This week the General Assembly again convenes with an agenda yet to be announced. Current legislative leaders have ushered in a new approach to doing business. The House and Senate have been in special sessions every month since the long 2017 session recessed in July. In previous years, so-called “special sessions” could only be called by the governor. However, new rules for operation of the House and Senate allows the leaders to schedule sessions to address “unfinished business.” Overriding vetoes by Gov. Roy Cooper tops these agenda. But bills dealing with budget adjustments and redistricting also are being thrashed out in the committees and on the floor. The sessions this week probably will override the governor’s veto of a bill to eliminate primaries for judicial candidates in 2018. Gov. Cooper vetoed the proposed legislation, arguing that it is part of a Republican strategy to eliminate election of judges. The bill also changed judicial districts for judges and district attorneys. Proponents argue that new districts give rural voters more choices. Judges and organizations representing the judiciary have opposed the bill.
The Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Textile Technology Center are receiving contracts from the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA}, tightening the partnership between these two important resources for the industry. The directors of the centers—Sam Buff for the Textile Technology Center and Dan St. Louis for the MSC—are working closely to offer comprehensive testing and prototyping for new products that could have implications for the U.S. Department of Defense.
Our legislative agenda will include resources to expand the capabilities of the centers without duplications. This will be a busy year for the Hosiery and Textiles Governmental Affairs Council to protect and enhance the momentum of manufacturing and its economy.
The HTGAC membership season begins this month as a new election cycle cranks up. We look forward to your partnership with us. Encourage other companies to join us.
Before adjourning the special session last week, the Legislators adopted a resolution calling for them to return to the Capitol City in early October. The resolution authorizes the members to take up a variety of bills including impeachment. Rep. Chris Mills of Duplin County had introduced a resolution calling for the removal of veteran Secretary of State Elaine Marshall on the grounds she had approved of notary licenses to undocumented persons. Last week Mills announced his resignation effective September 15. There was no momentum behind his efforts. Legislators can address regulatory and budget issues in the upcoming October session.
The regular session of the North Carolina Legislature ended before the July 4 holidays, with a record budget adopted and a long list of regulatory reforms adopted. But six weeks later the lawmakers were back in session. This time it was to address the highly partisan task of redistricting and overriding vetoes from Governor Cooper. The power struggle between the legislators and the governor have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees on both sides. And as efforts continue to strip away more power from the governor, lawyers will become richer.
Recently, the Legislature again convened to adopt new districts for House members and Senators in response to a mandate from federal judges who imposed a September 1 deadline for new election maps to eliminate the gerrymandering of minority voters into compact districts. No tinkering with the districts, the court advised. So the new maps drawn by Republicans with a super majority in both Chambers were adopted. As a result, several senators announced their retirements and will not seek re-election in 21018. At least one House member decided to move to a new community in a new district to avoid competing with an incumbent representative. But in the end, if the new maps are approved by the federal judiciary, there is likely to be few advantages for Democrats in the 2018 elections unless unexpected developments put Republicans on the defensive.
Gildan Yarns, a division of Gildan Activewear, has announced new and expanded operations for Bladen, Rowan and Davie Counties. Jacob Holms will employ 65 persons in a new plant at Candler in Buncomb County. Custom Nonwovens, a Korean-owned company, will put 72 people to work in a new operation in Thomasville.
Gov. Roy Cooper has raised over $1 million to put in the 2018 Legislative races that are competitive for Democrats. He wants to break the veto-proof majority of Republicans in the House and the Senate. A million dollars is a lot of money, but in the world of politics it is not an astronomical amount. In 2010, Raleigh businessman Art Pope spent $3 million to help Republicans gain control of both chambers and thus control the redistricting process. The rapid urbanization trends also are expected to help the Democrats, but not enough to gain majorities in the House and Senate.
It’s easy for legislators to catch Raleigh fever. Former lawmakers often retire there. Five weeks after adjourning the 2017 session, the members of the General Assembly are returning to the Capitol City for a special session that convenes next week. It is Mission Redistricting.
Again the courts have ruled that the gerrymandered map for state elections discriminates racially. Last year congressional districts were realigned. This years the district lines for representatives and senators will be changed. Estimates put the changes at 50 to 60 percent of the 170 districts. While there have been calls for a new statewide election as early as next March, it is more likely that voters will cast ballots in new districts in November 2018. That will assure more new faces will be in Jones Street offices in 2019.
Rubberflex Sdn. Bhd. Of Kuala Lampur, Malaysia and DeSales Trading Co. of Burlington have begun a partnership in the distribution of 100 percent latex rubber thread in the United States, according to a news release from DeSales.
Amy Wong, international sales coordinator at Rubberflex, said DeSales offers “an excellent channel” to reach the elastic narrow fabric braided rope and related markets in the Eastern U.S. Michael Murray, vice president of sales for DeSales said the Rubberflex product mix ranges from 20 to 110 gauge rubber, silicone and talcum finishes in black and white.
The adjournment resolution adopted by a majority of N.C. House members last Friday included an announcement that the Legislature will reconvene on August 3 to take care of “unfinished business.” Overriding vetoes of bills by Gov. Roy Cooper and consideration of proposed amendments to the state constitution could be among the issues. Redistribution of sales tax revenue to low wealth counties is still a hot button issue. Legislators also have scheduled a session in September, perhaps to redraw judicial districts for judges, district attorneys and court personnel.
Also on the table is drawing new districts for General Assembly members. Senate Pro Temp President Phil Berger has appointed a Senate redistricting committee chaired by Sen. Ralph Hise of Mitchell County. The committee includes 14 Republicans and five Democrats.