Archive for February, 2016

TERM LIMITS AT PLAY

The perception that the N.C. Legislature is a retirement home for lethargic lawmakers does not match reality. Between 2010 and 2014 some 37 of 50 senators left.

Some died. Some were defeated in re-election bids. Most simply retired. Of course the Republican revolution took place at this time, prompting some prominent Democrats to leave, including President Pro-Tem Marc Basnight. Next year more veterans will be gone, among them Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apadoca, Sen.Stan Bingham, Sen. Bob Rucho, Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, and Sen. Buck Newton.

Out of the class of 2010, only Sens. Phil Berger, Harry Brown, Don Davis and Floyd McKissick Jr. will return … they are unopposed in their re-election bid.

IN CONGRESS, THE TIES THAT BIND

When Mr. Brock goes to Congress, he will join associates from his days in the North Carolina General Assembly. Rep. Virginia Foxx who represents the N.C. Fifth District, Rep. Robert Pittman in the Ninth, and Rep. David Rouzer in the Second all served with Brock in the State Senate. Rep. Patrick McHenry in the 10th District, Alma Adams of the 12th, and Walter Jones of the Third served in the N.C. House during Brock’s career.

BROCK GOES TO CONGRESS

Sen. Andrew Brock of Davie County looked at the new map for North Carolina congressional districts and saw an opportunity. The new redistricting plan drawn up by his own Republican party moved the new 13th district that encompassed much of the Research Triangle over to a new area that includes Davie, Davidson, Iredell and part of Guilford and Rowan counties. Most of Brock’s state senate district lies within the congressional district. So Brock now is campaigning for a congressional seat.

Brock, 41, has spent most of his political life in the North Carolina Senate. He was a member of the Senate Sargent at Arms staff right out of college in the early 1990s. Brock worked on political campaigns across the state after graduating from Western Carolina University, including the re-election for U.S. Sen. Lauch Faircloth. He has held his senate seat for 14 years without opposition. He is co-chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources and is co-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee for his specialty.

The new congressional map is more compact that any in recent history. The Federal Courts, which ordered the state to redistrict and eliminate the racially-gerrymandered First and 12th Districts, are expected to sign off on the new map. The General Assembly last week adopted the plan and set June 23rd for a special election. Brock has visited the Manufacturing Solutions Center and attended the official opening in 2014. He has supported state appropriations for the MSC and Textile Technology Center. Democrats are hoping former State Rep. Cal Cunningham will seek the seat also. Cunningham is a Lexington lawyer who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010 and lost in the primary to Elaine Marshall.

JOB SECURITY FOR N.C. CONGRESS MEMBERS?

Federal judges have ordered North Carolina to redraw two congressional districts … and do it NOW. The long, snake-like district from Greensboro to Charlotte, the 12th represented by Alma Adams of Greensboro, and the First, with long-standing Congressman G.K. Butterfield, both are minority-majority districts. The court said this amounts to racial gerrymandering. Furthermore, the courts said the districts must be redrawn by the March 15 primary. The state has appealed to the U.S. Supreme court for a stay.

Last year the high court forced Alabama to redraw its districts for the same reason. However stage GOP leaders believe a delay is likely. Like falling dominoes, other districts will be affected.

Legislative Day

Wednesday, May 11. Join us.

PROTECTING TEXTILES AND HOSIERY

Sam Buff, director of the Textile Technology Center and Dan St. Louis, manager of the Manufacturing Solutions Center, are taking the challenge of future employment in manufacturing companies seriously. Both are meeting on a regular basis to develop a strategic plan for a Hosiery and Textiles Jobs Training Academy. The concept is to create a single academy to prepare jobs seekers for employment in mills of the future. The academy would work under the North Carolina Community Colleges and serve industries statewide.

The academy is seen as ambitious, but doable. Involved will be a coalition of manufacturers, equipment suppliers, and supply chain companies. Automation, robotics, internet technology all are sweeping into manufacturing complexes. Survival depends on training and attitudes and a willingness to invest.

Legislative Day

Wednesday, May 11. Join us.

IT’S THE FUTURE, STUPID

Recent reports and data presented this week at the Emerging Issues Forum in Raleigh offer some insight into the unrest among voters—all voters, Republican, Democrats, independents. It’s about job security and the concerns are well-founded.

While the Democratic and Republican presidential leaders are blaming global trade for jobs losses, the participants at the EIF saw another, more sinister trend. Automation. Five counties in North Carolina are threatened with the loss of 39 percent of their jobs. Even major urban counties, including Wake and Mecklenburg, could see up to 30 percent of their jobs disappear. Counties where manufacturing or hospitality jobs—foodservice included—will feel the impact of automation most significantly.

We’re not looking at a jobless future, as some researchers predict. But the days of walking into a job without experience or training are soon to be gone with the wind.

Mike Walden, an economist with N.C. State University, concludes that the 141,000 people in food preparations and service with an annual wage of $17,950 are most vulnerable. Retail salespersons, about 140,000, with annual income of $25,050, are next. Waiters, waitresses, cashiers, office clerks, are high on the list—more than 300,000 earning $20,000 to $28,000. Manufacturing jobs are at the middle of the list.

Legislative Day

Wednesday, May 11. Join us.