Commerce, Jobs, Bonded Debt, and Liquid Waste — Weekly Update from Sen. Tom Young –September 4, 2013 to September 9, 2013

 

The State Senate is out of session until January 2014.  I hope that you and your family are enjoying summer and that you find this update helpful and informative.  If I can help you with an issue, please let me know.

 

SRS – Liquid Waste Update

 

Last week, I provided an update on this issue with links to the letters written by our legislative delegation and Catherine Templeton, Director of SC DHEC.  Since last week, here is the latest information and what you can do:

Liquid Waste and the Federal Budget: Under the current proposed budget in Congress, Savannah River Remediation’s (SRR) budget will be cut by about $100 Million.  This means that there will be substantial cutbacks in the workforce at SRS and the ongoing efforts to clean up the liquid waste at SRS will be delayed.  None of this is good for our community. This issue has significant implications as to our community, its workforce, and the cleanup of SRS.

Current Status with SRR:  SRR is currently working with local DOE on its workforce reduction plan.  The plan is scheduled to be implemented within the next 10 days.

Governor Haley’s Letter:  Last Friday, Governor Haley wrote a letter to DOE requesting additional funding in the budget for the cleanup of SRS.  To see that letter, go here.

What Can You Do?: You can help by calling the following people at the Department of Energy and the following members of our Congressional delegation and ask them to fully fund liquid waste cleanup at the Savannah River Site:

Together, we must work to encourage federal policy makers and DOE to fund liquid waste cleanup efforts at SRS.

 

State Government News

 

Annual Report — Department of Commerce:  In 2012, the State Department of  Commerce recruited $4 billion in capital investments and brought more than 14,000 jobs into the state.   To see the major project announcements that helped secure South Carolina as one of the top states to do business and the top state for jobs created through foreign investment, go here: http://sccommerce.com/sites/default/files/all/scdoc_ar_2012_05-22-13_lr.pdf.

South Carolina Receives High Rankings from Business Consultants:   South Carolina has earned a #2 ranking among the top states for key site selection criteria, according to Area Development magazine’s recent survey of site consultants. South Carolina tied with Georgia for second overall in meeting key location requirements.  Area Development surveyed a select group of site consultants who are hired by corporations to scout locations nationwide that meet a company’s investment requirements. States were ranked in each of 17 categories based on the number of times they were named as a “top-5” choice by the responding consultants. South Carolina received more than 200 mentions.  South Carolina was the consultants’ top choice in both the certified shovel-ready sites and right-to-work environment and was among their top-five picks in cost of doing business (#2), corporate tax environment (#2), and nine other categories.   To learn more, go here:  http://www.areadevelopment.com/Top-States-for-Doing-Business.

State’s Bonded Debt Report:  The State Treasurer’s Office publishes a report each year on the bonded debt owed by the State of South Carolina.  The latest report shows that as of June 30, 2011, the state had $9.6 Billion in outstanding principal on bonded debt across all revenue classes. There has not been a default by the State on bonded debt since 1879 in the wake of Reconstruction.   To see the full report, go here.

Regulations –Comments Encouraged:  Governor’s task force is meeting  to review regulations and to recommend ways to reduce, improve, and simplify regulatory burdens.  The group’s report is due November 15, 2013.  Public comments are encouraged.  To provide comments to the Governor’s Task Force on any regulation, email the task force at GovRegTaskForce@sccommerce.com.

Planning for 2014 Legislative Session:  The 2014 legislative session convenes on the second Tuesday in January.  I appreciate input from constituents on the critical issues facing our state and area including tax reform; spending reform; K-12 education; the costs of higher education; health care; economic development; job growth; and the underfunded liabilities in our state’s health insurance program for state retirees.  Your input is welcome on any issue important to you.  Please email me back or contact me by phone or in person at your convenience.

 

Education Related News

 

Volunteer in Local Schools: If you would like to help with educating our children, consider volunteering in our local schools.  To learn more, please click here.  Thank you to the Aiken Downtown Rotary Club for putting together this list of opportunities.

Prevent High School Dropouts: Volunteers Needed: The Choices program is a local program being used in Aiken County middle schools with eighth graders to encourage more children to finish high school. Several local businesses and individuals have volunteered their time. The program needs more volunteers. If you are willing to volunteer, please email Debbie Hubbard at dhubbard@aiken.k12.sc.us or call her at 593-7300. To learn more about the program, go here.

Special Needs Children:  Recently, the SC Bar developed a handbook for parents of special needs children.  An online version of the handbook is available here at www.scbar.org/transitions.

Clemson – Helping At Risk High School Students:  Clemson’s Emerging Scholars program works make higher education a reality for students who might not have seen college in their future. The program, started in 2002, helps students from three Low Country counties to learn more about the basics of applying to college and to develop their skills in reading, writing and math through summer experiences and academic year activities.  To learn more , go here:  http://media-relations.www.clemson.edu/5024

 

Upcoming Meetings

 

End of Session Town Meetings:  Like the past four years, I plan to hold end of session town meetings around the district.   Currently, I have one set for Tuesday, September 17 at 4:00 pm at the Woodside Reserve Club.  The dates, times, and locations of others will be provided in future email updates as they are set.Rep. Bill Hixon and I are jointly presenting to the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce on September 25 at the Chamber’s monthly breakfast that morning.

North Augusta Business and Community Expo:  The North Augusta Chamber of Commerce will host a business and community expo at the N.A. Community Center on Thursday, September 12 from 1:00 to 7:00 pm.  To learn more, go here: http://northaugustachamber.chambermaster.com/events/details/business-community-expo-181.

Greater Aiken Senior Extravaganza 2013:  The City of Aiken will have its annual Aiken Senior Extravaganza again on Wednesday, September 18 at the H. Odell Weeks Center from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  The event offers seniors, and those interested in issues facing seniors, an opportunity to spend a day in educational seminars and to browse the display fair. The educational seminars will be limited to the first 325 people to register. The Health Fair and displays will be open to the public and pre-registration is not required. Age: 50 and over: Cost: FREE : Wednesday, September 19, 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.  For more information, please call 642-7631.

 

Other Local Topics of Interest

 

Email Updates:  While I send these email updates every week during the legislative session, I will not send them as often between now and January since the legislature is out of session.  I plan to send at least two a month between now and January.

Grass Cutting in the SCDOT Right of Way:  Grass is growing in right of ways around our district.  DOT has staff cutting the grass.  If you are aware of an area where high grass is obstructing vision for drivers as they enter or exit certain roads in our County, please call the SCDOT at 641-7665; email Paulette Morphy at MorphyPC@scdot.org;  or let me know and I will pass on the information.

 

Constituent Information

 

Legislative Email Updates:  Locally, three members of the House of Representatives, who represent portions of Aiken County within Senate District 24, send regular email updates.  Their respective contact information to get on their email lists to receive their email updates are as follows:

·         Rep. Bill Hixon (Dist. 83):  bill@billhixon.com

·         Rep. Bill Taylor (Dist. 86):  bill@taylorschouse.com

·         Rep. Don Wells (Dist. 81):  dwells29801@gmail.com

Congressman Joe Wilson Contact Information:  Congressman Wilson now represents all of Aiken County.  He has staff in Aiken County with office hours in Aiken and in North Augusta.  His office number is 608-9747.

Speaking with Groups Around the District: If you are involved with a local group that would like for me to attend a meeting to provide a legislative update, please let me know.

Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse in State Government:  To report waste, fraud and abuse in state government, you can call: 1-855-SC-FRAUD.

Facebook:  I have a Facebook page for Senator Tom Young. Please “like” the page to receive updates during the week from me on Facebook.

Tom Young’s Website: My website can be reached at www.senatortomyoung.com. There are links to a variety of constituent services; the status of sponsored bills; and roll call votes. Please add my web site as a bookmark on your computer.

Small Business Help – SC Dept. of Commerce: The South Carolina Department of Commerce has helpful information for small business owners and employees.  To learn more, go to  http://sccommerce.com/sc-business-network.

Save for College – Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan:  South Carolina’s 529 College Savings Plan Future Scholar offers special tax benefits for South Carolina residents. To learn more or to enroll, go to www.FutureScholar.com/parents.

Request a Flag:  If you would like to request a state or U.S. flag flown over the State Capitol in Columbia, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com.   Flags vary in cost according to their size and their material from which they are made.

State House Tours:  Tours are available for the S.C. State House by calling (803) 734-2430.  If you set a tour between January and June and it is on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, please let me know so I can do my best to see you.

Thoroughbred Country– South Carolina Regional Tourism Organization:  To learn more about tourism in the four county region of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell, visit www.tbredcountry.org.

Email Updates:  If you know of people in or around District 24 who do not receive my updates but they would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me.

Road Issues:  If you see a road problem such as a pothole needing repair, call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or Aiken County at 642-1532 to report the problem.  If you do not get a prompt response, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com or call me. Generally, most paved roads in the County are maintained by SCDOT and are identified on the road sign poles by a small black and white sign listing the road number, such as S-2-1669. Most unpaved roads in the County are maintained by the County.

Thank you for the opportunity and the honor to represent you.  Please let me know if I can help you in any way or if you have questions about these or other issues. Your feedback is meaningful and appreciated.

Sincerely,

Tom Young
649-0000(o)
215-3631 (cell)

 

 

Paid for by Tom Young for Senate

 

 

 

School Starts Back and Reading Proficiency — Weekly Update from Sen. Tom Young – August 8, 2013 to August 19, 2013






 
 

The State Senate is out of session until January 2014.  I hope that you and your family are enjoying summer and that you find this update helpful and informative.  If I can help you with an issue, please let me know.

Best Wishes for the New School Year:  Thousands of students and teachers across Aiken County start school this week.  While most schools may have been closed the past couple of months, our teachers have been working toward this week where they will greet their students with the same passion, dedication, and concern which they always bring to the profession.  Most everyone reading this column can probably think of the teachers who made a difference in their lives somewhere along the way. Good, caring teachers and an emphasis on the basics are critical to the future of our state and our nation.  Best wishes to all students, faculty, and staff in K-12 and college in the year ahead!

Importance of Reading: Since 2010, I have written several columns in this email update about the importance of reading in the effort to end generational poverty.  Two years ago, a report was released finding that one in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school – 4 times the rate of those who can read at grade level in the third grade. This report emphasizes why it is so important for our children to be able to read at grade level by the third grade. To see the report, go here. Later this month, I will post ways that you can volunteer in our local schools to assist in reading to a child or to serve as a mentor.

State Action – Reading Proficiency – Third Grade:  In February, the State’s Education Oversight Committee recommended that state law should require third graders to read at grade level or not be promoted unless certain exceptions are met. Retained third graders would be placed in a reading intensive program.  Such a change would fall in line with other states including North Carolina which passed a similar law last year.  To see information, go here.

