Update – June 14 to June 20, 2010

The House of Representatives met for two days this past week in special session to address gubernatorial vetoes and conference committee reports. I hope that you find this update helpful and informative:

General Budget Veto Comments: President Lincoln said that you can please all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot please all the people all the time. That political observation is particularly on point in the wake of Governor Sanford’s budget vetoes this past week. Between Thursday, June 10 and Wednesday, June 16, I received nearly 150 phone calls and over 500 emails related to various budget vetoes. Most of the calls were asking me to vote to override certain vetoes. During the two days of session on Tuesday and Wednesday, I voted to override or to sustain the 107 budget vetoes and the other legislative vetoes based on the best information available to me at the time. We stayed in session on Wednesday from 9:00 am to 1:00 am with no breaks in between. Overall, I voted to sustain 74 of the 107 vetoes. I hope that this update will give you some sense of why I voted certain ways on some of the more well known vetoes. If you have a particular one that you want to know about and I do not address it in here, please let me know.

Governor Sanford’s Budget Vetoes — Overrides: Governor Sanford vetoed 107 line items and provisos in the final version of the budget passed by the General Assembly. The House overrode 51 of the 107 vetoes including vetoes of the state funding for the county libraries including the Aiken County Library; funding for the SC Forestry Commission; funding for the State Museum; funding for the SC Arts Commission; funding for SCETV; funding for state prosecutors; funding for Small Business Development Centers around the State; and operational funding for the South Carolina Technical College System. I voted to override these vetoes except for funding as to the Forestry Commission which will come from stimulus funds. I voted to override the Forestry Commission veto where the funding was not from stimulus funds.

Governor Sanford’s Budget Vetoes – Sustained: The House sustained 56 of Governor Sanford’s 107 budget vetoes. Those that were sustained included increased employee benefits funding for the State Senate; funding for salaries of members of the S.C. House of Representatives; nano technology research funding at USC; security detail funding for the Lieutenant Governor; state aid to County Election Commission members; funding for Spring Dairy Exhibition at Clemson; and $3 Million for a study of the I-95 Corridor. I voted to sustain all of these vetoes. Many of my votes to sustain vetoes were based on (1) the agency has carry over funds going into 2010/2011; or (2) the particular program was not viewed as a critical need in a very tough budget year.

Budget and Control Board Funding Veto: One veto which received a lot of discussion was the veto of $25.2 Million in funding to the State Budget and Control Board. I voted to sustain this veto because the Board has over $60 Million in carry over funds going into 2010/2011. About $100,000.00 of the $25.2 Million appropriation that was vetoed is apparently for the operations at the Confederate Relic Room next to the State Museum. I talked with the Chair of the State Museum Board who informed me that the Museum could help with keeping the Relic Room open if the Budget and Control Board could not find the money to keep the Relic Room open. Either way, I felt that the Relic Room will be kept open through the use of carry over funds at the Board or through assistance from the State Museum.

“FMAP” Money Budget Veto: The last veto that the House considered close to 1:00 am last Thursday morning was the veto of the entire section of the budget where the General Assembly appropriated the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) money before it has been received by the State from the Federal Government. The total in this section is $214 Million. I voted to sustain the veto of this section and the veto was sustained by the full House. Here is why I voted to sustain. The money being “appropriated” is not in South Carolina — it is money that the budget writers are HOPING we will get from the federal government. On June 4 and again on June 16, Congress voted NOT to send that money to the states including South Carolina. I view it as fiscally irresponsible to appropriate money that we do not have and may not receive based on the two votes taken this month in Congress. There is money for critical items such as Meals on Wheels and folks with disabilities in this section. These critical items need to be funded if at all possible which is why we need to find the money for the critical needs soon. I am working with others to find the money for these needs. Sustaining vetoes of other sections which are less critical or where an agency has carry over funds is one way which might enable the legislature to find the money for these critical needs.

Pay Day Lenders – Closing Loophole – Veto Overridden: Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation imposing strict regulations on the pay day lending industry. Before the effective date of that new legislation, some lenders in the state late last year switched their licenses to become supervised lenders. Supervised lenders can charge any interest rate as long as they are licensed, notify the state, and post the rate. They can offer small unsecured loans for terms longer than a two-week pay day loan. To fix this loophole, a bill made it out the last day of the regular session which limits the terms of a supervised loan and requiring such loans to have collateral that is different from a pay day loan. Governor Sanford vetoed the bill for some of the same reasons that he vetoed the pay day lending legislation last year. The House overrode the veto on Tuesday. I voted to override.

Voter Identification Bill: On Tuesday, the House passed the final version of this bill which requires voter identification to vote. The photo identification requirement will start in the 2012 elections. Also, it has an eight day period for early voting. This eight day period is from Saturday to Saturday prior to an election day. Finally, the bill still allows absentee voting under certain circumstances during the 30 days prior to an election. On Wednesday and Thursday, some senators in the State Senate filibustered the bill and held it up. The bill’s fate will be determined when the House and Senate return for one day on June 29.

Jeff Duncan – Third Congressional District Republican Primary: Late last week, I joined many other Aiken area state, county, and city elected officials in endorsing Jeff Duncan for the Third Congressional District Republican Primary race. I served with Jeff the past two years in the S.C. House of Representatives, and I know him to be a strong conservative who is willing to take the tough stands to help those back home.

Town Meeting – June 29 – Note Time Change: I am planning a town meeting to provide an end of session report for Tuesday, June 29, 2010 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Odell Weeks Center on Whiskey Road. The public is invited. I moved the time from 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. because we now have to be in session that day in Columbia.

Aiken County Public Library Summer Reading Program: The annual summer reading program for children through the 5th grade has started at the Aiken County Public Library. The Program runs through July 31. Children who read the required number of books will receive a medal and a certificate of completion. Reading is essential to doing well in school. Please encourage as many young people as you can to read this summer. For more information, call the Aiken County Public Library or go to this link: http://www.abbe-lib.org/.

Speaking to Groups Around District: Several local groups have asked me to come one of their meetings to provide an end of session report to their members. If you have a group that would like for me to come to a meeting during the next few months, please let me know.

Email Updates: Many people in District 81 are receiving this email update. However, there are many others who do not receive them because I do not know their email addresses. If you know of people who do not receive my updates but they would like to, please email their names and email addresses to me.

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

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.

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