Weekly Legislative Update from Rep. Tom Young – April 24, 2012 to April 30, 2012

The House of Representatives is in session for 2012. I hope that you find the following information helpful and informative:

As reported last week, May 1 is the “Cross Over Deadline” in the General Assembly.  This means that for any bill that is still pending to have a chance to pass this year, the bill has to receive third reading in either the House or the Senate on or before May 1 at 5:00 p.m. and then go to the other body for consideration. If passage of the bill on third reading does not meet that deadline, then the bill has to have a 2/3s majority agree just to consider the bill.  Because of the “Cross Over Deadline,” the House had a very busy week last week considering more than 60 separate bills.  The highlights are below:

Last Week’s Legislative Session

Freedom of Information Act Changes:  On Thursday, by a vote of 101 to 1, the House gave second reading to a bill revising the FOIA.  The bill should receive third reading this Tuesday.  The bill prohibits public agencies and governments from charging excessive fees for public records and requires them to respond quicker than current law.  The legislation also includes provisions for the electronic transmission and online posting of public records and eliminates the current FOIA exemption provided for memoranda, correspondence, and working papers in the possession of individual members of the General Assembly and their immediate staff.  I voted for the bill and am a co-sponsor.

Individual Income Tax Relief: This bill revises individual income tax provisions by eliminating the current four, five, and six percent income brackets and providing instead for incomes to be taxed through a revised and consolidated structure consisting of only three brackets of 0%, 3.75%, and 7%.  The legislation includes provisions to ensure that no individual income tax burden increases as a result of these changes.  The revised bracket structure applies for taxable years beginning after 2012.  This bill now goes to the Senate.  I voted for it.

Small Business Income Tax Relief:  This bill reduces from five percent to three percent the tax rate for income derived from pass‑through trade and business arrangements, such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, and “S” corporations.  The reduction is to be phased in over the course of four years under a gradual schedule that reduces the tax rate by 0.5% per year. I voted for the bill and it now goes to the Senate.

Sales Tax Reform:  When originally filed, this bill eliminated two thirds of the state’s 78 sales tax exemptions totaling about $250 Million per year. (The ones recommended to be preserved directly benefit families in our state including sales tax exemptions on gasoline; groceries; residential electricity; and prescription drugs.) At the Committee level, the bill was amended to restore all but less than $15 million worth of exemptions. The bill requires that the revenue generated by the elimination of these exemptions must be used to reduce the overall sales tax rate.  The bill also re-establishes the Joint Committee on Taxation charged with conducting a cost benefit analysis of the sales tax exemptions and reviewing their feasibility every five years, if not more frequently.  The House passed the bill and I voted for it.  It now goes to the Senate.

Limited Liability Company (LLC) Protection:  On Thursday, the House approved and sent to the Senate H.5150 restoring a provision to shield members of the LLC from personal liability for actions taken in the ordinary course of business of the LLC.  This legislation was required due to a recent decision from the S.C. Supreme Court in early April.

Property Tax Assessment Appeal:  The legislation provides that the appeal must be based on the market values of real property as of December thirty‑first of the tax year under appeal instead of the tax year when the assessment was done.  The bill heads to the Senate.

Second Residence and Owner Occupied Property Tax Assessment Ratio:  This bill allows a taxpayer to claim the four percent property tax assessment ratio for two residential properties located in the state so long as the taxpayer is attempting to sell the first acquired residence and this residence that is for sale remains vacant and unused.  The four percent assessment ratio may not be claimed on both residences for more than one property tax year.  The bill goes now to the Senate.

School Bus Decentralization from State Government:  This bill establishes a committee to study the provision of school bus services in this state by the public sector, private sector, or combination of both.  The study must address the most cost‑effective, efficient, and safe way to provide school bus services to students in grades K‑12 utilizing available state and local resources and funding.  I voted for an amendment moving all school bus operations to local districts effective July 1, 2013 with provisions included to encourage privatization and cost savings.  That amendment failed. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Video Gambling Prohibitions: This bill (H.4675) closes 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 now goes to the Senate.  It is very important that this pass this year.

Sound Money Bill:  The House approved H.4128 authorizing gold and silver as legal tender to the full extent allowed by the United States Constitution.  The bill states that no party is required to accept gold or silver as legal tender but if both the buyer and seller agree, then gold or silver can be used for that purpose.  The bill now goes to the Senate.

Other Bills:  Other legislation passed and sent to the Senate includes (1) H. 4821 authorizing the collection of a fee when filing court documents by electronic means in the S.C. state court system; (2) H.4802 which establishes incentives for renovating and redeveloping buildings abandoned for more than 5 years in S.C; (3) H. 5025 which overhauls the S.C. State University Board of Trustees; and (4) H. 4943  which allows night hunting under certain circumstances on private land of coyotes, armadillos, and wild hogs.

Joint Election of Governor and Lt. Governor?:  Last week, the Senate voted to pass the legislation which I sponsored where the Lt. Governor would be selected by the Governor rather than elected separately from the Governor.  The Senate changed the bill to move the effective election year from 2014 to 2018.  It now comes back to the House.  A very interesting editorial on this bill and the separate bill which I sponsored to allow the Governor to appoint the Superintendent of Education can be seen here.

This Week’s Legislative Session

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

  • Freedom of Information Act changes – Third Reading;
  • Department of Administration – Restructuring;
  • Several bills which have come from the Senate in recent weeks.

Senate Campaign Update

Senate Campaign:  Bumper stickers for “Tom Young for Senate” have arrived.  They may be picked up at my office downtown at 409 Park Avenue SW or at the Tom Young Allstate agency on Whiskey Road next to Home Depot.  If you prefer, I can send a sticker to you.  Just let me know.   Because no one else filed to run in the Republican primary for June 12, neither the office nor my name will be on that ballot.  However, both the office and my name will be on the November general election ballot.  I have started visiting areas around the district including most of Aiken, North Augusta, Warrenville, Gloverville, Montmorenci, Couchton, New Ellenton, Jackson, Windsor, and Beech Island. To learn more about my campaign for State Senate, go to www.tomyoungforsenate.com, email me at tom@tomyoungforsenate.com, or call me at 215-3631.

Other Topics of Interest

National Day of Prayer:  This Thursday, May 3 is the National Day of Prayer.  The Greater Aiken area will recognize this day with a service in Aiken at the H. Odell Weeks Center at 6:45 p.m.  Whether you can go or not, please know that prayer works and our state and nation need our prayers not just on May 3 but every day.

Aiken County Teacher of the Year Banquet:  Aiken County’s teacher of the year banquet will be tonight at 7:00 pm at the USC Aiken Convocation Center.  Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at www.publicedpartners.org.  To learn more, call 649-9040.

Small Business Development Work Shop:  The Aiken Small Business Development Center is offering a FREE tax work shop for prospective and new small business owners. The workshop will be held from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM this Wednesday, May 2 2012, in the Penland Admin Building Conference Room 110 at USC Aiken.  For more information and to register, call 641-3646 or email at sbdc@usca.edu.

Boeing’s First Plane Produced Last Week:  On Friday, Boeing finished its first plane at its new South Carolina plant.  To see the story, go 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.

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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