“Read to Succeed” Legislation Pending:  Legislation is pending in the State Senate when the Senate returns in January that would screen children for readiness in 4K and 5K to identify potential learning barriers; provide intensive in-class and supplemental reading instruction; revise in-service requirements concerning teaching reading skills; and, beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, retain 3rd graders who cannot read on grade level unless they meet an exemption.  The legislation is modeled after a successful initiative implemented in Florida.

Volunteer in Local Schools: If you would like to help with educating our children, consider volunteering in our local schools.  To learn more, please click here. Thank you to the Aiken Downtown Rotary Club for putting together this list of opportunities.

Prevent High School Dropouts: Volunteers Needed: The Choices program is a local program being used in Aiken County middle schools with eighth graders to encourage more children to finish high school. Several local businesses and individuals have volunteered their time. The program needs more volunteers. If you are willing to volunteer, please email Debbie Hubbard at dhubbard@aiken.k12.sc.us or call her at 593-7300. To learn more about the program, go here.

Great Advice for New College Students:  At this time the past two years, I posted an article about advice that Coach Jay Mills, Head Football Coach at Charleston Southern University in Charleston, S.C., provided to his son as he went off to college.  Many parents and grandparents thanked me for sharing it so I am posting it again this August.  I think it is very good advice for any young person going out on his or her own.  To see the article, go here.

Special Needs Children – Help for Parents and Caregivers:  Recently, the SC Bar developed a handbook for parents of special needs children.  An online version of the handbook is available here at www.scbar.org/transitions.

SRS — Update

Yucca Mountain Update:  The Federal Government’s decision to abandon the Yucca Mountain project as a final repository for nuclear waste is a big issue to those of us in Aiken County and South Carolina. Last week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission broke the law when it unilaterally shut down work at Yucca Mountain.  The Court ordered that work resume.  Opponents of Yucca Mountain, including U.S. Senator Harry Reid, contend that there is no money available to appropriate to the project.  However, there is $11 Million remaining in previously appropriated funds that should be used to continue work on the project including finishing a technical report assessing Yucca Mountain’s viability.  This is positive news for Aiken County and South Carolina as many people work to ensure that high level spent nuclear waste currently stored at SRS does not remain there permanently.

State Government News

Legislative Scorecards:  SC BIPEC (South Carolina Business and Industry Political Education Committee) released its 2013 legislative scorecard and I scored a 100.  The SC Chamber of Commerce also released its 2013 scorecard and I received a 93.  The President of BIPEC has written in the past that a high score shows “dedication to jobs creation and economic development” and promotion of a “competitive free enterprise system.”  

Regulations –Comments Encouraged:  Governor’s task force is meeting  to review regulations and to recommend ways to reduce, improve, and simplify regulatory burdens.  The group’s report is due November 15, 2013.  Public comments are encouraged.  To provide comments to the Governor’s Task Force on any regulation, email the task force at GovRegTaskForce@sccommerce.com.

Planning for 2014 Legislative Session:  The 2014 legislative session convenes on the second Tuesday in January.  I appreciate input from constituents on the critical issues facing our state and area including tax reform; spending reform; K-12 education; the costs of higher education; health care; economic development; job growth; and the underfunded liabilities in our state’s health insurance program for state retirees.  Your input is welcome on any issue important to you.  Please email me back or contact me by phone or in person at your convenience.

Upcoming Meetings

End of Session Town Meetings:  Like the past four years, I plan to hold end of session town meetings around the district.   Based on constituent requests, I will hold those after the summer vacation season ends.  The dates, times, and locations will be provided in future email updates.

North Augusta Business and Community Expo:  The North Augusta Chamber of Commerce will host a business and community expo at the N.A. Community Center on Thursday, September 12 from 1:00 to 7:00 pm.  To learn more, go here: http://northaugustachamber.chambermaster.com/events/details/business-community-expo-181.

Greater Aiken Senior Extravaganza 2013:  The City of Aiken will have its annual Aiken Senior Extravaganza again on Wednesday, September 18 at the H. Odell Weeks Center from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  The event offers seniors, and those interested in issues facing seniors, an opportunity to spend a day in educational seminars and to browse the display fair. The educational seminars will be limited to the first 325 people to register. The Health Fair and displays will be open to the public and pre-registration is not required. Age: 50 and over: Cost: FREE : Wednesday, September 19, 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.  For more information, please call 642-7631.

Other Local Topics of Interest

SCE&G Rate Hike Request Update:  SCE&G requested permission for an increase in utility rates earlier this year of $4.32 per 1,000 KWHs used by residential customers.  The State Public Service Commission (PSC) has to approve the request.  Public comments are very important and should be emailed to Dukes Scott at cdscott@regstaff.sc.gov no later than August 30.

Silver Bluff Road Update: DOT representatives will begin property acquisition as early in September.  The estimated schedule for acquisition of Right of Way is 12 months, which means the project will be ready to let (advertise for Bids) in November 2014.  Construction would begin in the Early 2015with an anticipated duration of 18 months depending on the required utility relocations and the schedule of the selected contractor.  That would render a projected completion date of the Fall of 2016.

Hitchcock Parkway Update:  Last Monday, I attended the City Council meeting where an update was provided on this project.  The City asked SCDOT for two different four lane designs. Currently, the SCDOT plans another public input meeting in November of this year.  This project will be debated more after SCDOT provides the two different designs to the City.

Grass Cutting in the SCDOT Right of Way:  Grass is growing in right of ways around our district.  DOT has staff cutting the grass.  If you are aware of an area where high grass is obstructing vision for drivers as they enter or exit certain roads in our County, please call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or let me know and I will pass on the information.

Email Updates:  While I send these email updates every week during the legislative session, I will not send them as often between now and January since the legislature is out of session.  I plan to send at least two a month between now and January. 

Constituent Information

Legislative Email Updates:  Locally, three members of the House of Representatives, who represent portions of Aiken County within Senate District 24, send regular email updates.  Their respective contact information to get on their email lists to receive their email updates are as follows:

·         Rep. Bill Hixon (Dist. 83):  bill@billhixon.com

·         Rep. Bill Taylor (Dist. 86):  bill@taylorschouse.com

·         Rep. Don Wells (Dist. 81):  dwells29801@gmail.com

Congressman Joe Wilson Contact Information:  Congressman Wilson now represents all of Aiken County.  He has staff in Aiken County with office hours in Aiken and in North Augusta.  His office number is 608-9747.

Speaking with Groups Around the District: If you are involved with a local group that would like for me to attend a meeting to provide a legislative update, please let me know.

Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse in State Government:  To report waste, fraud and abuse in state government, you can call: 1-855-SC-FRAUD.

Facebook:  I have a Facebook page for Senator Tom Young. Please “like” the page to receive updates during the week from me on Facebook.

Tom Young’s Website: My website can be reached at www.senatortomyoung.com. There are links to a variety of constituent services; the status of sponsored bills; and roll call votes. Please add my web site as a bookmark on your computer.

Small Business Help – SC Dept. of Commerce: The South Carolina Department of Commerce has helpful information for small business owners and employees.  To learn more, go to  http://sccommerce.com/sc-business-network.

Save for College – Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan:  South Carolina’s 529 College Savings Plan Future Scholar offers special tax benefits for South Carolina residents. To learn more or to enroll, go to www.FutureScholar.com/parents.

Request a Flag:  If you would like to request a state or U.S. flag flown over the State Capitol in Columbia, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com.   Flags vary in cost according to their size and their material from which they are made.

State House Tours:  Tours are available for the S.C. State House by calling (803) 734-2430.  If you set a tour between January and June and it is on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, please let me know so I can do my best to see you.

Thoroughbred Country– South Carolina Regional Tourism Organization:  To learn more about tourism in the four county region of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell, visit www.tbredcountry.org.

Email Updates:  If you know of people in or around District 24 who do not receive my updates but they would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me.

Road Issues:  If you see a road problem such as a pothole needing repair, call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or Aiken County at 642-1532 to report the problem.  If you do not get a prompt response, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com or call me. Generally, most paved roads in the County are maintained by SCDOT and are identified on the road sign poles by a small black and white sign listing the road number, such as S-2-1669. Most unpaved roads in the County are maintained by the County.

Thank you for the opportunity and the honor to represent you.  Please let me know if I can help you in any way or if you have questions about these or other issues. Your feedback is meaningful and appreciated.

Sincerely,

 
Tom Young
649-0000(o)
215-3631 (cell)

 

Paid for by Tom Young for Senate

 


Kids Count, Career Center, and MOX Project — Weekly Update from Sen. Tom Young – July 16, 2013 to August 7, 2013

 

The State Senate is out of session until January 2014.  I hope that you and your family are enjoying summer and that you find this update helpful and informative.  If I can help you with an issue, please let me know.

SRS — Update

MOX Project Update: Yesterday, Shaw/Areva Mox Services announced that as part of a plan to address a budget shortfall for fiscal year 2014, a staffing reduction is underway at the MOX project.  The notification to impacted employees occurred in June and July and they will begin leaving the project later in August.  All impacted employees have received a 60-day notice to allow them time to make transition plans.  To assist these employees in their search for employment, the MOX project organized a job fair in July with 22 companies participating.  Shaw/Areva estimates that 500 employees will be impacted by the staffing reductions by October 1.

Additionally, Shaw/Areva is working with the Secretary of Energy and one of his senior advisors on funding for the project.  Currently, a study of the best way forward for plutonium disposition is underway at DOE.  This study should be completed by October 1.   If Congress passes a continuing resolution funding the federal government at current FY13 levels, that funding is more than the President’s funding request for FY14.  Our local state legislative delegation continues to monitor this issue and how we can assist.

Liquid Waste Budget Request:  The President’s budget request for high level waste cleanup and closure of aging waste tanks at SRS has significant implications as to our community, its workforce, and the cleanup of Savannah River Site. Several hundred local jobs are contingent on the funding related to the government’s regulatory commitments to clean up the waste.  Recently, the Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Commission wrote our state’s Congressional delegation and members of Georgia’s delegation requesting attention to this issue.  To see those letters, go here. Our local state legislative delegation is also assisting SRR in addressing this issue.

Kids Count Report and Recent Education News

Report on Children in South Carolina:  Last week, the 2013 KIDS COUNT report was released showing that South Carolina is ranked 45th in the nation as to the overall well-being of our state’s children.  To see the numbers specific to South Carolina, go here. Since the rankings began, South Carolina has never been better than number 42.  States that consistently rank high in the annual report have an educated workforce, more students graduating from high school on time, and higher paying jobs than our state.  Many of these problems are the direct result of generational poverty in our state.  Improving the overall educational attainment of our state’s citizens is critical to decreasing generational poverty in South Carolina.  I will write more about this and seek input in email updates later this year.

High School Dropout Rate Improves: Last Wednesday, the State Department of Education reported a 35 percent reduction in the state’s high school dropout rate over the five year period from the 2007/2008 school year to 2011/2012 school year.  The Aiken County School District reported a 26 percent reduction over the four year period from 2008/2009 school year to 2011/2012 school year.

