Your contributions to HOSEPAC will enable us to help those members who have stepped up for our industries and our legislative initiatives. Contributions must be personal—companies cannot contribute. Please send contributions to Hosepac, P.O. Box 1708, Hickory, NC 28603.
The federal courts forced the Republican-dominated legislature to redraw congressional districts for the upcoming election and it is expected another mandate from the courts will require legislative districts to be revamped. The courts have written communications indicating that race was considered by GOP lawmakers in the redistricting process in 2011. Republicans will remain in control in the next session but with smaller majorities in the House and Senate. Also, there will be wholesale changes in the leadership due to resignations.
The HTGAC has supporters on both sides of the aisle. In January a new Legislature with dozens of new members will convene. There will be significant changes.
Rep. Chris Malone of Wake County and Rep. Billy Richardson of Cumberland County have contacted the HTGAC offices to reinterate their support of our efforts to remove the $80 franchise tax imposed on new manufacturing equipment. Removal of the tax would cost the state $12 million out of a $22 billion budget. Our argument is that nothing should penalize hosiery and textile mills that are updating capabilities for 21st century manufacturing. Roy Cooper affirmed his support for removal in a discussion during a campaign stop in Hickory.
With the historic 2016 general elections less than 60 days ahead, polls are showing North Carolina is moving from purple to blue—especially in the gubernatorial race. Most recently, the University of Virginia Center for Politics mved the state from “toss-up” to “leans Democrat.” Other polls, including the Public Policy Poll, report voters favor Attorney General Roy Cooper by 7 percentage points over incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory. Most pollsters and media personalities point to HB2, the so-called bathrooms bill, as the turning point. Others suggest that Donald Trump’s embracing of Russian President Vladimir Putin has damaged the GOP brand this year.
The state’s business community was pulled into the HB2 affray when Gov. McCrory reported that the N.C. Chamber had participated in the drafting of the bill. Chamber President Lew Ebert strongly denied the report. The bill included provisions that restricted the rights of employees to sue companies for illegal practices and discrimination.
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.