Here’s this month’s regular update to keep you informed of what’s going on in the State House and in our community!
If you have events you’d like me to share on the site, please email me at BallentineN@scstatehouse.net and be sure to put the word CONSTITUENT in the subject line so that I can reply to your email before the hundreds of others I receive daily.
I want to thank those that have already returned this year’s survey. The survey was mailed to almost 7,000 voters in our district so that I could get a broad sense of our community’s feelings on reforming state government. I personally open and read all correspondence and plan to have the survey results posted here on the website next month. Your responses better able me to serve our community and state. Setting policy requires leaders to not only lead; but also listen. In addition to the surveys, I appreciate those who participated in my most recent Constituent Service Night and those who regularly call or write on pending issues before the General Assembly.
This year all 124 House members and 46 Senators will be up for re-election. Already there is a buzz in both chambers because of several stories that have surfaced over the past weeks in local papers . In addition to the elections to return to the State House, there are already two (and perhaps more) highly contested elections underway INSIDE the State House. Presently House members are campaigning for the Chairmanship of the Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee and the Chairmanship of the Agrictulture,Natural Resources & Environmental Affairs Committee.
If we don’t slow down spending this year….well, I don’t even want to think about it.
As you know, state government has grown (alot) in the past few years. As you also know, there’s been a small group of us trying to slow down this growth and, in particular, fight against “pork”. Fortunately, last election cycle we gained some additional fiscal conservaties. Ironically, this year being another election year, we seemed to have gained many more. (Excuse me if I’m cynical to some of these newcomers. It might just be an “election-year-conversion” for many). Whether others shared the same rationale as we conservatives did in supporting the House Rule Change concerning earmarks, I’m not sure. Regardless, we did pass a House Rule that says (paraphrased) there must be a House Member’s name and a description for any funding requested that did not come through a state agency. If there is no name, two-thirds of the members voting in the House must approve the item to be debated; otherwise, it’s thrown out.
It’s my opinion this is a good start in the House being better stewards of your tax-dollars. I consider this move a vote for “transparency” and I am still pushing for the Earmark Reform Bills (not just rule changes) to be passed quickly and sent to the Senate.
In two weeks, voters in the Ballentine-White Rock-Hilton area of our community will determine whether they will incorporate into a new town or remain an unincorporated part of Richland County. If incorporation passes, then the new town will vote in March for their new mayor and town council members. Regardless of your stance on this issue, I encourage you to head to the polls and have your voice heard.
This week, I will again be meeting with members of the community who oppose the CSX side-railing. Since this is a federal issue, Senator John Courson and I are pleased to see Congressman Joe Wilson attend the meeting this week. Jonathan Harling leads the group and you can learn more by visiting their website.
Each month I try to recognize members of our community for various accomplishments. I hope you’ll allow me to focus this month on only one family, the Butchers from my Sunday School class. They can really use your prayers right now and you can learn more about their growing family and their need for your prayers by visiting their blog for their new little daughter, Annabelle Butcher.
I’d also like to share that next week, the Ballentine Scholarships information package will be mailed to Chapin, Dutch Fork, and Irmo High Schools (in addition to other schools where our high-school seniors attend. Some attend private and/or high schools outside the district or are homeschooled). Once again I will be offering five scholarships to seniors who plan to attend USC, Clemson, Winthrop or Columbia College, or Midlands Tec. These scholarships are named in memory of my family members and are another way I continue to be able to return my legislative salary to worthy causes in our area. If you’d like more information, please contact Ballentine Scholarships Committee Chairman, Susan Mazur. Please note, to be eligible for any of the five scholarships, you must be a resident in House District 71.
Thanks again for visiting the site! Please let your friends and neighbors know about it so that they can stay as informed as possible.
As you can see, I try to write often and regularly update photos from our community as well as videos.
You have given me a great honor by choosing me to represent you in the South Carolina House of Representatives and I remain as committed as ever to staying in touch. Please contact my office, 734-2969, or email me at BallentineN@scstatehouse.net anytime I can be of service to you or your family.
House of Representatives, District 71
320A Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29221