Update – February 9 to February 11, 2010

The House of Representatives did not meet this past week. The House returns to session this Tuesday, February 16. I hope that you find this update helpful and informative:

S.C. House of Reps.: Many people in our District have asked me to provide more information about the S.C. House of Representatives in general. There are 124 members – currently 73 Republicans and 51 Democrats. All members serve two (2) year terms.

Of the 124 current members, 24 were brand new in 2009 – 17 Republicans and 7 Democrats. Half of the membership has been elected since the 2002 elections. Each House District has between 30,000 and 35,000 people in it. Reapportionment of state and federal political districts will take place in 2011 after the 2010 elections. Six (6) House members have all or a portion of his district in Aiken County. The S.C. House meets three (3) days a week from the second Tuesday in January to the first Thursday in June each year. There may be some furlough weeks mixed in as this past week was. After the first Thursday in June, the House may come back in session for gubernatorial vetoes or for other reasons usually in the discretion of the Speaker of the House.

Yucca Mountain: The recent Obama Administration decision to close Yucca Mountain as the permanent site for the nation’s spent nuclear waste has significant long-term implications for those of us here in Aiken County. Currently, high level spent nuclear waste is being processed and stored underground at SRS in specially made sealed containers. For years, the plan has been for these containers eventually to end up at Yucca Mountain. However, the recent federal decision may change that. For that reason, on January 20, the S.C. House unanimously passed a Resolution that I sponsored with other members from Aiken and Barnwell Counties calling upon the Federal Government to reverse its decision. This past week, Governor Sanford called upon our Congressional Delegation to unite in the effort to reverse the federal decision on Yucca Mountain. Additionally, Aiken County Council requested a reversal of the Yucca Mountain decision. I expect that we will hear more on this subject in the coming weeks as many area and state leaders work to ensure that high level spent nuclear waste currently stored at SRS does not remain there permanently.

Driving and High School Dropouts:
The bill that I sponsored last March prohibiting possession of a driver’s license until age 18 unless the young person is enrolled in, or has completed, high school is set for a subcommittee hearing this week with the House Education and Public Works Committee. I expect it to pass and move on to the full Committee next week. Since last Fall, I have spoken to many groups of students from 3rd graders to 12th graders and I mentioned this bill. Without exception, this bill gets their attention and I am confident that if it becomes law this year, then it will be a way that we can combat the high school dropout rate in the short term.

Texting While Driving: As I reported last week, a House subcommittee recently 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 will probably 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 this year. However, I do think that a stand alone ban on texting while driving will pass this year. Since last week, I have heard from many people in the district on this issue. Everyone who has talked to me has stated that they want a ban on texting while driving. The large majority said that they do not want an outright ban on cell phone use for those over the age of 18. Many people have also expressed concerns about other types of distracted driving such as eating; shaving; and putting on make up. I welcome feedback on this or any other issue.

Avondale Water System: The closing to transfer the system from Avondale to VPSA and Aiken County is set for this week on February 16, 2010. A lot of people have worked real hard to make this transfer a reality to help the affected areas of our District and County.

Job Fair: Early last Fall, I asked the Employment Security Commission to host a Job Fair here in greater Aiken to assist those who are looking for work. This week, I learned that the Job Fair is tentatively set for Saturday, March 27 at a location and time to be determined. I will post more information when I know it.

Road Issues: 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 at TomYoung@schouse.gov or call me. In the past three weeks, I have received many different reports of problems and I have relayed those to the appropriate agencies. The SCDOT and the County Transportation Committee have identified a list of roads in Aiken County that have been prioritized for resurfacing. I am waiting to receive the lists of primary and secondary roads. I will post both upon receipt.

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

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