March Legislative Report

Paul Fogleman,

LET THE GAMES BEGIN

Paul Fogleman

Paul Fogleman

With the close of the filing period, about one-third of the North Carolina legislators learned they have a free ride in the November general elections. For all the threats and talk about the record of the House and Senate, only a few contests lie ahead – many in the May 6 primary.

Redistricting made seats safe for most incumbents. Those districts where African-Americans hold the majority will experience no upheaval. Republican legislators redistricted House and Senate seats to assure the GOP will maintain control – at least through the next three elections. As they say, elections have consequences.

Still, there will be new faces. Veterans in both political parties have said “enough” and stepped aside. In metropolitan areas where public education is a burning issue, there will be intense campaigns, some where no incumbents are involved.

In between the primaries and the general election there is a Legislative session. The calendar indicates the leaders will try to make it short and sweet. The deadline for filing bills is two days after the opening on May 14. Lawmakers already are studying revenue figures and spending demands, so budget hearings will come almost immediately after the opening gavel sounds.

Who wields the House gavel is still not certain. If House Speaker Thom Tillis wins the primary for U.S. Senate, will he want to return and become embroiled in controversy? How will national GOP officials feel about his staying in Raleigh when a state campaign demands his time?

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

Top leaders in the General Assembly have opponents. But they see this as potentially a good thing. It helps them raise money. In the Senate, President Pro-Tem Phil Berger, Rules Chairman Tom Apadoca, Appropriations Chair Jerry Tillman, and Finance Chair Bob Rucho have contests ahead. This motivates funds-raising support. Each raises tens of thousands of dollars, most of which goes into the party caucus for statewide campaigns.

For Democrats, finding contributions is like a blind squirrel looking for acorns. Lot of work and less rewards … at least in North Carolina. It is expected that Republicans will go into the fall elections with a three to one advantage. The exception will be the U.S. Senate race.

KEEPING THE EXPORT TEAM

During a recent visit to the Manufacturing Solutions Center, Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker said she is satisfied with the team working with exporting opportunities for N.C. manufacturers. This was good news for Dan St. Louis, director of the Manufacturing Solutions Center which is working with furniture and hosiery producers seeking offshore markets.

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