Overriding the Governor’s Veto

 

The Senate on Thursday voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of commonsense legislation that restores partisan elections for local judicial races, helping ensure North Carolina voters have more information about the candidates they elect. The House of Representatives voted to override the governor’s veto earlier this week, so the bill is now law.

 

In the 2016 election, nearly 800,000 fewer North Carolinians voted in the state Supreme Court race than in the presidential race because they did not have enough information about the judicial candidates. And on average, about 450,000 fewer North Carolinians voted in the state Supreme Court race than in state Court of Appeals races, where judicial candidates’ partisan affiliation was clearly identified.

 

The law fully reinstates the system that was in place for decades prior to the late 1990s and early 2000s, before previous legislatures changed it to prevent voters from using party affiliation to elect judges with a conservative, strict constructionist approach to the constitution.

 

For years, Gov. Cooper and his allies have stoked fears of voter disenfranchisement – yet when he had the opportunity to actually increase voter involvement, he rejected a measure that the data suggests would do just that. I’m pleased the General Assembly corrected the governor’s misstep and this bill is now law.

 

Expanding Bonus Program to Reward More Outstanding N.C. Teachers

 

On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously passed legislation to award performance-based bonuses to more public school teachers who helped improve academic outcomes for their students last year.

 

Senate Bill 169 – Teaching Excellence Bonus Expansion was filed after hearing feedback from local school administrators that some outstanding teachers were inadvertently omitted from bonus programs created by the General Assembly to reward top performers.

 

Those eligible include third-grade teachers who helped students achieve the greatest growth in reading, along with teachers whose students successfully completed Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams – but who have since been reassigned to other teaching roles in their schools. Eligible third-grade reading teachers can receive up to $7,000, while AP and IB teachers can receive up to $2,000.

 

Teachers who met the necessary goals last year but were reassigned to other teaching roles in their schools still deserve to be rewarded, and I’m pleased the Senate has taken steps to ensure they receive the bonuses they’ve earned.

 

Taking Steps to Increase Health Care Choices and Lower Costs

 

In an effort to dramatically increase choices and lower costs for health care patients across the state, I filed  Senate Bill 324 – Repeal Certificate of Need Laws.­ ­

 

Currently, North Carolina’s outdated and burdensome CON laws discourage competition and drive up costs by forbidding health care providers from performing many medical services, building new facilities, or even buying or replacing their own equipment without approval from state regulators. The laws are among the most restrictive in the entire country, regulating dozens of services and procedures. And studies have pointed to CON restrictions leading in part to thousands fewer patient beds in the state, along with fewer MRI machines and CT scanners.

 

CON is one more example of government overreach that may be well-intended, but in reality only serves to curb patient choices and drive up the already spiraling cost of health care. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues on eliminating barriers to competition created by CON, and making needed services more accessible at a lower cost for patients.

 

Responding to Superior Court Panel Ruling

 

For months Gov. Cooper has tied the Senate’s constitutional and fair confirmation process up in court. But at the end of last week, a three-judge N.C. Superior Court panel upheld the Senate’s right to hold confirmation hearings of Gov. Cooper’s cabinet secretaries.

It is encouraging the court recognized the plain language in our state’s constitution providing for a transparent confirmation process for unelected cabinet secretaries who control multi-billion dollar budgets and make decisions affecting millions of everyday North Carolinians.

However, in the same decision, the judges awarded Gov. Cooper – who has made several ethically questionable decisions recently – total control of the ethics oversight of elected officials, instead of upholding a bipartisan board that North Carolinians can trust to settle ethics decisions and election outcomes fairly. A decision on whether to seek additional remedies through the court system or the legislative process will be made following further review of the court’s order.

As always, please feel free to contact my office at any time with your concerns or questions.

Thank you for the opportunity to continue representing you in the North Carolina Senate.

Best regards,

Senator Ralph Hise

47th District

 

PRESS RELEASE

President Pro Tempore

Senator Phil Berger

 

919-733-5708

2007 Legislative Building

Raleigh, N.C. 27601

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts: Amy Auth, 919-301-1737

March 16, 2017

Response to Governor’s Veto

Raleigh, N.C. – Senate Leader Phil Berger’s office responded Thursday to the governor’s veto of legislation that would restore partisan elections for local judicial races, helping ensure North Carolina voters have more information about the candidates they elect.

The following is a statement from Amy Auth, a spokeswoman for Sen. Berger:

“If the governor believes ‘partisan politics has no place on the judges’ bench,’ he should stop suing the legislature when he loses political battles.

 “In the 2016 election, almost 800,000 fewer North Carolinians voted in the Supreme Court race than in the presidential race because they did not have enough information about the judicial candidates. Surely, Gov. Cooper does not wish to suppress voter turnout in our judicial races.”

 

Senator Ralph Hise Legislative Update


47th District, North Carolina Senate

312 Legislative Office Building, Raleigh, NC 27603-5925
Phone: 919.733.3460 E-Mail: Ralph.Hise@ncleg.net

Volume 7, Issue 6                                                March 10, 2017

 

 

Confirming Larry Hall as Secretary of Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

 I told you last week that the Senate Commerce and Nominations committees unanimously voted to recommend confirmation for former Rep. Larry Hall as Secretary of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, following a thorough and transparent hearing process where senators evaluated his qualifications, possible conflicts of interest and willingness to follow the law.

On Monday evening, the North Carolina Senate unanimously confirmed Secretary Hall.

North Carolina is a proud military state, with the third-largest active duty and reserve population in America and many highly-respected veterans who have chosen to make this state their permanent home. The Secretary of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is a very important role, and we appreciate Secretary Hall’s participation in the confirmation process and pledge to continue serving honorably, just as he did in his years of military service.

 

Giving Voters More Information by Restoring Partisan Elections for Local Judicial Races

 Also on Monday, the Senate passed legislation that would restore partisan elections for local judicial races, helping ensure North Carolina voters have more information about the candidates they elect.

The bill would bring the election process for Superior and District Court judges in line with the process that is already in place for state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals justices, beginning with the 2018 election cycle. It would also return to the system that was in place for decades prior to the late 1990s and early 2000s, before previous legislatures changed it to prevent voters from using party affiliation to elect judges with a conservative, strict constructionist approach to the constitution.

News reports have highlighted the problems with the current system, which disadvantages voters selecting candidates in lower profile races where there is little information, in some instances leaving them to make a choice based on name ID and ballot order alone. Voter participation in judicial contests that lack partisan identification is significantly lower than that in other elections.

Judges have the power to make decisions that impact millions of North Carolinians, and voters deserve to know where they stand on the important issues facing our state. That’s why this bill restores a commonsense and straightforward partisan election system that lets voters know who shares their views on the proper role of the judiciary.

 

Holding Cooper Accountable for Defying Court Order

 You might remember that in December, the General Assembly replaced the separate state Board of Elections and Ethics Commission with a combined bipartisan board to streamline and perform both functions. Gov. Cooper sued to block the combined board from going into operation – and now, as a result of his lawsuit, it appears the state does not have an Ethics Commission or Board of Elections at this time. However, all state ethics and campaign finance laws remain in place.

So a week after he illegally and unethically attempted to withdraw North Carolina’s voter ID case from the U.S. Supreme Court, and on the same day he appointed a former convicted felon to lead the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, Gov. Roy Cooper has brazenly defied a court order by attempting to name a chair of the State Ethics Commission that no longer exists.

Gov. Cooper’s repeated unethical actions make clear why he sued to block the new bipartisan board that would have replaced it and is attempting to maintain total control of ethics oversight of elected officials.

 

As always, please feel free to contact my office at any time with your concerns or questions.

Thank you for the opportunity to continue representing you in the North Carolina Senate.

Best regards,

Senator Ralph Hise

47th District

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 21, 2016

 

Berger Statement on NBA All-Star Game

 

Raleigh, N.C. – North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) issued the following statement Thursday regarding the NBA’s decision on the 2017 All-Star game:

“The need for HB2 became crystal clear earlier this month, just steps away from the NBA arena in Charlotte, when a grown man engaged in sexual activity in a women’s public bathroom – which, if Jennifer Roberts and Roy Cooper had their way, he could have argued was legal by simply claiming he felt like being in the women’s bathroom.Lawmakers had several positive conversations with the NBA attempting to find common ground while keeping grown men out of bathrooms and shower facilities with women and young girls, but unfortunately the NBA withdrew from those discussions. Ultimately, the suggestion that state leaders should abandon our moral obligation to protect our constituents in order to keep one exhibition basketball game is absurd and shows a clear contrast in values.”

 

5-13-2016

N.C. Fights Back Against Obama DOJ Argument that Men Have a ‘Right’ to Use the Women’s Bathroom

 

This week has been filled with more unconstitutional and overreaching attempts by President Obama’s administration to let men into women’s restrooms and force boys and girls to share the same bathrooms and locker rooms in our schools.

 

You may remember that last week, the U.S. Department of Justice threatened to withhold federal funding for North Carolina’s public schools, roads and other programs based on its radical reinterpretation of longstanding federal law, including Title IX. This would penalize all North Carolina citizens who pay federal taxes and have a major negative impact on the state budget. And it would have far-reaching consequences and costs, since it would not only apply to the state government of North Carolina, but most private employers in the state.

 

It’s unacceptable for the Obama administration to try to intimidate North Carolinians into accepting their twisting of a law meant to protect women from discrimination into a law that would actually deny women their right to basic safety and privacy. So on Monday, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore filed a lawsuit in the federal Eastern District of North Carolina, asking the court to uphold our state’s commonsense law to maintain sex-specific restrooms. What President Obama’s attorneys are arguing has never been written into law by Congress or settled in the courts, and that is why we are seeking clarity from the judicial branch.

 

Later in the week, a group of North Carolina students and families also sued to stop the Obama Justice Department from withholding federal education dollars from our state. I applaud these parents and students for rejecting the far-fetched argument that school-aged boys and girls ought to share the same bathrooms and locker rooms as a condition of receiving their federal education funding – and instead standing up for their right to privacy and safety in our schools.

 

Additionally, Republican members of North Carolina’s U.S. House delegation wrote to the U.S. Department of Education to make clear that any attempt to withhold federal funding is without legal merit and would be an unprecedented overreach by the federal government. We appreciate their leadership on this issue, and in response, the Obama administration admitted what we have said all along — that their threat to deny funding and bully North Carolinians into accepting their radical argument would have to be settled in court.

 

White House Attempts to Force Boys and Girls to Share Bathrooms, Locker Rooms in Schools Nationwide

 

Unfortunately, today President Obama attempted to force this same radical agenda on the entire country, issuing a directive to public schools across the United States that they make school-aged boys and girls share bathrooms and locker rooms.

 

Senator Berger summed up the issue well. “The last time I checked, the United States is not ruled by a king who can bypass Congress and the courts and force school-aged boys and girls to share the same bathrooms and locker rooms. This is an egregiously unconstitutional overreach of the president’s authority, and North Carolina’s public schools should follow state law which protects our children’s safety and privacy.”

 

As always, please feel free to contact my office at any time with your concerns or questions.

Thank you for the opportunity to continue representing you in the North Carolina Senate.

Best regards,

Senator Ralph Hise

47th District

Press Release

Governor McCrory Appoints Baker

to North Carolina State Board of Elections

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                             919-814-2100

Friday, August 14, 2015                                                                        govpress@nc.gov

Raleigh, N.C. — Governor Pat McCrory announced today that he has appointed James L. Baker to the North Carolina State Board of Elections. Baker is a former Superior Court Judge and a member of the Madison County Board of Commissioners.

Baker served as Superior Court Judge in the 24th Judicial District from 1994 through 2010.  In 2012 he was elected to the Madison County Commission. He has also served as an Assistant District Attorney and as the Acting Madison County Manager and was appointed to serve as Vice Chairman of the North Carolina Innocence Commission.

Baker and his wife live in Marshall, N.C. They have two daughters.

PRESS ADVISORY

Paul “Skip” Stam

Tel:  (919) 362-8873 – work/(919) 362-4835-home

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            February 19, 2015

 

Revenue Shortfall??

 

RALEIGH – We read numerous editorials decrying the revenue “shortfall” this year. This is always coupled with complaints about particular tax rate cuts from the historic 2013 tax reform. But there is no “shortfall” in revenue.

