Update – June 28 to July 4, 2010

The House of Representatives met on Tuesday of this past week for the last time during this legislative year. I hope that you find this update helpful and informative:

Happy Independence Day: I hope that you and your family enjoyed the July 4th holiday and reflected on how blessed that we are to live in the United States of America.

House Met For Last Time Last Tuesday: The House returned to Columbia last Tuesday to address any outstanding gubernatorial vetoes. The House addressed three of Governor Sanford’s vetoes sustaining one and overriding two. The veto which was sustained related to a bill that had been amended in the Senate to allow certain nonresidents of the state to get a special lifetime hunting license. The Senate amendment had placed a strange combination of property ownership and birth place requirements for the nonresident lifetime hunting license which suggested that the amendment was intended to benefit certain folks rather than a class of people in or outside of the state. The veto was easily sustained by nearly a unanimous House. The veto that received the most debate was the Governor’s veto of legislation that will require those convicted of certain violent crimes to have an indicator placed on the back of their South Carolina driver’s licenses and state identification cards. The bill provides that if the person is not convicted of an additional violent offense within 5 years of completing his sentence or while on probation or parole, in the discretion of the judge, then the indicator could be removed. The indicator cannot be used as grounds to search or detain a person but is utilized only as an officer safety procedure. The intent is to alert police officers to former violent crime offenders in a roadside stop quicker than the time it takes for the officer to go back to the patrol vehicle and enter the driver’s license information and criminal history. The law enforcement community in the state strongly favored this bill as an additional way to protect law enforcement officers in the line of duty. I voted to override the Governor’s veto on this bill.

Town Meeting: I have scheduled a town meeting for Tuesday, July 13 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Odell Weeks Center in Aiken on Whiskey Road. I will provide an end of session legislative update at that time. The public is invited.

Voter Identification Bill: The Senate did not take action on the Voter ID legislation last week and the compromise bill has died on the Senate calendar. The process will have to start anew next session in 2011. To recap, the House approved Voter ID 3 times in 15 months. Three weeks ago, the House passed the House-Senate Conference Committee version of the bill which provided that the photo identification requirement will start in the 2012 elections. Also, the Conference Committee version provided an eight day period for early voting from Saturday to Saturday prior to an election day, and it allowed absentee voting under certain circumstances during the 30 days prior to an election. After the House passed the Conference Committee version and sent it back to the Senate, some senators filibustered the bill and held it up. Despite having 27 Republicans in the Senate and needing only 24 votes to break a filibuster, the Senate did not take a vote on the Conference Committee report and the bill died for the year when the Senate adjourned last week. I voted to approve voter ID all 3 times when it came up in the House.

“FMAP” Money Update: As you may recall from my column two weeks ago, the last veto that the House considered close to 1:00 am on Thursday, June 17 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. Last week, I read an article that stated that South Carolina was in the minority of states that did not approve its budget with the money in it. However, 28 states did approve their respective budgets with this money in it even though the money may not be provided by Congress. If the money does not come, then those states will face a substantial shortfall by “appropriating” dollars that do not come. If you would like to see the article and chart of which states were in the minority with South Carolina and the 28 states that may have a budget shortfall because they “appropriated” dollars that they do not yet have, then click here.

Good News on Yucca Mountain: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission legal panel ruled last week that the U.S. Energy Department cannot withdraw its licensing application for Nevada’s Yucca Mountain to be a permanent nuclear waste repository. In a 47-page order, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruled Energy Secretary Steven Chu does not have the authority to pull the plug on a process that Congress started when it passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act in 1982. As you may recall back in February of this year, state and county leaders met several times to consider ways for the State and Aiken County to combat the recent Obama Administration decision to close Yucca Mountain as the permanent site for the nation’s spent nuclear waste. The Obama Administration’s decision came despite nearly thirty years of public investment and research in the Yucca Mountain project and was made without congressional input or approval. Local and state leaders here believed that the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 required that Congress affirmatively approve the change that the Obama Administration proposed as to Yucca Mountain. The County and the State took legal action to prevent any federal government action to stop the Yucca Mountain program without congressional approval. Last week’s decision is great news for Aiken County and South Carolina as many people work to ensure that high level spent nuclear waste currently stored at SRS does not remain there permanently.

“Fair Tax” Education Seminar: On Saturday, July 10 from 10:00 am to noon, there will be a Fair Tax workshop in Aiken at USC Aiken in the Business and Education Building, Room 122. The seminar is designed to educate about the Fair Tax concept. The seminar is open to the public but the organizers need to know if you plan to attend so they can have an idea of the number. Please RSVP to Pat Dickerson at: PatD@alumni.wfu.edu or call him at 404-731-3688 to let him know if you are coming. If you are unfamiliar with the USC Aiken campus, the Business and Education Building is in the rear of the campus adjacent to Parking Lot C.

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 simply click here.

Speaking to Groups Around the District: Several local groups have asked me to come to 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.

Leave a Comment