School Starts Back and Reading Proficiency — Weekly Update from Sen. Tom Young – August 8, 2013 to August 19, 2013


The State Senate is out of session until January 2014.  I hope that you and your family are enjoying summer and that you find this update helpful and informative.  If I can help you with an issue, please let me know.

Best Wishes for the New School Year:  Thousands of students and teachers across Aiken County start school this week.  While most schools may have been closed the past couple of months, our teachers have been working toward this week where they will greet their students with the same passion, dedication, and concern which they always bring to the profession.  Most everyone reading this column can probably think of the teachers who made a difference in their lives somewhere along the way. Good, caring teachers and an emphasis on the basics are critical to the future of our state and our nation.  Best wishes to all students, faculty, and staff in K-12 and college in the year ahead!

Importance of Reading: Since 2010, I have written several columns in this email update about the importance of reading in the effort to end generational poverty.  Two years ago, a report was released finding that one in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school – 4 times the rate of those who can read at grade level in the third grade. This report emphasizes why it is so important for our children to be able to read at grade level by the third grade. To see the report, go here. Later this month, I will post ways that you can volunteer in our local schools to assist in reading to a child or to serve as a mentor.

State Action – Reading Proficiency – Third Grade:  In February, the State’s Education Oversight Committee recommended that state law should require third graders to read at grade level or not be promoted unless certain exceptions are met. Retained third graders would be placed in a reading intensive program.  Such a change would fall in line with other states including North Carolina which passed a similar law last year.  To see information, go here.

“Read to Succeed” Legislation Pending:  Legislation is pending in the State Senate when the Senate returns in January that would screen children for readiness in 4K and 5K to identify potential learning barriers; provide intensive in-class and supplemental reading instruction; revise in-service requirements concerning teaching reading skills; and, beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, retain 3rd graders who cannot read on grade level unless they meet an exemption.  The legislation is modeled after a successful initiative implemented in Florida.

Volunteer in Local Schools: If you would like to help with educating our children, consider volunteering in our local schools.  To learn more, please click here. Thank you to the Aiken Downtown Rotary Club for putting together this list of opportunities.

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.

Great Advice for New College Students:  At this time the past two years, I posted an article about advice that Coach Jay Mills, Head Football Coach at Charleston Southern University in Charleston, S.C., provided to his son as he went off to college.  Many parents and grandparents thanked me for sharing it so I am posting it again this August.  I think it is very good advice for any young person going out on his or her own.  To see the article, go here.

Special Needs Children – Help for Parents and Caregivers:  Recently, the SC Bar developed a handbook for parents of special needs children.  An online version of the handbook is available here at

SRS — Update

Yucca Mountain Update:  The Federal Government’s decision to abandon the Yucca Mountain project as a final repository for nuclear waste is a big issue to those of us in Aiken County and South Carolina. Last week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission broke the law when it unilaterally shut down work at Yucca Mountain.  The Court ordered that work resume.  Opponents of Yucca Mountain, including U.S. Senator Harry Reid, contend that there is no money available to appropriate to the project.  However, there is $11 Million remaining in previously appropriated funds that should be used to continue work on the project including finishing a technical report assessing Yucca Mountain’s viability.  This is positive news for Aiken County and South Carolina as many people work to ensure that high level spent nuclear waste currently stored at SRS does not remain there permanently.

State Government News

Legislative Scorecards:  SC BIPEC (South Carolina Business and Industry Political Education Committee) released its 2013 legislative scorecard and I scored a 100.  The SC Chamber of Commerce also released its 2013 scorecard and I received a 93.  The President of BIPEC has written in the past that a high score shows “dedication to jobs creation and economic development” and promotion of a “competitive free enterprise system.”  

Regulations –Comments Encouraged:  Governor’s task force is meeting  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

Planning for 2014 Legislative Session:  The 2014 legislative session convenes on the second Tuesday in January.  I appreciate input from constituents on the critical issues facing our state and area including tax reform; spending reform; K-12 education; the costs of higher education; health care; economic development; job growth; and the underfunded liabilities in our state’s health insurance program for state retirees.  Your input is welcome on any issue important to you.  Please email me back or contact me by phone or in person at your convenience.

Upcoming Meetings

End of Session Town Meetings:  Like the past four years, I plan to hold end of session town meetings around the district.   Based on constituent requests, I will hold those after the summer vacation season ends.  The dates, times, and locations will be provided in future email updates.

North Augusta Business and Community Expo:  The North Augusta Chamber of Commerce will host a business and community expo at the N.A. Community Center on Thursday, September 12 from 1:00 to 7:00 pm.  To learn more, go here:

Greater Aiken Senior Extravaganza 2013:  The City of Aiken will have its annual Aiken Senior Extravaganza again on Wednesday, September 18 at the H. Odell Weeks Center from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  The event offers seniors, and those interested in issues facing seniors, an opportunity to spend a day in educational seminars and to browse the display fair. The educational seminars will be limited to the first 325 people to register. The Health Fair and displays will be open to the public and pre-registration is not required. Age: 50 and over: Cost: FREE : Wednesday, September 19, 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.  For more information, please call 642-7631.

Other Local Topics of Interest

SCE&G Rate Hike Request Update:  SCE&G requested permission for an increase in utility rates earlier this year of $4.32 per 1,000 KWHs used by residential customers.  The State Public Service Commission (PSC) has to approve the request.  Public comments are very important and should be emailed to Dukes Scott at no later than August 30.

Silver Bluff Road Update: DOT representatives will begin property acquisition as early in September.  The estimated schedule for acquisition of Right of Way is 12 months, which means the project will be ready to let (advertise for Bids) in November 2014.  Construction would begin in the Early 2015with an anticipated duration of 18 months depending on the required utility relocations and the schedule of the selected contractor.  That would render a projected completion date of the Fall of 2016.

Hitchcock Parkway Update:  Last Monday, I attended the City Council meeting where an update was provided on this project.  The City asked SCDOT for two different four lane designs. Currently, the SCDOT plans another public input meeting in November of this year.  This project will be debated more after SCDOT provides the two different designs to the City.

Grass Cutting in the SCDOT Right of Way:  Grass is growing in right of ways around our district.  DOT has staff cutting the grass.  If you are aware of an area where high grass is obstructing vision for drivers as they enter or exit certain roads in our County, please call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or let me know and I will pass on the information.

Email Updates:  While I send these email updates every week during the legislative session, I will not send them as often between now and January since the legislature is out of session.  I plan to send at least two a month between now and January. 

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:

·         Rep. Bill Hixon (Dist. 83):

·         Rep. Bill Taylor (Dist. 86):

·         Rep. Don Wells (Dist. 81):

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 to

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 to

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

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.


Tom Young
215-3631 (cell)


Paid for by Tom Young for Senate


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