Here are the highlights from last week at the Statehouse –
CANDIDATES FOR 2012 ELECTIONS – Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled that more than 100 candidates for various offices statewide were disqualified because they failed to file a Statement of Economic Interests as required by law. The Senate spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday working to come up with a solution that would allow these disqualified candidates to run in the June 12 primaries. Although it might seem like a simple problem to fix, the truth is we were caught between our State Constitution, federal law, and a very small timeframe. There was also a real fear that whatever we passed would have made the problem even worse.
In the end, nothing happened. A vote to suspend the Senate’s rules and consider a potential solution failed when it did not receive the necessary 2/3 vote. As one of the 4-5 senators who could personally benefit from the vote (my opponent was disqualified), I chose to recuse myself and did not vote. However, as I said in last week’s update, I continue to believe that candidates who made a good faith attempt to comply with the law should be allowed to run for office.
STATE BUDGET – The Senate Finance Committee finished its work on the state budget last week and passed it out to the full Senate. I expect the full Senate will begin debate this week.
The Board of Economic Advisers added an additional $292 million in projected revenue to the budget. That’s good news because the additional revenue is evidence that our state economy continues to improve. The bad news – from my perspective, at least – is that the General Assembly will very likely spend all the money. Here’s anarticle about the “new” money. Expect some interesting fights on the budget this week!
SC RETIREMENT SYSTEM – There has been a good bit of media attention over the last several months about proposed changes to the state retirement system. The House of Representatives passed a significant overhaul of the system in March. A Senate committee passed a different version of the bill a couple weeks ago. The Senate will probably take up this bill after finishing with the budget. You can read anarticle about the proposed Senate version here.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND JOB OPPORTUNITIES
U.S. Fibers Expansion – Last week U.S. Fibers announced plans to invest $5.5 million into an expansion of its Trenton plant. The expansion is expected to create 48 new jobs! This announcement follows U.S. Fibers $10.1 million expansion in 2010 that generated 85 new jobs in Edgefield County. To read more about the expansion, gohere.
MICHELIN EXPANSION – Michelin recently announced plans to invest $750 million to build a new plant in Anderson and expand its existing plant in Lexington. The investment is expected to create 500 new jobs, more than half of which will be at the Lexington plant. You can read a couple articles about the new investment here and here.
BRIDGESTONE HIRING – The Bridgestone plant in Graniteville announced a significant expansion last Fall. They are now hiring for the new positions. For information on how to apply, go here.
Brasfield & Gorrie, the contractor for the new Bridgestone plant, is accepting applications for:
- Carpenter-must have own hand tools. Industrial Construction and concrete experience preferred. 5yrs experience preferred
- Laborer-Industrial construction and concrete experience preferred. Must be able to lift up to 70lbs and work in all types of weather. 2 yrs experience preferred.
Applications will be taken at the job site trailer at 436 Old Vaucluse Road on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11am-3pm and Thursdays from 4pm-6pm. Preemployment drug screen required as are Safety Toe Boots
MTU EXPANSION – Tognum America announced recently that it will expand its Graniteville MTU plant. Here’s a press release from the department of Commerce.
If you know of a business that is hiring, please let me know. I’d love to include that information in the next newsletter so we can get the word out.
LAST WEEK’S MEETINGS
On Monday morning, I spoke to two government classes at Lexington High School. The students pay close attention to issues facing South Carolina, and they asked some great questions. I really enjoyed the visit!
On Monday night, I attended Lexington Town Council’s monthly meeting. Council invited me to attend the unveiling of their Vision Plan for Lexington. It’s difficult to improve without a vision of where you want to go and how you plan to get there. I applaud Lexington’s Town Council for this significant step!
On Tuesday morning, I attending Lexington Chamber of Commerce’s First Tuesday breakfast. There were probably 100 people at the breakfast, and we learned about the United Way’s significant influence in the Midlands.
On Tuesday morning, I visited Gilbert Primary School, Gilbert Elementary School, Gilbert Middle School, and Gilbert High School for Teacher Appreciation Week. I enjoyed meeting new people and was glad to have the opportunity to say “thank you” to many of our teachers.
On Tuesday night, I attended the Lexington County Soil and Water Conservation District’s annual banquet. The District’s Commissioners awarded several scholarships and prizes to local high school students.
On Wednesday morning, I attended the grand opening and ribbon cutting for First Citizens Bank in Edgefield. There was a great turnout! I’m glad they’re here!
On Wednesday afternoon, I attended a lunch recognizing South Carolina’s firefighters. Several fire departments from our Senate district were represented. I had a good time catching up with some of our local heroes. Thanks to all our firefighters and emergency rescue personnel!
On Wednesday night, I held a town hall meeting at Lexington High School. This was my 12th town hall meeting of the Spring.
On Thursday I visited Byrd Elementary School, Gloverville Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School, Clearwater Elementary School, Merriwether Elementary School, Leavelle McCampbell Middle School, LBC Middle School, Merriwether Middle School, Midland Valley High School, and Fox Creek High School to say “thank you” to our teachers for Teacher Appreciate Week.
On Thursday night, I held a town hall meeting at Gilbert High School. We had a good crowd and a great discussion about the issues facing South Carolina.
On Friday I rounded out my Teacher Appreciation Week tour by stopping by W.E. Parker Elementary School, Johnston Elementary School, Douglas Elementary School, JET Middle School, Strom Thurmond High School, and Wardlaw Academy. Our teachers do a great job!
TOWN HALL MEETINGS – I have held 13 town hall meetings so far this Spring. I hope to have a couple more before the legislative session ends. I’ll keep you updated as we get them scheduled.
HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION FILING IS OPEN – Persons who were at least 65 years of age, blind, or 100% disabled as of December 31, 2011, are entitled to a property tax exemption on the first $50,000 in appraised value on their residence. However, in order to get the tax exemption, the person must apply with the county auditor. Auditors are now accepting applications for the 2012 tax year. Contact your county auditor with questions.
SENATE DISTRICT 25 – Our Senate district has changed because of the 2010 census. The district now contains all of Edgefield County and parts of Aiken, Lexington, McCormick, and Saluda Counties. If you’d like to see the new district map, go here.
SPEAKING WITH GROUPS – Several groups, clubs, and classes around our Senate district have invited me to attend their meetings and provide legislative updates. If you would like for me to come speak with your group, please let me know.
EMAIL UPDATES – If you know of people in or around District 25 who do not receive my updates but would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me. You can also forward this email to them and encourage them to sign up for the updates at www.senatormassey.com.
P.O. Box 551
Edgefield, SC 29824
Email – email@example.com
Cell Phone – (803) 480-0419