 

The cautious conservative “consensus” revenue forecast for the general fund for FY 2014 -15 is $20,730,100,000. This is $586,400,000 more than the revenue collected in FY 2013-14 – $20,143,700,000 – a 2.9% increase. For that same time period the inflation plus population growth estimated by fiscal staff is between 2.8% and 3.0%. In other words, after controlling for population and inflation, we are likely to have just as much revenue in 2014-15 as we did in 2013-14.

 

There is no revenue shortfall. There is a shortfall only of expectations on the part of those who want to grow state government.

 

Please bear these figures in mind as you report the news.

Consensus Revenue Report February 2015

TRANSCRIPT
2015 State of the State Address
(Remarks As Prepared For Delivery)

Mr. Speaker, Lt. Governor, Mr. President Pro Tem, Members of the Court, Members of the General Assembly, Members of the Council of State and my Cabinet, and to the people of the great State of North Carolina…

Two years ago, just before arriving to deliver the State of the State address, I received a phone call informing me that Highway Patrol Trooper Michael Potts was fighting for his life. You see, during a routine traffic stop on Highway 70, Trooper Potts was shot four times. He was shot in his hands, shoulder and directly in his face. He was left for dead by the assailant; left for dead on the side of the road. After the State of the State speech I immediately traveled to Duke University Medical Center to visit Trooper Potts, his family and fellow troopers who gathered at his bedside. The terror of that evening was only the first day of suffering Trooper Potts and his family would endure. Since the shooting, there have been surgeries, grueling rehabilitative therapy and personal reassessment.

Some advised Trooper Potts to turn in his badge and to pursue a safer line of work. But Trooper Potts did not walk away. Instead, he overcame his obstacles and today, he is assigned to the North Carolina Highway Patrol Training Academy.

Ladies and Gentlemen, join me in welcoming North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper Michael Potts and his wife Lauren. I’m honored to call Trooper Potts a friend. We’ve played catch at the capitol, and that’s been a real thrill for me since Trooper Potts was a Major League pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers before joining the Highway Patrol. You know, Trooper Potts still carries bullet fragments in his skull. But instead of being defined by his injuries, he conquered them and has come back even stronger. Ladies and Gentlemen, like Trooper Potts, I’m proud to report the State of North Carolina has come back even stronger. Its people are resilient, and our future is bright.

Our unemployment rate, which was the fifth highest in the nation just two years ago, has dropped substantially – the second sharpest drop in the United States. Our economy is improving; cranes are returning to our skylines; and real estate is emerging stronger. And yes, the Made in North Carolina brand is returning as our factories are expanding. Along the way our administration took swift action in response to serious crises. From an Ebola scare, to the Dan River spill, to this year’s very serious flu virus.

We’ve also had to respond to extreme weather events throughout North Carolina: Heavy rains and flooding in Western North Carolina. A series of ice storms covering the whole state. Hurricane Arthur hit the Outer Banks, bringing flooding and knocking out the power to thousands. Nine tornadoes devastated parts of eastern North Carolina. In fact, while visiting many areas damaged by these horrific storms, I was moved by the sight of neighbor helping neighbor, and the professionalism of county and state emergency workers.

And at one tornado damaged area I was especially touched by the spirit of Winfall mayor Fred Yates. Many homes in the area were demolished. I saw firsthand the physical and psychological damage of those citizens impacted. It was overwhelming. But Mayor Yates told me his community would rebuild and get through this. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome a true leader in a crisis, Winfall Mayor Fred Yates.

You know, it’s that same spirit of resilience that helped North Carolina recover from our economic crisis. When I took the oath of office in January, 2013, North Carolina taxes were among the highest in the Southeast. But working together, we passed historic tax reform that put more money in people’s paycheck. It was the first major overhaul of our tax system in nearly 80 years. And two years ago, because of our badly outdated unemployment insurance system our businesses owed the federal government $2.5 billion. But drawing upon our resilience we reformed our unemployment program. We not only aligned our benefits with neighboring states, we also devised a plan to pay off our debt this year, a full 3 years ahead of schedule.

Now in North Carolina, not only do we balance our budget, but when we have a debt, we cut up the credit card and we pay it off. That’s a lesson those in Washington need to learn. I want to thank our Assistant Secretary of Employment Security Dale Folwell and Secretary John Skvarla’s Commerce team for being the driving force behind this effort. Today in North Carolina, we have career centers, not unemployment offices. Because as Dale often says, we want people off unemployment and into new jobs.

As I said, two years ago, our unemployment rate was the fifth highest in the nation. So we all rolled up our sleeves, made the tough decisions, and as of today, the private sector has created nearly 200,000 new jobs. We went from the 5th highest in unemployment to the 23rd lowest, and now we’re even beating South Carolina. Despite this tremendous accomplishment there are still a lot of communities, small businesses, and individuals that are hurting, and there is still much work to be done. Therefore, my administration’s focus will be on five areas that have the greatest impact on our people.

First, ensuring everyone who wants a job can find a job in a vibrant North Carolina economy. Second, ensuring every child and adult obtains the skills and knowledge needed to become a productive citizen. Third, we will continue to connect North Carolina’s small towns with our state’s commerce centers through physical and digital highways. Fourth, improving the quality of life and public safety for North Carolina’s families. And fifth, finding efficiencies in our budget and improving government services. That’s jobs, education, connectivity, healthcare and public safety, as well as efficiency.

Let’s talk about jobs. As you know, the fight for jobs is global, played at the highest level, and the competition is on our heels. In California while visiting high-tech companies and venture capital firms, I ran into Governor John Kasich of Ohio. I know he wasn’t there to tour the wine country, and neither was I. Just a few weeks ago while on an economic development trip in Europe, other governors preceded me, and I know, followed me after I visited a major company. The governors I’m competing against are good friends, and often neighbors. Like North Carolina, they have cut taxes, invested in education and built good roads. What they have that I don’t is a clear and concise job creation toolbox.

Therefore, working with the leadership of the House and Senate, we will submit for your approval, a series of tools which will help us beat the competition. We need these tools passed in a matter of weeks, not months. Our plan, “NC Competes,” will promote long-term sustainable job growth and capital investment. It will encourage mid and large scale manufacturing, because manufacturing is part of our DNA. It will leverage our university research advantage to attract venture capital and a new generation of entrepreneurs, as well as help retain North Carolina’s home-grown talent. This plan is based on a series of guiding principles – principles designed to grow North Carolina while protecting our taxpayers. NC Competes recognizes the importance of economic strength in all regions but emphasizes support to areas of high unemployment. NC Competes will require strong financial safeguards to provide a positive return to state revenues.

In addition to NC Competes, we need to pass the Historic Preservation Tax Credit to continue to revitalize main streets from Wilkesboro, to Greensboro, to Swansboro. Secretary Susan Kluttz reminds us that the vitality of our state is best reflected by the vibrancy of our town centers. Last week at the Hotel Concord I was joined by Senator Fletcher Hartsell and Representative Linda Johnson, along with 200 citizens, and was reminded of the success and opportunity this initiative provides our state. Now is not the time to pull the plug on a strategy that has created jobs and new investment.

Two years ago when I stood before you, I said North Carolina had to get off the sidelines and into the energy business. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to report that North Carolina is off the bench and in the game. And we have a new quarterback, Secretary Don van der Vaart. To keep energy prices low, particularly in Eastern North Carolina, we’re supporting the construction of a$ 5-billion natural gas pipeline that will run from West Virginia throughout Eastern North Carolina. This year, we will begin to assess North Carolina’s energy potential both on land and offshore. We are right now working with our congressional delegation to ensure North Carolina gets energy revenue that will help pay for teachers, roads, beach re-nourishment and the dredging of our ports.

While encouraging these new investments, we must not forget that small business is the largest job creating sector of our economy. We must also remember that agriculture is North Carolina’s biggest industry…contributing more than $78 billion a year to our economy. We must continue to look for new ways to help our farmers who are facing increased competition from around the world and here at home. One area that continues to be a challenge to our growers is the shortage of food processing facilities in North Carolina. Our farmers have to send their products to other states, which substantially increases their costs.

So working with Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, we will name a task force of farmers, business leaders and venture capitalists to assess the need and develop a strategy for attracting more food processing plants across the state. This group will convene, recommend a plan and disband by March 2016. One key to our economy which affects agriculture and other industries is our State Ports. But as I address you tonight, we have an urgent problem at the Port of Morehead City. The Beaufort Inlet channel has an authorized depth of 45 feet.

But during the past few months, shifting sands have reduced the depth to 34 feet, forcing many ships to enter the port half empty. Or in some cases they split their loads between Morehead City and another port. We have been working closely with our Congressional delegation and the Army Corps of Engineers. And I am pleased to announce that our efforts have paid off. The Corps just added $4.1 million to this year’s dredging budget…bringing the total to $8.9 million in federal dollars dedicated to this emergency. In addition, my administration stands ready to commit state dollars as needed to keep this crucial commercial artery open for business. I especially want to thank Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata and our entire congressional delegation, led by Senator Richard Burr, who has been working on this problem around the clock.

Let’s talk about my second area of focus – education. A key part of any jobs plan is a quality education so students can be competitive in a global economy. Connecting his students to the greater world is the mission of Garinger High School history teacher James Ford. Ford, once an Illinois teacher, chose North Carolina to continue his career and fulfill his teaching potential. Not only did he become North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year, but Charlotte Magazine’s Person of the Year, beating out business and civic leaders. Now that’s the type of respect teachers deserve. Ladies and Gentlemen, help me welcome a member of my Teacher’s Advisory Committee, Mr. James Ford.

Because of teachers like James Ford, we have some good news to report. Our most recent graduation rate is the highest in North Carolina’s history. With continued investments in Pre-K and continued reforms, such as NCWorks, in job training at our community colleges, we can expect to see even higher graduation rates, and more people filling the skills gap in North Carolina. Still, we have to build an education system that rewards teachers like James Ford for their results-driven leadership. So that North Carolina is a teaching destination, not a layover for our state’s best and brightest. Teaching is hard, very hard. I know this firsthand. As a 20 year old student-teacher at North Rowan High School in Spenser, I thought I had the perfect lesson plan for my first day of teaching. I worked for days preparing an hour’s worth of teaching material. But I ran out of material after 10 minutes. With my advisor and all 30 students looking to me for direction, the remaining 50 minutes were the longest of my life. Teaching is hard, so to support our teachers, we must: Fulfill our promise to raise teacher base pay to $35,000 a year.

We also must give our teachers and students the gift of time by testing less and teaching more. My administration is finalizing a plan to reduce tests working with Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, State Superintendent June Atkinson, State School Board Chair Bill Cobey, as well as our district superintendents, principals and teachers, to distinguish which tests improve a student’s performance and which tests simply waste time. We will eliminate unneeded testing by next year. We are continuing our efforts to bring Wi-Fi to all our classrooms and long distance learning to both our children and adults.

To help our schools hire the teachers they need now, we are moving to expedite teacher certification, recognizing an individual’s experience and subject expertise. For example, my education advisor Eric Guckian taught for two years in the South Bronx for Teach For America and has a master’s degree in education from Harvard. Yet, he was required to take 18 months of courses to earn his North Carolina teacher certification. This bureaucratic process must change. We want, and should be encouraging, accomplished people who want to join the teaching profession. The bureaucracy should never, never, stand between their talents and our children.

Cost must also not become an obstacle for students at our community colleges and universities. We must look at our community college and university balance sheets to make sure we’re making investments in the programs that will prepare our students for the global economy and close North Carolina’s skills gap. Now, we in North Carolina are fortunate to enjoy the benefits of the best research universities in the world.

We are leveraging the advantage provided by our public and private research universities through our Innovation to Jobs initiative that we just presented to the UNC Board of Governors. It’s designed to convert more of our research dollars into products and services that are patented and introduced into the marketplace. Increasing the commercialization of university research and connecting it to our greater economy will create more high-paying jobs. As governor, my goal is to have North Carolina become the third vertex of the National Innovation Triangle connecting North Carolina to Boston and the Silicon Valley. This effort is a top priority. Therefore I’ve asked my Chief of Staff Thomas Stith to lead this Innovation to Jobs initiative.