Aiken County Career Center:  Located across from Aiken Tech, this facility assists local high school students who may not have an interest in the traditional college prep courses in high school.  Of the students participating from Aiken County high schools, 98.2% graduate on time within 4 years (2012 report).  Currently, there are about 670 students enrolled in the program.  This is a successful program which is doing great work to keep students in school and help them learn a skill. To learn more, go here.

State Government News

BEA Estimate on State Revenue:  For the year (12-13), general fund revenues are up $519.9 million or 8.5% over last year.  Total revenue for June 2013 is up $60.3 million compared to June 2012.  To date the General Fund is $109.4 million above the forecast for FY 12-13.

Roads – SCDOT Recommendations:  With some of the funding provided by the General Assembly in the current budget, the SCDOT plans to improve 90 miles of interstate highways in South Carolina.  Using a combination of the $500 million bonding capacity and federal and state funds, the projects recommended for funding include:

I-85/I-385 interchange in Greenville County; I-26 widening in Lexington/Richland counties (4.89 miles); I-85 widening in Greenville/Spartanburg counties (24.7 miles); I-526 widening in Charleston County (19.44 miles) (this does not involve the proposed extension of I-526); I-20 widening in Lexington County (10.31 miles); I-77 widening in Richland County (2.58 miles); I-85 widening in Spartanburg/Cherokee counties (28.36 miles).

The I-20 portion of the above is significant to those of us in Aiken County as it means that I-20 will expand from four to six lanes near exit 51 headed toward Columbia.

Regulations –Comments Encouraged:  On July 22, I attended the local meeting of the Governor’s task force to review regulations and to recommend ways to reduce, improve, and simplify regulatory burdens.  The group’s report is due November 15, 2013.  Public comments are encouraged.  To provide comments to the Governor’s Task Force on any regulation, email the task force at GovRegTaskForce@sccommerce.com.

Upcoming Meetings

Aiken County Legislative Delegation Meeting:  The delegation will meet next Monday, August 12 at 5:00 pm at the Aiken County Council Building on Richland Avenue in Aiken.  To learn more, call the delegation office at 642-1694.

End of Session Town Meetings:  Like the past four years, I plan to hold end of session town meetings around the district.   Based on constituent requests, I will hold those after the summer vacation season ends.  The dates, times, and locations will be provided in future email updates.

Hitchcock Parkway Update:  Last Thursday, I attended the ARTS meeting where an update was provided on this project.  SCDOT plans a presentation for Aiken City Council next Monday, August 12 at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall.   The SCDOT also plans another public input meeting in either October or November of this year.

North Augusta Business and Community Expo:  The North Augusta Chamber of Commerce will host a business and community expo at the N.A. Community Center on Thursday, September 12 from 1:00 to 7:00 pm.  To learn more, go here.

Other Local Topics of Interest

SCE&G Rate Hike Request Update:  SCE&G requested permission for an increase in utility rates earlier this year of $4.32 per 1,000 KWHs used by residential customers.  The State Public Service Commission (PSC) has to approve the request.  The State Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) issued a report at the end of July indicating the results of its review and audit and proposing any changes to the revised rates or the information supporting the revised rates that ORS determines necessary.   ORS recommended a reduction in the requested to $4.17 per 1,000 KWHS in the average monthly bill. To see the report, go here.  Public comments are very important and should be emailed to Dukes Scott at cdscott@regstaff.sc.gov no later than August 30.

Email Updates:  While I send these email updates every week during the legislative session, I will not send them as often between now and January since the legislature is out of session.  I plan to send at least two a month between now and January.

Grass Cutting in the SCDOT Right of Way:  Grass is growing in right of ways around our district.  DOT has staff cutting the grass.  If you are aware of an area where high grass is obstructing vision for drivers as they enter or exit certain roads in our County, please call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or let me know and I will pass on the information.

Greater Aiken Senior Extravaganza 2013:  The City of Aiken will have its annual Aiken Senior Extravaganza again on Wednesday, September 18 at the H. Odell Weeks Center from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  The event offers seniors, and those interested in issues facing seniors, an opportunity to spend a day in educational seminars and to browse the display fair. The educational seminars will be limited to the first 325 people to register. The Health Fair and displays will be open to the public and pre-registration is not required. Age: 50 and over: Cost: FREE : Wednesday, September 19, 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.  For more information, please call 642-7631.

Constituent Information

Legislative Email Updates:  Locally, three members of the House of Representatives, who represent portions of Aiken County within Senate District 24, send regular email updates.  Their respective contact information to get on their email lists to receive their email updates are as follows:

·         Rep. Bill Hixon (Dist. 83):  bill@billhixon.com

·         Rep. Bill Taylor (Dist. 86):  bill@taylorschouse.com

·         Rep. Don Wells (Dist. 81):  dwells29801@gmail.com

Congressman Joe Wilson Contact Information:  Congressman Wilson now represents all of Aiken County.  He has staff in Aiken County with office hours in Aiken and in North Augusta.  His office number is 608-9747.

Speaking with Groups Around the District: If you are involved with a local group that would like for me to attend a meeting to provide a legislative update, please let me know.

Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse in State Government:  To report waste, fraud and abuse in state government, you can call: 1-855-SC-FRAUD.

Facebook:  I have a Facebook page for Senator Tom Young. Please “like” the page to receive updates during the week from me on Facebook.

Tom Young’s Website: My website can be reached at www.senatortomyoung.com. There are links to a variety of constituent services; the status of sponsored bills; and roll call votes. Please add my web site as a bookmark on your computer.

Small Business Help – SC Dept. of Commerce: The South Carolina Department of Commerce has helpful information for small business owners and employees.  To learn more, go to  http://sccommerce.com/sc-business-network.

Save for College – Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan:  South Carolina’s 529 College Savings Plan Future Scholar offers special tax benefits for South Carolina residents. To learn more or to enroll, go to www.FutureScholar.com/parents.

Request a Flag:  If you would like to request a state or U.S. flag flown over the State Capitol in Columbia, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com.   Flags vary in cost according to their size and their material from which they are made.

State House Tours:  Tours are available for the S.C. State House by calling (803) 734-2430.  If you set a tour between January and June and it is on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, please let me know so I can do my best to see you.

Thoroughbred Country– South Carolina Regional Tourism Organization:  To learn more about tourism in the four county region of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell, visit www.tbredcountry.org.

Email Updates:  If you know of people in or around District 24 who do not receive my updates but they would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me.

Road Issues:  If you see a road problem such as a pothole needing repair, call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or Aiken County at 642-1532 to report the problem.  If you do not get a prompt response, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com or call me. Generally, most paved roads in the County are maintained by SCDOT and are identified on the road sign poles by a small black and white sign listing the road number, such as S-2-1669. Most unpaved roads in the County are maintained by the County.

Thank you for the opportunity and the honor to represent you.  Please let me know if I can help you in any way or if you have questions about these or other issues. Your feedback is meaningful and appreciated.

Sincerely,

Tom Young
649-0000(o)
215-3631 (cell)

 

 

Paid for by Tom Young for Senate

 

 

 

Top States for Business and Texting While Driving — Weekly Update from Sen. Tom Young – July 2, 2013 to July 15, 2013

The State Senate is out of session until January 2014.  I hope that you and your family are enjoying summer and that you find this update helpful and informative.  If I can help you with an issue, please let me know.

CNBC Top States for Business:  Last week, CNBC released its 2013 annual rankings of the 50 states as to which are the best for business.  South Carolina moved up from 32 in 2012 to 23 in 2013 (Number 39 in 2011).  Our neighboring states Georgia and North Carolina are ranked numbers 8 and 12 respectively.  In the past two years, our state moved up 16 spots.  South Carolina scored well in the categories measuring workforce, No. 9; cost of doing business, No. 8; and infrastructure and transportation, No. 15.   However, we scored in the lower half on quality of life, No. 41; education, No. 36; and business friendliness, No. 34. (I plan a future update focused on education and children issues.)  To see the rankings and the criteria used to determine the rankings, click here.

Texting and Driving:  This issue continues to be one that I am asked about a lot.  Did you know that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that individuals who text while driving are 23 times more likely to have a wreck than those who do not text while driving?  Currently, 41 states have banned the act of texting while driving.  South Carolina’s House of Representatives passed a ban in 2010; however, the bill did not pass the State Senate.  Legislation to ban texting while driving is currently filed and is expected to come up in the 2014 session.   As a member of the House, I voted in favor of a ban.   For a map of the law in all 50 states, go here.

Teens and Texting:  Texting while driving amongst young drivers is a real problem.  There is an anti-texting app which parents can use to keep their teen from texting while driving.  To learn more, click here.

Bridge Replacements – Downtown AikenSeveral people have called me about the recent article in the paper where it was reported that two bridges in downtown Aiken will be replaced.  I checked with the SCDOT and here is what I found out:  SCDOT is in the early stages of the design process for the Union Street Bridge (S-166) and the Fairfield Street Bridge (S-180).  The surveys are under way and after SCDOT has those, SCDOT will be able to develop conceptual designs for these bridges.  SCDOT does not have any designs that are ready to be presented to the public.   Because the bridges are located in the City of Aiken’s historic district, SCDOT will work closely with City of Aiken Staff to develop designs that meet the railroad’s requirements, preserve the historic rail bed, and minimize the changes to the roadway approaches.  The public can go ahead and provide input on the two bridges now by email to SCDOT’s Kevin Gantt at GanttKL@scdot.org.

USC Aiken Update:  Recently, Dr. Jordan prepared an update about USC Aiken and significant happenings at the University.  To see it, go here.

South Carolina Agriculture:  An excellent publication from the S.C. Department of Agriculture highlighting various aspects of South Carolina’s agricultural products and farming in South Carolina can be seen here.

Carbon Monoxide Safety:  In view of the three tragic deaths in North Carolina earlier this year and two more recent deaths in Greenville as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning,  South Carolina’s State Fire Marshal Shane Ray urges the public to consider acquiring carbon monoxide alarms as a safeguard against future tragedies.   To learn more, go here.

 Upcoming Meetings

SRS Budget and Funding Community ForumA community forum on the SRS budget and funding presentations will be held on this Thursday, July 18 at Aiken Technical College from 9 to 11 am. The forum will provide presentations related to the SRS budget process and the outlook for future funding of SRS missions.  To learn more, go here.  I currently am scheduled to be out of town and unable to attend.

Regulatory Review Taskforce MeetingGovernor Nikki Haley’s Regulatory Review Task Force will conduct regional public meetings beginning Friday, July 12.  Regional meetings are open to the public.  Any South Carolina resident may attend and make recommendations to the Task Force.  The Aiken County meeting will be as follows:

Monday, July 22

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

University of South Carolina Aiken

Business and Education Building

Room #122

Aiken, S.C.

The Regulatory Review Task Force has created an e-mail account to allow for public input from residents unable to attend the meetings.  The e-mail address is GovRegTaskForce@sccommerce.com.

Aiken County Legislative Delegation Meeting:  The delegation will meet on Monday, August 12 at 5:00 pm at the Aiken County Council Building.  To learn more, call the delegation office at 642-1694.

