This is the first of a weekly series in the Irmo News and Lake Murray News to keep everyone in our community informed. Each week, Representative Huggins and I will rotate our columns and are always happen to answer any questions or hear any advice from you.
I am honored to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee alongside my desk mate, Representative Chip Huggins. This is my 14th year in office and Chip’s 20th year. That’s a lot of experience and relationships working for the Irmo, Chapin community. Thank you for always staying in touch to help us serve you better!
Again this year, I’m serving as a Republican Party Whip as well as Co-Chair of the bi-partisan South Carolina Energy Caucus. Representative Huggins was also again unanimously elected by our peers as Chairman of the House Regulations Committee. You can reach my office at 734-2969 and Rep. Huggins office at 212-6812.
Throughout each week, you can read updates from me at www.nathansnews.com. I took a break during the fall to focus on family and my paying job, but I will begin writing more often while we’re in session through May. I ask that you please email me at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov to ask to be added to my monthly Community Update. Each update provides information to not only news at the State House; but also around our community and school. I know Representative Huggins also has a weekly email that many of you receive, too.
The beginning of 2019-2020 legislative session kicked off in a big way with inaugural festivities for Governor Henry McMaster, Lt. Governor Pamela Evette and our seven other Constitutional officers. Gov. McMaster’s inauguration address focused heavily on tax reform, education reform, infrastructure and making sure South Carolina has a bright future ahead of us.
When the House gaveled into our first session of the year, we saw 500 pre-filed bills cross the desk. Each of these bills was assigned to a Committee. Those bills will be deliberated, developed and made ready for full debate on the floor of the House. (You can read about the bills I pre-filed by going to my website www.nathansnews.com).
It’s my hope that Republicans, Democrats, Senators and House Members (as well as the Governor) are united in our desire to increase the quality of life for every South Carolinian. My fellow House Republicans have an aggressive legislative agenda, and we’ve worked hard with Gov. McMaster to sync our priorities with his to ensure an excellent opportunity to make much needed comprehensive reforms for our state.
This week focused on comprehensive education reform:
Paying our teachers more. We will fight to increase teacher pay so our students have access to the best teachers possible.
Letting teachers do their job. We will fight to eliminate paperwork and excessive testing in schools, so teachers have more time to teach.
Workforce Development. There are 64,249 jobs available in South Carolina, yet our unemployment rate is at 3.3%. This is because we do not have a labor force to fill these jobs. We must increase our investment in developing a skilled workforce.
Our top priority will be to fundamentally change the way we educate our children, so they get the best education possible and become the future generation of the South Carolina workforce. As a conservative, I’ve rated by many as a good steward of your tax dollars. While it’s time to invest more into the teachers and classroom, it should be noted that SC ranks 24th in education funding but last in test scores and college readiness. Ensuring quality teachers stay employed – as well as freeing them up to teach (ie less paperwork, mandated/outdated testings) – should be our focus – along with being sure money is getting to the classroom and following our children.
This week, I was excited to see more than 30 of my colleagues join me for a press conference to continue our fight to save jobs, provide more energy options, and most importantly provide cheaper energy prices for our state. You may recall last year, the utilities once again blocked efforts to expand solar and it’s long past time we send the message that the utility companies do not dictate our energy policy in our state. I feel the next 100 days are very important to making the changes we need and the changes you deserve.
While work has begun inside the State House, there’s much work going on outside the State House – particularly on the roads of South Carolina. Now, you can directly have an impact! After recent heavy rainfalls wreaked havoc on our roadways, SCDOT is launching a statewide “pothole blitz” …and they’re asking for our help! You can report potholes directly by calling their Hotline at 1-855-467-2368 or by visiting the website http://dbw.scdot.org/workrequest/. And remember, SCDOT employees will be working extended hours to fix these potholes, so please use caution and watch for SCDOT maintenance crews making repairs.
Thank you again for the honor and privilege to serve you in Columbia! Please contact me using any method above – phone, email, or website www.nathansnews.com.