Weekly Legislative Update from Rep. Tom Young

May 10 to May 16, 2011

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

Real Estate Point of Sale Tax Reform Bill:  Last Thursday, the House passed the same change to the point of sale tax law that the House passed in 2009.  (That bill stalled in the Senate.)  The bill passed by the House (1) eliminates reassessment at the time of the sale and uses the current property tax valuation as the taxable value going forward until the next countywide reassessment period; (2) increases the taxable value to the fair market value (ATI value) during countywide reassessment; and (3) requires that the 15% Constitutional cap applies to the fair market value in future reassessment programs unless a sale or other assessable transfer of interest has occurred.  Many view this as also a jobs bill. A recent study by economists hired by the South Carolina Association of Realtors showed that repealing the Point of Sale provision will create up to 35,000 jobs and create a $4.2 billion total impact on economic activity in our state.  I voted in favor of the bill.  It now goes to the Senate.

Amazon.com Sales Tax Exemption:  Another effort to pass the Amazon special sales tax exemption may come before the House this week.  As reported in this column two weeks ago, the House voted on April 27 not to give Amazon its special sales tax exemption that it has requested from the state.  At that time, the House voted not to give the exemption by a vote of 47-71.  I was in the 71.  After the defeat of the exemption, some people said that the state will lose economic development investment.  Since the vote on April 27, the Department of Commerce has announced more than $700 Million in new investments creating 5,300 jobs in South Carolina.  As of now, I plan to vote the same way as I did before on this issue.  To see a recap of why I voted that way on April 27, please go here.

High Visibility Road Signs in Aiken:  As reported here last Monday, since the beginning of April, I received numerous complaints about the large yellow signs put up by the SC DOT in Aiken in the downtown historic district.  Many of those complaints came from elected city officials; downtown business owners; downtown residents; and others in Aiken.  During several discussions with SC DOT, DOT officials told me that (1) they had not talked with the City before putting the signs up in downtown Aiken and (2) the signs are possibly more than is needed for downtown and designed to be effective in less urban areas than downtown Aiken.  DOT requested a list of the locations about which I received complaints.  I sent that list of 9 locations to the DOT with a request that the current signs at those locations be removed.  This past Friday, DOT informed me that DOT and City officials will meet soon to address the problems with the signs in downtown. Contrary to some media coverage, I did not request that the DOT remove all of the signs in Aiken.  I also did not act based on feedback from one constituent.  I simply requested removal of the signs from 9 locations in the historic district after hearing from dozens of people for several weeks and after hearing that the DOT did not speak with our City officials at all before doing this.  There are always lessons to be learned from these types of issues.  Going forward, I have asked  DOT to communicate with the City before implementing similar projects.  I am confident that the DOT and the City will reach a resolution that both respects Aiken’s downtown and meets the DOT’s goals in implementing the sign project.

Speed Trap Bill:  A House Judiciary subcommittee passed legislation to outlaw the use of speed enforcement cameras like what is being done in Ridgeland, SC along I-95.  The Senate has already passed the legislation.  The bill now heads to the full House Judiciary Committee.

School Choice Bill: This bill (H. 3407) will allow state tax credits to donors who finance K-12 scholarships for low income students to attend non-public schools.  It also will allow tax credits for families paying out of pocket for non-public school tuition.  Many concerns have been raised about the legislation including the fiscal impact to existing K-12 education.  Also, while other states which have passed similar legislation have limited their bills to poor children trapped in underperforming/failing schools and special needs children, this bill in South Carolina is broader in scope.  The House Ways and Means Committee passed the bill last week and moved it to the House calendar. I welcome your feedback on this legislation.

High School Dropout Bill: This bill (H.3164) is on the House calendar.  It 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. It also has an exception for 17 year olds who join the military.  Georgia and North Carolina have similar requirements in their state law. 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.  It is undisputed that the high school dropout rate perpetuates social ills such as crime, teenage pregnancy, infant mortality, juvenile delinquency, and high unemployment.   All of these areas cost taxpayers money in some way or another.  The statistics show that about 80% of those who dropout do so in the 9th or 10th grade.  If we can get more kids to stay in school until the 11th grade, then it is much more likely that they will graduate.  The data also shows that those who finish high school will earn several hundred thousand dollars more on average over their lifetime than those who do not finish high school.  Raising the average educational attainment of our citizens will also improve the quality of our state’s workforce helping make our state more attractive to new industry expansion.  The bottom line is we have to encourage more kids to stay in school and finish versus dropping out.  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. An article about this bill in the USA Today last Friday can be seen here.

State Budget:  The Senate is still working on its version of the State Budget.  I will provide more information when the Senate bill comes back to the House in the next few weeks.

Dr. Tony Harris – Doctor of the Day at the State House:  Local physician and Aiken resident Dr. Tony Harris recently volunteered to serve as the “Doctor of the Day” at the State House.  Each day that the General Assembly meets in session, a doctor from the South Carolina Medical Association volunteers to serve in the State House to see any State House visitor or employee who needs medical attention.  From what I am told, most of the visits to the clinic are for colds, sinus infections, and other minor ailments. Thank you to Dr. Harris for volunteering in this capacity last Thursday.

Aiken County Teachers of the Year:  Recently, teachers of the year at each of the Aiken County public schools were announced.  The list of those teachers can be seen here.  Congratulations and thank you to all teachers for your hard work and dedication.

Celebrity Waiter Night, Relay for Life, and Charitable Giving:  One of the largest and most widely participated in charitable fundraisers in Aiken County is the Celebrity Waiter Night event held annually in May to raise money for Children’s Place.  As a former member and chair of the Children’s Place Board, I can tell you that many children in Aiken County benefit from the efforts of those at Children’s Place. The Celebrity Waiter event held this past Monday was another success and many thanks should go to all of the people who volunteered and contributed financially to the event. Also, Relay for Life is being held this Friday night, May 20, at Aiken High School as hundreds of local residents walk to raise money for cancer research and prevention.  Thank you to all who help with this event. There are dozens of other philanthropic fundraisers and events held in Aiken County throughout the year. Our community’s support for these worthwhile endeavors is one way which makes where we live special. If you can help with your time or your financial resources, please find a local charitable organization and contribute.

Silver Bluff Road Widening – Public Information Session: A public information session on the updated designs for the Silver Bluff Road widening project will be on Thursday, May 26 at Town Creek Baptist Church.  The SC DOT has not yet announced the meeting time.

Annual Memorial Day Parade: The 15th Annual Memorial Day parade is set for Saturday, May 28th, at 1:00 p.m. in downtown Aiken.

Aiken Golf Club:  A very good article about the Aiken Golf Club located in District 81 was in yesterday’s The State newspaper.  It can be seen here.

Helping Local Children with Hunger: With both the Aiken County Schools and Golden Harvest Food Bank, the 2010-2011 Leadership Aiken County class is sponsoring a group project to raise both awareness of and funds for children in Aiken County who are at risk for hunger.  To learn more, go here or call (803) 641-2856.\

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 www.reptomyoung.com or at the www.scstatehouse.gov 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 www.reptomyoung.com. 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 early 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 TomYoung@schouse.gov 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)


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



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