Update – February 1 to February 7, 2011

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

Action Item – School District Consolidation: Last Sunday, January 30, The State newspaper published a story stating that consolidating school districts statewide so that each district had a minimum of 2,500 students would save the state $26 million in 2003 dollars when the last study of this issue was made. Adjusted for inflation that is nearly $31 Million in today’s dollars. My understanding is that those are recurring expenditure savings. I am primary sponsor of a House bill (H. 3032) which will require this type of consolidation. Please contact House Education Chairman Representative Phil Owens at heducomm@schouse.gov or (803) 734-3053 and ask him to schedule the bill (H. 3032) for a subcommittee hearing as soon as possible committee to ask them to schedule my bill consolidating school districts for a hearing.

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 attended 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 this bill (H. 3164) for a subcommittee hearing as soon as possible.

Facebook: I now 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 New Website: I also have a new and updated website. The site can be reached at www.youngforhouse.com. There are links to a variety of constituent services and the status of sponsored bills. Please add my web site as a bookmark on your computer.

President Ronald Reagan: President Reagan would have been 100 years old this week. Like many in our district, I have a very high opinion of him. He is the first President that I can remember being in office and he provided the nation strong leadership during challenging times in the nation’s history. His ability to persuade; his vision; and his character were critical in helping the nation arise from the economic problems of the late 1970’s and in the greatest accomplishment of his presidency: the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. A special on his life and Presidency airs on public television Monday, February 7 beginning at 9:00 p.m. The second episode will run on Monday, February 14 at 9:00 p.m.

National Debt Commission Report: The national debt continues to grow and is the greatest threat to the future of the United States. For over a quarter of a century, the Federal Government has spent more than it takes in. Eventually, the chickens will come home to roost. To read about this problem and solutions, please read the Preamble to the National Debt Commission Report here. The debt problem described in this report underscores why it is so important for South Carolina to keep a balanced budget; build up the state’s cash reserves; address the unfunded liabilities in the state pension system; and do everything that we can to keep the state’s bond rating as high as possible.

S.C. Education Lottery: Last week, I provided a link to a report on where the state lottery money goes. Some folks wanted more detailed information. I researched and located the 2010 Financial Report for the Lottery which provides substantial information on the finances of the lottery.

Tort Reform Bill: On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee passed the tort reform bill. The bill is very similar to the version passed by the House last year with caps on punitive damages and the admissibility of non-seat belt use in civil trials. The bill will be on the House calendar this week.

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. Many people have asked for a detailed summary of the legislation. To see that and more on the bill, go here.

Restriction on Real Estate Transfer Fees: The full House 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. Also, the Federal Housing Finance Agency proposed regulations that will prohibit Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks from dealing in mortgages on properties with these types of transfer fee covenants. I verified that the House bill would not affect the ability of homeowner associations to require that property owners pay dues and fees for the work of such associations.

Splash Blending Bill: This bill is coming up for a hearing in a House subcommittee this week. 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.

Other Funds Portion of State Budget: Since early last session, I have been working on understanding this section of the State Budget; the money that is in it; and the carry forward funds that many state agencies have from one fiscal year to the next in this area of the budget. Other Funds in the State budget is all money that is not a federal dollar or a state general fund dollar. The sources of Other Funds revenue are (1) earned revenue from other state agencies, school districts, or local governments; (2) earned revenue from private sector individuals or businesses; (3) the sale of state assets; and (4) statewide revenue/taxes designated by state law to be separate from the General Fund dollars (examples are lottery money, gas tax, portion of cigarette tax from last year’s increase, Education Improvement Act money). I have much to report about my work in this area and this will be the subject of a more detailed column in the near future.

State Retirement System: I have spent a good bit of time studying the System and meeting with others in state government with knowledge about the System, the benefits provided, and the unfunded liabilities. I will provide a detailed status of the System and possible solutions to address the liabilities in the near future.

Congressman Jeff Duncan’s Aiken Office is Open: Congressman Duncan opened his Aiken office this past Friday. I attended and there was a large crowd despite the poor weather. The office is located at 1028 Hayne Avenue SW in down town Aiken. Phone number is 649-5571. Congressman Duncan will do a great job for the 3rd District and Aiken County.

Congressmen Tour SRS: On Friday, Congressmen Jeff Duncan and Joe Wilson were joined by Congressmen Mick Mulvaney and Trey Gowdy from South Carolina in touring SRS and meeting with Department of Energy officials. For the long term future of SRS, it is important for the Congressional Delegation to understand and appreciate SRS and its role in the nation’s future. This is great news for these four Congressmen to be visiting SRS to learn more about the Site.

Memorial Scholarship for Alex Bush: Many of you know that Aiken native and Charleston School of Law student Alex Bush was tragically killed in a December auto wreck between Aiken and Couchton. Alex’s fiancé Katie Scott also died from injuries in the wreck. The Alex Bush Memorial Scholarship Fund has been set up by Alex’s brother at the Charleston School of Law to give other students financial support in their pursuit of a law degree just as Alex was doing. To learn more information, go to www.CharlestonLawFoundation.org.

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

Employment Insurance Taxes: Last year, as part of the reform law to the Department of Employment and Workforce, a new system was set in place for how much businesses will have to pay for unemployment insurance in the state. For several years, the state failed to make adjustments to the rate system while the Unemployment Trust Fund ran out of money necessitating that the state borrow money from the Federal Government to pay unemployment benefits. Now, the State has to replenish the Fund and pay back the money borrowed from the Federal Government. The new rate system creates 20 rate tiers with companies which laid off more workers paying more and those which laid off fewer workers or none at all paying less. Nearly 50,000 of the state’s 85,000 businesses will pay less each year under the new rate structure with the minimum annual unemployment rate decreasing 88 percent to $10.30 per employee. However, businesses that cut the most workers will pay higher unemployment premiums with the highest paying $1,127.90 per worker from the previous high of $427.00. The goal is to pay back the money borrowed from the federal government within four years and to make the rate structure more equitable depending on much a company used it. The current rates will be reevaluated in 3 years in 2014.

Texting & Driving Bill: The S.C. House passed a ban on texting and driving last year. The Senate did not act on the bill. Two new bills are filed in the House this year. I expect at least one of them to be heard in sub-Committee some time soon.

Aiken High’s Volleyball Team Honored: Aiken High’s State Championship volleyball team was 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! To see a picture of the team with the House delegation, go here.

Meeting of 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. A copy of the agenda can be seen here.

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.


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

P.S. Please visit www.youngforhouse.com for more posts, news, video updates, and if you have Twitter please click here to start following me!

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