Update March 23-25

The House of Representatives met this past week. The House will furlough and not meet for the next two weeks reconvening on April 13. I hope that you find this update helpful and informative:

Town Meeting: I am holding a town meeting in Aiken on Tuesday, March 30, 2010 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Aiken County Council Building on Richland Avenue. The public is invited.

Roll Call Voting Bill: The bill that will require roll call voting on nearly every vote in the General Assembly passed the House unanimously on Thursday and now heads to the Senate. I am a cosponsor of the bill.

Employment Security Commission (ESC) Reform: The House and the Senate agreed on a final version of the ESC reform. The bill creates the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, terminates ESC commissioners and sets new elections for hearing officers, and restricts payouts for employees fired for gross misconduct. The bill now heads to the Governor and he is expected to sign it tomorrow. As to South Carolina’s loan from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits, the loan now is $832 Million. Legislation to restore the solvency of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund is being worked on in the Senate. Various proposals are being considered including one that reduces rates for companies that use the system the least and increases rates for companies that use the system the most.

Health Care Legislation: With the passage of the Health Care bill by Congress last week, a House subcommittee approved legislation that would let South Carolina voters decide this November whether to go along with the health care law just passed in Washington. The bill would set up a referendum to change the state constitution to block any fines or penalties for people who do not buy health insurance as the new federal law requires.

Sembler Mall Project in Jasper County: In recent weeks, I have been asked if I planned to support the state tax incentives being offered for the development of a large mall in Jasper County. I do not support those state tax incentives. The bill providing for the incentives has been in the Senate and has not reached the House. That bill was amended last week in the Senate to delete the state tax incentives in favor of a local option tax for funding the project. I have not seen the new version of the bill as of today. My understanding is that most of the bill’s opponents are in favor of the new version.

Tax Realignment Commission: The Commission met again this past Friday. A resolution to include Act 388 and its effects in the Commission’s review and final report was stripped out of the resolution in the Senate Finance Committee last week. (Act 388 is the property tax reform legislation of 2006 which exempted owner-occupied homes from state taxes to fund public school operations and replaced that income stream to public school operations with sales tax. During the Recession and subsequent decline in sales tax receipts, this move is widely credited with the decrease in funding to our public school operations.) The proposal to include Act 388 in the Commission’s review has wide support in the House. The Tax Realignment Commission information can be obtained at the www.scstatehouse.gov website.

Federal Government Settlement with Norfolk Southern: In the past two columns, I wrote about the Federal Government’s proposed settlement with Norfolk Southern as to the Government’s lawsuit for environmental contamination after the 2005 chlorine spill in Graniteville. The proposed terms of the settlement include $4 Million being paid by Norfolk Southern to the Government’s Oil Spill and Hazardous Waste funds. Also, the local communities affected by the spill will receive 3,000 fish released into Langley Pond and some trees to be planted along Horse Creek. I am very disappointed in the proposed terms and what is being offered to the local communities affected by the spill. We are now in the 30 day period to object to the proposed settlement. I am filing an objection as an elected official representing much the affected area. To file an objection, you may do the following: The proposed Settlement may be examined on the following Department of Justice Web site: http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent-Decrees.html. The Department of Justice will receive for a period of thirty (30) days from March 8, 2010 comments relating to the proposed Decree. Comments should be addressed to the Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, and either e-mailed to pubcomment-ees.enrd@usdoj.gov or mailed to P.O. Box 7611, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC 20044-7611, and should refer to United States v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co., D.J. Ref. 90-5-1-1-09024.

Visiting with Constituents at the State House: This past week, I spoke to 3rd grade students from Chukker Creek School who toured the State House. Additionally, many local residents who support USC Aiken joined Dr. Tom Hallman in Columbia on Wednesday at Carolina Day at the State House. I spoke with them too during their visit.

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. Currently, the PSC has public hearings scheduled in Columbia (May 24), Summerville (April 26), and Charleston (April 27). 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.

Link to State Government Financial Report: South Carolina’s Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom and his staff prepare an annual “Report to our Citizens.” This report is designed to provide concise, interesting, and understandable information about the financial condition and performance of State Government. The Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009 can be obtained by clicking here.

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. That Job Fair was held this past Saturday, March 27 at Aiken Tech. Many local residents were assisted with finding employment.

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 two months, I have received many different reports of problems and I have relayed those to the appropriate agencies.

Filing for Reelection: I filed on Tuesday, March 16 for reelection to represent House District 81. I am grateful for the privilege to serve.

Happy Easter! Thank you for the opportunity 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.

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

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