Even when the legislature is not in session, lawmakers continue to work for the well being of our state.
One of the ways they do this is through study commissions and oversight committees. During this past session, we used our study commissions to address several issues, including improving North Carolina’s transportation infrastructure.
We are also continuing to evaluate the economic and environmental impacts of offshore drilling and working to better understand and reduce poverty, particularly in rural areas.
The following information outlines where we are now in our efforts and some of the recommendations and findings of our studies. I hope you will find them useful.
Thank you as always for taking an interest in North Carolina government and for supporting our efforts to make our state a better place.
The 21st Century Transportation Committee was established last year to look at ways to improve the state’s transportation by reducing congestion, improving efficiency and productivity, increasing safety, improving the environment and supporting economic development.
After meeting more than a year, the committee recently issued several recommendations.
One of the main findings of the committee was that the state’s continued growth presents great challenges to our infrastructure. North Carolina’s population is growing at the ninth-fastest rate in the nation and the state already maintains more miles of road than all but one other state.
Preparing the state’s roads for the anticipated growth will require funding sources that don’t depend on gasoline use, as the existing system does, the committee determined.
The committee recommended several alternate financing options, such as increasing the highway use tax; implementing a vehicle miles traveled fee; increasing vehicle registration fees; authorizing a bond referendum to accelerate construction on high traffic, high congestion roadways; and authorizing a local option sales tax for transportation for counties, cities, and metropolitan regions.
Other policy objectives are to reduce congestion; preserve our current transportation system, while making improvements; reduce fatal accidents and serious injuries on transportation facilities; restore public trust and confidence in the delivery of transportation services; and increase cooperation and collaboration at all levels of government.
The House Select Committee on Televising House Sessions has recommended that the chamber begin offering live, gavel-to-gavel coverage of floor sessions. The committee’s report also suggests that selected committee meetings — including those of the Appropriation and Finance committees — be televised.
Twenty-eight other states already have some form of over-the-air broadcasting of television coverage of the legislature. North Carolina broadcasts only audio coverage of the House and Senate floor sessions, but the committee agreed that the state’s residents should be able to see and understand how their government and their elected representatives work for them.
Broadcasts should begin with Internet broadcasts with the goal of eventually being able to broadcasts on television, the committee recommended.
The committee also wants the Speaker of the House to consult with the leaders of both parties to govern the content, selection and editorial policies of the program and has asked to be reauthorized for another year so that its members can continue to review issues related to creating the live broadcasts.
In North Carolina, more than 7,600 people were sterilized between 1929 and 1978 by the state’s Eugenics Sterilization Program. Some of the victims of the program were disabled or mentally handicapped, but others were victimized simply because they were poor or black. In its final report, the House Select Committee on Compensation for Victims of the Eugenics Sterilization Program made recommendations for a range of reparations to be made to North Carolinians victimized by the state’s forced sterilization program.
Among the recommendations are:
Speaker Joe Hackney and President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight have established a joint Senate-House committee to consider the financial and environmental implications of oil and natural gas exploration off our state’s coast. The study committee has not yet been appointed but will be instructed to determine the relative costs and benefits of offshore drilling in North Carolina.
Poverty in North Carolina is widespread, especially in rural areas and other areas that have lost significant numbers of agricultural and manufacturing jobs. The General Assembly has determined that an understanding of the causes and effects of poverty are critical in the reduction of poverty and in the economic recovery of lowâ€‘wealth areas.
To help policymakers, the General Assembly has established the Poverty Reduction and Economic Recovery Legislative Study Commission. The commission has been asked to: study and develop a coordinated, integrated approach to poverty reduction and economic recovery across the state; examine poverty in each region of the state with an emphasis on the following counties: Alleghany, Avery, Bladen, Columbus, Edgecombe, Graham, Halifax, Hoke, Northampton, Robeson, Scotland, Tyrrell, Warren, Watauga, and Yancey; examine other states’ best practices in poverty reduction and economic recovery; and study any other matter pertinent to poverty reduction and economic recovery in North Carolina.
Please invite me to attend your county, city, community or civic, etc. meetings or events.
Kay, Matthew, Phillip and I wish for you and your family a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with peace, hope and happiness.
As I’ve said many times before, I hope you will continue to let me know how you feel about the issues that are being debated by the North Carolina Legislature and the challenges you and your family are facing each day.
By working together, we can make Northampton, Vance and Warren Counties and all regions of North Carolina a better place to live, work and raise a family.
Please remember that you can listen to each day’s committee meetings and press conferences on the General Assembly’s website. Once on the site, select “audio,” and then make your selection. You can also use the website to look up bills, view lawmaker biographies and access other information.