As the Legislature ends its third week in the 2013 session, major legislation is sailing through the House and Senate. Gov. Pat McCrory already has signed two major bills: (1) requiring public schools to create diplomas for graduating seniors to specify technology specialization, or college preparedness or both. (The governor has pushed for emphasis on job skills for seniors not seeking a four-year college degree.) and (2) reform of unemployment benefits to cap weekly payouts at $350 for a maximum of 26 weeks.
GOVERNOR’S THREE Es
In his state of the state speech Monday night, Gov. Pat McCrory insisted his administration will focus on three areas: efficiency in the delivery of government services, economic growth, and education reform. This agenda compliments priorities of House and Senate leadership and new members who campaigned on smaller government.
During meetings of the Education Appropriations Committees, reform ideas were put on the table, including privatization of school bus services which now cost the state over $400 million a year. Sen. Jerry Tillman, chairman of the committee, insisted that giving school districts block grants for all services—salaries, textbooks, mandated services, transportation—would produce more efficient expenditures. Currently the committee reviews separate line items for all school budgets.
When Gov. McCrory said the days of “seat warmers” in government are over, he received a standing ovation from most legislators. Democrats remained politely in their seats when he insisted he would decline any federal support for expansion of Medicaid to people beyond women and children.
CHARLOTTE AND REGIONALISM
Charlotte long has touted its role as the hub of seven-county region. Now its commitment to regionalism is being tested in the General Assembly where a bill, sponsored by Mecklenburg Senator Bob Rucho, would move control of the Charlotte Airport from the City of Charlotte to a regional authority.
The bill sailed through the Senate Rules Committee Wednesday over the protests of most Senate Democrat members and Charlotte city officials, including a Republican city councilman. The bill would create an authority with appointees made by the Senate President Pro Tem and the Speaker of the House. Appointments also would be made by some—but not all—of the counties in the Charlotte Regional Partnership. The authority would oversee the growth and management of the billion dollar facility.
APRIL 10 LEGISLATIVE VISIT
Hosiery and textiles industry executives will sponsor a breakfast meeting for North Carolina representatives and senators Wednesday, April 10. After this traditional event, visits will be made to key leaders and new members in the Legislature. Anyone associated with a member firm of the Hosiery and Textiles Governmental Affairs Council is invited…indeed urged … to attend. Anyone wishing to travel to Raleigh the night before can stay at the nearby Clarion Hotel where special rates are available. The breakfast will be held at 7:15 a.m. in the Legislative Building cafeteria.