We are 13 weeks into the 2021-2022 Session but we are not slowing down. After “budget week” two weeks ago, this week was ‘crossover week’, meaning we spent the week pushing to get as many important bills passed out of the House as possible. This deadline is important as it makes the bills passed by our chamber more likely to be considered by the Senate this session rather than next year. Some of the issues we honed in on this week were establishing tax conformity (not on most people’s radars, but every important), enhancing penalties for heinous crimes, improving education and protecting the 2nd amendment.

Tax Conformity

Each year, the House passes a tax conformity bill that puts the State and Federal tax codes in line. My dad is a retired CPA so he really knows this sort of stuff; but ask any “normal” person and they are not familiar with it – at all. Honestly, before serving in office, I wasn’t either. This is an important bill to ensure when you go to file your taxes, our State rules match those of the Federal Government. If not, that’s a problem. This year we had a very large amount of people file for unemployment in SC due to the pandemic conditions and shut-down. This bill exempts the first $10,000 of benefits these folks received from State tax income, ensuring that these people are not penalized for the hardships they involuntarily faced. This bill, H. 4017, unanimously passed the House.

Education Bills

Life Scholarships (H. 3588)- This bill amends the criteria for Life Scholarships, requiring certain English, Mathematics, and Computer Science coursework to be completed for eligibility. This completion takes place during a student’s senior year to better prepare them for college.

Non-Certified Teachers in the Classroom (H. 3590)- This bill allows public school districts to hire non-certified teachers (such as those who are retired or switched careers) for any school, career, and or technology center that have open teaching positions up until 5 days before the school year. Although these teachers may not comprise more than 25% of the staff and must have certain experience/academic requirements, this ensures that students have a teacher in the classroom no matter what. This passed by a vote of 99-17. I know it sounds odd to have “non-certified teachers” but with the shortages in the teaching profession, this is designed as a stop-gap measure as well as allows many with “real world experience” to come back and share with our students.

SC WINS (H. 3144)- This bill came through my subcommittee and establishes the SC Workforce Industry Needs Scholarship (SC WINS). This means that certain students attending a two-year technical school are eligible for a scholarship upon meeting certain criteria and requirements. Basically, makes it a free-ride for most. This passed the House on Wednesday by a vote of 105-1.

Second amendment

Also this week, the House sent the 2nd of two bills (H. 3094 and H. 3096) designed to bring SC more in-line with the rest of the country. Currently SC gun laws are similar to states like California and New York. Who knew? I was very surprised to learn that and shared that with readers at www.NathansNews.com last month.

Weekly COVID-19 Update

South Carolina is in Phase 1C of the vaccination process. Under these guidelines, anyone 16+ is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine with an appointment.

Visit https://scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccine/covid-19-vaccine-appointments to make a vaccination appointment at a provider near you.

34.5% of South Carolina citizens have started the vaccination process. 20% of SC citizens are fully vaccinated. 2,169,505 vaccines have been given to South Carolina residents to date.

Want to see how your area is doing in the fight against COVID-19? Visit the interactive ‘Vaccination Dashboard by following this link, https://scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccination-dashboard.

*Numbers updated April 8th.

I’m at your service!

It is my honor to be of service to you and your family here in the Chapin/Dutch Fork/Irmo community. If you need assistance navigating through the flow of information on COVID-19, navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me at home 803-834-4613 or the state house 803-734-2969.

If you are currently not receiving my regular COMMUNITY UPDATE emails, please let me know to add you to the distribution by emailing me at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov. I have sent these updates almost every month for more than a decade and they help keep you informed not only with what’s going on in Columbia but also here in our community with roads, schools, and other issues. Please be sure you stay informed and get on the distribution.
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