Concealed Weapons, H-Canyon, and the State Budget – Update from Rep. Tom Young

Update – February 22 to February 28, 2011

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

SRS, H-Canyon, and Department of Energy: In the wake of the Department of Energy (DOE) directive to SRNS to take H-canyon to a “safe minimum operating level,” the Aiken County legislative delegation met with SRNS leadership and DOE leaders this past Thursday at the State House. The DOE said that top budget writers at DOE had decided in the Fiscal Year 2012 budget proposal to move $100 Million from H-Canyon funding to funding for accelerated clean up of waste tanks at SRS. DOE acknowledged the message from the legislative delegation that funding of H-Canyon is critical not only to Aiken and the Central Savannah River Area but also to the interests of the nation. DOE cannot tell us until early April the number of jobs that will be impacted by this decision. DOE also assured the delegation that the MOX project is fully funded for Fiscal Year 2012 and a top priority of the DOE and NNSA. The delegation further expressed concerns over the storage of used research reactor fuel in L-Basin. On Friday, I participated in another discussion with DOE officials and the Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Committee. The Nuclear Advisory Committee meets on Thursday, March 10 with officials from DOE, SRNS, and Savannah River Remediation. This issue as to H-Canyon will be at the top of the agenda. As indicated in previous columns, it is critical that the Department of Energy recognize SRS as an asset for the nation and assign future missions for the site. Both clean up and new missions for H Canyon and SRS can be accomplished at the same time. Our community and the nation will be better for it. Vision information provided by DOE to our legislative delegation this past week can be accessed here. A flyer on H-Canyon can be accessed here.

State General Funds Budget: Last week, the House Ways & Means Committee approved a $5.1 million budget for the General Funds budget. Faced with a reduction in revenue this year of at least $700 million in this part of the budget, the House budget writers worked for weeks to come up with its proposal which will be presented to the full House for debate and consideration beginning March 14. Education and Medicaid make up about 75% of the General Funds budget. The budget proposal includes the following:

– Increases the ‘Base Student Cost’ sent to K-12 public schools by 10% to $1,788 per child. That’s a benchmark school funding number.

– Streamlines the number of pots of state money that go to public schools to allow local school districts to have more flexibility on spending.

– Provides the rapidly expanding Medicaid program with an additional $380 million. $157 million comes from the increased cigarette tax revenues using money that has accrued since the tax took effect in July as well as half the money the state expects to collect during the next fiscal year.

– Gives Medicaid officials flexibility in setting provider rates cutting the fees paid to doctors and hospitals.

– Provides State public colleges and universities $117 million less which is a 5.6% cut in the state General Funds monies received this current fiscal year.

– Does not provide a cost of living increase for state employees.

– Sets aside $180 Million in the ‘rainy day fund’.

– Provides $10 Million in additional funding to the Dept. of Commerce to recruit business investment to SC.

– Gives $13 Million in additional funding to the SC Board of Technical Colleges to train workers.

Restructuring Bills on House Calendar: Two restructuring bills for which I am primary sponsor are on the House calendar this week. The first is the bill to require that the Governor and Lt. Governor (H.3152) run on the same ticket and the second is the bill to allow the Governor to appoint the State Superintendent of Education (H.3070) as a cabinet appointee rather than be popularly elected. Both bills will be on the House Calendar this week. All six restructuring studies of state government since 1920 have recommended that the Superintendent of Education be appointed by the Governor to increase accountability, efficiency, and coordination in public education in South Carolina.

Concealed Weapons Permit Bill: This bill (H.3292) which will simplify the list of places where concealed weapon permit holders may legally carry their weapons is before the House Judiciary Committee this week. The bill now says that S.C. citizens at least 21 years old who can legally own a gun can carry a concealed weapon without a permit. State Law Enforcement Division Chief Reggie Lloyd testified that SLED is not opposed to that provision. A representative of the S.C. Sheriff’s Association testified against that provision expressing concern about allowing people to carry a concealed gun without any training. Three states already allow residents to carry a gun as proposed in this legislation. I have received LOTS of emails both in favor of the current version and against it. If you have an opinion, please let me know before Tuesday afternoon of this week.

