State House Update – January 19 – January 21, 2010

Dear Friends,

The House of Representatives met this past week with most work taking place in committees and very little actually taking place in open session on the floor. Here is a brief update of the week:

First, the subcommittees of the House Ways and Means Committee continue to meet and hear from various state agencies as to budget needs for the upcoming fiscal year. As I mentioned in last week’s column, the 2010 revenues are projected to be 7.4% less than 2009. There will be more cuts to the general fund budget appropriations and some programs may be eliminated. One widely publicized issue this week in this area is that a five day reduction in the public school year is being considered by the K-12 Education subcommittee as a way to deal with the budget shortfall. I am not inclined to support this and welcome feedback on this issue.

Along these same lines, there is increasing scrutiny of (1) programs and their efficiency and (2) where and how all state revenues are spent including fees and fines collected by agencies. Although I am not on the Ways and Means Committee, I am working with other members to make sure that our tax dollars are spent wisely. I strongly believe that the zero based budgeting proposal that I am cosponsoring will help if and when we can get it passed.

Second, I sponsored or cosponsored bills filed this past week including legislation to prohibit insurance companies from being able to deny clams and/or to raise premiums on a person simply because the person was a victim of domestic violence. Also, I am cosponsoring a bill to ensure that the State Conservation Bank receives funding on an annual basis even if state revenues are down. The Conservation Bank has played a pivotal role in the preservation of many tracts of land around South Carolina over the last six years including several here in Aiken County.

Third, on the House Floor, my bill to let the people decide whether the Secretary of State should be popularly elected or appointed by the Governor did not come up this week. It is on the calendar for this coming week. I am working hard to secure the necessary two thirds majority vote to pass the legislation and send it on to the State Senate.

Fourth, Governor Sanford delivered his State of the State address on Wednesday evening. In the speech, the Governor outlined several of the initiatives which we need to get passed in order to streamline state government. I am encouraged by his willingness to work with the legislature in his final year in office.

Fifth, I received a lot of calls and/or emails this past week to assist constituents with various concerns including road problems; unemployment eligibility; and issues with both DSS and DHEC.

Sixth, the January 29, 2010 sale of the Avondale Water System serving Graniteville, Vaucluse and portions of Warrenville has been delayed until some time during the week of February 1, 2010. The reason for the delay is that there are still a few easement issues that need to be worked out prior to the closing. Many folks are still working hard to make the transfer a reality.

I attended the watering trough dedication for the City of Aiken’s birthday celebration on Saturday. Everyone involved in moving the trough, restoring it, and placing it along the serpentine wall on South Boundary behind the County Museum did a great job. If you have not seen it, please take a look the next time you drive down South Boundary.

Also this week, I received a copy of the 2009 Financial Annual Report for the State produced by Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom’s office. The report can be accessed on my website by clicking here.

Finally, if you notice road problems with potholes or other issues in our district, please let me know by email at or call me so that I can assist in letting the SCDOT and/or the County know about the problem.
Thank you for the opportunity to represent you. Please let me know if I can help you in any way.

Tom Young

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