End of Session Town Meetings:  Like the past four years, I plan to hold end of session town meetings around the district.   Based on constituent requests, I will hold those after the summer vacation season ends.  The dates, times, and locations will be provided in future email updates.

Other Local Topics of Interest

British Open — Good Luck to Aiken County’s Scott Brown!: Later this week, Aiken County’s Scott Brown will compete in the British Open golf championship.  To read the story from yesterday’s The State newspaper, go here.

Email Updates:  While I send these email updates every week during the legislative session, I will not send them as often between now and January since the legislature is out of session.  I plan to send at least two a month between now and January. I will not send one next week.

Grass Cutting in the SCDOT Right of Way:  Grass is growing in right of ways around our district.  DOT has staff cutting the grass.  If you are aware of an area where high grass is obstructing vision for drivers as they enter or exit certain roads in our County, please call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or let me know and I will pass on the information.

Aiken County Public Library Summer Reading Program: The annual summer reading program for children through the 5th grade is underway at the Aiken County Public Library. The Program runs through early August. Children who read the required number of books will receive a medal and a certificate of completion. Reading is essential to doing well in school. Please encourage as many young people as you can to read this summer. For more information, call the Aiken County Public Library at 642- 2020 or go here.

Constituent Information

Legislative Email Updates:  Locally, three members of the House of Representatives, who represent portions of Aiken County within Senate District 24, send regular email updates.  Their respective contact information to get on their email lists to receive their email updates are as follows:

Congressman Joe Wilson Contact Information:  Congressman Wilson now represents all of Aiken County.  He has staff in Aiken County with office hours in Aiken and in North Augusta.  His office number is 608-9747.

Speaking with Groups Around the District: If you are involved with a local group that would like for me to attend a meeting to provide a legislative update, please let me know.

Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse in State Government:  To report waste, fraud and abuse in state government, you can call: 1-855-SC-FRAUD.

Facebook:  I have a Facebook page for Senator Tom Young. Please “like” the page to receive updates during the week from me on Facebook.

Tom Young’s Website: My website can be reached at www.senatortomyoung.com. There are links to a variety of constituent services; the status of sponsored bills; and roll call votes. Please add my web site as a bookmark on your computer.

Small Business Help – SC Dept. of Commerce: The South Carolina Department of Commerce has helpful information for small business owners and employees.  To learn more, go to this site

Save for College – Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan:  South Carolina’s 529 College Savings Plan Future Scholar offers special tax benefits for South Carolina residents. To learn more or to enroll, click here.

Request a Flag:  If you would like to request a state or U.S. flag flown over the State Capitol in Columbia, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com.   Flags vary in cost according to their size and their material from which they are made.

State House Tours:  Tours are available for the S.C. State House by calling (803) 734-2430.  If you set a tour between January and June and it is on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, please let me know so I can do my best to see you.

Thoroughbred Country– South Carolina Regional Tourism Organization:  To learn more about tourism in the four county region of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell, visit www.tbredcountry.org.

Email Updates:  If you know of people in or around District 24 who do not receive my updates but they would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me.

Road Issues:  If you see a road problem such as a pothole needing repair, call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or Aiken County at 642-1532 to report the problem.  If you do not get a prompt response, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com or call me. Generally, most paved roads in the County are maintained by SCDOT and are identified on the road sign poles by a small black and white sign listing the road number, such as S-2-1669. Most unpaved roads in the County are maintained by the County.

Thank you for the opportunity and the honor to represent you.  Please let me know if I can help you in any way or if you have questions about these or other issues. Your feedback is meaningful and appreciated.

Sincerely,

Senator Tom Young

Veto Recap and July 4th — Weekly Update from Sen. Tom Young — June 25, 2013- July 1, 2013

The State Senate is now out of session until January 2014.  I hope that you find this update helpful and informative.  If I can help you with an issue, please let me know.

Happy Independence Day!:  I hope that you and your family enjoy the July 4th holiday and reflect on how blessed that we are to live in the United States of America.  If you are in Aiken County, there are at least two July 4th celebrations planned as follows:

  • July 4th Celebration at Gaston Livery:  starting at 4:00 pm at the Gaston Livery and Aiken Veteran’s Park on Richland Avenue.  The event is free and open to the public.
  • Village at Woodside Beach Blast: starting at 5:00 pm. Cost is $5.00 per car and proceeds go to the Aiken-Augusta Wounded Warriors Project.  The location is 230 Village Green Drive in Aiken.
  • North Augusta contributes toward the fireworks show in Augusta.  Many residents will gather on the hill or at the Municipal Center to watch Thursday evening.

SCE&G Rate Hike Request:  Several Aiken County residents have contacted me and others on the legislative delegation about SCE&G’s proposed rate hike request.  The State Public Service Commission (PSC) will have to approve the request.  As I wrote in my June 10 update, Consumers have one month to comment on the request and those comments are due no later than today – July 1.  (The State Office of Regulatory Staff will issue a report at the end of July and comments can be submitted in August for that report too.)  Current comments should be emailed to Dukes Scott at cdscott@regstaff.sc.gov.  To file a letter of protest, go here.

Pepperidge Farm Plant Closing:  As you may know, last Thursday, Pepperidge Farm announced plans to close its Aiken County production bakery at the industrial park by the airport.  The first layoffs will come in September with the final phase out in March 2014.  The plant has operated in Aiken since 1976. Our legislative delegation is working with state and local economic development staff to alleviate the impact on our area.  We are also working with the State Department of Employment and Workforce to assist impacted workers.

Last Week in the Senate – Vetoes Considered

Governor Haley’s Vetoes:  Last Tuesday, Governor Haley vetoed 81 line items and provisos in this year’s budget totaling about $94 Million collectively.  To see her veto messages, go here for the general budget.  For the capital reserve fund, go here.

Clarification – Sustaining versus Overriding Budget Vetoes:  When a budget veto is sustained, that means the vetoed appropriation is not part of the final budget.  When a budget veto is overridden, that means the vetoed appropriation is part of the final budget despite the Governor’s veto.  At least a two thirds vote in both the House and the Senate is needed for an override. All the budget veto votes start in the House.  If the House sustains a veto, then the Senate does not vote on that vetoed appropriation.

General Budget Veto Comments: The House of Representatives met last Wednesday and the Senate met last Thursday to consider whether to sustain or to override the Governor’s vetoes.  The House voted to sustain 28 of the 81 vetoes.  The Senate voted to sustain 4 more for a total of 32 vetoes being sustained. The Senate only considers any veto that the House overrides.  Of the 53 vetoes that the House overrode, I voted to sustain 40 of the 53 vetoes based on the best information available to me at the time.  If you have a particular veto for which you want to know more about, please let me know.

Governor Haley’s Budget Vetoes — Sustained:  The House sustained 28 of Governor Haley’s 81 vetoes.  Of the remaining 53, the Senate sustained 4.  Those that were sustained included money for DNR outreach programs; for the Department of Mental Health’s Seahaven facility; for a visitor’s center in Orangeburg; and for soccer field lighting on Daniel Island.  I voted to sustain these vetoes in addition to 36 others.

Governor Haley’s Budget Vetoes – Overrides:  The House overrode 53 of Governor Haley’s 81 vetoes.  Of the remaining 53, the Senate overrode 49.  I voted to override 13.   Those that were overridden included funding for the caregivers program assisting homebound senior citizens across the state; for screenings for cancer including colon and breast cancer; for hemophilia and sickle cell health programs; for a public/private partnership focused on reforming public education; for deferred maintenance and construction at public colleges and technical schools; and for a manufacturing skills training program through the technical colleges.   I voted to override these vetoes.

Arts Commission Veto and Audit Report:  Unlike the last two years, Governor Haley did not veto the entire budget for the Arts Commission.  Rather, she vetoed a portion of the operating funds and left all of the money available for grants intact. I voted to sustain this veto.  Here is why:  In this budget, the Arts Commission will receive $1 Million more than last year for grants to support arts organizations, arts activities, arts education, and tourism across the state. (This additional funding nearly doubles this allocation from the past budget.) The Governor did not veto these funds.  Earlier last week, the Legislative Audit Council released its report on the Arts Commission. The report showed that of the states with an arts agency, the average state arts agency manages 35% more funding than the South Carolina’s Arts Commission with 29% fewer full time positions and no part time staff (SC Arts has 3 part time staff).  If sustained, Governor Haley’s veto would have impacted a portion of the operating expenses at the agency and NOT the grant funds which were increased in this budget.  Nearly every person who contacted me about overriding this veto mentioned that he or she did not want the grant funding impacted.  In this budget, the grant funding increased substantially and the veto did not impact that.  I voted to sustain the veto after knowing all of the above.  However, the Senate overrode the veto.  To see the audit report, go here.

Other Local Topics of Interest

Hitchcock Parkway Update:  Tomorrow night, July 2, the City of Aiken SCDOT will hold another public input meeting to present its alternative design concept for this proposed road project.  The meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 2 at 6:00 pm at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.  The City will present its concept plan to City Council on Monday, July 8 at 7:00 pm.  Public input is important on this project.

End of Session Town Meetings:  Like the past four years, I plan to hold end of session town meetings around the district.   Based on constituent requests, I will hold those after the summer vacation season ends.  The dates, times, and locations will be provided in future email updates.

Email Updates:  While I send these email updates every week during the legislative session, I will not send them as often between now and January since the legislature is out of session.  I plan to send at least two a month between now and January. I will not send one next week.

Teens and Texting:  Texting while driving amongst young drivers is a real problem.  There is an anti-texting app which parents can use to keep their teen from texting while driving.  To learn more, go here: www.thecanaryproject.com.

Grass Cutting in the SCDOT Right of Way:  Grass is growing in right of ways around our district.  DOT has staff cutting the grass.  If you are aware of an area where high grass is obstructing vision for drivers as they enter or exit certain roads in our County, please call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or let me know and I will pass on the information.

Aiken County Public Library Summer Reading Program: The annual summer reading program for children through the 5th grade has started at the Aiken County Public Library. The Program runs through early August. Children who read the required number of books will receive a medal and a certificate of completion. Reading is essential to doing well in school. Please encourage as many young people as you can to read this summer. For more information, call the Aiken County Public Library at 642- 2020 or go here: http://www.abbe-lib.org/.

Constituent Information

Legislative Email Updates:  Locally, three members of the House of Representatives, who represent portions of Aiken County within Senate District 24, send regular email updates.  Their respective contact information to get on their email lists to receive their email updates are as follows:

Congressman Joe Wilson Contact Information:  Congressman Wilson now represents all of Aiken County.  He has staff in Aiken County with office hours in Aiken and in North Augusta.  His office number is 608-9747.

Speaking with Groups Around the District: If you are involved with a local group that would like for me to attend a meeting to provide a legislative update, please let me know.

Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse in State Government:  To report waste, fraud and abuse in state government, you can call: 1-855-SC-FRAUD.

Facebook:  I have a Facebook page for Senator Tom Young. Please “like” the page to receive updates during the week from me on Facebook.

