Redistricting and New Amazon Proposal — Weekly Update from Rep. Tom Young

May 17 to May 23, 2011

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

New Proposal on Temporary Sales Tax Exemption:  The biggest legislative news last week was the new and different proposal to grant a  temporary sales tax exemption.  After receiving lots of new information and learning about the new proposal, on Wednesday by a vote of 97 to 20, the House voted in favor of granting the temporary sales tax exemption under the new proposal.  I was in the majority of 97 with the rest of the Aiken County delegation.  Here is why I voted in favor of this new proposal:

  • The new terms include that Amazon must provide a minimum of 2,000 full time jobs with health insurance and a minimum of $125 Million in capital investment.  The average pay of these jobs will be nearly $17.00 per hour;
  • The terms also include that Amazon cannot operate any retail sales from the distribution facility at all until after the sales tax exemption expires on January 1, 2016.  This provision insures that the Amazon site will be a distribution facility only.  Simply put, it will be a site from which workers ship product to customers;
  • The terms include that Amazon will lose the temporary sales tax exemption before January 1, 2016 if the federal government changes federal law so that internet sales are taxed;
  • Amazon does not collect sales tax now on sales to South Carolinians and it will not unless (1) Amazon comes to our state and the temporary sales tax exemption expires on January 1, 2016  OR (2) the federal government changes the law which it has not done for 19 years.  If this proposal was rejected and Amazon does not come, then we have the status quo for our existing retailers:  Amazon’s collecting no sales tax;
  • Before the vote, House Republicans met with Governor Haley and Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt.  Governor Haley said that she would not veto the temporary sales tax exemption if the House and Senate approved it.  Further, Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt said that he has continued to negotiate with Amazon for several months and believes that granting the temporary sales tax exemption and landing Amazon’s investment in South Carolina is good for the state;
  • Governor Haley said that one reason that she will not veto the exemption if approved is that she views it important for the state to honor a commitment made by the previous Governor;
  • We also were informed about other large economic development projects in Anderson and Spartanburg counties which the State will lose if the commitment made by former Governor Sanford and his Commerce Secretary Joe Taylor are not honored;
  • We further learned that Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama are using the perception that South Carolina is backing out of a deal with Amazon against us.  I confirmed this with several people that I know personally and professionally in economic development across the state;
  • Based on the Commerce Department’s economic analysis, the State’s General Fund will gain money in spite of the temporary sales tax exemption;
  • A similar sales tax exemption was approved in 2005 for QVC (Home Shopping Network) to operate a distribution facility in Florence County. QVC was not required to provide as strong of a wage and benefit package as Amazon to qualify. That exemption expired last year and QVC is still in the state and is now collecting sales tax from internet sales;
  • More than 2,000 additional jobs are projected to be created in the private sector as a result of the 2,000 jobs at Amazon;
  • With 2,000 jobs to be available and the proximity of the Amazon site to Aiken County, it is likely that folks in Aiken County will work at the Amazon distribution facility;
  • Because Amazon is not a manufacturer, Amazon will have to pay sales tax on the machinery that it purchases to use in the new facility and it will have to pay sales tax on the electricity that it uses in the facility.  A manufacturing company does not have to pay sales tax on similar purchases in South Carolina.

In sum, when this new proposal was made last week and I learned the new information provided herein, I decided that the best decision for the majority of people in my district and for South Carolina was to vote in favor of granting the temporary sales tax exemption.  Based on what I knew last Wednesday at the time of the vote, I am confident that I made the right decision.  I welcome your feedback.

Layoffs at SRS:  Last week, we learned about 350 additional layoffs at SRS.  These layoffs are the result of funding issues with the Continuing Resolution and the FY 2012 Federal Budget.  The Aiken legislative delegation has been united in contacting our congressional delegation to emphasize the importance of SRS to Aiken County and the CSRA.

Redistricting – Congressional Districts:  Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives released the proposed Congressional districts for the next decade. The new 7th Congressional District is proposed to include Myrtle Beach and all of Horry County with Florence County and other areas of the Pee Dee section of the state. For the past decade, Aiken County has been split with a portion of the county in each of the Second (Cong. Joe Wilson) and Third (Cong. Jeff Duncan) Congressional Districts.  Under the proposed House plan, all of Aiken County would be in the Second Congressional District with all of Lexington and Barnwell counties and portions of Richland, Calhoun, Orangeburg, and Fairfield counties.  As proposed, the Second District would no longer extend from Lake Murray to Hilton Head.  Public testimony as to the congressional districts will be received on Tuesday (May 22) of this week beginning at 9:00 am in Columbia in the Blatt Building at the State House complex.

Redistricting – House Districts:  Also, last Wednesday, the House released the proposed House districts for the next decade.  Because of population shifts and growth, four districts in the state are collapsed and four new districts have been created in their place in York County south of Charlotte; Beaufort County near Bluffton; Berkley County near the Charleston county line; and Horry County between Conway and Myrtle Beach.  As for House District 81, the district is moving further into South Aiken.

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 some 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 bill is now on the House calendar. I welcome your feedback on this legislation.

High School Dropout Bill: The House passed this bill (H.3164) this week.  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.  It now heads to the Senate where it will most likely not be considered until next January.

Funding for Port Study Approved:  Our state received great news last week with the approval of federal funding to study the deepening of Charleston Harbor.  Improving South Carolina’s ports is crucial to accommodate the large ships which will sail to the East Coast after the widening of the Panama Canal is complete in 2014.

High Visibility Road Signs in Aiken:  City officials will meet with DOT representatives on Tuesday of this week about the new road signs in downtown Aiken.  An editorial that I wrote which was in the paper last week can be seen here.

Conservation Bank Extended:  Under current law, the State Conservation Bank will cease to exist after 2013.  Under this bill, the sunset is extended to 2023.  The Conservation Bank assists in purchasing easements and fee simple interests for the preservation of open space throughout the State.  The Aiken Land Conservancy has benefitted from the receipt of Conservation Bank funds with its acquisition of properties including the Boyd Pond tract and a portion of the Heritage Trust Gopher Tortoise tract.  I voted in favor of the extension.

Anti-Union Measure Advances: The House voted 76-26 on Thursday to advance the Employer Free Speech Act that would exempt businesses from a proposed federal rule that they notify workers of their rights to unionize.  I voted for the bill.

Aiken County Magistrate Bill Approved: Under a bill passed by the House on Wednesday, Aiken County’s Magistrate Judges districts will be redrawn and consolidated. The number of magistrates will be reduced from nine to seven and possibly six which could save Aiken County government as much as $400,000 a year. The bill was initiated by Senators Massey and Ryberg. It has already passed the Senate and goes to the Governor for her consideration.

Speed Trap Bill: The full House Judiciary Committee 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.

State Budget:  After 4 weeks of debate, 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.

Silver Bluff Road Widening – Public Information Session: A public information session on the updated designs for the Silver Bluff Road widening project will be from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Thursday, May 26 at Town Creek Baptist Church.

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

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 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 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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