Let’s talk about our third focus: Transportation and Infrastructure. During the past decade or so, as I have driven down the highways of North Carolina, I’ve noticed it goes from 2 lanes, to 4 lanes, back to 2 lanes, to 8 lanes to 4 lanes and then back to 2 lanes. And everywhere it gets wider it’s named for a politician or a DOT board member. And where the congestion choke points still exist…the road is nameless. That’s not the way we do things anymore. We’ve taken the politics out of road-building by putting in place a transportation formula that focuses on relieving congestion, improving safety and growing and connecting the economy in all parts of our state. Those changes allow us to be more efficient with taxpayer dollars. In fact, we’ve more than doubled the number of transportation projects that will be built. This new approach will create thousands of new jobs during the next 10 years.

Our 25-year transportation vision connects small towns to economic centers. These connections will make it easier for people to travel to jobs, schools, hospitals and parks. Our 25-year plan also recognizes that even with the new formula, we can only build one out of five projects, and counties and cities tell us they need more.

Therefore, I will request a transportation bond of $1.2 billion that will allow for the quicker construction of projects in the 25-year vision plan. Projects funded through a revenue bond would be the next projects in line, scored under the Mobility Formula, with environmental documents in place so we can begin these projects immediately. Here are a few examples of what we can achieve with the Mobility Formula. This proposed bond as part of our 25-year vision. For our coastal counties we’ll make it easier for the military to move troops and equipment during deployments while helping transport goods at our ports. It will relieve congestion during the busy tourist season and improve emergency evacuation routes.

In the east, we’ll connect eastern North Carolina to the Hampton Roads region in Virginia. In the central part of the state, we’ll focus on relieving interstate congestion bottlenecks and easing the flow of freight. And in the west, we’ll connect the mountains to the coast by improving the flow of traffic from Wilmington to Asheville. Additionally, I will support your efforts to protect and stabilize our existing transportation revenue streams while also looking at funding reform and alternatives for our future transportation and infrastructure needs.

We must also turn our attention to the condition and inefficiency of our state buildings. One of my first clues of the disrepair many of our state properties are in occurred when Ann and I walked up to the 1840 State Capitol for my swearing in. We noticed the two fountains in front of the capitol were broken and filled with trash and dirty water. They looked terrible. I asked why they were in such disrepair. I was told, “I don’t know, they’ve been that way for 5 years.” We can no longer afford a culture of neglect and apathy. Turns out all the fountains needed was a little routine maintenance to get the water flowing again. Now, on any day, you can see people having lunch, reading a book or simply enjoying the day next to those beautiful, historic fountains. Like those fountains two years ago, many of our state buildings are suffering from the lack of maintenance. Too many of our buildings are obsolete with broken HVAC units, inadequate insulation, which cost taxpayers a fortune to operate.

At Dorothea Dix, for example, North Carolina taxpayers spend approximately $8.5 million a year to keep the complex operating. It’s fantastic that our capitol city is gaining land for a destination park, and the maintenance costs of the Dix complex will finally go off the state’s books. Even better news is that we’ll get $52 million directed toward supporting mental health and the well-being of our citizens.

We have structures all across the state that are a blight to North Carolina’s main streets. They have asbestos insulation, broken elevators, leaky roofs…We’re forced to rent office space in towns where we have buildings that are about half-empty because of the deteriorated shape they’re in. And we have many building that taxpayers are paying for that are essentially being used for storage – very expensive storage. Therefore, I will submit to the General Assembly a $1.2 to $1.4 billion general bond proposal for Project Phoenix. It will revitalize buildings that can be saved, tear down those that can’t and build new, workable and efficient facilities that will be points of pride, and help build economic development opportunities for their communities.

Last session, funds were appropriated to gut the Albemarle Building, which is replete with soiled carpets, broken tables and stained ceiling tiles. And of course, you have done a magnificent job refurbishing this Legislative chamber. Now, let’s do the same for other buildings throughout the state. These renovations will boost employee morale, improve safety and increase productivity, while saving the taxpayer’s money.

Additionally, this is an excellent time for these bonds. Interest rates are historically low. And we have the financial capacity to invest and maintain our physical infrastructure. Two years ago, I tasked Secretary Tata to make the DMV more customer-friendly. Back then, people waited in line for hours only to learn that they were in the wrong line. Going to the DMV took so long folks had to take time off from work.

Our DOT leadership team immediately went to work transforming the DMV into an example of excellent customer service by: Opening some offices on Saturday and extending hours during the week. Today, 9 million residents are within a 30-minute drive of a DMV office with extended hours. We will soon be installing self-service kiosks for renewal and/or replacement of driver licenses or ID cards. License plate agencies across the state now accept credit and debit cards, and later this year, DMV offices will too. Most importantly, the DMV now has a culture that treats people like customers.

And the fourth focus will be healthcare. Our customer-first philosophy must translate into a “Patients First” philosophy for healthcare, as well. We hear from patients that health care is too hard to navigate. Imagine a hardworking, low-income mother juggling kids, a job, running the household and trying to keep her family healthy. What if that mom could rely on one visit to coordinate the care she needs, whether it’s treatment for an ear ache for a child; an orthopedist to set a broken ankle; or a plan to keep her high blood pressure under control.

Our reform plan – under our Healthy NC initiative – was developed in partnership with doctors, patients and healthcare providers across the state. It was formulated under the leadership of Secretary Aldona Wos, who’s also a medical doctor. She went out into North Carolina communities large and small talking to the people on the frontlines of our health care system. This is physician-led reform. As part of this plan healthcare providers will share in the responsibility for reducing costs by avoiding unnecessary use of services and working to keep people healthy and out of the emergency room.

Our Healthy NC reform plan puts patients first and controls costs for taxpayers…and incentivizes health care providers to coordinate care. North Carolina’s health care community has a long history of solving problems. Let’s empower them to keep us healthy, and continue to make North Carolina an excellent place to practice medicine and produce new discoveries in treatment.

Now last session, we came close to passing Medicaid reform, but progress stalled on the 1- yard-line. Let’s not take another pass this year. Let’s run it up the middle and win a victory for families across North Carolina. As we review continue to review health care options for the uninsured, we are exploring North Carolina-based options that will help those who can’t help themselves, and encourage those who can. If we bring a proposal to cover the uninsured, it will protect North Carolina taxpayers. And any plan will require personal and financial responsibility from those who would be covered. I will only recommend a North Carolina – not a Washington – plan, so that we can put patients first!

Now an issue of critical importance to our young people: underage drinking and addiction. That’s why we have launched a powerful campaign called “Let’s Talk It Out” to start the conversation to stop underage drinking. I hope you’ve seen those poignant television ads! This campaign is being led by one our state’s great leaders, former Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner. Please join me in thanking Jim Gardner.

Providing for the public safety for all of our citizens is our sacred duty. The Department of Public Safety under Secretary Frank Perry and S.B.I Director B.W. Collier are implementing new, intelligence based initiatives designed to prevent crime before it happens. In North Carolina, not only are we fighting drugs and gangs on our streets, we’re also fighting gangs in our prisons. Corrections officers are confronting the most violent people in our state every minute of their day. Some live under death threats, not only to them, but to their family. Working in this environment comes at a price.

On average, a North Carolina corrections officer was assaulted every 11 hours during 2014. Some were sexual assaults; nearly 300 involved weapons. Retention is a constant challenge. We will be submitting specific proposals. Not only to fight gangs and drugs, but to help our corrections officers who may have the most difficult job in North Carolina.

We also have an obligation to those who risked their lives defending our freedoms. In just two years, our administration has launched successful veteran initiatives including converting military training into college credit or professional licenses, giving credit for military experience when veterans serve as educators, creating driver’s licenses that identify veterans, and working to support a new Veterans Life Center in Butner.

But for some veterans, the transition to civilian life has been difficult. They’ve had problems with addiction, homelessness, getting a job, and struggling with mental health issues.

In 2013, we established a Veterans Treatment Court to help troubled veterans. The court has been an unqualified success. Therefore, working with our judicial leaders, our goal is to establish two more Veterans Treatment Courts in North Carolina to give our veterans a second chance to come home.

In addition to these issues, we will have budget and legislative recommendations to help support our correctional officers, to provide resources for the western crime lab, to protect our pets from abuse in puppy mills, to fight drugs and gangs, to improve mental health, and to prevent addiction just to name a few.

All of our challenges and opportunities require money and resources. Like last session, money will be tight. Department of Revenue Secretary Lyons Gray is updating me every week on the revenue that’s coming in. Every dollar counts because much of our spending is already obligated even before we sit down to write a new budget. State worker pensions and healthcare costs for current and retired state employees alone account for nearly 22 percent of our spending.

So here’s what we’re going to do to find continued savings in our current operations.
Workers compensation claims have cost North Carolina taxpayers $896 million during the past six years. That’s about $150 million annually, which would have paid for a 2 percent pay raise for state employees…every year.

We all want to pay legitimate claims and give injured employees the best medical care we can. More importantly, under the excellent leadership of Office of State Human Resources Director Neal Alexander, we are increasing worker safety training – not only to reduce worker accidents—but prevent them in the first place.

Our examination of workers compensation estimates that 40 percent of workers costs are related to abuse or outright fraud.

To take hold of costs and to get people back to work sooner, I am signing and submitting an executive order placing the oversight of workers’ compensation under the Office of State Human Resources.

One of our first priorities will be to responsibly settle cases that are over 5 years old, an action that could save taxpayers up to $17 million over the next two years. And we will launch a major effort to stop fraud and abuse…dead in its tracks.

Many of you are familiar with our NCGEAR efficiency program. And by the way, I want commend our new budget director Lee Roberts for the outstanding job he’s doing with NC Gear. Based on some of the NC Gear findings, I will take additional actions to streamline our operations, not only because they save money, but because they make sense.

For instance, the North Carolina Zoo and state aquariums, museums and our state parks will move from the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources to the department that manages attractions as part of its mission, Cultural Resources.
Over the years, the Department of Administration has become a home for various divisions and agencies. We will begin to transfer a number of these agencies from the Department of Administration to areas where they are better aligned.

Now one area where we’ve found a lot of inefficiency, a lot of inefficiency, is in information technology. What we’ve found is that the piecemeal approach we’ve taken during the past decade to information technology has had disastrous results. 74% of the State’s IT projects have come in over budget and behind schedule.
Who would hire anyone or a company with that track record?

We found that the state has 40 data centers with over 1,000 different computer systems. That’s hardly an example of efficiency. We discovered that obvious opportunities to pool the purchasing power of several agencies are often bypassed.
My administration is going to insert accountability into out IT operations by proposing a new cabinet-level Department of Information Technology. The IT professionals throughout the Cabinet agencies and departments of the Executive Branch will report to the new department. However, they will remain housed with their secretaries to provide in-house expertise and service.

I want to thank my Chief Information Officer Chris Estes for doing the groundbreaking work on getting the new department and efficiencies launched.

At a time when so many servicemen and women are coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq through North Carolina, we must have an efficient and well-coordinated process in place to meet the needs of active duty personnel and veterans. These services are scattered across many areas of state government with no accountability, causing delay, frustration, and poor customer service.

Thanks to the Marine-Corps dedication of my Veterans Affairs Director Ilario Pantano and the leadership of Department of Administration Secretary Bill Daughtridge, we have made tremendous improvements serving our state’s veterans.

But we are going to do more to strengthen our Veteran Affairs and the Office of my Military Advisor. I am proposing the creation of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. This department will be responsible for, protecting and fighting our military bases, promoting the health and safety of our veterans and military families, helping our veterans get jobs, and working with the unique needs of base communities. I have asked my military affairs advisor, Gen. Cornell Wilson, to spearhead this new initiative.

The military also has a special place in the heart of my wife Ann McCrory. She has hosted numerous events for military families at the Executive Mansion, outside of the cameras. Her knowledge of the sacrifice made by our military families comes naturally. She was born on a military base, and her father, Colonel William “Flash” Gordon, was a P-47 Army Air Corps pilot in World War II.

This evening, we are very fortunate to have in attendance some of the leaders of the more than 100,000 men and women serving their nation at throughout North Carolina.

However, I want to give a special welcome to Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson, Commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg. And until December, he was a deputy commanding general in Afghanistan.

During his deployment, he honored North Carolina by displaying this flag, which has flown over our own state capitol at the Kabul International Airport where it was photographed with diplomats from the 48 countries that comprised the international coalition.

