manor Project

It’s been a nervous few months our community – especially those of you who contacted me since March when I first shared the news of a proposed project on Bickley Road, across from one of our gem’s in District Five, Ballentine Elementary .

Since then, I’ve kept you posted with several updates while hundreds of you wrote letters, made calls and signed petitions that helped lead to the results I can how share with you.

Bickley Manor did NOT receive tax credit funding!

I appreciate Irmo Town Council members who reached out to me months ago and offered their assistance. I also am thankful for local landowners, whom I had conversations with, who also were willing to help.

To see for yourself, visit SC State Housing and click on 2013 Tax Credit Award List.



After narrowly passing the budget in the House (54-52) earlier in June, the House and Senate returned last week to vote (override/sustain) 81 gubernatorial budget vetoes. That is usually the last bit of work we do for the year; therefore after we voted on the vetoes, we adjourned this 1st regular session of the 120th General Assembly.

We will return Tuesday, January 14, 2014 to finish the last year of our two-year session.

As I wrote earlier on the website, no budget is ever perfect . Almost every member has something in the budget he/she doesn’t like and the gubernatorial vetoes are the last chance for us to have impact on the state’s spending priorities. In the years I’ve served, it seems we have sustained more vetoes this year than in years past. A good sign that some things can slowly change in Columbia.

In the coming weeks, I’ll update you on major legislation that became law this year and other legislation that fell short. All bills are “alive” until next year’s session ends so while it’s frustrating important items like Ethics Reform and Department of Adminsitration have not passed both chambers, I do expect them to be debated next year in hopes for passage of the best possible legislation the House, Senate and Governor can agree upon.


I’m tired of having to write about the Richland Election Fiasco; but feel a duty to keep everyone informed – especially since local taxpayers are paying $100,000 for the mess (not counting our share of the one-billion dollar tax increase that passed in November – after failing the previous time it was on the ballot).

Hopefully, the billion dollars will be spent wisely and with the most impact for our citizens and business community. Frankly, there are only a few items on the list that are in our area and I will work to see those come to fruition ( the intersection at Kennerly Road and Coogler Road being one of the most needed for safety ).

Every time I see the video of hundreds of you waiting in line , it bothers me more and more how our local Elections Office totally mismanaged the process. I have continued since then to offer solutions and keep voters informed so that future fiascos can be avoided.

Earlier this year, you may recall that the House passed my bill to reduce our precinct sizes in our House District . In the last few weeks of this session, other Richland colleagues wanted their precinct sizes reduced as well, and so we joined together on one county-wide bill that has now become law . With the recent Supreme Court ruling that South Carolina no longer has to get any changes “blessed by Washington”, look for your new voter registration information in early 2014. I will also work with the local Election Office to find additional voting places for these precincts OR may have voting precincts share a facility (example: one precinct votes in cafeteria of school, while another votes in the gymnasium). Obviously, having less people vote at each location (gym, cafeteria, etc) should help reduce the wait times…as well as having an Election Office send the appropriate number of machines out to the voters this time.


This year’s COMMUNITY COOKOUT is set for August 13th again at the Quarterdeck/Rusty Anchor from 6pm to 7:30 pm. Ever since I was elected, I’ve worked to bring national, state, and local elected officials together for our community to meet and talk with in a casual setting. Be sure to RSVP for this year’s event. BBQ and drinks will be served and music will be provided by Jim LeBlanc! Bring the whole family!

By now, you’ve probably heard about the “Wendover Project” that is applying for tax-credit, low-income housing in the Ballentine area. I will continue to keep you informed and have been working with other elected officials, community leaders, and concerned neighbors to be sure your feedback is heard at the SC State Housing Authority. For the latest update here on my website click here . I believe by the end of the month we will know for sure if tax credits were awarded to the project or not.

