Reprogramming Request Approved and Road Infrastructure — Weekly Update from Sen. Tom Young – April 30, 2013 to May 6, 2013

Reprogramming Request Approved and Road Infrastructure — Weekly Update from Sen. Tom Young – April 30, 2013 to May 6, 2013

The State Senate is in session with regular session ending on Thursday, June 6.  I hope that you find this update helpful and informative.  If I can help you with an issue, please let me know.

SRS – Reprogramming — Workforce Impact Update

Reprogramming – What is the Issue?: On April 1, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) furloughed 2500 local employees to 32 hour weeks with a 20% reduction in pay. At least 700 of those people will be fully furloughed beginning June 1st and possibly through the end of September. The short term fix to the problem is for there to be reprogramming of funds at the federal level. This process begins with the Department of Energy (DOE) making the proposed changes. Those changes are then sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). After OMB allows the reprogramming, the request has to go before Congress for approval. That approval is needed before May 20. After Congressional approval is received, the reprogramming request goes back to DOE who then transmits the funds to SRS.

What is Being Done?: Last week, I joined members of our legislative delegation in meeting with DOE officials. Additionally, we talked with the Governor’s staff; director of DHEC; our Congressmen; and called OMB. Congressman Wilson, Senator Graham, and their respective staffs have also been very active in pushing for a solution.

Congressman Wilson’s Town Hall:  On Friday morning, over 300 people attended Congressman Wilson’s town hall meeting at USC Aiken.  During the meeting, I provided an update from the state legislative delegation and also a number for citizens to call OMB to request that reprogramming be granted.

Your Phone Calls:  Last week, I provided contact information for OMB in this email update and on Friday at Congressman Wilson’s town hall. My understanding is that OMB was flooded with phone calls last week from many people in our community. Thank you for calling!

Good News this Weekend!:  On Saturday morning, we learned that OMB submitted the reprogramming request to Congress late Friday night.  This is very good news for our community!  However, Congressional approval is still needed before May 20.

What Can You Do?: You can help by calling the following members of our Congressional delegation:

  • Senator Lindsey Graham – (202) 224-5972
  • Senator Tim Scott – (202) 224-6121
  • Congressman Jim Clyburn – (202) 225-3315
  • Congressman Joe Wilson – (202) 225-2452
  • Congressman Jeff Duncan — (202) 225-5301

Together, we must be vigilant in our efforts to encourage federal policy makers to allow the transfer of funds at SRS to alleviate the impact of the furloughs on our state and our community.

SRS – Liquid Waste Budget Request

Liquid Waste Budget Request:  Another issue, with significant implications as to our community, its workforce, and the cleanup of Savannah River Site, is the President’s budget request for high level waste cleanup and closure of aging waste tanks at SRS.  Last week, our legislative delegation wrote our state’s Congressional delegation and members of Georgia’s delegation requesting attention to this issue.  To see that letter, go here.

Last Week in the Senate – Road Infrastructure

Road Infrastructure Update:  Last Thursday afternoon, the Senate Finance Committee advanced a proposal for addressing the state’s infrastructure needs. According to the SCDOT Infrastructure Task Force report released last December, the state needs $600 million more a year in state funds for the next twenty years to meet projected infrastructure needs. The Senate Finance plan would invest more than $2 billion over five years in interstate expansions, road and bridge repairs and resurfacing needs.

Specifics of Proposal: The legislation uses a combination of funding options including: issuing general obligation and revenue bonds, transferring the vehicle sales tax on automobiles to the Highway Fund, indexing the state’s motor fuel user fee, raising various vehicle related fees, and providing for additional local option sales taxes for infrastructure purposes.

Bonding Part of Proposal: The bond part of the bill relies on roughly $1.3 billion coming from general obligation and revenue bonds. My understanding is that major interstate projects — including expansion of Interstates 26 and 85, along with fixing the I-26/I-20 interchange (commonly referred to as “malfunction junction”) — would consume the entire funding model under the Senate Finance plan with the bonding component.  The plan moves $80 million in automobile sales tax collections to the Highway Fund over two years to be used for revenue bonds for interstate expansion and bridge replacement. In 2015, the state would begin issuing general obligation bonds for road repairs.

Indexing of Motor Fuel User Fee (Gas Tax): The proposal also calls for indexing the motor fuel user fee to annual CPI growth with a 1.5 cents cap per year. The gas tax is currently 16.75 cents per gallon and was last changed in 1987. Indexing the current gas tax to CPI is expected to increase the tax by 4 cents per gallon in 10 years generating an additional $135 Million annually by that time.

Other Parts of Proposal:  The legislation also gives local governments the option of a countywide 1 percent sales tax increase to be used for state road needs. The plan encompasses an incentive for counties to pass the increase by supplementing their road budgets with additional dollars from the state. Various vehicle and truck fees are also increased in the plan, including new flat fees on automobiles that are not solely powered by gasoline, generating roughly $50 million.  Those fees include the following:

  • Increasing biennial registration fees for passenger vehicles by $12 to $36 every other year.
  • Increasing truck registration fees by 16 percent.
  • Charging new biennial fees to owners of alternative fuel vehicles: $60 for hybrids and $120 for those that run on no gasoline.
  • Creating a road use fee for commercial vehicles instead of property taxes.
  • Increasing the fee for 10-year driver’s licenses by $10 from $25 to $35.