Tom Young’s Website: My website can be reached at www.senatortomyoung.com. There are links to a variety of constituent services; the status of sponsored bills; and roll call votes. Please add my web site as a bookmark on your computer.

Small Business Help – SC Dept. of Commerce: The South Carolina Department of Commerce has helpful information for small business owners and employees.  To learn more, go to  http://sccommerce.com/sc-business-network.

Save for College – Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan:  South Carolina’s 529 College Savings Plan Future Scholar offers special tax benefits for South Carolina residents. To learn more or to enroll, go to www.FutureScholar.com/parents.

Request a Flag:  If you would like to request a state or U.S. flag flown over the State Capitol in Columbia, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com.   Flags vary in cost according to their size and their material from which they are made.

State House Tours:  Tours are available for the S.C. State House by calling (803) 734-2430.  If you set a tour between January and June and it is on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, please let me know so I can do my best to see you.

Thoroughbred Country– South Carolina Regional Tourism Organization:  To learn more about tourism in the four county region of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell, visit www.tbredcountry.org.

Email Updates:  If you know of people in or around District 24 who do not receive my updates but they would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me.

Road Issues:  If you see a road problem such as a pothole needing repair, call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or Aiken County at 642-1532 to report the problem.  If you do not get a prompt response, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com or call me. Generally, most paved roads in the County are maintained by SCDOT and are identified on the road sign poles by a small black and white sign listing the road number, such as S-2-1669. Most unpaved roads in the County are maintained by the County.

Thank you for the opportunity and the honor to represent you.  Please let me know if I can help you in any way or if you have questions about these or other issues. Your feedback is meaningful and appreciated.

Budget Passed with Vetoes Forthcoming — Weekly Update from Sen. Tom Young — June 11, 2013 to June 24, 2013

The State Senate’s regular session ended on June 6.  The General Assembly returns later this week to address forthcoming budget vetoes.  I hope that you find this update helpful and informative.  If I can help you with an issue, please let me know.

Beech Island Native Killed in Action:  The Department of Defense announced last Thursday the death of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.  They died June 18, in Bagram, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with indirect fire.  Specialist Ember M. Alt, 21, of Beech Island, S.C. was one of those killed.  Specialist Alt’s husband lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, her mother lives in Gulfport, Mississippi, and her father lives in Killeen, Texas.  Please remember her and her family in your prayers.  Also, please pray daily for our soldiers and their families.

Last Week in the Senate

State Budget:  Last week, the budget conference committee reached an agreement on the state budget and both the House and the Senate approved it on Wednesday.  Governor Haley will issue her vetoes by late Tuesday night this week.  The House will return on Wednesday afternoon to consider vetoes and the Senate returns Thursday morning.   Highlights in the budget include the following:

Budget – Balanced Budget Requirement:  Unlike the federal government, the state of South Carolina is required by law to have a balanced budget and cannot deficit spend.  If projected revenue in a fiscal year is below projections, then cuts are required to be made by either the Budget and Control Board or the General Assembly.

Budget – “Rainy Day” Reserves Funded:  The State is required by state law to fund the General Reserve Fund at 5% of the previous year’s general fund balance and may be withdrawn only for covering operating deficits.  The General Reserve Fund is fully funded this year at $292.8 million.  The Capital Reserve Fund is a recurring appropriation and must equal 2% of General Fund revenue.  The Capital Reserve Fund is funded this year at $126.9  million.

Budget — School Funding:  The budget increases funding for public education with the following of significance:

  • $77 million more in state funding for students.
  • Public school teachers will receive a pay increase of about 2 percent which districts are required by law to provide (STEP increase).
  • $23.5 million to purchase approximately 285 new school buses.
  • $12 million to help cover the cost of more students choosing public charter schools.
  • $8 million in tax credits for donations made to organizations granting private-school scholarships to disabled students.
  • $26 million to expand the state’s 4-year-old kindergarten program for children living in poverty.  This money will go to 17 additional school districts which are the remaining ones in the state where 4k is not already implemented and the number of children in those 17 districts living in a household qualifying for free or reduced lunch exceeds 75% (Aiken County School District is 71%).
  • Total funding to the State Department of Education is $3.89 Billion – up from $3.76 Billion in the past fiscal year.

Budget – Higher Education and Technical Colleges:  The public colleges, universities, and technical colleges will receive collectively the following amounts with additional monies for some schools allocated in the Capital Reserve Fund Bill.

  • $3.637 Billion for public colleges and universities.
  • $677.2 Million for Technical Colleges.

Budget — State Employees:  Here are key points about state employees in this year’s budget:

  • No pay raise for most of the state’s 55,000 employees (correctional officers will get a 3% pay raise).
  • Instead of giving pay raises, the budget calls for $54 million to cover the cost of rising state health insurance premiums.
  • $1.3 million for 30 additional state troopers.
  • $900,000 for 18 additional DNR law enforcement officers.

Budget — Identity Theft Protection:  After hackers gained access to personal information of taxpayers at the SC Department of Revenue last fall, the state paid for individual credit-fraud services for those affected. This budget continues to pay for those services.

  • $10 million for identity theft protection.  A request for procurement is pending and a contract will be entered by the state to provide one additional year of identity theft protection and fraud resolution services.  Separate legislation to require the state to do this for up to 10 more years passed the Senate and is pending in the House of Representatives.
  • $10.7 million for computer security upgrades through the state Budget and Control Board.
  • Tax deductions of $300 for individuals and $1,000 for joint filers for people who buy their own consumer protection and identity theft-resolution services.

Budget – Local Government Fund:  The local government fund is funding provided to cities and counties from the state.  The budget funds this at the same amount as last year – $212 M.

Budget — Medicaid Expansion:  The budget does NOT include an expansion of Medicaid as proposed under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

Budget – MedicaidCurrently, without expansion, Medicaid is the largest portion of the state budget projected to cost us $6.47 Billion this coming fiscal year alone. At this amount, Medicaid spending – without expansion – will have increased over $500 Million from the current fiscal year to next.  The projected spending at the Department of Health and Human Services for Medicaid next fiscal year starting July 1 will exceed combined spending for K-12 education and for SCDOT by over $800 million.

Ethics- Private Source of Income Disclosure: The pending ethics legislation in the General Assembly will require that legislators disclose the private sources  of their income. (Public sources of income are already reported on state ethics filings each year.) Although the current ethics bill will not be back up for debate until the Senate returns in January, I went ahead and completed a private source of income disclosure which can be seen  here.

Roads and Bridges

Road Funding Bill:  The House and Senate approved a conference report on H.3360 which is the most significant step taken by the state in years toward addressing deficiencies in our state’s road system.  The bill includes the following:

  • $50 million in recurring funds to pay for the State to bond up to $500 million for improving the state’s existing interstates and bridges.
  • $41 million, collected from half of the state sales tax on motor vehicles, for state secondary roads.
  • $50 million in one-time surplus money for bridge replacement and rehabilitation.

Aiken County Bridge Replacements:  There are 5 Aiken County bridges currently on SCDOT’s list to be replaced.  Those bridges and the projected costs are as follows:

  • US 278 bridge replacement over Three Runs Creek ($4,590,000)
  • S-166 bridge replacement over Norfolk Southern RR (Union Street bridge) (700,000)
  • S-180 bridge replacement over Norfolk Southern RR (Fairfield Street bridge) (700,000)
  • S-2-144 rehabilitation at I-20 (mile marker 11.22) ($500,000)
  • SC-28 rehabilitation at Savannah River ($2,400,000)

Other Local Topics of Interest

Hitchcock Parkway Update:  Last Thursday, the City of Aiken SCDOT presented its alternative design concept for this proposed road project.  Another public input meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 2 at 6:00 pm at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.  The City will present its concept plan to City Council on Monday, July 8 at 7:00 pm.  Public input is important on this project.

SCE&G Rate Hike Request:  Several Aiken County residents have contacted me and others on the legislative delegation about SCE&G’s proposed rate hike request.  The State Public Service Commission (PSC) will have to approve the request.  Consumers currently have one month to comment on the request and those comments are due no later than the end of June. I am joining other delegation members in requesting a public hearing to be held by the PSC here in Aiken County.  If this request is granted, I will post more information when I know it.

Aiken County Public Library Summer Reading Program: The annual summer reading program for children through the 5th grade has started at the Aiken County Public Library. The Program runs through early August. Children who read the required number of books will receive a medal and a certificate of completion. Reading is essential to doing well in school. Please encourage as many young people as you can to read this summer. For more information, call the Aiken County Public Library at 642- 2020 or go here: http://www.abbe-lib.org/.

Congratulations – Mead Hall School – State Champs!:  Congratulations to Mead Hall School’s golf and tennis teams for winning the state championship.  Our community is proud of you!

Foster Grandparent Program:  Volunteers age 55 and over are needed for the Foster Grandparent program in Aiken County.  To learn more, go here.  If you are interested in this in Aiken County, call 648-6836, ext. 227.

End of Session Town Meetings:  Like the past four years, I plan to hold end of session town meetings around the district.   Based on constituent requests, I will hold those after the summer vacation season ends.  The dates, times, and locations will be provided in future updates.

Constituent Information

Legislative Email Updates:  Locally, three members of the House of Representatives, who represent portions of Aiken County within Senate District 24, send regular email updates.  Their respective contact information to get on their email lists to receive their email updates are as follows:

Congressman Joe Wilson Contact Information:  Congressman Wilson now represents all of Aiken County.  He has staff in Aiken County with office hours in Aiken and in North Augusta.  His office number is 608-9747.

Speaking with Groups Around the District: If you are involved with a local group that would like for me to attend a meeting to provide a legislative update, please let me know.

Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse in State Government:  To report waste, fraud and abuse in state government, you can call: 1-855-SC-FRAUD.

Facebook:  I have a Facebook page for Senator Tom Young. Please “like” the page to receive updates during the week from me on Facebook.

Tom Young’s Website: My website can be reached at www.senatortomyoung.com. There are links to a variety of constituent services; the status of sponsored bills; and roll call votes. Please add my web site as a bookmark on your computer.

Small Business Help – SC Dept. of Commerce: The South Carolina Department of Commerce has helpful information for small business owners and employees.  To learn more, go to  http://sccommerce.com/sc-business-network.

Save for College – Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan:  South Carolina’s 529 College Savings Plan Future Scholar offers special tax benefits for South Carolina residents. To learn more or to enroll, go to www.FutureScholar.com/parents.

Request a Flag:  If you would like to request a state or U.S. flag flown over the State Capitol in Columbia, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com.   Flags vary in cost according to their size and their material from which they are made.

State House Tours:  Tours are available for the S.C. State House by calling (803) 734-2430.  If you set a tour between January and June and it is on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, please let me know so I can do my best to see you.

Thoroughbred Country– South Carolina Regional Tourism Organization:  To learn more about tourism in the four county region of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell, visit www.tbredcountry.org.

Email Updates:  If you know of people in or around District 24 who do not receive my updates but they would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me.