General Anderson brought this flag b ack home. In fact, he wrote a little note on the back. General Anderson brought our flag home and he brought our troops home. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson. My vision for North Carolina is to have the best of everything. Think about it, we have beautiful mountains, big city skylines and we have the best beaches in the nation. But it’s more than that. We must have both big city opportunities and small town quality of life choices from the mountains to the coast. We have the best of both Mayberry and metropolis. When we unleash our resources in education, transportation, energy and technology, and commit to greater government efficiency and affordability, our state will be second to none. We will be the role model for the nation, not only for today but for future generations.

To continue our momentum of success, we must be innovative while maintaining the basic values that make our state great. We must continue to cultivate a culture that encourages building, growing, producing and inventing things. And we’re protecting our environment to preserve the natural beauty that draws visitors from around the world to our attractions and state park system, which this year is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

As my father often said when he was a city councilman in Ohio and later, a civic leader in Greensboro: “We must walk the fine line between our continued economic prosperity while also protecting the quality of life that brought us here.” I have no doubt the people of North Carolina can live up to that challenge. We are resilient, strong, diverse, strategic, and we have already proven that we can deal with crises.

As we have grown to become the 9th most populous state in the nation, let’s continue together to fulfill our potential, and create opportunity for all of North Carolina. So I ask you to join me and let us together achieve the best for everyone, everywhere. May God continue to bless the people of North Carolina.

Press Release

Governor McCrory Statement on 

November Unemployment Rate

Rate drops to national average of 5.8%

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                               919-814-2100

Friday, December 19, 2014                                                                    govpress@nc.gov

 

Raleigh, NC –  Governor Pat McCrory released the following statement after North Carolina’s unemployment rate decreased to 5.8% in November, adding nearly 10,000 jobs over the month and 176,000 since the governor took office:

 

“North Carolina’s economy keeps getting stronger with each month that passes,” said Governor McCrory. “We have seen 176,000 jobs added since I entered office and a three-point drop in the unemployment rate, but there is still a lot of work to be done. I look forward to the upcoming year and continuing to pursue policies that set North Carolina up for success.”

 

The unemployment rate dropped to 5.8% for the first time since May of 2008. The number of people employed increased by 9,964 over the month and 31,498 over the year. Since Governor McCrory took office, the number of people employed has increased by 176,000.

Press Release

Governor McCrory Announces

Superior Court Judicial Appointment

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                919-814-2100

Thursday, December 4, 2014                                             govpress@nc.gov

 

Raleigh, N.C. –  Governor Pat McCrory has appointed Chief District Court Judge R. Gregory Horne to the Superior Court vacancy created by the upcoming retirement of Senior Resident Superior Court Judge C. Philip Ginn in Superior Court District 24. Judge Ginn will retire December 31. The 24th District covers Madison, Yancey, Mitchell, Avery and Watauga counties.

 

“Judge Horne has spent most of his legal career in public service, first as an assistant district attorney, and for the past 10 years, as a district court judge,” Governor McCrory said. “His dedication, professionalism and thorough knowledge of North Carolina law will make him a tremendous asset to the Superior Court bench.”

 

Former Chief Justice Sarah Parker named Judge Horne Chief District Court Judge for the 24th District in April 2014. Prior to becoming the Chief Judge, he had served as a district court judge since 2004. He was an assistant district attorney in the 24th District for four years before leaving to join the private sector, working as an attorney with the Law Offices of Kelly Johnson and before that, the Law Offices of Jim Deal.

A Message from Lt. Governor Dan Forest (10/22/14)

If you’ve been paying attention to the media, you’ve been told numerous times from opponents of North Carolina’s Marriage Amendment that the fight is over, and that they have won. That is not the case. The following is a realistic scenario that could lead to a constitutional showdown between the state and federal systems as to which court, outside the Supreme Court of the United States, has the legal authority to rule on North Carolina’s marriage amendment.

Last week, the Administrative Office of the Courts directed magistrates that they could not refuse to perform a same-sex marriage, no matter what the reason, including their personal moral and religious objections. This directive informed them that failure to comply could result in removal from office and criminal penalties. In response, our state needs but one magistrate to legally challenge the edict sent down from the Administrative Office of the Courts on two grounds.

The first ground is that the memorandum directs him to violate his religious conscience, thereby violating his right to religious freedom preserved by the North Carolina and United States Constitutions. In particular, the North Carolina Constitution provides that “all persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.”  The second ground is to assert that the memo directs him to contravene the North Carolina Constitution by performing a ceremony that is not recognized by law, and is in fact, prohibited by the marriage amendment. You may wonder how that is possible after Judge Cogburn’s ruling purporting to strike down our amendment. That is one of the beauties of federalism. As succinctly stated by North Carolina’s Supreme Court in the case of State v. McDowell: “A state court should exercise and apply its own independent judgment, treating, of course, decisions of the United States Supreme Court as binding and according to decisions of lower federal courts such persuasiveness as these decisions might reasonably command.” North Carolina case law is clear. Decisions of the Fourth Circuit and federal district courts, while persuasive, are not binding on state courts.  Should this case reach the Supreme Court of North Carolina, a vote by our honorable justices exercising their own independent judgment to uphold the amendment overwhelmingly approved by the people would set up the very real possibility that the United States Supreme Court would hear arguments, having a split on the issue between a state court and the Fourth Circuit.  The constitutional showdown is a very real possibility. Supporters of marriage should not lose heart. The voice of the people will be heard. –Lt. Governor Dan Forest     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, September 25, 2014 Josh Lawson (919) 675-3249 joshua.lawson@ncsbe.gov

Press Release

Governor McCrory Announces District Attorney, Judicial Appointees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                             919-814-2100

Tuesday, June 10, 2014                                                              Raleigh, N.C. –  Governor Pat McCrory announced the following appointments today:

  • Robert Seth Banks (Yancey County) Banks has been appointed District Attorney in the 24th Prosecutorial District. He is an attorney with Banks & Bailey, P.A., practicing civil and general litigation. Banks won the Republican primary for the district attorney position on May 6th and faces no opposition in the general election.  He will finish out the term of District Attorney Jerry Wilson, who resigned effective April 1, 2014. Former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr held the office briefly from April 7, 2014 to June 4, 2014.  
  • Hal Gene Harrison (Mitchell County) –  Harrison has been appointed District Court Judge in the 24th Judicial District. He is a partner at Harrison & Poore, P.A., practicing criminal and civil litigation. He is a former Resident Superior Court Judge in the 24th District. Harrison will replace Judge Alexander Lyerly, who resigned April 1, 2014. 

 

Press Release

State Leaders Announce Plan to Raise Starting Teacher Pay  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                         919-814-2100 Monday, February 10, 2014                                                             Raleigh, N.C. – Governor Pat McCrory, Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis announced on Monday a unified strategy to make North Carolina’s starting teacher salaries among the highest in the Southeast. This is the first step in their shared commitment to improve teacher and state employee salaries.   There’s no greater investment we can make than in preparing our kids for the future, and there’s no question that high-quality teachers lead to better student achievement,” said McCrory, Forest, Berger and Tillis in a joint statement. “That’s why we are committed to boosting starting teacher pay to $35,000 over the next two years.”   Making North Carolina a regional leader and nationally competitive will help us attract the very best talent to our schools and brand our state as a teaching destination, not a layover.”   The new plan, unveiled to teachers and students at Ragsdale High School, will increase starting teacher pay by $2,200 this year and by an additional $2,000 the following year. Funding for the proposed raises will come from additional and available revenues and will not require a tax increase.   Historically, North Carolina’s starting teacher pay has been noncompetitive. Under this new plan, teachers just beginning their careers will receive a more than 13 percent raise over the next two years, with starting salaries moving from the current base rate of $30,800 to $35,000.   I am pleased to see our state’s leaders come together, focus on finding solutions and commit to reversing the long-time trend of noncompetitive salaries in the teaching profession,” said Liz Jones, an eighth grade science teacher and department chair at Roland Grise Middle School in New Hanover County. “This step will greatly improve our ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest to educate our students.”   The four state leaders also responded to feedback from educators by announcing plans to extend supplemental pay for teachers with master’s degrees to those who have completed coursework in a graduate program as of July 1, 2013.   State leaders intend to announce pay increases for more teachers and state employees as the revenue outlook becomes clearer and available.     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  February 10, 2014 Contact: Daniel Keylin Daniel.Keylin@ncgop.org (919) 828-6423

NCGOP Statement On Teacher Pay Increase & Hagan’s Opposition To The Plan

Raleigh, NC – Today, in response to the bold teacher pay increase proposal announced by Governor McCrory, Lt. Governor Dan Forest and General Assembly leaders, NCGOP Chairman Claude Pope issued the following statement: “For years, Democrats who controlled the Governor’s mansion and the General Assembly allowed teacher pay to stagnate and fall behind the rest of the country. Today, Governor McCrory and Republicans in the General Assembly have righted that wrong and have made it clear that improving the quality of public education and retaining our hardworking teachers is their top priority. “In a display of partisanship at its worst, Democrats including Kay Hagan oppose this plan to bring North Carolina’s starting teacher pay to the national average. “Democrats seem intent on refusing to compromise and oppose every commonsense solution that Governor McCrory and the General Assembly put forward. Republicans have been working diligently to clean up the mess created by the corruption and incompetence of the Easley and Perdue administrations, and today’s announcement is a clear indication that we’re on the right track and not looking back.” Paid For By The North Carolina Republican Party. Not Authorized By Any Candidate Or Candidate’s Committee.

  Press Release

Statement from Governor Pat McCrory on Latest Unemployment Numbers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   

Tuesday, January 28, 2014                                                            

Raleigh, N.C. – Governor Pat McCrory and Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker released the following statement after North Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped by 0.5 of a percentage point to 6.9 percent – the lowest rate in more than five years.    The trend of more people getting back to work in North Carolina is great news for our state,” said Governor McCrory. “We continue to see that our pro-growth and pro-jobs policies enacted over the last year are having a positive impact and getting people into jobs. While this is welcome news, we will remain focused on policies that will encourage job growth – not just for the short-term, but for the long-term to sustain the progress we have made.”   Secretary Decker added, “We’re encouraged to see these early signs of economic recovery, but we won’t rest until every North Carolinian who wants a job has one. The economic development plan approved last week lays the foundation for continuing this important work across the state.”

Press Release

Governor McCrory Outlines Next Chapter Of Carolina Comeback

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                       January 21, 2014

Raleigh, NC –  Governor Pat McCrory discussed new and ongoing initiatives to power the economy, improve education and increase state government efficiency in 2014 during a news conference Monday at the Executive Residence with his cabinet.   

Economy Increasing energy production, leveraging transportation connections and expanding the military’s presence in North Carolina are three initiatives the governor vowed to pursue to stimulate economic growth and job creation.    Powering the Economy: Energy Exploration Governor McCrory said North Carolina must increase production of the state’s energy resources. The governor personally requested a meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss seismic testing off North Carolina and other coastal states, a first step toward more offshore energy production. Governor McCrory will soon become chairman of the multi-state Governors’ Outer Continental Shelf Coalition, which advocates for more offshore energy exploration.   Renewable energy development also received the governor’s support, as well as the development of regulations that will allow for the safe, environmentally responsible exploration of inland natural gas and oil. Governor McCrory has tasked the newly reorganized Energy Policy Council, which includes Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary John Skvarla and Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker, to develop an inclusive, long-term energy plan for the state.   Governor’s Transportation Vision: Moving People, Moving Products  To keep people and products moving and the economy growing, Governor McCrory said Transportation Secretary Tony Tata will unveil a 25-year plan that will focus on leveraging transportation needs and assets, such as roads, rail, ports and airports. Additionally, Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Klutz will be in charge of “Art That Moves You,” a transportation beautification program that will promote tourism through the use of creative landscaping, artwork and lighting.   Promoting and Protecting Our Military Increasing the military’s $30 billion annual contribution to the state’s domestic product will be another major economic push in 2014. Last year, the governor signed legislation that protects military operations in North Carolina from encroachment. He and Military Advisor Cornell Wilson also met with senior Pentagon officials to discuss expanding defense contracting in North Carolina. The governor also tasked Wilson and Veterans Affairs Advisor Illario Pantano with increasing job and education opportunities for recently separated veterans so they make North Carolina their permanent home. The governor said the high-level training and discipline veterans receive during their military service greatly enhances the state’s labor pool.  

