Update – February 2 to February 4, 2010

The House of Representatives met this week. Here is a brief update for the week:

State Budget:
In recent months, we have read a lot about South Carolina’s state budget problems and I wrote about them three weeks ago. Last week, I read that 46 of the 50 states are facing a combined $170 Billion budget deficit this year. Many states are looking at trimming services; contracting out key functions; and other ways to save money. South Carolina is doing the same thing. If you have ideas in this area, please let me know.

Judicial Elections: Judicial elections were held on Wednesday. Locally, Vickie Johnson Snelgrove was elected to serve as the next Family Court judge in the Second Judicial Circuit which includes Aiken County.

Texting While Driving: A House subcommittee passed legislation that will ban both texting while driving and cell phone use. The bill now heads to the full House Education and Public Works Committee where it is expected to be amended to ban only texting while driving. I do not believe that a ban on both texting while driving and cell phone use will pass the legislature. However, I do think that a stand alone ban on texting while driving will pass this year.

Warrantless Searches: The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that will allow law enforcement to conduct warrantless searches of persons who are on either probation or parole. This bill has substantial support from law enforcement agencies and local governments across the state as it is widely viewed as a way for authorities to combat criminal activities by repeat offenders.

National Board Certification for Teachers: A House Ways and Means subcommittee approved a change to stop the National Board Certification program for new teacher enrollees effective this year. Under the recommendation, the program will remain in effect for existing enrollees. The program pays an annual stipend of $7,500.00 to teachers who earn national board certification. The recommendation will now head to the full House Ways and Means Committee.

Employment Security Commission (ESC): Problems at the ESC continue. A recent audit revealed that the ESC failed to pay income taxes withheld from unemployment checks during a period in 2009. The State will now face undetermined penalties and interest from the IRS for this oversight. As I wrote in the past several columns, reform at this agency cannot happen soon enough this year.

Avondale Water System: I attended another meeting this week of the Valley Public Service Authority Board as the Board continued to work on the sale of the Avondale Water System serving Graniteville, Vaucluse and portions of Warrenville. The due diligence period expired on February 5 with no parties withdrawing from the agreement. The closing is set for the morning of February 16, 2010.

Road Issues:
In the last two columns, I asked that you let me know about road problems with potholes or other issues in our district by emailing me at TomYoung@schouse.gov or calling me so that I can let the SCDOT and/or the County know about the problem. I heard from many of you and I have let the appropriate agencies know of those concerns. If you see a road problem, you can 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. The SCDOT and the County Transportation Committee have identified a list of roads that need to be resurfaced. I requested a copy of that list and will post it on my website next week.

Thank you for the opportunity to represent you. Please let me know if I can help you in any way.

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