Two weeks ago, The Greater Irmo Chamber of Commerce announced their board members for the 2013-2014 year. If you’d like to meet them and other chamber members, plan on attending the next Membership Meeting,Wednesday, July 10th, 11:30 a.m. St. Andrews Presbyterian or signing up for the 2013 Purple Martin Cruise (with Palmetto Health Parkridge and the Spirit of Lake Murray). This annual summer event is set for Monday, July 29th and will set sail at 7:00pm.

The Greater Chapin Chamber of Commerce has their Monthly Membership After Hours & New Member Reception July 16th at Ava’s Copper Pot Bistro from 5:30 – 7:30 pm . They will be welcoming all the new members who have joined the Chamber since last summer so this will be a great opportunity to meet them and learn about their products or services!

Turning to other organizational meetings in the area this month: the Ballentine-Dutch Fork Civic Association has no meetings during the summer.

MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR : Please be sure to email me news of accomplishments of your friends and neighbors in the community! Recent neighbors I’m proud to share with you are: Miriam Atria and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. I try to regularly update the website with people around town who are doing great things right here in Ballentine, Irmo, Chapin and White Rock. I’m willing to help promote their work/cause and simply need you to let me know what’s going on!


As I watched 2 of our 3 high schools’ commencement ceremonies, I was again reminded of how good we have it in Lexington/Richland Five. (Missed Irmo’s due to work obligation I couldn’t get away from). I was also pleased to see the recognition of graduates who will be serving our country’s armed forces next year and also seeing one of the ceremonies end with a benediction.

From the District’s website : Lexington-Richland School District Five’s graduating classes of 2013 earned a record number of scholarship offers. The amount totaling more than $125 million includes academic and athletic scholarships for students from Chapin High School, Dutch Fork High School and Irmo High School. More than 1000 District Five students graduated during ceremonies on Friday, June 7.

Chapin High School graduates were offered more than $32 million in college scholarships, said Annette Moore, the school’s guidance director. “This is over $6 million more than last year’s scholarships, and there were three students from this class who were offered full tuition scholarships. Congratulations to all students in the class of 2013!”

At Dutch Fork High, the number of scholarships offered totaled more than $51.7 million. That’s a $2 million increase over 2012 and almost double the school’s scholarship totals in 2011.

Irmo High School’s 2013 graduating students were offered more than $41.8 million in college scholarships, said Robert Taylor, the school’s guidance director.

The scholarship amounts represent awards at four-year, two-year and technical colleges and universities in South Carolina and other states. Scholarships were earned based on several criteria including academic performance, athletics and community service.


Thanks again for the privilege you give me to represent the Irmo/Chapin/Ballentine/Dutch Fork community! If you have events or people you’d like me to share with our community right here 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!

Nathan Ballentine
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29201

THE LATEST on “Bickley Manor Project”

Today I had another conversation with Mrs. Nicholson in the SC State Housing Office and I learned that tomorrow (Tuesday, May 21) the “2013 Point Scores” of all applicants this year for tax credits will be posted.

That link will appear tomorrow when you visit this page

I have been told many of the proposals in the competition have a perfect score, this year a 186, and the Authority will utilize the tie breaker criteria outlined on page 11 of the 2013 QAP in order to break the ties. The Authority is still in the process of underwriting the developments and plans to make final award announcements in mid-late June.

As I previously shared weeks ago , there are 65 applicants across the state; but only 16 or 17 will be funded. Today I learned that of those 65, aprpoximately 20 to 23 are in the “GP” category and in that “GP”category, only 4 or 5 will be funded.

While nothing is certain, based on the community’s opposition – and based on no letters of support from local officials, I feel that the Bickley Manor project will not be one of the 4 or 5 from the group that is funded.

Again, just my feeling here, should the project not get tax credit funding, I do not believe the developer will have an interest in continuing with the project.

I want to thank each of you who has written, called, and emailed my office. More importantly, you contacted the SC State Housing Authority to voice your concern as well.

It’s my hope and belief that in mid-June, we will see that this project will not be awarded tax-credits and therefore will not proceed.

As always, come back to often and stay informed and share your opinions, advice, concerns.