Road Issues:  If you see a road problem such as a pothole needing repair, call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or Aiken County at 642-1532 to report the problem.  If you do not get a prompt response, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com or call me. Generally, most paved roads in the County are maintained by SCDOT and are identified on the road sign poles by a small black and white sign listing the road number, such as S-2-1669. Most unpaved roads in the County are maintained by the County.

Thank you for the opportunity and the honor to represent you.  Please let me know if I can help you in any way or if you have questions about these or other issues. Your feedback is meaningful and appreciated.

Sincerely,

Senator Tom Young

 

Regular Session Ends, Flooding, and Palace Malice! — Weekly Update from Sen. Tom Young –June 3, 2013 to June 10, 2013

The State Senate’s regular session ended this past Thursday, June 6.  I hope that you find this update helpful and informative.  If I can help you with an issue, please let me know.

North Augusta Flooding:  On Friday, I joined Rep. Roland Smith, Rep. Bill Hixon, and officials from SCDOT in visiting several locations of flood damage from last week’s rains in the North Augusta area.  SCDOT is repairing damaged roads and backed up drainpipes.  Equipment has been brought in from other parts of the state to assist.  If you are aware of a problem from last week’s rains that needs attention from state road officials, please let me know or call SCDOT at 641-7665.

Congratulations to Palace Malice and Dogwood Stables!:  Locally owned and trained Palace Malice won the Belmont this past Saturday.  Dogwood Stables’ Cot Campbell and his team are to be congratulated on this wonderful accomplishment in which Aiken County takes great pride.

Last Week in the Senate

Regular Session Concludes:  The Senate’s regular session concluded on June 6 with a number of bills having to wait until the Senate returns in January.  Those bills include Ethics Reform; Affordable Care Act Nullification; Concealed Weapons – Restaurant Carry; and Read to Succeed.  Nevertheless, some high profile bills reached final passage including the Election Law Fix.  Some are in conference committees with final passage to occur when the Senate returns later in June including the Department of Administration/Elimination of Budget and Control Board.

Elections – Ballot Upheaval Fix:  Final approval was given to legislation (S.2) to correct the election issues which we saw across the state last year.  Incumbents and non-incumbents will have the same filing requirements.  Also, a candidate who fails to file a Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) must be fined but the candidate remains on the ballot – unlike we saw last year after current law was interpreted by the State Supreme Court.

State Budget:  The budget is now in a conference committee composed of three House conferees and three Senate conferees.  A conference report will be presented to both the House and the Senate most likely on June 18.  After the conference report is adopted, the budget will go to the Governor for her consideration.  The General Assembly will then return on June 25 to consider any gubernatorial vetoes.

Angel Investor Bill Passes:  Final passage occurred this week with legislation designed to encourage private investors to help start up companies.  I have heard since 2010 from many constituents about the need for South Carolina to encourage more business growth and job expansion in our state by improving the state’s existing laws to encourage “angel investments.” The legislation includes a $5 Million cap in tax credits per year and will sunset in six years.  Also, the S.C. Department of Commerce will issue an annual report with information on utilization of the angel investment fund.

Abandoned Commercial Buildings:  The Senate unanimously passed H.3093 which is legislation intended to provide limited tax credits for the revitalization of abandoned commercial buildings around the state.

High School and College Graduations

Congratulations Graduates!:  Congratulations to the hundreds of  high school and college graduates in Aiken County in recent weeks!  We are proud of them!Best wishes as they go to work or continue their education!

Great Advice for Graduates:  During the last two months of August when students are headed to college, I posted an article about advice that Coach Jay Mills, Head Football Coach at Charleston Southern University in Charleston, S.C., provided to his son as he went off to college.  Many parents and grandparents thanked me for sharing it and asked that I post it at graduation time too.  I think it is very good advice for any young person going out on his or her own.  To see the article, go here.

SRS News

President’s Budget:  Local concerns exist as to the President’s budget allocations for liquid waste disposition and MOX Facility construction in the 2014 budget request.  As reported here last month, our local legislative delegation remains engaged in working with state officials and our congressional delegation to address these areas of concern.

Other Local Topics of Interest

SCE&G Rate Hike Request:  Several Aiken County residents have contacted me and others on the legislative delegation about SCE&G’s proposed rate hike request.  The State Public Service Commission (PSC) will have to approve the request.  Consumers have one month to comment on the request and those comments are due no later than the end of June.  (The State Office of Regulatory Staff will issue a report at the end of July and comments can be submitted in August for that report too.)  Current comments should be emailed to Dukes Scott at cdscott@regstaff.sc.gov.  To file a letter of protest, go here.

Grass Cutting in the SCDOT Right of Way:  Grass is growing in right of ways around our district.  DOT has staff cutting the grass.  If you are aware of an area where high grass is obstructing vision for drivers as they enter or exit certain roads in our County, please call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or let me know and I will pass on the information.

Belvedere/Clearwater Road Proposed Widening:  SCDOT proposes widening 2.15 miles of Belvedere/Clearwater Road and seeks comments over the next 30 days.  To see the letter with details and how to comment, go here.

Hitchcock Woods Newsletter: To see the current newsletter, click here.

Aiken County Public Library Summer Reading Program: The annual summer reading program for children through the 5th grade has started at the Aiken County Public Library. The Program runs through early August. Children who read the required number of books will receive a medal and a certificate of completion. Reading is essential to doing well in school. Please encourage as many young people as you can to read this summer. For more information, call the Aiken County Public Library at 642- 2020 or go here.

Prevent High School Dropouts – Volunteers Needed:  The Choices program is a local program being used in Aiken County middle schools with eighth graders to encourage more children to finish high school.  Several local businesses and individuals have volunteered their time.  The program needs more volunteers.  If you are willing to volunteer, please email Debbie Hubbard atdhubbard@aiken.k12.sc.us or call her at 593-7300.  To learn more about the program, go here.

Regulations –Comments Encouraged:  Governor Haley recently issued an Executive Order requiring all state agencies to review statutes, rules, regulations and policies for their effects on South Carolina’s economy. The Governor also set up a task force to review regulations and to recommend ways to reduce, improve, and simplify regulatory burdens.  The group’s report is due November 15, 2013.  Public comments are encouraged.  To provide comments to the Governor’s Task Force on any regulation, email the task force at GovRegTaskForce@sccommerce.com.

Constituent Information

Legislative Email Updates:  Locally, three members of the House of Representatives, who represent portions of Aiken County within Senate District 24, send regular email updates.  Their respective contact information to get on their email lists to receive their email updates are as follows:

·      Rep. Bill Hixon (Dist. 83):  bill@billhixon.com

·      Rep. Bill Taylor (Dist. 86):  bill@taylorschouse.com

·      Rep. Don Wells (Dist. 81):  dwells29801@gmail.com

Congressman Joe Wilson Contact Information:  Congressman Wilson now represents all of Aiken County.  He has staff in Aiken County with office hours in Aiken and in North Augusta.  His office number is 608-9747.

Speaking with Groups Around the District: If you are involved with a local group that would like for me to attend a meeting to provide a legislative update, please let me know.

Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse in State Government:  To report waste, fraud and abuse in state government, you can call: 1-855-SC-FRAUD.

Facebook:  I have a Facebook page for Senator Tom Young. Please “like” the page to receive updates during the week from me on Facebook.

Tom Young’s Website: My website can be reached at www.senatortomyoung.com. There are links to a variety of constituent services; the status of sponsored bills; and roll call votes. Please add my web site as a bookmark on your computer.

Small Business Help – SC Dept. of Commerce: The South Carolina Department of Commerce has helpful information for small business owners and employees.  To learn more, go to here.

Save for College – Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan:  South Carolina’s 529 College Savings Plan Future Scholar offers special tax benefits for South Carolina residents. To learn more or to enroll, go to here.

Request a Flag:  If you would like to request a state or U.S. flag flown over the State Capitol in Columbia, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com.   Flags vary in cost according to their size and their material from which they are made.

State House Tours:  Tours are available for the S.C. State House by calling (803) 734-2430.  If you set a tour between January and June and it is on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, please let me know so I can do my best to see you.

Thoroughbred Country– South Carolina Regional Tourism Organization:  To learn more about tourism in the four county region of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell, visitwww.tbredcountry.org.

Email Updates:  If you know of people in or around District 24 who do not receive my updates but they would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me.

Road Issues:  If you see a road problem such as a pothole needing repair, call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or Aiken County at 642-1532 to report the problem.  If you do not get a prompt response, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com or call me. Generally, most paved roads in the County are maintained by SCDOT and are identified on the road sign poles by a small black and white sign listing the road number, such as S-2-1669. Most unpaved roads in the County are maintained by the County.

Thank you for the opportunity and the honor to represent you.  Please let me know if I can help you in any way or if you have questions about these or other issues. Your feedback is meaningful and appreciated.

Sincerely,

Tom Young

649-0000 (Office)

215-3631 (Cell)

State Budget and SRS Furloughs End — Weekly Update from Sen. Tom Young – May 21, 2013 to May 27, 2013

The State Senate is in session with regular session ending on Thursday, June 6. The Senate will meet later in June to address any budget vetoes. I hope that you find this update helpful and informative. If I can help you with an issue, please let me know.

Memorial Day: On Saturday, my family and I participated in the Aiken Memorial Day Parade. The Aiken Memorial Day Parade is the largest parade of its kind in the State and the local Marine Corps League does a great job with making sure that it goes well. Also, I participated as a speaker yesterday at the Memorial Day ceremony at the Aiken County Veterans’ Monument. I hope that you enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend and paused to think about those who gave themselves in the service of our nation and those who risk their lives each day so that we can enjoy freedom and the blessings we have in the United States.

Good News! – SRS Reprogramming: Today, the impacted workforce at SRS returns to full work status with no reduction in pay. This is good news for many local families and our community.

State Budget

State Budget: The Senate met into the evening three days last week spending hours debating a number of proposed amendments to the budget. At 11:00 pm last Thursday night, the Senate passed the budget 31-6 on second reading. The Senate still has to vote on each individual section of the budget, pass the budget on third reading, and consider the Capital Reserve Fund Bill. That work will most likely take at least two full days this week. The Senate returns at 10:00 am today.

Medicaid Expansion: Last Tuesday, the Senate debated Medicaid expansion for several hours before voting 23-19 to table a budget amendment authorizing the state to accept the expansion. I voted to table and do not support expansion. Currently, without expansion, Medicaid is the largest portion of the state budget projected to cost us $6.47 Billion this coming fiscal year alone. At this amount, Medicaid spending – without expansion – will have increased over $500 Million from the current fiscal year to next.

