REVENUE PICTURE. COLOR IT GREEN.

Paul Fogleman,

Tax collections in April gave the state about $500 to $600 million in additional money for the current biennium budget. With a competitive election season ahead, Republican leaders are considering changes to the tax code. But they will not have a major impact as pressure for more money for education builds. The legislature will use this one-time money to increase teacher salaries and other needs.

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SHORT SESSION MAY LIVE UP TO ITS NAME

Paul Fogleman,

After primary elections that sent a few veteran legislators packing, there seems to be consensus this week that the “short session” of the General Assembly may, indeed, be…short. Maybe 35 to 40 days. Senior members in the Senate and House insist the goal is to adopt budget adjustments by June 20 and recess. The lawmakers would return 10 days later to override a veto of the budget by Gov. Roy Cooper. Cooper wants significantly more money for education and security in N.C. Prisons than legislators are likely to approve.

Court reform measures, including selection of judges and judicial redistricting, are on the agenda but the defeat of a major proponent in the primary, Rep. Justin Burr of Stanley County, dims the prospects.

And, with the new normal, surprise bills are expected. There is a widespread belief that the GOP will lose the super majority to override gubernatorial vetoes. This could mean partisan bills could suddenly appear on the calendars.

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DETOUR AHEAD

Paul Fogleman,

Efforts to unite the services of N.C State University College of Textiles, the Textiles Technology Center, and the Manufacturing Solutions (hosiery) Center have been interrupted by the opposition of a Piedmont GOP senator. The opposition reportedly was based on personality issues and protocol according to some manufacturers. Catawba Valley Community College and the Manufacturing Solutions Center enthusiastically backed the creation of a N.C. Fabrication Enhancement and Discovery Center endorsed in the last session by legislative leaders. The imitative was led by the College of Textiles. Proponents reportedly are continuing to explore the concept.

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WOMEN POWER DEMOCRAT POSTS

Paul Fogleman,

As columnist Thomas Mills writes in his blog “Politics North Carolina,” Democrats are pinning November hopes on women candidates. Five of the 12 Democratic candidates for congress in North Carolina are women. In Ohio it is 10 of 16 and in Indiana 5 of nine. About half of the Democratic candidates for N.C. Legislative seats are female.

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CHANGES IN THE LEGISLATURE

Paul Fogleman,

For almost a dozen legislators, changes that were blowing in the wind prior to the primary elections became a gale force when voters turned out Tuesday.

Five Republican lawmakers will not return after November. Rep. Justin Burr, who has led the fight to implement major changes in the state judiciary, lost to pharmacist Wayne Sasser. Lawyers were opposed to Burr’s concept which would have legislators electing judges. Sasser’s win was decisive.

Sen. David Curtis, Lincoln County optometrist, also was defeated. Eye doctors spent over $100,000 to oppose Curtis who had introduced a bill to let optometrists perform some procedures restricted to ophthalmologists. Sen. Dan Barrett, a Davie County accountant once active in the Carolina Hosiery Association, was defeated by Sen. Joyce Krawiec, another incumbent. Rep. Beverly Boswell who made controversial posts about students in the gun control movement was defeated by Dare County commissioner Bobby Hanig in the GOP primary. And Charlotte dentist Robert Rucho, a former powerful Senate Rules Committee chairman, failed in his bid to make a comeback in an Iredell County district.

Three so-called firebrand House members—George Cleveland of Onslow, Michael Speciale of Craven and Larry Pittman—garnered enough support from GOP most conservative voters to survive for the November election.

Two Mecklenburg Democrats, Sen. Joel Ford and Rep. Rodney Moore, were ousted Tuesday as was Rep. Duane Hall of Wake County who was accused of molesting women.

Rep. Bob Steinberg of Elizabeth City won the GOP nominate for the Senate First District seat held by retiring Bill Cook. Steinberg’s opponent had been backed by well-known Republicans, including Sen. Harry Brown of Onslow, a senior budget writer.

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SYFA MEETING APRIL 26-27

Paul Fogleman,

The Synthetic Yarn and Fibers Association will meet April 26-27 at the Airport Sheraton Hotel in Charlotte. The theme will be “Textiles Technologies” with speakers focusing on innovations in products they are bringing to market. Some 120 executives from textiles manufacturers, suppliers and markets are expected to participate. Online registration is available.

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TEXTILES GAINS MOMENTUM IN U.S.