Education Funding Our Future: Investing in Education/Teacher Compensation The governor’s education plan would increase pay for K-12 teachers and boost starting pay to attract and keep talented teachers in the classroom. The plan would also reward highly productive teachers and those in high-demand subjects, such as mathematics and the sciences. Full details of the Results, Rewards, Respect plan will be unveiled in the coming weeks by Senior Education Advisor Eric Guckian, who has been working with lawmakers. Some elements of the plan will be introduced during the General Assembly’s upcoming session.       Collegiate Wellness Initiative Reducing substance abuse and underage drinking among college students is the aim of a new initiative headed by Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry and ABC Commission Chairman Jim Gardner. Underage drinking will be targeted through the enforcement of existing laws. To deal with substance abuse, the governor called for increased support of recovery programs.  

Efficiency Putting Patients First: Medicaid Reform Medicaid reform continues to be a top efficiency goal, not only to get costs under control, but to improve patient care. The governor wants Medicaid to treat the whole person, including mental health needs, and not just treat a patient’s physical symptoms. Since she took office, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos has gathered feedback from patients, doctors, nurses, hospital executives and lawmakers for a collaborative “Partnership For A Healthy North Carolina.”   Driving Change: DMV Modernization Increasing the customer friendliness and modernization of the Department of Motor Vehicles will continue in 2014. New business practices and the increased use of technology will build upon the gains realized in 2013. Last year, 19 driver license offices extended their evening and Saturday hours for customer convenience. Wait times in North Raleigh and Cary were reduced by adding greeters to direct customers to kiosks for walk-up service. Nick Tennyson, Department of Transportation chief deputy secretary of support, is leading this effort.   Rebuilding NC: State Capital Projects Work will continue in earnest to renovate, repair and rebuild state facilities to increase workplace safety, and where possible, appearance. The need is glaring. During the recent cold snap some work places in the Secretary of State’s Office could only be heated to 45 degrees. Secretary of Administration Bill Daughtridge Jr. and DENR Secretary John Skvarla are heading up this project.   NCGEAR: Too Big To Succeed The North Carolina Government Efficiency and Reform (NCGEAR) initiative is charged with performing a top-to-bottom review and analysis to see that state government is using tax dollars effectively. NCGEAR will tackle large issues, not trim around the edges, so that government agencies are not too big to succeed. State Budget Director Art Pope is leading the NCGEAR program to review policy, personnel and organization of state agencies.   Working For Workplace Safety: Workers’ Comp Reform   Striving For Success: Performance Management State Personnel Director Neal Alexander will head up two efficiency efforts. One will increase workplace safety with the intent of reducing injuries and workers’ compensation costs. The other is increasing employee, productivity, satisfaction and engagement by implementing a uniform performance management system. DENR has already piloted this project, and after adjustments, it will be implemented in other state agencies.   First Lady Initiative: Puppy Protection Program The governor and first lady will continue to work for a law that provides basic standards of care for animals by large commercial dog breeders. These standards include food and water, sufficient space, regular exercise and routine veterinary care for dogs and puppies.

Press Release

Governor McCrory Releases Statement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Friday, December 20, 2013  

Raleigh, N.C.– Governor Pat McCrory released the following statement concerning North Carolina’s November unemployment rate drop to 7.4 percent- the lowest rate in more than five years.   The job trend continues to be positive for North Carolina families. We are confident the policies enacted in the past year have yielded a positive impact, but much more innovation and change is needed to continue putting North Carolinians back to work.  We are thankful that new businesses are investing in North Carolina but just as thankful that existing businesses are feeling the confidence to reinvest in our great state as well.  We shall remain focused on policies that will encourage long-term sustainable job growth.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 19, 2013  

Roy Cooper Takes A Stand Against The Second Amendment

Raleigh, NC – Earlier this month, a bipartisan coalition of 26 attorney generals from across the nationfiled an amicus brief with the Supreme Court opposing the Obama administration’s attempt to prosecute law-abiding gun owners who attempt to sell firearms to other law-abiding Americans.

However, North Carolina’s part-time Attorney General Roy Cooper refused to join the bipartisan coalition. In response to Roy Cooper’s refusal to defend the Second Amendment, North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope issued the following statement: “As the Obama administration attempts to ban the private sales of firearms between law-abiding citizens, Roy Cooper refuses to stand up for the Second Amendment rights of North Carolinians. This is just another example of the far-left positions Roy Cooper is taking to placate his fringe liberal base in the lead-up to his campaign for Governor in 2016. North Carolina deserves an Attorney General who believes in the Second Amendment, not one who works with the Obama administration to deny us of that constitutional right.”

Press Release

Governor McCrory Accepts Vice Chairmanship of Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Governors Coalition

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

919-814-2100

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

  Raleigh, NC –  Governor Pat McCrory has accepted the position of vice chair of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Governors Coalition.   Opening up the waters off North Carolina to sensible oil, natural gas and renewable energy development is a vital part of our state’s energy policy,” Governor McCrory said. Through the OCS Governors Coalition, we are sharing information with our counterparts to increase our states’ effectiveness in increasing safety, expanding economic benefits, and preparing for access to these abundant resources.”   Formed in 2011, the coalition supports responsible energy development and promotes a stronger dialogue between federal and state policy makers on offshore energy matters. The coalition chairman is Alaska Governor Sean Parnell.  In addition to Governors Parnell and McCrory, the coalition includes governors of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Virginia.   The common interest of all coastal states to maintain safe and secure coastlines, and create high-paying and lasting jobs, has led to growing cooperation between coastal governors,” Governor Parnell said. “Our states collectively seek better communication and cooperation with Washington and a better understanding of the future of offshore energy. America’s offshore energy potential can translate into economic progress for our states, as well as the nation. Governor McCrory has already shown great leadership and vision in support of this effort and the governors in the coalition welcome him as the new vice chair.” Recently, the OCS Governors Coalition met in Biloxi, Miss., where Governors McCrory, Parnell (AK) and Bryant (MS) addressed the Southern States Energy Board about the benefits of safe energy production for coastal states. The governors also urged their fellow policymakers to support federal legislation to expand and enhance revenue sharing for states hosting production near their shores.     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 18, 2013 Roy Cooper Doubles Down On His Support For Obamacare Raleigh, NC – Part-time Attorney General Roy Cooper has again found time to promote his 2016 gubernatorial campaign, this time reiterating his support for Obamacare while blaming Republicans for the Obamacare train wreck. • “Attorney General Roy Cooper says he can’t see any reason why the North Carolina legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory refused to expand Medicaid coverage except for a political one.” (Gary Robertson, “N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper says refusal of Medicaid expansion was wrong,”Associated Press, 11/18/13). “Obamacare supporter Roy Cooper is once again campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime, this time regurgitating Democrat Party talking points and ignoring the fact that the Obama administration’s plan to expand Medicaid would create a massive financial burden on our state,” said North Carolina Republican Party spokesman Daniel Keylin. “What Roy Cooper refuses to tell North Carolinians is that while the federal government would provide funding for the first few years of Medicaid expansion, the burden would then immediately shift to the hardworking taxpayers of North Carolina. Roy Cooper is not so subtly telling North Carolinians he wants to raise their taxes and cut essential services.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Daniel Keylin (919) 828-6423 Daniel.Keylin@ncgop.orgOctober 25, 2013

Part-Time AG Roy Cooper Admits He’s Spending His Time Running For Governor

 Raleigh, NC – Yesterday, part-time Attorney General Roy Cooper admitted to WTVD that he is already planning his gubernatorial campaign three years before the 2016 election.

In recent weeks, Cooper has made numerous campaign speeches across the state and has sent out fundraising emails to raise cash for his gubernatorial campaign.

Cooper even wrote a far-left diatribe for the Huffington Post to help shore up his liberal bona fides with national Democrat activists. In last night’s interview with WTVD, Cooper also refused to stop politicizing the very same laws he is required to defend in court. “Our part-time Attorney General Roy Cooper seems to think it’s perfectly acceptable to campaign on the taxpayer’s dime,” said North Carolina Republican Party Executive Director Todd Poole.“Despite the mounting criticism over his dereliction of elected duties, Roy Cooper isn’t backing down and has made it clear he will continue to actively campaign and politicize the Attorney General’s office.”  Press Release NCDOT to Provide Rural Planning Organizations Additional Funding FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, October 25, 2013   Raleigh, NC — Governor Pat McCrory announced today additional funding for Rural Planning Organizations (RPOs) that will assist the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) with transportation planning in rural areas across the state. NCDOT provides grants to help cover the cost of this work. While the amount of work for the RPOs has increased over the years, funding has not. To help cover the costs of these additional responsibilities, NCDOT is increasing the amount of funds granted to each RPO by $8,800-$11,000.   “North Carolina’s rural communities have been hit hard by the recession,” said Governor McCrory. “It is important that we do everything possible to better connect people in these areas with jobs and opportunities. The Department of Transportation’s funding and support of our Rural Planning Organizations will seek to do just that.”   North Carolina’s 19 RPOs serve five core functions:

  • Coordinate, assist and develop local and regional transportation plans;
  • Provide a forum for public participation in the transportation planning and project implementation process;
  • Develop and prioritize projects for the department’s new Strategic Transportation Investment process;
  • Provide transportation-related information to local governments; and
  • Coordinate regional issues between contiguous Metropolitan Planning Organizations, RPOs and other regional organizations.

Our rural partners make substantial investments in planning for their transportation future and we’re pleased to provide increased support for their efforts,” said Transportation Secretary Tony Tata. “Their work is an important part of our strong collaboration to enhance our transportation network and better connect North Carolinians to greater opportunities.”   Federal State Planning and Research Funds provide 80 percent of the funds and local governments contribute the remaining 20 percent of funds. Each RPO currently receives between $83,700 and $104,625; those that serve more than three counties or have a population greater than 50,000 receive more funds.    RPOs were established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2000 and have been nationally recognized for their innovative work.

In Case You Missed It

Wall Street Journal Editorial Board: Eric Holder’s 2014 Racial Politics   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   Eric Holder’s 2014 Racial Politics The Attorney General tries to reverse a Supreme Court ruling by the back door. Tuesday, October 8, 2013  Wall Street Journal For Eric Holder, American racial history is frozen in the 1960s. The Supreme Court ruled in June that a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is no longer justified due to racial progress, but the U.S. Attorney General has launched a campaign to undo the decision state-by-state. His latest target is North Carolina, which he seems to think is run from the grave by the early version of George Wallace.   The real current Governor, Republican Pat McCrory, signed a law in August that requires voters to present government-issued photo ID at the polling station, including a state driver’s license or military ID. Voters who show up without one can still cast a provisional ballot pending their return with a photo ID. The law also shortens early voting to 10 days from 17 and ends a program that preregistered high school students before they were eligible to vote.   According to Mr. Holder, this amounts to a shocking return to the Jim Crow era. He describes these modest measures to secure the integrity of the ballot as “aggressive steps to curtail the voting rights of African Americans.” And he is suing the state to bring it back under the federal supervision of the Voting Rights Act for all of its future voting-law changes.   The Supreme Court held in June that such federal “preclearance” under Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act had outlived its usefulness in states where black and white voter registration and participation rates are roughly equal. That should have been good news, but now Mr. Holder wants to haul North Carolina and Texas back into long-term federal supervision through a back door.   Under Section 3 of the Act, states can be required to get federal preclearance if a court finds that the state has intentionally discriminated against minorities in its voting laws. That’s a high legal bar that the Justice Department will find hard to prove, especially since many of the two states’ voter ID provisions are widespread in other states.   One claim is that North Carolina’s shorter early voting period will have a more pronounced impact on African Americans, who made up 23% of registered voters in North Carolina in 2012 and cast 29% of early ballots. But while the state reduced the number of days for early voting, it maintained the number of total hours for early voting. That change maintains ample time for voters to cast a ballot but reduces the burden on county election officials who have to man early voting sites in the run-up to Election Day.   Ditto a concern that the law disproportionately disenfranchises black voters who are less likely to have a driver’s licence: North Carolina offers free state-issued photo ID at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Another gripe is that North Carolina won’t accept student ID cards as adequate at the polls, but the reason is simple: State residence is required to vote in North Carolina, and students in the state often come from other states or countries.   Courts have already reviewed similar laws in other states and found them legal. In 2008, in a 6-3 decision written by liberal former Justice John Paul Stevens, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Indiana’s voter ID law. In 2011, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that the Peach State’s voter ID law was constitutional, calling its photo ID requirements a “minimal, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory restriction.” Thirty-four states now require voters to show some form of photo ID.   The worst argument against such laws is that they must be racially motivated because there is so little evidence of voter fraud. Yet no less that former Justice Stevens said in his opinion in the Indiana case that “flagrant examples of such fraud in other parts of the country have been documented throughout this nation’s history by respected historians and journalists, [and] that occasional examples have surfaced in recent years.” Anyone who thinks voter fraud doesn’t exist hasn’t lived in Chicago or Texas, among other places.   It’s telling that Mr. Holder prefers to file lawsuits rather than take up the Supreme Court’s invitation to modernize the Voting Rights Act for current racial conditions. The Congressional Black Caucus has said it is working on a new formula for preclearance, but such legislative labor doesn’t get the headlines that lawsuits against GOP-run states do.   All the evidence suggests that Mr. Holder’s real motive here is political. Portraying voter ID laws as racist helped to drive Democratic voter turnout among minorities in 2012, and the White House wants a repeat in 2014. Never mind if the suits eventually fail in court. The goal is to elect more Democrats in the meantime, even if it means needlessly increasing racial polarization.   A version of this article appeared October 8, 2013, on page A16 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Holder’s 2014 Racial Politics.     Press Release Governor McCrory Calls Justice Department Challenge of Voter ID An Overreach “Protecting the integrity of every vote is one of the most important duties I have as governor,” says Governor McCrory.   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, September 30, 2013 Raleigh, NC – Governor Pat McCrory today criticized Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to challenge North Carolina’s common sense voter-ID requirement, calling it a meritless federal overreach.   I believe if showing a voter ID is good enough and fair enough for our own president in Illinois, then it’s good enough for the people in North Carolina,” said Governor McCrory.   WATCH: President Obama Shows An ID to Vote During 2012 Election   This legislation puts North Carolina in the mainstream when it comes to voter access and ballot integrity.

