High School Drop Outs, Yucca Mountain, and the Lottery — Rep. Tom Young’s Legislative Update

Update –January 25 to January 31, 2011

The House of Representatives is in session for 2011. I hope that you find this update helpful and informative:

Action Item – High School Dropout Bill: This bill (H.3164) prohibits possession of a driver’s license until age 18 unless the young person is enrolled in, or has completed, high school.  The bill does have a hardship provision for some limited exceptions including where the young person has to go to work to support himself or his immediate family. Although this bill is not the “silver bullet” to the high school dropout problem, it is part of the solution in our effort to combat the high school dropout rate in the short term. In fact, South Carolina first recognized the need for this legislation in 1989 in the Governor’s Commission on the Future Report.  Since then, a generation of children have passed through our schools.  If you also believe that this bill is long overdue, then I encourage you to contact House Education Chairman Representative Phil Owens at heducomm@schouse.gov or (803) 734-3053 and ask him to schedule the bill (H. 3164) for a subcommittee hearing as soon as possible.

Alternative to Yucca Mountain?: The Federal Government’s decision to abandon the Yucca Mountain project as a final repository for nuclear waste is a big issue to those of us in Aiken County and South Carolina.  In recent weeks, the community of Carlsbad, New Mexico has expressed its interest to the Department of Energy’s Blue Ribbon Commission to be the nation’s alternative for storing nuclear waste.  Carlsbad currently has the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) which has accepted low level radioactive waste and stored it in underground salt beds since 1999.  To read more on this, please click here for several articles on the topic.

Voter ID Bill:  On Wednesday, the voter ID bill which will require registered voters to show photo identification at the polls when voting passed the full House.  The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

University of South Carolina:  USC President Harris Pastides appeared before a House subcommittee last week and provided interesting data about USC; its students; and state funding.  For example, he said that because of Palmetto, Life, and Hope Scholarships available to resident South Carolina students, the average tuition and fees paid out of pocket by in state Freshman students at  USC-Columbia this past year was $2,680 which is about 28% of the cost of annual tuition for instate students.  To see his complete comments, you can go click here.

S.C. Education Lottery: Many people have asked me where the lottery money goes.  I have attached the most recent report for where the money goes by fiscal year through the current fiscal year of 2011-2012.  The report shows that the vast majority of the lottery money goes to provide scholarships for qualifying instate students at colleges and universities in the state.  That report can be accessed here.

Medicaid Reductions:  To address substantial shortfalls in funding to its agency, the Department of Health and Human Services recently created a list of areas to cut to contain Medicaid costs.  A copy of the Director’s report on this can be seen here.

Concealed Weapons:  A bill which would have allowed any elected official in the state who has a valid concealed weapon permit to carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the State failed to pass in a House Judiciary subcommittee last week.  The bill would have expanded existing state law which allows any judge or solicitor to do so.  I did not support the expansion as written to apply only to elected officials.
School Choice Bill: This bill will allow state tax credits in certain circumstances to qualifying families for children to attend non-public schools.  The bill is modeled after a similar law which passed in Florida about 10 years ago.  For a summary of the bill as currently filed, please click here.

Restriction on Real Estate Transfer Fees:  The House Judiciary passed a bill toprohibit Transfer Fee Covenants or Freehold Licensing Arrangements as fees for residential real estate developers.  The way it works is that the residential real estate developer attaches covenants to the properties in the new subdivisions.  The covenants provide that fees are to be paid to the developer or some trust for the benefit of the developer every time the property changes hands over a period of up to 99 years.  In other words, it allows the developer to create a stream of passive income for many years to come after the subdivision is built, every lot/house is sold, and all active participation in the subdivision by the developer is ended.  Buried in the covenants is a fee (usually a percentage of the price of the home) that is required to be paid to the developer or his successor upon the sale or transfer of the property.  Several states have already passed legislation to ban the practice including North Carolina.  The S.C. Realtors Association supports the proposed ban here.  The bill now comes to the full House this week.

Splash Blending Bill: Last year, a bill that would allow small gas and oil companies and distributors to blend ethanol in South Carolina within certain standards passed.  The then current law only allowed large companies like BP and Exxon to blend ethanol in South Carolina.  The large companies uncovered a loophole in the new law to allow them to continue maintaining a strong monopoly on this practice despite the law passed last year.  A bill was filed last week to close this loophole.  The expectation is that by closing the loophole, this bill should help lower the price of some types of gas in our state.

Congratulations to John Troutman: Last week, the S.C. Department of Commerce and Governor Haley recognized and honored House District 81 resident John Troutman as Aiken County’s Ambassador of the Year for Economic Development.

Congratulations to Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce Award Winners: Congratulations to this year’s award winners from the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce as follows:  Man of the Year:  Roger LeDuc; Woman of the Year:  Dr. Deidre Martin; Large Business of the Year:  SRP Federal Credit Union; Small Business of the Year:  All Star Tents and Events.

Aiken High Volleyball Team to be Honored: Aiken High’s State Championship volleyball team will be honored by both the S.C. House of Representatives and the State Senate this week on Wednesday.  Congratulations again to the team on their state championship!

Aiken County Legislative Delegation: The Legislative Delegation will meet on Monday, February 7, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. at the Aiken County Council Chambers.  The Aiken County School Board will meet with the legislative delegation at this time.

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 general terms, 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.  On the other hand,  nearly all unpaved roads in the County are maintained by the County.

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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