Political Notebook: McLaurin preaches reaching across aisle in Raleigh
N.C. Sen. Gene McLaurin, D-Rockingham, said headlines about legislators not being able to work together and compromise in Raleigh are all too familiar.
Since being elected to represent Anson, Richmond, Rowan, Scotland and Stanly counties, McLaurin said he has strived to reach across the aisle and do what is best both for his district as well as the state.
“As a member of the Rural and Agricultural Caucus in the (N.C.) General Assembly, I recently had an opportunity to work with my friend, Senator Brent Jackson, a Sampson County Republican, and others on a bill that seeks to cut through unnecessary regulations to promote our agricultural economy and to protect our farmers from frivolous or unnecessary lawsuits,” McLaurin said in a recent newsletter.
As the bill was headed to the Senate floor, McLaurin said he has been hearing from several citizens and journalists in the district who expressed concern that the bill might not provide sufficient public notification of potential environmental risks to food supplies.
“Senator Jackson, staff and I worked together to amend the bill to increase transparency and ensure the public’s right to know,” McLaurin said.
Last week, Senate and House budget conferees continued to meet to negotiate a balanced state budget, McLaurin said.
They reached a consensus on the Medicaid portion of the budget.
“These funds will provide care for senior citizens, residents of assisted living facilities and the disabled,” McLaurin said. “However, the education budget, which accounts for 55 percent of our state budget, hangs in the balance. As school is slated to begin in two months, we need to assure passage of a budget that treats our educators and state employees with dignity and respect.”
Teachers deserve to be paid better than the deplorable ranking of 46th in the nation, McLaurin said.
The charter school transparency bill, Senate Bill 793, has been “back and forth” between the two chambers, McLaurin said.
“One issue of concern is whether charter school teachers’ salaries are public information,” McLaurin said. “I support public disclosure of public salaries and benefits. If someone is paid with public taxpayer funds, the public deserves to know the details of their compensation. We should never waver in our need for transparency with regards to taxpayer dollars.”
N.C. Rep. Harry Warren, R-Rowan, said lawmakers are looking at wrapping up the short session soon.
“It is expected that we will adjourn this 2013-14 session of the General Assembly ‘sine die’ — within the next 10 calendar days,” Warren said.
Gov. Pat McCrory signed several bills into law last week, including those aimed at addressing background checks for firefighters, jail standards and residential restrictions for sex offenders.
According to Warren’s newsletter, the Senate passed bills on coal ash management and the NC Farm Act of 2014, while the House passed bills on replacing Common Core with “NC’s Higher Academic Standards” as drone regulation.
The NC Farm Act of 2014 contains a wealth of agriculture-related law changes including provisions that would prohibit local governments from regulating the use or sale of fertilizer, and landscape contractors would have to be licensed by the state and illegal trespassing on farm property could be a felony if a “person intends to disrupt the operation.”
— Jim Holt