Weekly Legislative Update from Rep. Tom Young – May 15, 2012 to May 21, 2012

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

Memorial Day – Pause To Remember and Take Time To Say “Thank You”: As we approach Memorial Day next Monday, many of us will be thinking of the official start of summer; school getting out; hamburgers and hotdogs; swimming pools; and summer vacations. Between now and next Monday, I hope that you will pause to remember both those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation and those who risk their lives each day so that we can enjoy freedom and the blessings we have in the United States.  In addition, take time to thank our veterans and active duty service men and women for their service and sacrifice.

Last Week’s Legislative Session

Restructuring — Joint Election of Governor and Lt. Governor:  Last week, the House concurred in the Senate amendments to the legislation which I sponsored where the Lt. Governor would be selected by the Governor rather than elected separately from the Governor starting in 2018. Because this is a constitutional change, the bill requires approval by the voters this year in the November election.  If not approved, the change does not go into effect in 2018.

Governor Calls for Tax Relief – Budget in Senate:  Last Tuesday, Governor Haley called for the  Senate to include $93 Million in tax relief for the 2012/2013 budget which is being debated in the Senate.  As reported last week, the Senate Finance Committee learned that the State has $292 Million more in revenue than when the House prepared the budget from January to March.  The Senate continues debate this week on the budget.

State Retirement System:  On Wednesday by a vote of 39-1, the Senate approved a pension reform plan that puts most of the changes on new employees. Sen. Greg Ryberg said the bill strengthens the state retirement system in a way that honors promises to current employees. Key provisions of the bill include the following:

  • Employees as of July 1, 2012 will not be eligible for the Teacher and Employee Retention Incentive (TERI) program.
  • Existing TERI program participants will undergo a phasing-out process for five years, ending the program by June 30, 2018.
  • The Average Final Compensation (AFC) as of July 1, 2012 will be computed using the average of the five highest years of compensation for new employees only. The changes would apply only for employees hired after June 30.
  • All employees would contribute more – an additional 1.5 percentage points over three years, to 8 percent, instead of 1 percentage point over two years under the House plan.
  • The General Assembly Retirement System will close for those elected after July 1, 2012. All newly elected lawmakers will be included in the same retirement system as state employees.
Primary Ballot — Impacted Candidates — Attorney General Opinion:  Last Wednesday, the Attorney General provided an opinion in response to my request for clarification as to whether the Supreme Court’s ballot decision also prevents the impacted candidates from being eligible to run as petition candidates for the November 6 general election. The Attorney General says that the impacted candidates can run as petition candidates.  To see the opinion, go here.  The State Elections Commission told me on Thursday that it will follow an Attorney General opinion.

Senate Bill – Future Fix to Ballot Upheaval:  The Senate unanimously approved a bill meant to fix problems in future elections like that which resulted in over 180 candidates being removed from the June 12 party primary ballots. The Senate bill removes the parties from the filing process and syncs the deadlines for incumbents and challengers to turn in financial paperwork. The bill requires both challengers and incumbents to file financial forms online and bring proof into their local election commission office by the March 30 filing deadline. Senate Judiciary Chairman Larry Martin said the bill turns the process over to professionals who will be trained on any future law change, at a fixed location with regular hours, as opposed to political party officials who can change each election cycle.  The bill has no bearing on candidates taken off June 12 party primary ballots. The bill now comes to the House.

Governor Haley – House Ethics Committee: Legislation filed by Rep. James Smith requests the House Ethics Committee reconsider its May 2 decision to dismiss an ethics complaint against then Representative Haley (now Governor Haley) after unanimously finding probable cause to pursue the complaint. The Ethics Committee met this past Friday and decided to seek more information as it considers whether to reopen the complaint. The committee voted unanimously to ask for employment documentation from Governor Haley and her previous employer (before being elected Governor).

This Week’s Legislative Session

Bills on House Calendar:  The full House may debate several bills this week including the following:
  • Several bills which have come from the Senate in recent weeks.
Senate Campaign Update

Senate Campaign:  Here is the latest on the Campaign for Senate District 24:
  • Bumper stickers for “Tom Young for Senate” are available.  They may be picked up at my office downtown at 409 Park Avenue SW; at the Tom Young Allstate agency on Whiskey Road next to Home Depot; or at Hixon Insurance in North Augusta.  If you prefer, I can send a sticker to you.  Just let me know.
  • Last week, I visited with a group of residents in Cedar Creek and attended the Aiken Electric Co-op Annual Meeting.
  • 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 6 general election ballot.
  • The following communities in Aiken County are in Senate District 24: most of Aiken, North Augusta, Warrenville, Gloverville, Montmorenci, Couchton, New Ellenton, Jackson, Windsor, and Beech Island.
Other Topics of Interest

Dr. Tom Hallman:  Last Thursday night, hundreds of local citizens gathered to honor retiring USCA Chancellor Tom Hallman.  The Aiken County Legislative Delegation presented Dr. Hallman with the Order of the Silver Crescent in recognition of his service to USCA and the greater community.  Under Dr. Hallman’s leadership since 2001, USCA has made tremendous strides.  His efforts are much appreciated.

Latest Unemployment Numbers: Based on the latest numbers from April, the state’s unemployment rate has gone down to 8.8% and Aiken County’s unemployment rate is 7.5%. To see a monthly chart for the past two year’s rates, go here.

Charitable Giving – Many Thanks!:  Thank you to all the local residents who helped this past week with the Celebrity Waiter event to benefit Children’s Place and Relay for Life to raise money for cancer research and prevention. There are dozens of other philanthropic fundraisers and events held in Aiken County throughout the year. Our community’s support for these worthwhile endeavors is one way which makes where we live special. If you can help with your time or your financial resources, please find a local charitable organization and contribute.

Annual Memorial Day Parade:  The Annual Memorial Day parade is set for this coming Saturday, May 26th, at 1:00 p.m. in downtown Aiken.  To learn more, call Dick Schreck at 643-0675 or email him at AikenMemDayParade@hotmail.com.

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.  At the monthly Commission workshop held on May 16, the SCDOT Commission was given a presentation on SCDOT’s overall financial situation and a presentation on the Proposed Fiscal Year 2012-13 Agency Budget.  These presentations may be viewed at the links below.


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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