Weekly Legislative Update from Rep. Tom Young

Bridgestone Announcement and Town Meeting Dates Set — Weekly Legislative Update from Rep. Tom Young – September 20 to September 26, 2011

The House of Representatives is out of session for 2011 and returns to session on January 10, 2012.   Nevertheless, a lot is happening around District 81 and in Columbia.  I hope that you find this update helpful and informative:

Major Economic Development News — Bridgestone Expansion: Great News in Aiken County last Wednesday! Bridgestone announced a $1.2 Billion investment which will result in 850 more jobs in Aiken County.  This is the largest initial capital investment in the history of our state.  The investment includes construction of a new 1.5 million-square-foot off-road radial tire (ORR) manufacturing facility on a greenfield site in Aiken County and an additional 474,000-square-foot expansion of its existing passenger (PSR) and light truck (LTR) tire plant in Aiken County.  The 850 jobs will be in addition to the over 900 who already work at the current Aiken County plant. There will also be additional jobs in the near future related with the construction to be done with the expansion. Bridgestone plans to break ground next month.  Many thanks to all of the people who worked together to make this investment a reality. To see the official press release, go here.

State Retirement System Update:  Last week, a newspaper article in the USA Today reported how some long-serving legislators are receiving their retirement pay in lieu of their salary even though they are still serving.  That same article wrote how special rules passed several years ago allow for long-serving legislators to increase their retirement benefits unlike other state employees.  I was not aware of these rules, and I do not see how those special rules benefitting legislators can be justified.  As part of expected state retirement system reform next session, I will support the elimination of special retirement benefits for legislators not available to other state employees.  As reported here last week, the Senate and the House both have panels reviewing options this Fall to ensure the solvency of the state retirement system. A recent independent analysis of the system can be seen here.

Medicaid Issues – Feedback Requested:  On Thursday, September 29, I am meeting with Tony Keck, Director of South Carolina’s Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS). That department oversees Medicaid which has grown substantially in spending in recent years. If you have questions, concerns or comments, please send them to me and I will share them with Director Keck during our meeting.

Dates for End of Session Town Meetings:  I have three town meetings set as follows:

  • Wednesday, October 12 at 6:00 pm at Odell Weeks Center in Aiken;
  • Monday, October 17 at 6:00 pm at Leavelle McCampbell Middle School Cafeteria in Graniteville;
  • Tuesday, October 25 at 4:00 pm (waiting on confirmation of date) at Woodside Plantation Reserve Club House in Aiken.

DEW Unemployment Insurance Tax Refund Update:  The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce announced last week that S.C. businesses should receive final notification of revised lower unemployment insurance tax rates around Sept. 23.  The rates are decreasing as a result of a recently legislated state appropriation designed to help pay back outstanding federal unemployment insurance loans and ease the transition to the new tax rate structure implemented in 2011.  The lower rates will result in credits and refunds totaling approximately $80 million for the first half of the year. The revised tax rate notices will inform businesses of the new tax rate they should use when filing their third- and fourth-quarter reports. The lower tax rates are expected to save the state’s businesses approximately $58.2 million in the last half of the year. Overpayments from the first quarter will be kept by the department and applied as a credit toward future taxes per federal law.  Overpayments from the second quarter can be refunded upon request by mail to Attn: TAX, 1550 Gadsden St., Columbia, SC 29202, or via email at  rateinfo@dew.sc.gov. Beginning October 1, businesses will be able to view credits and request refunds using a new web portal that will be announced through http://www.dew.sc.gov/emp-land.asp.

Aiken County Legislative Delegation Meeting: The Aiken County Legislative Delegation will meet this coming Monday, October 3 at 6:00 p.m. at the Aiken County Council Chambers.

August Unemployment Numbers: The monthly report from the Department of Employment and Workforce for the month of August can be seen here. Aiken’s unemployment rate remained at 9%.

Chukker Creek School Traffic: Both concerned parents and the principal of the school have made Rep. Bill Taylor, Senator Ryberg, and me aware of the traffic problems at the beginning and the end of the school day at this school.  We have requested that SCDOT look at the situation and recommend solutions as quickly as possible.

Volunteer in Local Schools:  If you would like to help with educating our children, consider volunteering in our local schools.  Please click here for more information on volunteer opportunities in our public schools.  Thank you to our local Aiken Downtown Rotary Club for putting together this list of opportunities.

Improving Reading Skills in Children:   In addition to serving as a volunteer in one of our local schools, you can also help with early literacy by volunteering with Children’s Place where you can spend time reading with a young child or helping an older child with reading.   Children’s Place would also be grateful for donations of lightly used books to send into the homes of needy children.  Children’s Place will gladly help distribute those books to low income children throughout Aiken County by sharing them with all community agencies.  If you are interested in helping through Children’s Place, please contact Peggy Ford at 641-4145.

Feedback Requested — Planning for the 2012 Legislative Session: The 2012 legislative session will convene on the second Tuesday in January.  I am seeking input from constituents on the critical issues facing our state and area including tax reform; spending reform; K-12 education; the costs of higher education; health care; economic development; job growth; and the underfunded liabilities in our state’s retirement systems.  Your input is welcome on any issue important to you.  Please email me back or contact me by phone or in person at your convenience.

SCDOT Weekly Update:  The Department of Transportation started a weekly update five weeks ago to inform the public about what is going on at the agency as to its financial situation and other matters.  To see the latest, go here.

Graniteville Train Wreck Study:  A research team from USC; MUSC; UGA; Georgia’s medical school; and Tulane is working to identify long-term lung health problems that have occurred since the 2005 chlorine spill.  To learn more and to find out if you may qualify as a participant, please go here.

Speaking to Groups Around the District: Several local groups have asked me to attend one of their meetings to provide an end of session report.  If you have a group that would like for me to come to a meeting during the next few months, please let me know.

Help for Displaced SRS Workers: If you or someone you know lost a job at SRS, there is a One-Stop Transition Center open in downtown Aiken at Park Avenue and Laurens Street to assist workers displaced at SRS with finding new work.  The Center is open from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. For more information, visit www.workforce.psa.-inc.com.

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.

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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