Charter School Bill: On Wednesday, the House passed the Charter School bill (H.3241). The bill was amended so that no local district money is spent on the state-sponsored charter schools. These schools include both (1) brick and mortar schools of which there are 11 statewide and (2) virtual schools of which 223 students in Aiken County attend. The bill also allows students enrolled in public charter schools to play sports at the school where they would normally attend if the public charter school does not offer the same sport. My understanding is that the SC High School League agreed to this provision. The State Chamber of Commerce expressed support for charter schools and this bill. I voted for the bill and it passed 85-32.

Workers Compensation Insurance Costs to Employers: This bill (H.3111) which I filed both last year and this year to help lower the costs of workers compensation insurance for employers in our state is coming up for a subcommittee hearing on Thursday morning this week in the House Labor Commerce and Industry Committee. The bill requires insurers to use the most recent loss cost data in setting rates rather than allowing them to use older data to set rates. South Carolina is one of the few states not to have made this a requirement and the Department of Insurance recommends the change to help lower the costs of workers compensation insurance in South Carolina.

Splash Blending Bill: A House Agriculture subcommittee unanimously passed this bill (H.3478), and it now heads to the full House Agriculture Committee 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. The current bill is intended 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.

Abortion Legislation Advances: Two anti-abortion bills have passed the House Judiciary Committee and are scheduled for debate on the House floor this coming week. The first would extend rights and protections to fetuses that survive abortions and anyone born prematurely who has a beating heartbeat, working lungs and other signs of life. The second allows health care workers to refuse – without fear of disciplinary action – to take part in work tasks they object to on moral or religious grounds. It also would limit health insurance coverage for elective abortions in a state health insurance exchange. For there to be coverage in the exchange, there would have to be a separate rider purchased for elective abortion coverage.

Savannah River Community Reuse Update: Representatives from the Savannah River Community Reuse Organization went to Washington during the week of February 14. They met with both South Carolina and Georgia Senators and Congressmen over four days. The discussion centered on the potential funding short-falls associated with the Continuing Resolution and the proposed FY 2012 budget impacting national needs and security implications as they relate to H-Canyon and MOX operations at SRS. To see this month’s update, go here.

Scholarship Information in South Carolina: Interesting data regarding state funded scholarships awarded in South Carolina can be found at To see the list of scholarships for 2009/2010 by school, see this chart.

State Infrastructure – DOT Resurfacing Needs: Good roads are critical to economic growth and expansion. This past week, I contacted the Director’s office at SCDOT to find out how much money is projected to be needed for resurfacing of existing roads in South Carolina. The DOT answered that $800 Million a year is needed between now and 2030 for resurfacing of existing roads to keep our road infrastructure in good shape. I am sharing this information with our Governor’s staff and our legislative leadership as we plan for where we want South Carolina to be in the years ahead. To see the full report, you can access it online under the Multimodal Transportation Plan at the following:

Silver Bluff Road Widening: Since Christmas, I have participated in several meetings with residents, City, County, and State DOT officials about the widening of Silver Bluff Road. The State DOT is working on different scenarios toward the goal of minimizing the impact to property owners along Silver Bluff Road. A public meeting with these different scenarios is being planned for late April. I will post more information here when I know it.

Republican Precinct Reorganization: On Thursday, March 3, 2011, all Republican Precincts in Aiken County will conduct the bi-annual precinct reorganization meetings. Please go to the web site for further details.

Job Fair: Last year in late March at the request of some of our legislative delegation, the Employment Security Commission (ESC) hosted a Job Fair here in greater Aiken to assist those who are looking for work. We are asking that the ESC do this again. I will post more information including the location, date, and time when I know it.

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 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 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. 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.

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 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 for more posts, news, video updates, and, if you have Twitter, please click here to start following me!

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