Weekly Legislative Update from Rep. Tom Young – Mar. 19, 2012 to Mar. 26, 2012

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

Last Week’s Legislative Session

State Retirement Systems Reform: By a vote of 86-27 on Wednesday, the House passed legislation to reform the state retirement systems and to keep them solvent.  According to professional actuaries and other professionals hired by the Ways and Means Committee to assist in this process, the changes will lower the unfunded liabilities by over $2 Billion and save taxpayers an estimated $8 Billion over the next 30 years; will allow the state to keep its high credit rating; and will avoid most, if not all, litigation that sometimes arises when changes are implemented to publicly funded retirement systems. Several amendments to grandfather in some employees with over 20 years in the system and which would have ultimately led to problems with our state’s credit rating were defeated.  The bill’s changes include the following:

  • Employees will pay one percent more out of their paychecks, with an additional one percent from the state employer.  The employee portion is phased in over two years.  After the phase in, employees will pay annually 7.5% of salary to the retirement system.
  • Employees will pay more money to buy “service time” to retire early.
  • Employees cannot use vacation days, sick days or overtime pay to calculate retirement.
  • Benefits will be calculated using the last five years of salary, instead of three.
  • New hires will work 30 years before they are eligible for retirement, up from 28; police officers and firefighters can still retire after 25 years.
  • New hires are not eligible for the TERI program which allows workers to retire and then return to work while collecting benefits.
  • Legislators may not retire and draw benefits while still serving in the Legislature.
  • Legislators will also contribute an additional 1 percent to the retirement system raising their contribution to 11% annually.

To see a summary, go here.  I voted for the bill. The bill now heads to the state Senate for more debate and possible changes.

Drug Testing Before Receiving Welfare Assistance:  Last week, the House Constitutional Laws subcommittee heard testimony on legislation that I filed last June which requires adults applying for government assistance under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (welfare) to undergo a drug screening at their expense.  If the person passes the test, then he is reimbursed for the cost.  If the person fails the test, then the person is ineligible for government assistance for at least 6 months while the person undergoes voluntary drug treatment. If the person has children, then the person can designate a responsible adult to receive the funds on behalf of the children. This bill is one way to address these two questions:  Why should those addicted to illegal drugs receive taxpayer funded government benefits which can then be used to further fund the person’s illegal drug habit?  Where the applicant has children, are the children benefitting from the government benefits or is the parent spending the money on drugs and neglecting the children?  After hearing from lots of constituents about this issue, I filed the bill last June with 67 sponsors in the House.   The bill is still at the subcommittee level and will have another hearing later this session.

Veterans and S.C. Driver’s Licenses:  The House passed legislation which allows for honorably discharged veterans who are S.C. residents to have a special emblem placed on their S.C. driver’s license.  Under the bill, veterans can go the DMV and produce the DD-214 form showing that they were honorably discharged. They then can pay the nominal fee to get an updated license with the emblem on it.  The bill now goes back to the Senate. I will post in my weekly update when the bill becomes law later this year.

This Week’s Legislative Session

Bills on House Calendar:  The full House may debate several bills this week including the following:

  • Video Gambling Ban;
  • Failing or refusing drug test of prospective employer while unemployed will result in disqualification for additional unemployment benefits;
  • Freedom of Information Act improvements.

Senate Campaign Update

Very Positive Feedback:  Since making my announcement to run for Senate District 24, I have received enthusiastic and tremendous support from people all over the district including Aiken, North Augusta, Warrenville, Gloverville, Montmorenci, Couchton, New Ellenton, Jackson, Windsor, and Beech Island.  To learn how you can help, go to www.tomyoungforsenate.com; email me back at tom@tomyoungforsenate.com; or call me at 215-3631.

Other Topics of Interest

Hitchcock Woods Winter Newsletter:  To see the current newsletter, go to the Woods website by clicking here

Leadership Aiken County Great Ideas Endowment Fund:  This group of leaders from our County is working to raise at least $25,000 to establish an endowment fund to provide (1) grants of up to $500 for secondary education teachers to encourage the study of science, math, engineering and technology and (2) engineering scholarships to Aiken Tech.  To learn more, go here.

Leadership Aiken County Visits State House: The 2012 class of Leadership Aiken County visited the State House last week.  The House delegation met with them to discuss issues including economic development, taxes, and education.

Junior Leadership Aiken County:  On Friday, I spent an hour visiting with 9th graders from Aiken, South Aiken, Midland Valley, and Silver Bluff high schools and Aiken Prep.  They asked lots of questions and it was a very good discussion.  Notably, they all said that they believed that the drop out/no driver’s license bill pending in the Senate will make a difference in keeping their peers in high school so more graduate.  In fact, their junior leadership group plans to prepare and sign a letter stating their support of the bill and they asked me to help in getting it to the members of the State Senate.

Aiken County Biking and Walking Plan:  The County is working on this project and is holding a public input session.  To learn more, go here.

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.

Tom Young’s Website: My website can be reached at www.tomyoungforsenate.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 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 tom@tomyoungforsenate.com 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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