What is Next?:  The road funding plan now moves to the Senate floor where it must be set for Special Order to be debated at length, amended, and then receive an up or down vote.  I am studying the plan as this a very important issue for our state. Your input is helpful and appreciated.

Other Senate News from Last Week

State Budget:  Senate Finance passed the budget on Friday afternoon and the full Senate takes up the budget next week.

Mental Health Reporting – Purchase of Guns: Last week, the Senate passed H. 3560 which establishes a system in South Carolina for reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) those who have been adjudicated a mental defective or committed to a mental institution. These individuals are already prohibited under federal law from possessing, receiving, transporting, or shipping a firearm. Reporting to NICS ensures such people are not able to lawfully purchase a firearm through a Federal Firearms License Holder. The bill also establishes also establishes a system through which such individuals may seek relief in the courts from the restrictions on firearms related to an adjudication as a mental defective or commitment to a mental institution. Governor Haley signed the bill into law late last week.

Department of Employment and Workforce – New Director:  On Thursday, Governor Nikki Haley nominated Ms. Cheryl Stanton for the Executive Director position at the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce. Stanton is a widely respected employment lawyer.  She has to be confirmed by the State Senate.

State Ranked High for Small Business: Our state received an A- in an annual business survey released late last week. To see the article, go here.

Recent Local News of Interest

Congratulations! Aiken County Teacher of the Year:  Congratulations to Elizabeth Supan of Aiken Elementary School for her being named Aiken County Teacher of the Year last Monday!  Also, Lisa Raiford, 2012 Aiken County Teacher of the Year, was one of the top 5 honorees at last week’s State Teacher of the Year event.

Senior Citizens — SC Office on Aging: In South Carolina, the Lieutenant Governor’s duties include overseeing the Office on Aging.  Lt. Governor McConnell has done an excellent job in his first year overseeing this agency. To see a brief report on our state’s seniors, go here and here. To go to the Office on Aging website, go here.

Hitchcock Parkway Update:  Last Thursday, SCDOT presented an update on this project to the Augusta Regional Transportation Study (ARTS) Committee.  DOT stated that it is reconfiguring its original proposed design to stay within existing right of way as much as possible.  DOT plans another public input meeting for some time this summer.  The City is working on an alternative design that it plans to share with DOT before the next public input meeting.  Based on public comments and questions raised both at last Thursday’s meeting and at previous meetings since last November, the City and the County plan to revisit this project to provide direction to ARTS as to the scope of the project.

Other Local Topics of Interest

Prevent High School Dropouts – Volunteers Needed: The Choices program is a local program being used in Aiken County middle schools with eighth graders to encourage more children to finish high school.  Several local businesses and individuals have volunteered their time.  The program needs more volunteers.  If you are willing to volunteer, please email Debbie Hubbard at or call her at 593-7300.  To learn more about the program, go here.

Regulations –Comments Encouraged:  Governor Haley recently issued an Executive Order requiring all state agencies to review statutes, rules, regulations and policies for their effects on South Carolina’s economy. The Governor also set up a task force to review regulations and to recommend ways to reduce, improve, and simplify regulatory burdens. The group’s report is due November 15, 2013. Public comments are encouraged. To provide comments to the Governor’s Task Force on any regulation, email the task force at

Honor Flight for WWII Vets:  There will be an Honor Flight #6 leaving from Myrtle Beach on Aug 28th for WWII vets. Details are in the attached documents. Please get the word out to any WWII vet who has not been to the WWII Memorial in DC. There is no cost to the WWII for this trip. To learn more, go here.

Constituent Information

Legislative Email Updates:  Locally, three members of the House of Representatives, who represent portions of Aiken County within Senate District 24, send regular email updates.  Their respective contact information to get on their email lists to receive their email updates are as follows:

Congressman Joe Wilson Contact Information: Congressman Wilson now represents all of Aiken County.  He has staff in Aiken County with office hours in Aiken and in North Augusta. His office number is 608-9747.

Speaking with Groups Around the District: If you are involved with a local group that would like for me to attend a meeting to provide a legislative update, please let me know.

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 Senator 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 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.

Small Business Help – SC Dept. of Commerce: The South Carolina Department of Commerce has helpful information for small business owners and employees.  To learn more, go here.

Save for College – Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan:  South Carolina’s 529 College Savings Plan Future Scholar offers special tax benefits for South Carolina residents. To learn more or to enroll, go here.

Request a Flag: If you would like to request a state or U.S. flag flown over the State Capitol in Columbia, please let me know at Flags vary in cost according to their size and their material from which they are made.

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.

Thoroughbred Country– South Carolina Regional Tourism Organization: To learn more about tourism in the four county region of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell, visit here.

Email Updates: If you know of people in or around District 24 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 such as a pothole needing repair, 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 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.



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