September 2017 Legislative Update
We have had a busy and productive year in the General Assembly as we approach the fall season. Here is quick update on the work that we have been doing.
Economic Outlook Remains Positive
The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that North Carolina’s unemployment rate has dropped to 4.1 percent, which is the lowest rate in over a decade. Total employment has increased by 69,738 over the last year, with a total of 4,702,213 North Carolinians being employed. This indicates that our economy continues to move in a positive direction.
August Special Session
We held a legislative session in August to take up pending legislation. Most of our focus was on bills that are in what is called a “Conference Committee.” This pertains to bills that have passed both the House and Senate, but the two chambers have disagreements on the details of the legislation, so a Conference Committee is appointed to reconcile the differences.
Tax Burden Decreases
This year’s budget established further tax cuts on our hard-working citizens. Income taxes will soon drop from 5.5 to 5.2 percent; corporate taxes (which are passed to consumers) will soon drop from 3 to 2 percent; and standard deductions (which primarily benefit low-income individuals) will increase from $17,500 to $20,000 for a married couple and from $8,250 to $10,000 for a single taxpayer. These tax cuts will allow North Carolinians to keep more of the money they earn, which will further strengthen our economy.
AAA Credit Rating
It was recently announced that North Carolina is one of only 12 states that have a AAA credit rating from all three agencies. This indicates that we are managing our finances in a responsible and efficient manner. When compared to other states that are struggling to pay their bills (such as Illinois), North Carolina is in a strong and stable condition.
Speaker of the House Tim Moore has appointed me to serve on the following interim committees:
- Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee
- Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Capital Improvements
- Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform
- Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations
- House Select Committee on Judicial Redistricting
- Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on the State Lottery
- Revenue Laws Study Committee
These are committees that meet in the interim when the legislature is not in session, with the goal of providing oversight into various areas of state government.
One issue that needs to be addressed is the composition of judicial districts in North Carolina (both District Court and Superior Court districts). In Guilford County, there are five Superior Court districts, and they have not been updated since 2001. The population of these districts vary substantially, which is not fair to the voters (or to the candidates). The House Select Committee on Judicial Redistricting is currently working to update and streamline our judicial elections system, which needs to be done.
Wyndham Championship Success
The PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship this year was a great success. This event attracts tourism, generates revenue and puts our region on the national radar. I appreciate the tournament staff and volunteers who worked hard to make the event a success.