The arrival of Fall is also the beginning of a new year for the Hosiery and Textiles Governmental Affairs Council. The legislative lobbying program for the hosiery and textiles manufacturers began in 1992 with the support of the Carolina Hosiery Assn. Since 2002, the pro-active work on behalf the industries has been supported by the HTGAC, with primary objectives to support the success of the Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Textile Technology Center.
This work goes on year-round. As new members enter the House and Senate and leadership positions change, the on-scene lobbying activity includes communicating the needs of the centers and our manufacturers. As companies adjust to a new economy, and the centers support training and research priorities, the partnership with the General Assembly comes more important.
Membership letters will go out next month. Please encourage companies to join us.
Several national polls, including the NBC/Wall Street Journal’s, show Democrats ahead in North Carolina races for president, U.S. Senate and governor. Attorney General Roy Cooper reportedly is six percentage points ahead of incumbent Pat McCrory in the governor’s race. In the House, Democrats are not likely to regain the majority but can pick up enough seats to prevent a veto override. If Cooper wins, this is especially significant. The rapid growth of suburban precincts in Mecklenburg and Wake Counties could help Democrats. Also the GOP leadership’s stringent defense of controversial House Bill 2 reportedly is alienating moderate party voters and independents.
In an election season that has been like no other in recent history, surprise announcements and news reports are emerging from the leadership of political parties in North Carolina. Two top leaders in the N.C. House of Representatives have bowed out early, leaving Republicans scrambling for replacements. Rep. Charles Jeter of Mecklenburg County, chairman of the House caucus, pulled out of his race three weeks ago. This week, House Majority Leader Mike Hager of Rutherford County announced his departure. Both cited family reasons for their decisions. Speaker Pro Tem Paul Stam also is not seeking re-election.
Democrats in the House will have a race for the Minority Leader position. Rep. Ed Hanes of Forsyth County has announced he will run for the position now held by Rep. Larry Hall of Durham. Hall has been criticized for lack of candidates recruiting in districts where Republicans have no opposition.
The Wall Street Journal-NBC polls have added a new demographic to polling: people who have land lines versus mobile telephones. In the N.C. presidential race, Clinton gets 39 percent of the vote from people who have land lines and Trump garners 43 percent: For mobile phone voters, it is reversed: 47 percent for Clinton and 35 percent for Trump. At this stage among overall voters, Clinton leads Trump 45 to 41 percent.
In the governor’s race, home line voters tie—47 percent for both Cooper and McCrory. Cell phone voters are 50 percent Cooper and 44 percent McCrory. Overall definite voters give Cooper the edge—50 percent to 45 percent.
Burr maintains an eight percentage lead over Ross in the U.S. Senate race. However among cell phone users, the race is a 44 percent tie. Burr’s greatest strength is among independent and white voters.
On July 1, a new president took over the North Carolina Community Colleges system. Jimmie Williamson is the first leader of the North Carolina system to be recruited from outside the state. As the former president of the South Carolina Technical College System, he will bring experience in industrial recruiting and support for specific jobs training programs.
At his first meeting recently with the State Community Colleges Board, Williamson acknowledged that he has a steep learning curve as he gets to know the 58 community colleges in the North Carolina system. He plans to participate in 10 regional meetings where he will meet all presidents and trustees chairs.
Given Williamson’s background with a system that emphasized technical training, it might be expected that the programs of the Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Textile Technology Center will fit into his comfort zone because the centers support manufacturing growth and success. The MSC and the Textile Technology Center also have ties to the Legislature and Williamson has identified strong relations with state lawmakers as a top priority.
Williamson has appointed Jennifer Haygood as his chief of staff to handle day-to-day operations as he focuses on building relationships across the political and education spectrum.
Before taking the reins of the South Carolina technical colleges, held a leadership role with a healthcare company which gave him the opportunity to see what the colleges had to offer for workforce training. He later served as president of two technical colleges.
In North Carolina, Williamson will confront a different mission. The legislature four years ago adopted the N.C. Guapphiranteed Admissions Program (GAP) which would channel least prepared university applicants to a community college for their first two years of study. The UNC system has been pushing for a delay while community colleges say they are ready to move forward.
Raleigh observers think a new era for community colleges may be on the horizon.
Socks, apparel and textiles manufacturers will be among the exhibitors at the summer Outdoor Retailer Show Aug.3-6 in Salt Lake City, UT. Also participating will be representatives from the Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Textiles Technology Center who will be promoting testing and prototyping services.
Feetures, the socks company owned by Hugh Gaither, recently announced it was expanding its warehouse and shipping operations in Hickory. The company maintains administrative and sales offices in Charlotte. Feetures socks are sold in sports specialty stores throughout the U.S. The management includes Gaither’s sons. Most Feetures styles are sourced off-shore.
Over the past decade CNBC business channel has ranked North Carolina first or second as “the best state for business.” This year Utah ranked the best, with Texas the second best. North Carolina was fifth. The judges for the CNBC poll said North Carolina would have ranked second had it not been for the “bathroom bill.” The reference was to provisions in House Bill 2 that restricts use of public restrooms by transgender people. Major corporations are among the 68 businesses which have signed petitions calling for repeal of the provision in the bill.
As campaigns intensify for the November elections, we learn how expensive it has become to mount an effective effort. And the totals released by candidates to the State Board of Elections point to very competitive season. Example: Attorney General Roy Cooper who is running for governor has raised over $9 million, besting the $6 million total raised by incumbent Pat McCrory. Former state senator Josh Stein is reporting over $2 million in the race to succeed Cooper—about 10 times more than raised by GOP Senator Buck Newton of Goldsboro. Former State Rep. Deborah Ross who is seeking to unseat U.S. Senator Richard Burr has pulled in $2 million more than her opponent.
These are just highlights. With over 30 incumbents in the House and Senate retiring, Republicans and Democrats are scrambling to maintain or regain the majority. Republicans who have held a super majority in both Chambers since 2010 are likely to keep control. But Democrats are seeking to gain enough seats to prevent veto overrides. They will have to gain seven House seats and three Senate seats to meet this goal.
The move to eliminate the excise tax on textile manufacturing equipment was blocked in budget negotiations by senators who refused to compromise with House conferees. House Finance Chairman Jason Saine of Lincoln County pushed for the change, but senators felt the $12 million impact on the $22 billion budget was too much. Rep. Saine he will push for removal of the tax in 2017.