Other Budget Highlights: Some notable provisions in the current budget as it currently stands in the Senate are as follows:

  • Roads and Bridges: After hours of debate, an agreement was reached to provide $50 Million in recurring funds to SCDOT with the money being used by the State Infrastructure Bank to bond up to $500 Million in highway improvements. This was significant because it involves a commitment of $50 Million in recurring (continuing each year) funds. Doing this creates a new revenue stream for road and bridge improvements that the State can use for up to $500 Million in bonds without raising the gas tax.
  • School Buses: Another $23.5 million to purchase new school buses to help replace a portion of the state’s aging fleet.
  • 4K Kindergarten: Currently, 36 school districts with high poverty rates have optional 4K. This expansion will add an additional 17 districts representing all of the remaining districts in the state where more than 75 percent of the students in those districts qualify for free or reduced lunch based on federal guidelines. Aiken County School District is at 71 percent.
  • School Choice: A one year proviso allows up to $5 Million statewide in tax credits to provide scholarships to special needs children attending qualifying private schools. Also, another proviso allows private school teachers to deduct up to $275 in school supplies purchased out of pocket just as public school teachers are allowed to do now under current law.
  • Local Government Fund: Approved $30 million additional funds for aid to local governments after the Senate Finance Committee removed $20 million out of the House version of the budget. Counties get 83.278% of the amount appropriated and Cities get 16.722% of the amount appropriated. The most recent census is used for the specific distribution to each county and municipality.

Additional Budget Thoughts: The Senate returns today at 10 am to finish work on the budget. If you would like to provide input to me on a particular budget item, please do so as soon as possible by emailing me at tom@senatortomyoung.com.

Other Local Topics of Interest

Aiken County Public Library Summer Reading Program: The annual summer reading program for children through the 5th grade has started at the Aiken County Public Library. The Program runs through early August. Children who read the required number of books will receive a medal and a certificate of completion. Reading is essential to doing well in school. Please encourage as many young people as you can to read this summer. For more information, call the Aiken County Public Library at 642- 2020 or go here.

Palmetto Amateur Tournament in Aiken: The 2013 Palmetto Amateur golf tournament will be in Aiken at the Palmetto Golf Club from June 5 to 8. The event is one of the top amateur golf events in the United States. To learn more about the event, go here.

Prevent High School Dropouts – Volunteers Needed: The Choices program is a local program being used in Aiken County middle schools with eighth graders to encourage more children to finish high school. Several local businesses and individuals have volunteered their time. The program needs more volunteers. If you are willing to volunteer, please email Debbie Hubbard at dhubbard@aiken.k12.sc.us or call her at 593-7300. To learn more about the program, go here.

Regulations –Comments Encouraged: Governor Haley recently issued an Executive Order requiring all state agencies to review statutes, rules, regulations and policies for their effects on South Carolina’s economy. The Governor also set up a task force to review regulations and to recommend ways to reduce, improve, and simplify regulatory burdens. The group’s report is due November 15, 2013. Public comments are encouraged. To provide comments to the Governor’s Task Force on any regulation, email the task force at GovRegTaskForce@sccommerce.com.

Constituent Information

Legislative Email Updates: Locally, three members of the House of Representatives, who represent portions of Aiken County within Senate District 24, send regular email updates. Their respective contact information to get on their email lists to receive their email updates are as follows:

Congressman Joe Wilson Contact Information: Congressman Wilson now represents all of Aiken County. He has staff in Aiken County with office hours in Aiken and in North Augusta. His office number is 608-9747.

Speaking with Groups Around the District: If you are involved with a local group that would like for me to attend a meeting to provide a legislative update, please let me know.

Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse in State Government: To report waste, fraud and abuse in state government, you can call: 1-855-SC-FRAUD.

Facebook: I have a Facebook page for Senator Tom Young. Please “like” the page to receive updates during the week from me on Facebook.

Tom Young’s Website: My website can be reached at www.senatortomyoung.com. There are links to a variety of constituent services; the status of sponsored bills; and roll call votes. Please add my web site as a bookmark on your computer.

Small Business Help – SC Dept. of Commerce: The South Carolina Department of Commerce has helpful information for small business owners and employees. To learn more, go here.

Save for College – Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan: South Carolina’s 529 College Savings Plan Future Scholar offers special tax benefits for South Carolina residents. To learn more or to enroll, gohere. 

Request a Flag: If you would like to request a state or U.S. flag flown over the State Capitol in Columbia, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com. Flags vary in cost according to their size and their material from which they are made.

State House Tours: Tours are available for the S.C. State House by calling (803) 734-2430. If you set a tour between January and June and it is on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, please let me know so I can do my best to see you.

Thoroughbred Country– South Carolina Regional Tourism Organization: To learn more about tourism in the four county region of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell, visit here.

Email Updates: If you know of people in or around District 24 who do not receive my updates but they would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me.

Road Issues: If you see a road problem such as a pothole needing repair, call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or Aiken County at 642-1532 to report the problem. If you do not get a prompt response, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com or call me. Generally, most paved roads in the County are maintained by SCDOT and are identified on the road sign poles by a small black and white sign listing the road number, such as S-2-1669. Most unpaved roads in the County are maintained by the County.

Thank you for the opportunity and the honor to represent you. Please let me know if I can help you in any way or if you have questions about these or other issues. Your feedback is meaningful and appreciated.
Sincerely,
Tom Young
649-0000 (o)
215-3631 (cell)

 

Paid for by Tom Young for Senate

 

Memorial Day, Reprogramming, and State Budget — Weekly Update – May 14, 2013 to May 20, 2013

The State Senate is in session with regular session ending on Thursday, June 6.  I hope that you find this update helpful and informative.  If I can help you with an issue, please let me know.

Memorial Day – Pause To Remember and Take Time To Say “Thank You”: As we approach Memorial Day next Monday, many of us will be thinking of the official start of summer; schools getting out; hamburgers and hotdogs; swimming pools; and summer vacations. Between now and next Monday, I hope that you will pause to remember both those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation and those who risk their lives each day so that we can enjoy freedom and the blessings we have in the United States.  In addition, take time to thank our veterans and active duty service men and women for their service and sacrifice.

 

SRS – Reprogramming — Workforce Impact Update

Reprogramming Update:  Last Wednesday, Congress gave final approval as to the reprogramming request at SRS.  SRNS and DOE will now be working together to receive the necessary reprogrammed funds in order to put the impacted workforce back to work full time as soon as possible.

 

State Budget

State Budget:  The Senate met four days last week spending hours debating a number of proposed amendments to the budget.  Much of the debate was on transportation funding; funding for new school buses; use of the state planes; and funding of non-profits.   To see the current budget allocations from Senate Finance, go here.

Roads and Bridges: Several amendments aimed at redirecting funds to state transportation needs failed.  Those included directing 10% of recurring new revenue to transportation and proposals to reduce General Fund expenditures across the board by 10, 5, and 1 percent with the difference going to transportation.  I voted for all 4 proposals but none passed.

Non-Profits: Other amendments aimed at reducing specified funding to non-profits failed.  For example, the budget contains a line item to direct $250,000 to the Gateway House in Greenville.  While this private non-profit does wonderful work in the upstate with vulnerable citizens, there are lots of other similar non-profits across the state doing excellent work but those are not getting a specified line item in the state budget.  I voted to eliminate the Gateway House line item.  The amendment failed.

School Bus Funding:  Of the state’s 5,023 buses in use statewide, at least 2,913 of them are 16 years old or older.  In 2007, the General Assembly voted to replace school buses on a 15 year cycle.  To do this, the state should be spending $34 Million per year to replace 7% of the school bus fleet each year.  During the past 4 years combined, the state has allocated less than $26 Million combined for school bus replacement.  The current budget has $12.6 million allocated for new school buses.  Last week, I voted in favor of amendments to redirect funding to this state need.  None passed.  This week, there are some pending amendments to redirect funds to add to the $12.6 Million amount.  (Privatization of the school bus system is still something that the Senate needs to do if it will save money. My understanding is that it will. Legislation to do this did not pass last year.)

State Planes:  Several Democratic senators proposed an amendment on Thursday to require the state to sell both of the state’s planes.  Their motive is based on highly publicized misuse of the state planes.  Earlier in the session, legislation was filed to place substantial restrictions on the use of the state planes.  I support that legislation.  Despite that pending legislation, the amendment offered last Thursday to require the state to sell the two planes passed.  It is uncertain whether that provision will remain in the budget through the Conference Committee and veto processes.  I did not vote for the amendment.

Additional Budget Thoughts:  The Senate returns this week on Tuesday at 10 am to continue work on the budget. If you would like to provide input to me on a particular budget item, please do so as soon as possible by emailing me at tom@senatortomyoung.com.

 

Other State Issues

Medicaid Expansion:  As reported in the Aiken Standard last Friday, I will not vote to expand Medicaid this year.  Currently, without expansion, Medicaid is the largest portion of the state budget projected to cost us $6.47 Billion this coming fiscal year alone.  Further, Medicaid spending – without expansion – is projected to increase over $500 Million from $5.94 Billion to $6.47 Billion from the current fiscal year to the next starting July 1.  This amount exceeds all spending on (1) K-12 education and (2) roads and bridges combined by approximately $800 Million.  To see a slide showing the growth in Medicaid in the state budget, go here.   To see a policy paper on why Medicaid expansion is not good for South Carolina, go here.

Unemployment – Lowest Rate in 5 Years:  On Friday, the Department of Employment and Workforce announced that the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 8 percent – the lowest rate in our state since October 2008.  The drop from 8.4 percent in March to 8 percent in April was the largest month to month decrease since May 1987.  Hiring for the summer tourist season is one reason for the decline in the rate.

 

Recent Local News of Interest

Congratulations – State Champs!:  Congratulations to South Aiken High School’s boys tennis and boys golf teams for winning the Class 4A state championships in their respective sports during the past 10 days!

Charitable Giving – Many Thanks!:  Thank you to all the local residents who helped this past week with the Celebrity Waiter event to benefit Children’s Place and Relay for Life to raise money for cancer research and prevention. There are dozens of other philanthropic fundraisers and events held in Aiken County throughout the year. Our community’s support for these worthwhile endeavors is one way which makes where we live special. If you can help with your time or your financial resources, please find a local charitable organization and contribute.

Annual Memorial Day Parade:  The Annual Memorial Day parade is set for this coming Saturday, May 25th, at 1:00 p.m. in downtown Aiken.  To learn more, call Dick Schreck at 643-0675 or email him at AikenMemDayParade@hotmail.com.

Annual Memorial Day Ceremony:  On Monday, May 27 at 11:00 am at the Aiken County Veterans’ Park on Richland Avenue in Aiken, the local Marine Corps league will host a service.  I plan to attend.

 

Other Local Topics of Interest

Prevent High School Dropouts: Volunteers Needed:  The Choices program is a local program being used in Aiken County middle schools with eighth graders to encourage more children to finish high school.  Several local businesses and individuals have volunteered their time.  The program needs more volunteers.  If you are willing to volunteer, please email Debbie Hubbard at dhubbard@aiken.k12.sc.us or call her at 593-7300.  To learn more about the program, go here.

Regulations –Comments Encouraged:  Governor Haley recently issued an Executive Order requiring all state agencies to review statutes, rules, regulations and policies for their effects on South Carolina’s economy. The Governor also set up a task force to review regulations and to recommend ways to reduce, improve, and simplify regulatory burdens.  The group’s report is due November 15, 2013.  Public comments are encouraged.  To provide comments to the Governor’s Task Force on any regulation, email the task force at GovRegTaskForce@sccommerce.com.

