State House Update –Week of March 24-26, 2009

The House of Representatives was back in session this week following a one week furlough. Because of the state budget cuts, the House plans to furlough at least two more weeks in April and to end this year’s session two weeks early on May 21. Taking two weeks furlough and ending two weeks early saves the state about $200,000.

With the session fast coming to a close, there are many bills coming out of committees and heading to the floor. Bills of interest to folks in District 81 that passed committees this week include a bill raising the cigarette tax fifty cents with most of the money targeted to provide tax credits for small businesses offering health insurance and premium assistance to low income people; a bill creating a Tax Realignment Commission to examine comprehensive tax reform; a bill addressing the point of sale provision relating to property taxes and assessable transfers of property; and a bill to consolidate the Employment Security Commission under the Governor’s cabinet. All of these bills will be debated on the House floor this coming week.

On the House floor, the House passed a constitutional amendment to fight the federal “card check” legislation. South Carolina is the least unionized state in the nation and more than two thirds of the House viewed a constitutional amendment in this area as necessary to keep South Carolina attractive to industry.

The uncertainty regarding the state budget continued this week. The Speaker told the full House that the stimulus money will probably not be available for the 2009 budget because the legislature might not be able to override any decision by the Governor not to accept the $350 Million in State Fiscal Stabilization money from the Federal Government. The constitutional questions surrounding this issue are still being reviewed. Meanwhile, the Senate is preparing two versions of the budget – one with the $350 Million in it and another without it.

During the week, several people visited from our District including the Leadership Aiken County class. I met with them and showed them the House floor. Four classes of third graders from Chukker Creek Elementary School also came to tour the State House. I visited with them and had a great time. Additionally, this past Wednesday was Carolina Day at the State House and representatives from USC Aiken came. I visited with them and appreciate their interest.

Several constituents called or emailed me during the week regarding pending legislation and matters in the district including the Avondale water system; funding for K-12 education; nuclear energy production; and the point of sale property tax provision. I appreciate all of the insight from folks in our district.

Thank you for the opportunity to represent and to serve you.

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