  • NC will still be one of 32 states and DC to offer early voting. 
  • NC will be one of 34 states that requires or will require some form of voter ID. 
  • NC will be one of 37 states that do not allow same-day registration. 
  • NC will be one of 43 states and DC that does not allow underage voters to pre-register. (Source: http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/voter-id.aspx)  (Source: Secretary of State websites )

I believe that North Carolina is in the mainstream on this issue and it’s the Justice Department that’s working in the fringes. This new law which I signed in August brings us in line with a majority of other states,” continued Governor McCrory.   Governor McCrory also noted that if residents of North Carolina do not have an ID, the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles will begin offering free voter ID cards on January 1, 2014.   I’m very disappointed that the Justice Department has chosen to challenge a law that includes provisions such as voter ID as is used in other states throughout our great country. This lawsuit will only result in costly legal bills and drawn out legal battles for both state and federal taxpayers. Protecting the integrity of every vote is one of the most important duties I have as governor of this great state. And that is why I signed this common sense legislation into law,” added McCrory.       Press Release Governor McCrory Applies for Federal Aid to Help Western North Carolina Recover from Flooding   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   Friday, September 13, 2013   Raleigh, NC – Governor Pat McCrory has requested a federal disaster declaration to help 16 counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians recover from this summer’s heavy rains, landslides and severe flooding.    The record-breaking rainfall damaged roads, bridges, culverts, public utilities, parks and even some schools in many western counties.  If approved, the governor’s request would help these communities pay for the infrastructure repairs and debris removal and also cover the costs for emergency protective measures. Those areas that were most heavily impacted include: Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, Mitchell, Polk, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties.    “We requested and received federal aid to help many of our residents and business owners recover from this flooding, and now our local governments need help,” Governor McCrory said.  “These 17 jurisdictions have done a tremendous job responding to the landslides and recovering from these devastating floods. But they need help financially to recover from these storms.”   A series of severe thunderstorms and heavy rains dumped between 10 and 20 inches of rain over much of the foothills and mountains from July 3 through 27.  Several locations reported more than 20 inches of rainfall and many counties reported the wettest July on record.     Local, state, tribal and federal emergency managers have been working together during the past few weeks to survey public infrastructure damages and review costs spent on repairs. Early estimates indicate damage costs totaled nearly $25 million in flood response and repairs. If approved, the presidential disaster declaration would make federal funds available to cover 75 percent of eligible costs.    Yesterday, Governor McCrory declared a state of emergency as the first step in securing federal financial assistance to help these communities recover.  The N.C. Department of Transportation is seeking federal funds from the Federal Highway Administration to help pay for road repairs. The governor also has requested a disaster declaration from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide financial assistance for farmers impacted by the summer floods.  Earlier this summer, the governor requested and received a U.S. Small Business Administration declaration to provide financial assistance to families and business owners to help them recover from the flooding. The federal aid enabled more than 330 flood survivors in six of the hardest-hit counties to apply for low-interest loans and grants to help them repair and rebuild their homes and businesses and replace essential items.     Governor McCrory Releases Statement FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday, September 4, 2013   Raleigh, NC – Governor Pat McCrory issued the following statement as lawmakers adjourned the session:   It was an historic year with new policies that will positively impact North Carolina by rebuilding a struggling economy and fixing a broken, and often inefficient, state government. New policies include: tax and regulatory reforms, transportation, personnel, commerce, voter ID, and a first step toward Medicaid reform.  All these initiatives challenged the status quo and make a positive difference in the future.   One part of our culture that did not change was passing some flawed legislation during the last hours of session with little debate, understanding or transparency.   Too much education policy was slipped into the budget bill causing serious concerns especially from our teachers and educators.  Executive branch concerns over long-term operational costs were ignored by passing bills with good intentions but unintended consequences, and overriding vetoes on drug testing and immigration.   House bill 786 triples the E-Verify seasonal worker exemption from 90 days to nearly nine months and has created a loophole that could cost legal North Carolinians jobs. This measure changes the law’s focus from exempting “temporary seasonal employees” to help the state’s farming industry to exempting a category of employees for any industry, regardless of the season or the needs. Thus, I will direct the executive branch to explore all legal and executive authority to ensure the letter and spirit of our nation’s immigration law is followed in this state   Based upon the lawmakers’ vote on drug testing, the executive branch will not take any action on the new law’s implementation until sufficient funds with this unfunded mandate are provided, not only for the Department of Health and Human Services, but also the funding for consistent application across all 100 counties.     I believe the future is bright for our state with the bipartisan teamwork that kick started much needed reforms.   Despite the critics and special interests who want to retain the failed policies of the past, we were strong in our resolve to follow through on the promises we made to voters.     The resolve for systematic change must continue so we can compete to retain and grow much needed jobs for today and the future.   The solutions will be complex and at times controversial to many well established interest groups, but we have no choice other than to move forward even under constrained budgets and a tough political environment.  Major initiatives must be made with Medicaid, mental health, energy and education if we are to continue our progress.    In fact, today I urged the State Board of Education to take immediate action.  We have found the necessary funds through my budget office to ensure that over 3,000 teachers currently pursuing their master’s degrees will receive a salary increase when they graduate, an investment of over $10 million.  I also signed an executive order to create the Governor’s Teacher Advisory Council, which will give a voice to a diverse group of teachers from across the state.  We continue to follow through on testing relief for teachers by reducing the number of standardized tests, creating a local control option for our local education systems to innovate. This way our teachers can do what they do best…teach our students. And finally, I continue my resolve and support for raises tied to the creation of a new compensation system for our teachers.    I look forward to working with the General Assembly in the short session to continue to improve our economy, education system and the efficiency of state government.  More than anything, I look forward to visiting neighborhoods, towns and cities, plus businesses across our state to gain insight and solutions from the best of the best in our great state.     Press Release Governor Pat McCrory Increases Hospital Pricing Transparency and Streamlines Personnel Act Signs HB 834 into law  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 Raleigh, NC– Governor Pat McCrory signed a major consumer protection bill into law today. House Bill 834 requires hospitals to provide public pricing information on 140 medical procedures and services. The new law also prevents hospitals, in certain situations, from putting liens on a patient’s residence in order to collect on unpaid medical bills.    For too long, North Carolina patients have been in the dark on what they can expect to pay for common medical procedures when they are admitted to a hospital, “Governor McCrory said. “This new law gives patients and their doctors pricing information so they can make an informed financial decision with regard to their health care.”    Hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers will now submit to the Department of Health and Human Services, pricing on 100 common in-patient services, 20 common surgical procedures and 20 common imaging procedures. DHHS will publish that information on its website.    Earlier this year, the federal government published a database surveying the cost of 100 common hospital procedures and services across the nation. The News and Observer of Raleigh looked at hospital pricing in North Carolina and found that in 75 percent of the services it examined, the highest price was triple or more compared to the lowest price for the same procedure. For example, the price for implanting a pacemaker in North Carolina ranged from $22,000 to $75,000 according to the federal 2011 database.    The new law also requires hospitals to submit their charity policy to DHHS and it will publish those policies on its website.    In addition to not allowing hospitals to file a lien on a patient’s home, state owned hospitals at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and East Carolina University will no longer be able to garnish a patient’s wages to settle an unpaid debt.     The General Assembly also used HB 834 to modernize the State Personnel Act, a law that hasn’t been significantly updated for decades. The modernization empowers managers to use mediation and other methods to resolve employee grievances on the front end. Today, the existing grievance process averages 450 days to reach a conclusion. One case took more than 1,000 days to reach a settlement.    This is a good first step in initiating performance management and employee evaluation for all state workers,” said Governor Pat McCrory. “The State Personnel Act promotes efficiency in state government and streamlines a wasteful grievance process that has averaged more than 450 days.”   The new law also adds 500 exempt positions. That will provide cabinet secretaries flexibility and accountability to implement business and organizational needs while reducing bureaucracy and internal red tape.   Modernizing the State Personnel Act was one of Governor McCrory’s major goals he outlined in February during his State of the State address to the people of North Carolina. 

Seth Banks of Burnsville Announces Candidacy To Succeed Wilson for District Attorney for 24th District

Aug. 16, 2013. Today, Seth Banks officially announced his candidacy to become the District Attorney for the 24th Judicial District. Banks will run to succeed outgoing District Attorney Jerry Wilson.

Seth Banks

Seth Banks

My wife Gretchen and I are excited to officially announce my candidacy for District Attorney.  Over the last several months I have traveled throughout the 24th Judicial District and talked with many hard-working folks about the qualities they expect from their next District Attorney.  The people of Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga, and Yancey counties want their District Attorney to share the same values that sustained our ancestors when they first settled these mountains.  The values of honesty, hard work, and integrity characterized them and are the same values I will bring to this office,” said Banks.

Banks is a Yancey county native who grew up in the Prices Creek community.  He graduated from Mountain Heritage High School and attended college at N.C. State University, ultimately earning his law degree from Wake Forest University.

After completing law school, Seth became an assistant district attorney, handling large caseloads with cases ranging from first degree murder, to crimes against children, to felony assaults. He has successfully tried numerous trials to verdict before North Carolina juries. Currently, Banks is a partner with the firm Bailey and Banks, PLLC, located in Burnsville.

Banks’ candidacy for District Attorney has been endorsed by former Congressman Charles H. Taylor, former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, and Yancey County Sheriff Gary Banks.

In the coming months I look forward to talking with many people throughout the district about my candidacy.  My extensive experience prosecuting cases at the highest levels, and my desire to be a conservative voice in the courtroom, make me uniquely qualified to serve as the next District Attorney.”

Banks will hold a campaign kick-off with ice cream social at High Pastures Christian Retreat in Burnsville at 6:30pm on Aug. 23.  For more information about Seth’s campaign you can visit www.BanksforDA.com beginning next week. 

