Friday, May 31, 2013
There are two weeks left in the 2013 legislative session, so last week the House worked on getting some Senate legislation through for a vote and tying up loose ends.
The biggest issue we dealt with this week was how to prevent last year’s unprecedented data security breach at the Department of Revenue. House Ways and Means Committee debated legislation this week that would enhance cyber security across all state agencies.
Last fall, computer hackers broke into the computers at the Department of Revenue and stole personal information – including Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and credit card numbers – for more than 3.6 million people. This hacking included taxpayers, dependents and minor children. The hacking also included hundreds of thousands of small businesses’ Federal Tax ID numbers.
This was far and away South Carolina’s biggest and most serious cyber theft of private data, but not the only one. The House approved $20 million in money to provide credit monitoring and credit insurance for people who had their identity stolen. Experts told a House committee late last year that a pre-emptive fix would have cost $25,000.
Since the hacking incident became public last October, it has been a major issue with our constituents across the state. Improving data security and implementing procedures to keep this from happening again was a top Republican agenda item for 2013. The people of our state have no choice but to provide this personal information when filing taxes with the Department of Revenue, so it is the government’s responsibility to protect that information adequately.
A House amendment debated this week provides more years of credit protection for the public or a tax deduction for people who choose not to participate in whichever plan the state chooses.
We also will consolidate information technology and security for state government under one entity – so security measures for critical information are uniformly strong across agencies.
Also at the forefront of the debate this week was road funding – what most people might consider to be decidedly low-tech. We face significant challenges in providing funding to repair crumbling roads and bridges, but the House took a major step forward earlier this session. The House approved legislation that would direct nearly $100 million a year collected from sales tax on vehicles to the Department of Transportation (DOT). While this is not enough to fully solve the problem, it provides the DOT with a steady stream of funding it can count on each year to plan and execute projects.
The Senate has not approved this legislation yet, but has instead loaded the bill with new taxes, new fees, and plans for hundreds of millions in state debt – a plan that conservatives are unwilling to consider at this time.
The House plan is not enough to solve the problem, but it is a significant improvement on the current funding and does not include new taxes or fees on our citizens.
Representatives Mike Sottile (R) and Chip Limehouse (R) represent the area in the S.C. State House of Representatives. Mike Sottile can be contacted at Isle of Palms at 886-8759, in Columbia at 803-212-6880 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Limehouse can be contacted at 740-5855 or 577-6242 in Charleston or 803-734-2977 in Columbia and via email to email@example.com.