Regular Session Ends and Special Session Begins — Weekly Legislative Update from Rep. Tom Young

May 31 to June 6, 2011

The House of Representatives is in session for 2011. The regular session concluded this past Thursday, June 2. I hope that you find this update helpful and informative:

Governor Calls General Assembly Back: When the House and the Senate adjourned this past Thursday at 5:00 p.m., both planned to return on June 14 to finish the budget and the once a decade redistricting legislation. However, Governor Haley quickly announced that she is calling both the House and the Senate back into a special session this Tuesday, June 7 at 10:00 a.m.  The Governor wants the Senate to pass four restructuring bills which the House already passed in March. They are as follows:

  • H. 3152 – Governor/Lt. Governor on Same Ticket
  • H. 3070 – Superintendent of Education Appointed by Governor
  • H. 3066 – Department of Administration (Consolidate many areas of Budget and Control Board under the Governor)
  • H. 3267 – Combining the Dept. of Probation Pardon & Parole with the Dept. of Corrections

Press reports indicate that some House and Senate members question the Governor’s authority and may not attend.  Also, Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell may file an emergency petition today to ask the State Supreme Court to rule upon whether the Governor has the authority to call the House and Senate back into session tomorrow.  Despite these questions, I will be in Columbia at 10:00 a.m. this Tuesday when the House convenes unless the special session is cancelled.

Tort Reform Bill Passes: The Senate finally passed the tort reform bill and the House concurred with the Senate’s changes. The law caps punitive damages at the greater of $500,000 or 3 times the compensatory damages. If the fact finder determines that the defendant’s act or omission was motivated by a financial decision or if the defendant’s actions rise to the level of felony charges, the cap is the greater of $2 Million or four times compensatory damages.  If the plaintiff proves that the defendant intended to harm the plaintiff; was convicted of a felony arising out of the act or omission; or acted under the influence of alcohol or drugs, there is no cap on the punitive damages. The business community is pleased with the legislation.

Real Estate Point of Sale Tax Reform Bill Passes:  Last week, the Senate and then the House passed changes to the point of sale tax law after a compromise was reached by the parties interested in the legislation. Applying to properties that are currently taxed at six percent (6%) of their value (will not apply to primary residences) and where there is an assessable transfer of interest on or after January 1, 2011, the legislation would lead to taxing the property at a 25 percent discount of the fair market value. For example, if the property is valued at $200,000, then it will be taxed at $150,000.00.

Silver Bluff Road Widening – Public Input is Requested: As reported last week,this project has been under consideration for nearly 5 years.  There are two different plans under consideration:  (1) The SCDOT’s recommended plan and (2) the City’s requested shift in the DOT plan’s alignment.  Both plans include improvements to all the intersections along Silver Bluff Road between Indian Creek Trail and Richardson’s Lake Road.  Public input should be submitted no later than June 10, 2011 to Kevin Gantt with SCDOT at .   After the public input period ends, the SCDOT will summarize all the comments and take that information to the Augusta Regional Transportation Study (ARTS) group.  The ARTS group will then give final approval to a plan later this year. To access more information about the DOT’s May 26 meeting and the widening project, go here. If you did not get to see the preliminary drawings, the City of Aiken has a copy of the drawings.

State Budget:  Last week, the House voted not to concur with the Senate’s budget.  As a result, a Conference Committee from both the House and Senate is meeting to work out the differences in the House and Senate version of the budgets. Their work should be completed by June 14.

Drug Testing Before Receiving Government Assistance Benefits:  Last week, Florida’s governor signed into law legislation that requires adults applying for government assistance under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to undergo a drug screening at their expense.  If the person passes the test, then he is reimbursed for the cost (estimated to be $10.00).  If the person fails the test, then the person is ineligible for government assistance for at least 6 months while the person undergoes voluntary drug treatment. If the person has children, then the person can designate a responsible adult to receive the funds on behalf of the children. The goal is to keep persons addicted to illegal drugs from receiving taxpayer funded government benefits which can then be used to further fund the person’s illegal drug habit.  After hearing from lots of constituents about this issue for several months, I filed the same bill on Thursday in South Carolina with 67 sponsors in the House. The bill will come up in January of next year.  To see the bill go here.  To see an editorial about the Florida law in the Augusta Chronicle from last Friday, go here. I will write more about this topic later this summer after session concludes.

Redistricting: The House Judiciary Committee meets this Monday, June 6 to consider the proposed new House districts and the proposed new Congressional districts. Last Thursday, the Senate released its proposed maps for the 46 Senate districts across the state. The Senate has still not released its proposed Congressional district plans.

Help for Displaced SRS Workers: If you or someone you know lost a job at SRS, there is a One-Stop Transition Center open in downtown Aiken at Park Avenue and Laurens Street to assist workers displaced at SRS with finding new work.  The Center is open from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. For more information, visit

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 early August.  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 at 642-2020 or go to this link.

Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse in State Government: To report waste, fraud and abuse in state government, you can call: 1-855-SC-FRAUD.

Roll Call Voting: There is a new link available to keep up with all the roll call votes in the S.C. House.  That link can be accessed at either my website at or at the website.

Facebook: I have a Facebook page for Representative Tom Young. Please “like” the page to receive updates during the week from me on Facebook.

Tom Young’s Website: My updated website can be reached at There are links to a variety of constituent services; the status of sponsored bills; and roll call votes. Please add my web site as a bookmark on your computer.

State House Tours:  Tours are available for the S.C. State House by calling (803) 734-2430.  If you schedule your tour on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday between now and mid June, please let me know so I can make every effort to see you.

Email Updates:  If you know of people in or around District 81 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, 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 or call me. Generally, most paved roads in the County are maintained by SCDOT and are identified on the road sign poles by a small black and white sign listing the road number, such as S-2-1669. Most unpaved roads in the County are maintained by the County.

Thank you for the opportunity and the honor 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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