 

Constituent Information

Legislative Email Updates:  Locally, three members of the House of Representatives, who represent portions of Aiken County within Senate District 24, send regular email updates.  Their respective contact information to get on their email lists to receive their email updates are as follows:

·      Rep. Bill Hixon (Dist. 83):  bill@billhixon.com

·      Rep. Bill Taylor (Dist. 86):  bill@taylorschouse.com

·      Rep. Don Wells (Dist. 81):  dwells29801@gmail.com

Congressman Joe Wilson Contact Information:  Congressman Wilson now represents all of Aiken County.  He has staff in Aiken County with office hours in Aiken and in North Augusta.  His office number is 608-9747.

Speaking with Groups Around the District: If you are involved with a local group that would like for me to attend a meeting to provide a legislative update, please let me know.

Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse in State Government:  To report waste, fraud and abuse in state government, you can call: 1-855-SC-FRAUD.

Facebook:  I have a Facebook page for Senator Tom Young. Please “like” the page to receive updates during the week from me on Facebook.

Tom Young’s Website: My website can be reached here. There are links to a variety of constituent services; the status of sponsored bills; and roll call votes. Please add my web site as a bookmark on your computer.

Small Business Help – SC Dept. of Commerce: The South Carolina Department of Commerce has helpful information for small business owners and employees.  To learn more, go here.

Save for College – Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan:  South Carolina’s 529 College Savings Plan Future Scholar offers special tax benefits for South Carolina residents. To learn more or to enroll, go here.

Request a Flag:  If you would like to request a state or U.S. flag flown over the State Capitol in Columbia, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com.   Flags vary in cost according to their size and their material from which they are made.

State House Tours:  Tours are available for the S.C. State House by calling (803) 734-2430.  If you set a tour between January and June and it is on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, please let me know so I can do my best to see you.

Thoroughbred Country– South Carolina Regional Tourism Organization:  To learn more about tourism in the four county region of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell, visit this website.

Email Updates:  If you know of people in or around District 24 who do not receive my updates but they would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me.

Road Issues:  If you see a road problem such as a pothole needing repair, call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or Aiken County at 642-1532 to report the problem.  If you do not get a prompt response, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com or call me. Generally, most paved roads in the County are maintained by SCDOT and are identified on the road sign poles by a small black and white sign listing the road number, such as S-2-1669. Most unpaved roads in the County are maintained by the County.

Thank you for the opportunity and the honor to represent you.  Please let me know if I can help you in any way or if you have questions about these or other issues. Your feedback is meaningful and appreciated.

 

Sincerely,

 

Tom Young

649-0000 (o)

251-3631 (c)

Credit Monitoring Sign Up Deadline and SRS — Weekly Update from Sen. TomYoung – March 19, 2013 to March 25, 2013

 

The State Senate is in session for 2013 but will not meet again in Columbia until April 9. I hope that you find this update helpful and informative. If I can help you with an issue, please let me know.

SRS – Workforce Impacts: This issue will affect 2,000 workers with reducedhours and a 20% reduction in pay and 150 workers with furloughs with no pay. Ourlocal legislative delegation continues to tell the members of our congressional delegationabout the importance of heading off the reductions in work hours and furloughs. Most families cannot sustain a twenty percent reduction in pay for an extended period oftime with little advance notice. The Department of Energy has advised us that budget committees in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate have to provide approval to allow the transfer of funds at SRS which is expected to alleviate the need for the coming furloughs. Consideration of such approval cannot occur until sometime in April because of the federal budget timelines.

Experian Credit Monitoring Deadline: This coming Sunday, March 31, 2013 is the deadline for taxpayers to sign up for protection and unlimited fraud resolution. 1.4 Million taxpayers have done so as of last week. Individuals should enroll with ProtectMyID by visiting www.protectmyid.com/scdor and entering the code “SCDOR123” or by calling 1-866-578-5422. If you have problems or questions, call the Department of Revenue’s Data Breach Assistance Team at (803) 898-7638.

Other Important Cyber Attack Information

Deadline to Enroll Dependents: The deadline to enroll minor dependents, whose social security numbers may have been compromised, in Experian’s Family Secure plan is May 31, 2013. Individuals must enroll with ProtectMyID by March 31 to be eligible to enroll any minor dependents with Family Secure by the May 31 deadline.

Consumer Affairs Recommendations: To see the SC Department of Consumer Affairs’ recommendations for what to do when there is a security breach impacting your personal identity information, go here.

Frequently Asked Questions: The Governor’s office has prepared several groups of questions and answers as indicated below by category:

  • Experian Family Secure — To see those, go here.
  • Cyber Attack – To see those, go here and here.
  • Senior Citizens — To see those, go here.
  • How to Place a Security Freeze — To see how to place a security freeze, go here.

Last Week’s Senate Session

Extended Credit Protection: Last Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously passed a bill that will offer credit-fraud protection for 10 years to S.C. taxpayers. The bill also includes the following:

  • Creation of a department of information security that reports to the governor
  • A tax credit of $300 for individual filers and $1,000 for joint filers to buy credit protection
  • An identity-theft unit at the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs
  • A pair of committees to recommend statewide technology and cyber-security policies

The full Senate will consider the bill when the Senate returns the week of April 9.

Early Voting: The Senate gave third reading to the early voting bill on Wednesday. The bill now heads to the House where changes are expected.

Concealed Weapons Permit: Last week, the Senate set for special order the legislation (S.308) allowing concealed weapons permit (CWP) holders to carry their handgun into a restaurant which serves alcohol as long as the permit holder does not consume any alcohol while there. Restaurants have the option to post a sign not allowing concealable weapons on the premises; if that is done, then CWP holders cannot carry legally into such restaurants. The bill has stiff penalties for violating including revocation of the concealed weapons permit and a zero tolerance threshold for alcohol consumption. The full Senate will consider the bill when the Senate returns to session on April 9.

Streamlining DHEC Permit Process: Last week, the S.C. Department of Health andEnvironmental Control unveiled Permit Central — a new initiative that simplifies the process for obtaining health and environmental permits. Permit Central consists of a series of customer service tools that provide applicants with information about permits in plain, helpful language. To learn more about Permit Central or to use its interactive features, visit here.

“Read to Succeed” Legislation Filed: Several constituents asked about this bill after I wrote about it last week. The legislation is modeled after an initiative implemented in Florida. The program would screen children for readiness in 4K and 5K to identify potential learning barriers; provide intensive in-class and supplemental reading instruction; revise in-service requirements concerning teaching reading skills; and, beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, retain 3rd graders who cannot read on grade level unless they meet an exemption. The bill calls for moving a portion of the $6 million earmarked for reading improvement under the Education Improvement Act to the “Read to Succeed” program.

Other Local News

Volunteers Needed – Prevent High School Dropouts: The “Choices” program is a local program being used in Aiken County middle schools with eighth graders to encourage more children to finish high school. Several local businesses and individuals have volunteered their time. The program needs more volunteers. If you are willing to volunteer, please email Debbie Hubbard at dhubbard@aiken.k12.sc.us or call her at 593-7300. To learn more, go here.

Remember to Vote Today: If you live in County Council District 6, please remember to vote today in the special election for Aiken County Council.

Meeting with Students: Last Friday, I visited with 9th graders from all of the area’s public high schools. The students are part of Junior Leadership Aiken County. Yesterday, I joined Senator Shane Massey and Representatives Bill Taylor and Don Wells in meeting with student leaders from USC Aiken. Notably, both sets of students recognized the connection between high school dropout prevention and improving our state.

Congratulations to John Stewart of Bridgestone!: Last week, the SC Department of Commerce and Governor Haley recognized John Stewart, the plant manager for Bridgestone’s PSR facility, as Aiken county’s economic development ambassador of the year. He is Chair elect of the Aiken Technical College Foundation Board as well as a member of the Aiken County Manufacturers Council.

Tax Workshop Offered: The Aiken Area Small Business Development Center will offer a free “Startup Business Tax Workshop” on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. For more information, go here.

Congratulations to USC Aiken Men’s Basketball!: Last week, the USCA Men’s Basketball team won the Southeast Regional Championship to qualify for the Elite Eight in the NCAA Division II basketball tournament. They play again this Thursday in Louisville, Kentucky.

Constituent Information

Legislative Email Updates: Locally, three members of the House of Representatives, who represent portions of Aiken County within Senate District 24, send regular email updates. Their respective contact information to get on their email lists to receive their email updates are as follows:

  • Rep. Bill Hixon (Dist. 83): bill@billhixon.com
  • Rep. Bill Taylor (Dist. 86): bill@taylorschouse.com
  • Rep. Don Wells (Dist. 81): dwells29801@gmail.com

Congressman Joe Wilson Contact Information: Congressman Wilson now represents all of Aiken County. He has staff in Aiken County with office hours in Aiken and in North Augusta. His office number is 608-9747.

Speaking with Groups Around the District: If you are involved with a local group that would like for me to attend a meeting to provide a legislative update, please let me know.

Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse in State Government: To report waste, fraud and abuse in state government, you can call: 1-855-SC-FRAUD.

Facebook: I have a Facebook page for Senator Tom Young. Please “like” the page to receive updates during the week from me on Facebook.

Tom Young’s Website: My website can be reached at www.senatortomyoung.com.There are links to a variety of constituent services; the status of sponsored bills; and roll call votes. Please add my web site as a bookmark on your computer.

Small Business Help – SC Dept. of Commerce: The South Carolina Department of Commerce has helpful information for small business owners and employees. To learn more, go here.

Save for College – Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan: South Carolina’s 529 College Savings Plan Future Scholar offers special tax benefits for South Carolina residents. To learn more or to enroll, go here.

Request a Flag: If you would like to request a state or U.S. flag flown over the State Capitol in Columbia, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com. Flags vary in cost according to their size and their material from which they are made.

State House Tours: Tours are available for the S.C. State House by calling (803) 734-2430. If you set a tour between January and June and it is on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, please let me know so I can do my best to see you.

Thoroughbred Country– South Carolina Regional Tourism Organization: To learn more about tourism in the four county region of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell, visit www.tbredcountry.org.

Email Updates: If you know of people in or around District 24 who do not receive my updates but they would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me.

Road Issues:  If you see a road problem, call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or Aiken County at 642-1532 to report the problem.  If you do not get a prompt response, please let me know at tom@senatortomyoung.com or call me. Generally, most paved roads in the County are maintained by SCDOT and are identified on the road sign poles by a small black and white sign listing the road number, such as S-2-1669. Most unpaved roads in the County are maintained by the County.

Thank you for the opportunity and the honor to represent you.  Please let me know if I can help you in any way or if you have questions about these or other issues. Your feedback is meaningful and appreciated.

Sincerely,

Tom Young

649-0000 (o)

215-3631 (cell)