Paul Fogleman,

At the recent meeting of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), Chairman William McCrary Jr. laid out the association’s priorities in an atmosphere of pro-growth optimism. McCrary announced that shipments of textile products—man-made fiber, filaments, textile and apparel—were valued at $77 billion in 2017, up almost 4 percent from the previous year. Of the total, $31.5 billion represented yarns and fabrics, $26.6 for home furnishings, carpet and other non-apparel products; $12.5 for apparel and legwear and $7.3 billion for man-made fibers.

McCrary said that of the 550,500 workers, 112,300 were in companies making yarn and fabrics, 114,000 in home furnishings etc.; 119,300 in apparel manufacturing; 25,100 in operations for man-made fibers and the rest in supply chain businesses and farming. NAFTA and CAFTA countries made up the largest segment for exports with shipments valued at $15.2 billion.

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UPCOMING SESSION COULD BE OUR MOST SIGNIFICANT

Paul Fogleman,

The halls of the General Assembly are most quiet now. Incumbent representatives and senators with primary opponents are busy in their districts cultivating votes for the May 8 elections. For some the session that convenes a week later will be their last.

Preparations for the HTCAC legislative agenda however are intense. Yet to be disclosed details of a joint effort with the College of Textiles at North Carolina State University are being crafted for a major Legislative push. The goal is the establishment of a program with national implications. Lobbying will be a joint effort of the HTGAC and NCSU. But especially important will be the involvement and support of our members and executives from hosiery and textiles companies.

Legislators will learn that textiles ranks third in direct foreign investments in North Carolina with over $1 billion in the last decade, surpassed only by pharmaceuticals and automotive components(which also include textile products.} Also, some 150,000 people are supported by jobs in N.C. textiles and hosiery companies and their supplier companies. Our legislative efforts are directed at building a world-class infrastructure to grow the businesses and nurture new entrepreneurs.

The official 2018 session opens May 16 and is expected to conclude by mid-July. The Hosiery and Textiles Legislative Day is Wednesday, June 6.

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RED, BLUE AND PURPLE

Paul Fogleman,

Red North Carolina has a Republican-dominated Legislative branch at constant war with the executive. Gov. Roy Cooper, Democrat, has faced attempts to strip him of power to appoint his cabinet, veto overrides, and more recently of funds he negotiated from Dominion Power Co. extending a natural gas pipeline across Eastern North Carolina. Color him blue.

Democrats this year recruited candidates to run in all 170 legislative districts as did Republicans. But observers in North Carolina politics have concluded that only 26 districts are truly competitive. Democrats would have to win a net gain of 10 Senate seats and 16 House seats to regain a majority. The recent election of a Democrat in a solid red congressional district in Pennsylvania has energized party leaders across Tarheelia. They believe new voters in the metropolitan areas will turn North Carolina purple.

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IF THE T’WAIN SHALL MEET, WHERE?

Paul Fogleman,

Legislators on the Joint Economic Development and Global Engagement Committee recently heard North Carolina leaders in economic growth offer sobering observations on the rural-urban divide. As the urban areas around Raleigh and Charlotte rapidly gain businesses and population, dozens of rural counties are losing jobs and population. The top leaders in the House and Senate represent mostly rural areas and they are frustrated.

In not-too-distant memory, hosiery and textiles mills were jobs providers in small communities across the state. Globalization on the eve of the 21st century shuttered most of the mills. Surviving manufacturers have downsized and turned to automation. As a result thousands of people have migrated to urban areas for jobs demanding skilled personnel and for a lifestyle with more attractions.

Implications for North Carolina involve education, infrastructure, regulatory issues, and financing, the legislators were advised. Of all jobs available in North Carolina at the beginning of 2018, 59 percent required education beyond high school. Also, according Chris Chung, director of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, infrastructure tops the list of priorities for business prospects. Highways and access to markets are among most important concerns.

The growth trends in North Carolina are reflected in the incentive grants. The state paid $421.7 million to companies in the North Central area that includes Wake and Durham Counties. The Southwest area dominated by Mecklenburg County received $34l.4 million for business growth. Some $87.7 million went to companies in the Triad. By contrast companies qualifying in the Southeast area of the state were given $22.9 million.

The legislators are evaluating two North Carolinas: the fast-paced urban centers and the struggling rural communities depending on agriculture, small and medium-sized traditional manufacturing companies, and dealing with smaller populations. Strategies and goals are elusive.

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