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, August 15, 2013   Raleigh, NC – Governor Pat McCrory vetoed legislation (HB 392) but signed an executive order to implement the priority of the legislation’s criminal history verification and information sharing requirements for welfare benefit applicants.  The executive order is entitled “Strengthening Fugitive Apprehension and Protecting Public Benefits.”   While I support the efforts to ensure that fugitive felons are not on public assistance rolls, and to share information about them with law enforcement, other parts of this bill are unfair, fiscally irresponsible and have potential operational problems,” Governor McCrory said.“Drug testing Work First applicants as directed in this bill could lead to inconsistent application across the state’s 100 counties.  That’s a recipe for government overreach and unnecessary government intrusion.”   However, the Governor believes that the bill’s requirement for verifying an applicant’s criminal history and sharing information about welfare applicants is a common-sense safeguard to keep fugitive felons and other lawbreakers off public assistance rolls and in the hands of law enforcement. Therefore, Governor McCrory is using his executive authority to strengthen criminal verification for applicants. Furthermore, the governor directed state agencies to develop a plan and recommend the best way to exchange information about fugitive felons.   The Governor also considers the bill fiscally irresponsible.  “This is not a smart way to combat drug abuse,” Governor McCrory continued. “Similar efforts in other states have proved to be expensive for taxpayers and did little to actually help fight drug addiction.  It makes no sense to repeat those mistakes in North Carolina.”   Drug testing of welfare programs in Utah, Arizona and other states proved to be expensive and ineffective at catching drug abusers.   Read Executive Order 21 here.     Press Release  Sturm, Ruger & Company to Create More Than 450 Jobs in Rockingham County   Firearms manufacturer to establish new facility in Mayodan  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                         919-814-2100

Tuesday, August 13, 2013                                                                                govpress@nc.gov

 

  Raleigh, NC- Governor Pat McCrory and North Carolina Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker announced today that Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. will establish a new manufacturing facility in Rockingham County. The company plans to create more than 450 new jobs in North Carolina by the end of 2017 and invest more than $26 million in the new Mayodan location.     Advanced manufacturing companies like Ruger know that North Carolina is just the place for their company to grow and flourish,” said Governor McCrory. “The skilled manufacturing jobs that they’ll create will strengthen the Rockingham County economy and demonstrates the strong talent pool and attractive quality of life that characterizes this region of the state.”   Sturm, Ruger & Company is one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of high-quality firearms for the commercial sporting market, and a major producer of precision steel investment castings.  Ruger produces hundreds of thousands of firearms each year for hunting, target shooting, collecting, self-defense, law enforcement and government agencies.  The company currently employs more than 2,000 people at facilities in  New Hampshire, Connecticut and Arizona.   We are committed to creating new jobs in North Carolina and one major area of focus is advanced manufacturing,” said Secretary Decker. “We applaud the Ruger management team for their commitment to investing in North Carolina and welcome them to our family of strong corporate partners.”   Ruger is establishing a new manufacturing facility in North Carolina to accommodate its continued growth and planned new products.  New positions will include production workers, tool makers, manufacturing engineers and product design engineers.   Ruger has created 900 jobs over the last five years and we hope to continue this growth in Mayodan,” said Ruger President and CEO Mike Fifer. “There is a phenomenal work force in the area.  We’ve had two job fairs.  The response has been tremendous and the caliber of the potential employees is really impressive.”   Compensation for the new positions will vary by job function, but the average annual compensation will exceed $45,000, plus benefits.  The average annual wage in Rockingham County is $33,007.      We welcome Ruger to North Carolina and applaud their commitment to bringing new jobs and investment to Rockingham County,” said Sen. Phil Berger. “Today’s announcement is a clear indicator of our state’s favorable business climate and high-quality workforce, and we look forward to working alongside Governor McCrory to ensure these strong assets continue to grow.”   Our state has the top-notch workforce that advanced manufacturers need to compete in the highly competitive global marketplace,” said Rep. Bryan Holloway. “I congratulate Ruger for their decision to locate in Mayodan and wish them continued success in Rockingham County.”   The project was made possible in part by an award to Ruger from the state Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program, as voted by the state Economic Investment Committee.  Receipt of the award is based on proof of job creation and other performance requirements. JDIGs are awarded only to new and expanding businesses and industrial projects whose benefits exceed the costs to the state, and which would not be undertaken in North Carolina without the grant.     Under the terms of the company’s JDIG award, Ruger is eligible to receive up to twelve annual grants equal to 75 percent of the state personal income tax withholdings from the eligible new jobs created since the date of the initial award.  Receipt of each annual grant is based on state-certified proof that the company has fulfilled incremental job creation requirements. Over twelve years, the JDIG award could yield aggregate benefits to Ruger of up to $9.46 million upon creation of 473 new jobs.   Other partners who assisted with this announcement include: The N.C. Department of Commerce, N.C. Community Colleges, Golden Leaf Foundation, Rockingham County Partnership for Economic & Tourism Development, Rockingham County and the Town of Mayodan.   For more information about Sturm, Ruger & Company including job opportunities, visit www.ruger.com. 

Press Release 8-12-2013

Governor McCrory Signs Popular Voter ID into Law

“Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote.” – Gov.  Pat McCrory 

 

Raleigh, NC – Governor Pat McCrory today signed HB 589, commonly referred to as Voter Photo ID, into law.  This law will help ensure the integrity of the North Carolina ballot box and provide greater equality in access to voting to North Carolinians.

 

“North Carolinians overwhelmingly support a common sense law that requires voters to present photo identification in order to cast a ballot.  I am proud to sign this legislation into law. Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote,” said Governor McCrory.

 

North Carolina joins the majority of states in adopting this and other election reform provisions with 34 states requiring some form of  ID to vote.  The photo ID requirement will go into effect for the 2016 elections.   North Carolinians overwhelmingly support this legislation:

 

  • A March Elon University poll showed 72 percent of North Carolinians support photo-ID at the polls.

  • A March Civitas Institute poll showed 67 percent support.

  • An April Survey USA poll showed 75 percent overall support for voter-photo identification. 

 

“While some will try to make this seem to be controversial, the simple reality is that requiring voters to provide a photo ID when they vote is a common sense idea,” said Governor McCrory. “This new law brings our state in line with a healthy majority of other states throughout the country. This common sense safeguard is common-place.”

 

A valid North Carolina driver’s license, U.S. passport and various military IDs are among the acceptable forms of photo identification. A voter can also obtain a state-issued photo-ID from the Department of Motor Vehicles at no charge. If a voter comes to the polls without a photo-ID, they can still cast a provisional ballot.

 

The hours available to cast an early ballot remain the same and there will be 10 days for voters to cast their ballot early.  The law requires county board of elections to calculate the number of early voting hours offered in the 2012 presidential and the 2010 non-presidential voting years. The same amount of early voting hours in those years must be made available in presidential and non-presidential elections going forward. Also, all early voting sites within a county must have the same days and hours of operation.

 

North Carolina will join the majority of states and the District of Columbia that require voters to cast a ballot for a candidate, and not for a political party, by not allowing straight-ticket voting.

 

This new law also aligns North Carolina with the majority of states (37) that do not allow a person to register and vote on the same day.  This law will also remove the bureaucratic burden of having to re-certify the address and other identifying information for under-age voters by doing away with pre-registration of 16 and 17 year olds. North Carolina was one of only eight states with the practice of “registering” teenagers too young to vote.

 

This law will also seek to reduce the “pay-to-play” culture of politics by placing additional campaign finance restrictions on lobbyists. Lobbyists are now prohibited from delivering even a single campaign contribution to candidates.

 

Press Release

Governor McCrory Vows to Reduce Mandatory Testing and Announces “Master Teacher” Plan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                         919-814-2100

Thursday, August 1, 2013                                                                            govpress@nc.gov

 

Raleigh, NC– Governor Pat McCrory vowed to reduce the amount of mandatory tests given to North Carolina students and announced a plan to award a $10,000 stipend to selected teachers to assist in the implementation of college and career ready standards at their school districts.

The governor also told the audience attending the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce’s Conference on Education in Chapel Hill that students should be held to the reading and mathematics standards laid out in the Common Core curriculum. However, he noted improvement is needed in their implementation. 

McCrory said the growing number of mandatory tests is getting in the way of classroom instruction. 

“With this testing load we are in danger of turning our teachers into proctors,” Governor McCrory said. “We need to slow down and regroup with all of these tests and let our teachers teach.”

The governor also proposed the formation of a $30 million Education Innovation Fund which will finance innovative schools and new digital learning initiatives and invest in teachers.

If the federal government approves this program, it will invest a $10,000 stipend into at least 1,000 teachers who will be selected by their peers to implement North Carolina’s Career and College Ready Standards.

These “Master Teachers” will be working and taking input from their colleagues and will serve as a direct conduit for North Carolina’s education leaders as to what’s working in our classrooms and what isn’t and should be tossed aside. 

The governor also reiterated that funding for K-12 education has not been cut. At $7.8 billion, this is the largest K-12 budget in North Carolina’s history. This year’s K-12 budget is $23 million more than last year’s. During the second year of the budget, K-12 spending is scheduled to be increased by $200 million.

In all, 56 percent of our state tax dollars will go to pay for education.

 

In Case You Missed It

Though It’s Best Known For NASCAR,

North Carolina Takes A Tax Reform Victory Lap

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       919-814-2100

Thursday, August 1, 2013                                                                           govpress@nc.gov

 

Though It’s Best Known For NASCAR,

North Carolina Takes A Tax Reform Victory Lap

by Travis H. Brown

Forbes

July 26th, 2013

True reform requires true leadership. Over the past few weeks, North Carolina has provided a best-in-class example of what can happen when legislators keep their promises and governors follow through on their word. 

In North Carolina, however, Governor McCrory is proving good to his word – and then some. National tax experts say that the North Carolina reforms are the most significant in the nation. 

There can be no doubt about it: Over the past year, tax reform has become an integral part of the national debate. What was once an academic discussion is now part of everyday conversations, both around the dinner table and within the halls of power. Tax reformers owe a debt of gratitude to governors like Pat McCrory, who are willing to take concrete steps toward real change. Just a few months ago, who would have imagined that Forbes would call North Carolina an ideal place for retirees, thanks to its tax code? We can expect to see much more praise for North Carolina – from businesses, employees, and families – in the weeks and months to come. The governor’s bold steps will have positive repercussions for all who live and work in the Tar Heel State.

    Press Release

Governor, Senate, House Reach Historic Deal on Tax Reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 919-814-2100 Monday, July 15, 2013 govpress@nc.gov Raleigh, NC- Governor Pat McCrory, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) announced late this afternoon they have reached a historic agreement on tax reform. North Carolina has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the country and needs tax reform to compete with neighboring states for job creation. “All of us were elected to change the status quo here in Raleigh and address problems head on,” said Governor Pat McCrory. “One of the biggest challenges we faced coming into office was working to help create jobs in the existing environment. This tax reform plan is a major step in restoring confidence in the economy so that employers start hiring again, and it will help us continue to attract new employers. Just as important, this tax reform will allow North Carolinians to put more money in their pocketbooks so that they can spend and invest in North Carolina.” The tax reform agreement provides fiscally-responsible tax relief to all North Carolinians. It will lower income tax rates for all taxpayers to 5.8% in 2014, allowing North Carolina families to keep more of their hard-earned dollars. The corporate tax will be reduced to 6.0% in 2014 to make North Carolina more attractive to job-creators. “Reforming a state’s tax code is no easy task in the face of a barrage of special interests fighting to preserve the special treatment they receive at the expense of all taxpayers,” said Senator Phil Berger. “We’ve seen several other states – Kansas, Louisiana and Nebraska – give it their best shot but miss the mark. I’m proud of what we’re achieving here in North Carolina – we are truly a positive model for the rest of the nation.” The tax reform proposal is fiscally responsible and provides reasonable revenue growth every year to meet the state’s budget needs. Since tax reform is expected to grow the state’s economy and bolster the tax base, further rate reductions could be triggered by revenue growth in 2016 and 2017. However, if for whatever reasons the tax revenue does not grow, the further reductions will not be triggered, ensuring that state revenue is preserved for public services. “This plan will provide tax relief for working families throughout North Carolina and will enable businesses to create jobs for our citizens,” said Speaker Thom Tillis. “Our state will become more competitive because of this tax reform legislation, and North Carolinians will have more dollars in their pockets. I congratulate everyone who had a role in this historic agreement, especially Representatives David Lewis and Julia Howard, who led this effort in the House.” “This plan reducing both personal and corporate income taxes combined with the General Assembly’s successful efforts last session to repeal the temporary sales tax accomplishes broad based tax relief that is unmatched in North Carolina’s history,” said Governor McCrory. “No other state has accomplished this level of tax reform this year and I would like to commend Speaker Tillis and Senator Berger for their hard work and congratulate them on reaching this agreement.” Tax Reform Proposal Highlights Personal Income Tax: • Reduces and simplifies the 3-tiered state personal income tax from the current maximum rate of 7.75% and minimum rate of 6% to 5.8% in 2014 and 5.75% in 2015. • Increases the standard deduction for all taxpayers, applied to the: 1. First $15,000 of income for those married filing jointly 2. First $12,000 of income for heads of household 3. First $7,500 of income for single filers; • Retains the state child tax credit and increases it for families making less than $40,000; • Offers a $20,000 combined maximum deduction for mortgage interest and property taxes; • Makes charitable contributions fully deductible; • Protects all Social Security income from state taxes. Corporate Income Tax: • Reduces the corporate income tax from 6.9% to 6% in 2014 and then to 5% in 2015 a 29% rate reduction. • If the state meets revenue targets (i.e. if tax revenue grows due to a growing economy), the corporate income tax will drop to 4% in 2016 and 3% in 2017. Other Highlights: • Caps the state gas tax; • Eliminates North Carolina’s death tax; • Preserves the sales tax refund for nonprofits.     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   NC redistricting maps upheld by 3-judge panel As reported by the Charlotte Observer, a three-judge panel on Monday upheld the boundaries for North Carolina’s legislative and congressional seats, saying the lines don’t damage constitutional rights of citizens. In a unanimous decision, the Superior Court rejected the arguments of liberal Democratic special interest groups who sued over the lines and argued they were racial gerrymanders.    “It is the ultimate holding of this trial court that the redistricting plans enacted by the General Assembly in 2011 must be upheld and that the enacted Plans do not impair the constitutional rights of the citizens of North Carolina as those rights are defined by law,” the ruling said.

