Archive for March, 2016

BUDGET LOOKS HEALTHY

Thanks to new fees and taxes adopted in the last session of the General Assembly, lawmakers will be looking at a surplus when the April revenue figures are released. Gov. McCrory has insisted salary increases for teachers will be the top priority for the new revenue. Also a sizable chunk is expected to be put in the state’s reserve account known as the “rainy day fund.”

Hosiery and Textiles Day at the Legislature:
May 11. Contact us for details and reservations.

CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATES GALORE

The dramatic redistricting of congressional districts has attracted a record number of candidates, especially Republican state legislators who can run in the special primary without risking their seats. There will be no runoff in the special June 7 primary. The top vote-getter wins without having a required 40 percent of the ballots cast.

The new 13th Congressional district that stretches from Greensboro to Iredell County has a record 22 candidates, most of them current legislators. Among them are Rep. Julia Howard, a former senior Finance Chairman and longtime House leader, and Sen. Andrew Brock.

10th District U.S. Patrick McHenry has four GOP challengers in the primary. The winner will face Andy Millard, a Rutherford County businessman and former educator who is waging an aggressive campaign on social media.

Hosiery and Textiles Day at the Legislature:
May 11. Contact us for details and reservations.

NEW HISTORIC ERA FOR N.C. POLITICS

The 2016 political season is on course to raise the bar for toxic politics. Historians can point to past elections in America where personal attacks were vicious: (Thomas Jefferson vs. John Adams and personal attacks on Grover Cleveland). But nothing seems to rank with the divisions now confronting voters. If presidential charges and counter-charges aren’t enough in North Carolina, along comes House Bill 2.

This so-called gender restrooms bill was prompted by Charlotte’s ordinance allowing transgender people to select restrooms of the “sex with which they identify.” Legislators again decided to overrule local ordinances and mandate persons use bathrooms that identify their birth sex. But then they went further, removing protections for the LGBT population, including the right to file complaints of discrimination. And for good measure, the legislators added provisions prohibiting local governments to adopt laws involving the minimum wage. International companies with operations in North Carolina have objected and the national media has had a field day.

So what does this have to do with the manufacturing community?

Some legislators in metropolitan areas are likely to lose their seats. North Carolina is a divided state in the current political climate and pro-business supporters may lose some allies. The gubernatorial race involving incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory and Attorney General Roy Cooper already was a toss-up. McCrory’s decision to promptly sign the bill could tip the balance. He may gain evangelical votes, but also prompt large corporations to support Cooper. The upcoming short session of the General Assembly is likely to center on refining the state budget. But a bill to repeal House Bill 2 is being drafted by Democrats and other election-year legislation can be expected. In the meantime, North Carolina will be navigating in a volatile economic climate.

Hosiery and Textiles Day at the Legislature:
May 11. Contact us for details and reservations.

DEATH AND TAXES ALWAYS PRESENT

When the N.C. Legislature convenes next month, taxation again will be on the GOP agenda. Lawmakers already are hearing from voters and businesses about new sales taxes on services. Example: if a fixture that requires plumbing is installed by the business which sold it, that business has to charge tax on the labor used in installation. If the fixture is installed by an independent contract plumber, the labor is not taxed. Also, taxes on labor for automotive repairs is not popular with voters. But once the lid is opened on taxation issues, the results often end up like a Pandora’s box.

LABOR COMMISSIONER CAMPAIGNS

Cherie Berry was the first Republican to win a Council of State seat when she was elected Commissioner of Labor 12 years ago. The Department of Labor is the state agency for OSHA and is responsible for safety inspections in businesses and levying fines for violations. The department also has sponsored training programs for manufacturing jobs. This year Commissioner Berry will face a Charles Meeker, a former Raleigh mayor who is the Democratic nominee. Berry is a Catawba County native and was employed at Inform Inc. She and her late husband owned an automotive aftermarket business that that moved to Catawba County from Michigan. The Labor Department is one of the state’s smaller agencies—but important to manufacturing.

INCUMBENTS HAVE GOOD NIGHT

Voters are said to be fed up with the political status quo—ideological gridlock, controversial haggling over divisive bills. But apparently, most state legislators don’t carry that baggage. They won their primary battles. However some were razor thin. Rep. Charles Jeter, GOP whip in the House, won his primary fight by 27 votes out of 7,400 cast. Rep. Justin Burr, former House budget writer, survived by 242 votes out of 12,350 cast. And Larry Pittman of Cabarrrus County claimed a primary battle victory by 590 out of 10,600. Rep. George Robinson of Lenoir was the only incumbent to lose his primary battle.

IMPORTANCE OF MAY 11

When our annual Legislative Day arrives, it will be especially important to have a show of support from the hosiery and textile industries. The operations of the Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Textile Technology Center are facing increased demands for services—notably training and research—and this means money. Our program will include a presentation by Patti Bates of Glen Raven Mills emphasizing the 21st century profile of the industry.

ERA OF ENTREPRENEURS

Dan St. Louis, MSC director, and Sam Buff, director of the Textile Technology Center, report more people are seeking help for start-up companies. These would-be manufacturers are focusing on specialty products. The road is complicated sometimes, but support from these unique North Carolina centers can mean the difference. The discussions which are taking place with Buff and St. Louis involve opportunities for making more new companies successful.

FAREWELL TO HOSIERY NOTABLE

Maurice Koury, owner of Carolina Hosiery Mills in Burlington , died Tuesday, March 8. He was 86. Koury joined his brother, Ernest, in the hosiery business in 1952 after military service and attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He and Ernest worked together at Carolina Hosiery for 60 years. Even during the years globalization forced many hosiery mills to close, Carolina maintained operations with over 400 employees.

Maurice gave millions of dollars to UNC-Chapel Hill and to Elon University.

OPEN DOOR FOR THE AMBITIOUS: 13TH DISTRICT

Rep. John Blust of Greensboro this week announced he will seek the new 13th District congressional seat. Blust has filed for re-election to his House seat, but later came the new congressional map which moved the 13th district to the Piedmont area stretching from Greensboro to Statesville. Sen. Andrew Brock, a nine-term legislator from Davidson County announced three weeks ago, soon after Republicans released the new map. Rep. Jon Hardister, also of Greensboro, has expressed an interest in the congressional seat. He has been a legislator for two terms. Hardister’s family owned a hosiery manufacturing company in Morganton.

A special primary election for congressional candidates will be held in mid June. Pete Glidewell, a former executive with Alba-Waldensian Hosiery Mill in Valdese in the 1980s, is seeking the Democratic nomination for the Sixth Congressional District.