In this edition of the newsletter, I will be discussing recent statistics indicating North Carolina’s improved job market. I also want to discuss a meeting I recently had with the NC School Boards Association. Finally, I want to solicit your opinions on opening up state records of prescriptions for Narcotics, which was recently proposed by the NC Sheriffs Association.
MORE JOBS FOR NORTH CAROLINA CITIZENS
Recently the US Bureau of Labor Statistics released employment statistics detailing how the job markets in individual states were faring as compared to the rest of the country. I am pleased to report that, in August of this year, North Carolina lead the nation in job creation. Our state created over 18,000 jobs in August alone. To put that in perspective, the next highest state, in terms of jobs created, was Missouri with 3,600 new jobs in August.
North Carolina has also been at the top when you spread these statistics out over the past year. Our state ranks 4th in the nation in employment gains over the past year and 3rd in the nation in decreasing our jobless rate. You can view the full statistical analysis from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics here.
It is clear that our efforts at improving the employment situation in North Carolina are working. We are leading the way out of this recession, but we are not there yet. We must continue to work to stimulate small business growth, protect jobs and train our workforce. Creating jobs is, and will continue to be, my top priority.
These statistics are a clear sign we are heading in the right direction, but we must continue on this heading or we risk losing all the gains we have made. It is my commitment to you that I will continue in this fight to pull our state out of the recession and restore our economy to its rightful place.
*photo courtesy of The Daily Dispatch
Recently I spoke to a collection of North Carolina School Board officials at the new Clarke Elementary School in Vance County. Many topics were discussed, by both myself and by Rep. Jim Crawford (pictured above). Education is an important priority of mine, but there is one education issue that I am particularly interested in: protecting teacher jobs.
Education is the backbone of our society, and ensuring that our children receive the education they deserve is one of the most essential things our state government is tasked with doing. But the real people doing the work and educating our children are their teachers. They are the ones in the trenches fighting everyday for our students. I feel it is my responsibility, as a state legislator and budget writer, to fight for them and their jobs.
In the most recent budget, we sought to protect teachers in our education budget. We shifted lottery money to be available for the funding of teacher positions. This shift has keep classroom sizes from ballooning, and has kept qualified teachers in our schools. In the upcoming budgetary year, I will continue to protect classroom jobs. Our teachers work so hard for our children. The least I can do is support them in their efforts.
DRUG PRESCRIPTION LISTS
At a recent Committee Meeting here at the General Assembly, the NC Sheriffs Association made a proposal that has drawn some opposition. The Sheriffs are requesting the General Assembly grant them access to a Statewide prescription list kept by Department of Health and Human Services, in an effort to fight drug abuse in our communities.
Specifically, the Sheriffs want access to narcotic prescription records. Individual Sheriffs have claimed that, in their local counties, more people die from prescription drug overdoses than from homicides. The Sheriffs contend that access to the statewide prescription database would allow them to significantly curtail this type of drug abuse. Currently the list is only available to doctors and pharmacies.
But there are other issues to consider, namely patient privacy. Some groups, most notably the ACLU, have opposed previous efforts to open up this list to law enforcement. They claim that the privacy rights of the patients would be violated if the list were opened up to local Sheriffs.
It is a sensitive subject. There are two very important concerns on both sides of the debate. On one side there is the issue of law enforcement and protecting from drug abuse and drug overdoses. On the other there are privacy rights and concerns. Both sides have legitimate arguments.
Some of you have personally emailed me about this proposal. I want to hear from as many of you as I can on this issue. There have been discussions about the level of access to the list. Perhaps the list should only be open to law enforcement officers on a limited basis, for specific investigations, and only upon request. I would like to hear your thoughts on what the best solution might be.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and comments on the issues discussed in the newsletter. Please feel free to respond to any issue, whether it was covered in the newsletter or not. It is an honor to serve as your State Senator, and I will do everything in my power to live up to that honor.