Weekly Legislative Update from Rep. Tom Young – Mar. 6, 2012 to Mar. 12, 2012

The House of Representatives is in session for 2012.  I hope that you find this update helpful and informative.

Lt. Gov. Ard Resigns: Following a SLED and grand jury investigation going back to last year, Lt. Gov. Ken Ard on Friday resigned and pled guilty to criminal charges for which he received a 5 year probationary sentence along with the requirement to pay a $5,000 fine to the State Ethics Commission and to perform 300 hours of community service.  Under the State Constitution, the President Pro Tempore of the State Senate (Sen. Glenn McConnell) becomes Lt. Governor.

Joint Election of Governor and Lt. Governor?:  In the wake of the Ard resignation, at least two editorials this weekend said that the situation with Lt. Gov. Ard underscores the need to pass the legislation which I sponsored where the Lt. Governor would be selected by the Governor rather than elected separately from the Governor.  To see the editorials, go here.  The House passed the bill last year and it is currently in the State Senate.

Redistricting — Federal Court Approves Plans:  On Friday, a panel of three Federal judges decided that the 2011 redistricting plans for the S.C. House of Representatives Districts and Congressional Districts do not violate the law.  The plaintiffs in the lawsuit had previously dropped their claims regarding the S.C. Senate Districts.  The decision means that the primary elections set for June 12 will go forward as planned.  Redistricting occurs every 10 years after each census. To see the Court’s opinion, go here.

Last Week’s Legislative Session
DOT Reform:  Last Wednesday, the House voted to recommit to Committee a bill changing the governing authority of the State Department of Transportation (DOT) and requiring that the DOT prioritize road projects in each of the State’s 7 engineering districts as part of the Department’s annual budget request.  In doing so, DOT reform this year is probably stalled.  I voted not to recommit.

Texting While Driving:  The House passed a bill that bans texting while driving a motor vehicle.  I voted in favor of the bill based on the feedback of many people in District 81 for the past 3 years.  Currently, South Carolina and Florida are the only states in the Southeast with no ban on texting while driving.  To see a list of all 50 states and the restrictions on texting and cell phone use while driving, go here.  The bill now heads to the Senate where a similar bill failed in 2010.

State Retirement Systems: Last week, the bill intended to preserve the State Retirement Systems advanced to the House calendar where it will up for consideration next week after the budget.  The bill includes the following:

  • Retirees receive a guaranteed COLA as long as certain triggers are met for SCRS and PORS.
  • No annual or sick leave can be used in the average final compensation calculation;
  • Average final compensation calculation will be computed using five highest years rather the current last three years;
  • The cost to purchase service time will be the actuarial cost;
  • Employee contribution rate will increase 1 percent over two years;
  • New employees must have 30 years of service to retire and will not have the TERI program;
  • Legislators will not be able to draw retirement benefits while still serving.

Video Gambling Bill:  The House Judiciary Committee passed the bill which will close a loophole that may allow a new form of video poker to be legal in South Carolina.  The “sweepstakes” video games will be illegal under the proposal. The bill will be on the House calendar next week.  I voted in favor.

Voter Registration by Party:  A House Judiciary subcommittee received testimony this week and gave a favorable report to a bill which will require a person voting in a partisan primary election to be registered to vote as a member of that political party.  This bill will be in full Judiciary Committee next week.  I welcome your feedback.

This Week’s Legislative Session

State Budget:  The budget will be debated in the House beginning on Monday, March 14 and continuing daily until the House passes a budget to send to the Senate.   The summary of the budget in its current form as passed by the Ways and Means Committee can be accessed here.  The combined budgets for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Social Services total $8.156 Billion.  The total budget for K-12 education is $3.69 Billion.

Additional Budget Thoughts:  Remember that the budget process will continue after this week into June as the budget goes from the House to the Senate and then back to the House and then to the Governor where she may veto certain items. Thus, there are a lot of uncertainties between now and the end of June as to what the final budget will look like.

Other Topics of Interest

S.C. Business Network Launched:  The S.C. Dept. of Commerce recently launched a serviced called S.C. Business Network to provide resources and information to small businesses and entrepreneurs interested in turning their business concepts into reality.  To learn more, go to SCBizNetwork.com.
Committee on Children Recommendations:  The Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children released its 2012 Annual Report.  The Committee recommends immediate action in both the public and private sectors in the following four focus areas:

  • Safe sleeping practices for infants;
  • Immunization of all children;
  • Effective diagnosis and treatment of childhood trauma caused by abuse, neglect, or family violence;
  • Decreasing childhood obesity.

To see the full report, go to www.sccommitteeonchildren.org.

SC Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT):  Governor Haley’s Director of PRT Duane Parrish recently prepared a report outlining the financial performance of the State Park System and highlighting the impact of state parks in South Carolina.  To see that report, go here.

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month:  March is colorectal cancer awareness month.  Colorectal cancer is the #2 cause of cancer death in the U.S.  My family has been affected by this.  I encourage others to be screened and to promote awareness of colorectal cancer.  Locally, to learn more in Aiken, there is a public awareness presentation by the Savannah River Cancer Foundation on Thursday, March 22 at 6 pm at the City of Aiken Municipal Center in The Alley.  Also, you can learn more by seeing this flyer.

SCDOT Weekly Update:  The Department of Transportation started a weekly update in August 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.

Constituent Information

Speaking with Groups Around the District: Several local groups have invited me to attend one of their meetings to provide a legislative update.  If you have a group that would like for me to come to a meeting, 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.lswia.org.

Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse in State Government:  To report waste, fraud and abuse in state government, you can call: 1-855-SC-FRAUD.

Facebook:  I have a Facebook page for Representative Tom Young. Please “like” the page to receive updates during the week from me on Facebook.

State House Tours:  Tours are available for the S.C. State House by calling (803) 734-2430.  If you set a tour between January and June and it is on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, please let me know so I can do my best 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 get them, 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

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