Senator Thom Goolsby  9th District – New Hanover County  OPINION/EDITORIAL    

September 11, 2012   

Obamacare Price Hikes Hit College Students First

The cost of mandatory healthcare insurance for college students in North Carolina will almost double this year.  President Obama has some explaining to do to one of his biggest core constituencies – college students. His healthcare reform law a/k/a “Obamacare,” was a central part of his election pitch to the youth vote during the last campaign. Somehow, in the light of stark reality, all the president’s talk about reduced costs, simplicity, transparency and increased coverage in healthcare has evaporated with the dawn of reality.  Wow, there really is no free lunch and college students are getting hit first and hardest! North Carolina education officials are slamming the president, citing Obamacare as a reason for the massive hike in the cost of health insurance at the Tar Heel state’s public and private universities. You don’t have to be a rocket science major to figure out what has occurred.  Mandated coverage and increased regulations requiring enhancements such as prescription drug coverage and preventative care have driven costs through the roof for this healthy, young segment of the population. If they don’t like the substantial increase in the cost of health insurance, college students unfortunately cannot avoid it. In North Carolina, all students in higher education are required to have proof of coverage, either with the university they attend, their parents or a private provider. At the end of last year when UNC officials jacked up tuition more than fifteen percent at their flagship campus, UNC- Chapel Hill, students were incensed and large protests followed.  So far, students have swallowed this recent insurance hit to their pocketbooks, thanks to Obamacare. No student marches, banner hangs, or sit-ins at campus hospitals have taken place.

Meadows Commits to Support “No Budget, No Pay” Bill for Congress

Commends House Leadership for Passing a Budget, Calls on Harry Reid to Act in the Senate

 September 4, 2012 Hendersonville, NC- Denouncing the negligence of a Senate that has not passed a budget in 1,223 days, Mark Meadows, 11th District Republican Nominee for Congress, vowed to support a “No Budget, No Pay” bill when elected.  “Americans have a constitutional right to leaders that govern responsibly.  Almost three-and-a-half years without a budget is an insult to the hard-working people of Western North Carolina,” said Meadows.  “Too many families are telling me they are not better off than they were four years ago; they want Congress to do its job.” Article One of the Constitution gives Congress the responsibility to oversee the collection of revenue and all spending.  In 2010, Democrats in Congress failed to pass a budget, the fence that is supposed to constrain yearly federal spending.  Even so, the Democrat leadership still passed a massive spending bill totaling almost 2000 pages. Congress spending money without a budget is like a family deciding what to buy before knowing how much money is in their paycheck. Whatever gets spent over the amount of the paycheck goes on a credit card.  The federal “credit card” currently has more than $51,000 worth of debt for each citizen. “Small business owners cannot afford to operate without a budget,” said Meadows.  “Folks from all over the 11th District tell me they are frustrated by the irresponsibility of Congress and the President.”  Meadows believes a bill penalizing Congress for failing to pass a budget by October 1st of each fiscal year is a reasonable approach to force accountability for elected officials.  “If Congress does not pass a budget they do not deserve to be paid,” stated Meadows. Approximately 225 miles from its farthest western side bordering Tennessee and Georgia, to the eastern border of Caldwell County, the 11th Congressional District of North Carolina is made up of 17 counties in the western part of the state.  Mark Meadows is a small business owner and lives in Jackson County with his wife Debbie and his two children, currently away at college.

  MEADOWS: REPEAL OBAMACARE ON DAY 1

 Shuler/Rogers Responsible for Historic Tax Increase HENDERSONVILLE, NC – Small businessman and Republican candidate for Congress (NC-11) Mark Meadows released the following statement regarding today’s Supreme Court decision to uphold President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Many of us hoped the Supreme Court would overturn the greatest attack on small businesses and seniors in recent memory. With the verdict in, it’s clear the task is now left to “We the people.” We must work diligently to repeal Obamacare immediately. The Supreme Court has confirmed: the Affordable Care Act is a tax – the largest tax increase in American history. We must hold accountable those who refused to repeal Obamacare for the enormous costs on seniors and small businesses. Hayden Rogers and Heath Shuler refuse to repeal Obamacare and even said there are some “good things” in the bill. I ask them today, “Were the ‘good things’ worth decimating small businesses and stripping away our religious freedoms? Were the ‘good things’ worth gutting Medicare and doubling premiums for seniors?” I promise our seniors and the people of Western North Carolina that I will work tirelessly to repeal Obamacare immediately and replace it with patient-centered reforms that preserve your right to see the Doctor of your choice, protect small businesses, and lower costs. According to the latest Congressional Budget Office cost projection, Obamacare’s price tag is $1.76 trillion over the next ten years, or roughly $12,753 for every American taxpayer (based on roughly 138 million American taxpayers with positive adjusted gross income). Meadows is a fiscal and social conservative who has served on numerous boards and was recently appointed to the State Board for Economic Development in Western North Carolina, because of his expertise in business and job creation. He is a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights, a Christian conservative, and a champion of “Life, Liberty, and Less Government.” Sources: Dan Joseph, “Rep. Heath Shuler: ‘It Would Be Immoral’ to Repeal Parts of Obamacare that Deal with Children,” CNSNews.com, 1/10/11 Phillip Klein, “CBO: ObamaCare to Cost $1.76 Trillion Over 10 Years,” The Washington Examiner, 3/13/2012 David S. Logan, “Summary of Latest Federal Individual Income Tax Data,” The Tax Foundation, 10/24/2011 Mark Meadows Meadows for Congress   Energy dependence: A completely unnecessary national security risk March 27th, 2011 By: Herman Cain In the early 1970s, America’s dependence on foreign oil was a little over 20 percent. Today, our dependence on foreign oil is over 65 percent. We have become more and more energy dependent because we have never had a serious energy independence strategy, and we still do not have one. Energy independence is within our grasp because we have plenty of energy natural resources. We have billions of barrels of oil, plenty of natural gas reserves, more coal than any other country in the world, lots of places we could build dams for hydroelectricity and some of the safest nuclear power technology in the world. Wind and solar energy development is not going to get us to energy independence. Studies such as the Department of Energy’s “Billion Ton Study” have shown that those two sources could at best provide 5 percent of our energy needs combined. But by maximizing all of our other domestic energy resources, we could become energy-independent. This would not only help to keep down the cost of gasoline and the cost of nearly everything we buy, but it would also be a boost to our economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. But most importantly, energy independence would keep us from being vulnerable to the current instability in the Middle East or the whims of OPEC. But to become energy-independent, we would have to reject the false premise that America’s high energy consumption is at odds with conservation, or that we will cause irreversible harm to our planet. To say that we will cause irreversible harm to the planet by using our natural resources responsibly is like saying that man never should have discovered fire in the first place. Natural resources are there for a reason. Use them! That’s why they are natural! The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), oil reserves off our own continental coasts, oil shale areas out west and even nuclear power development can create a path to energy independence. The area proposed for production in ANWR for example comprises only 0.08 percent of the 19 million acres of the refuge, and it is estimated to contain at least 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Allowing drilling there would not be an environmental hazard using today’s technology. And, if any caribou got lost near that less than two-acre carve-out of ANWR I seriously doubt that they would even notice or care. And yes, accidents do happen in these various sectors of our energy economy. We usually learn from them to help minimize future accidents. That’s common sense. But we do not need to go overboard with excessive regulations after an unfortunate accident to make the approval processes even slower. Exploration and production of natural gas from shale oil deposits represent another huge, untapped opportunity. The technology to safely extract natural gas from our enormous oil shale reserves has never been better. But here again, the environmentalists always scream that it’s the end of the world, and then some gutless elected officials kowtow to their wishes for more regulations. So why are we not on a path to energy independence? It’s simply because of too many regulations that slow down the process and discourage businesses to invest. Illogical moratoriums, excessive federal regulations and environmental extremists who influence weak legislators are holding America hostage to foreign oil. A revitalized and responsibly unleashed energy sector could be a significant economic stimulus to our economy right here at home. Working families can’t afford to spend more of their discretionary income on gasoline and energy costs, especially in a stalled economy.   This one REALLY hits home!!! FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Pete Orthmann 828-689-2688 THE MADISON COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY AND EGYPT What do Madison County and Egypt have in common? Politically, almost everything. The people in Egypt protested that the same government was in control for 30 years, that government jobs went to friends and family of that government, and the people were not permitted to participate in the governing process. In Madison County, the Democratic Party represents the lifelong residents to the virtual exclusion of any person who has since moved here. This was demonstrated in no uncertain terms when the Democratic Party selected the replacement for Roger Haynie to the Board of Commissioners. The only two people nominated were Hall Moore and Jackie Lunsford. Both are lifelong residents of the county. The Party rejected what the citizens were obviously saying during the past election cycle. Voters from both parties made it abundantly clear that they wanted new people as commissioners. They rejected the candidacy of Elsberry Wyatt, Diatt Smathers, and (although by only a few votes) Hall Moore, all who had previously served as commissioner. By contrast, voters elected Roger Haynie, Bill Briggs and Susan Vilcinskas, none of whom had ever served in this capacity before. But the will of the voters was irrelevant to the Democratic Party. Clearly, it was reasonable that Mr. Moore be chosen for the position in that he had received the fourth most number of votes last November. To add an exclamation point to the preceding comment, Mr. Moore is a native son, a sheriff’s deputy, a former commissioner and had the full support and blessing of the Party, and still failed to win election. The second person nominated to fill the empty seat was Mr. Jackie Lunsford, who has an interesting way of resolving conflicts. Some years ago he shot (twice) and killed a man. While no charges were filed, Mr. Lunsford seemed an odd person to nominate to help lead the county. It boggles the mind that of all the potential candidates in Madison County the Democratic Party could find only Mr. Lunsford worthy to challenge Mr. Moore. But remember, both Mr. Moore and Lunsford are native sons of Madison County. Were those the only possible candidates they could identify? Absolutely not. One candidate whose name was submitted by numerous people in e-mails to Chairperson Vickie Sealock was Tim Malone. The name was not even mentioned nor was any other qualified person regardless of education, experience, or desire to serve. The Democratic Party was determined it would maintain its ‘good old boy’ stranglehold on managing the affairs of the county. While shocking and profoundly disappointing, their action was not unforeseen. The nepotism of the Democratic Party to native residents has held Madison County hostage to poverty for decades. It is blatantly exclusionary. One must wonder when, if ever, the Democratic Party of Madison County will act wisely and consider allowing non native residents to participate.