This week’s legislative report begins with a brief history lesson on the North Carolina Legislative Building on Jones Street in Raleigh. The N.C. House of Representatives and Senate passed a joint resolution recognizing the 50th Anniversary of this historic building where lawmakers from all over N.C. gather to conduct legislative business. This building, built in 1963, was designed by Mr. Edward Durrell Stone, who also designed the Kennedy Center in Washington, and The Museum of Modern Art and the General Motors Building in N.Y. The people’s building, as it is commonly referred to, is home to the House and Senate Chambers, legislative and staff offices, committee rooms, the chapel, the library, and the chamber galleries. Every architectural detail was designed with the people of NC in mind from the size of the building which is meant to accommodate visiting citizens and school children, to the crushed granite walls — mined in a Mount Airy, N.C. granite quarry. Happy 50th birthday to the N.C. Legislative Building.
During the week, I met with a number of organizations whose work is vital to Senate District 25. On Tuesday, I joined other area legislators in a meeting with representatives of N.C.’s Southeast, a regional economic development partnership, to discuss the local economies of Richmond and Scotland Counties. I look forward to soon meeting with the Charlotte Regional Partnership, whose mission is to help the economic development interests of Anson, Rowan, and Stanly Counties. These folks will be working with me to find every opportunity to seek new job growth in our district and to sustain our current job market. I also had a breakfast meeting with the N.C. Electric Membership Cooperatives, who have a strong presence in our area providing affordable power to many area residents. These electric cooperatives are locally owned and have a positive presence in our communities.
I was pleased to have constituents visit from Anson, Richmond, Rowan, Scotland, and Stanly Counties to discuss various legislative concerns. I am so grateful to each of you who have visited, emailed, and called this week to share your concerns with me, especially on Senate Bills 4 and 10. A brief comment follows on several bills we voted on this week:
Senate Bill 4: No NC Exchange/No Medicaid Expansion was debated on Monday and Tuesday. This legislation blocks N.C. from establishing a health care exchange at this time and prevents over 500,000 low income citizens from obtaining Medicaid (the cost of expanding coverage would have been paid 100 percent by the federal government for the first three years and 90 percent after that). After hearing from Governor Pat McCrory’s office who urged us to be cautious and not move too swiftly and from many hospital and health care officials, doctors, nurses, AARP advocates, and many of you, I voted against this bill. I felt we needed more time to consider the implications of this bill and I felt N.C. could develop a plan for our citizens better than the federal government. In addition, I felt expanding health care coverage to these 500,000 low income citizens would result in improved health care and would save lives and create jobs, especially in rural hospitals and communities.
Senate Bill 10: Eliminate Obsolete Boards and Commissions. I agreed with the intent of this bill to eliminate obsolete boards but felt board members should be able to continue in their staggered terms until they expire. The bill effectively fires sitting members of the Utilities Commission, Industrial Commission (those who hear workers’ compensation cases), Environmental Management Commission, Coastal Resources Commission, Wildlife Resources Commission, 12 Superior Court Judges and others. I voted against this bill because we will lose valuable, bi-partisan, experienced professionals on our boards and commissions, as well as 12 Superior Court judges. I certainly understand and agree that our new Governor and the legislature should be able to make their own appointments to these boards but a wholesale change all at one time is, in my opinion, not prudent for good policy making on these important boards and commissions.
Senate Bill 14: Increase Access to Career/Technical Education is a bill that directs the State Board of Education to develop curriculum with increased emphasis of career and technical courses. Programs developed under this bill will increase the number of students pursuing vocational programs such as auto repair, welding, and health care technology. The bill also reduces licensing requirements for teachers of career and technical courses. I voted for this bill because it will keep more students in school, reduce drop out percentages, and increase enrollment at our community colleges.
These bills have passed the Senate and will be heard in the House of Representatives next week.
Please contact me at my email address, Gene.McLaurin@ncleg.net or by phone at 919-733-5953. I welcome your ideas and suggestions. If you would like to keep track of what’s going on in the N.C. House and Senate, please visit the NCGA website: www.ncleg.net.
— State Senator Gene McLaurin is from Rockingham. He represents Senate District 25, which covers Anson, Richmond, Rowan, Stanly, and Scotland counties.