D.G. Martin: This bill definitely has my vote

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 30, 2012

Maybe you did not notice. Last week the governor signed House Bill 799, a bill that makes it easier for military spouses to get the certification they need to work in North Carolina if they have been licensed for their occupation in another state. For service men and women who have been trained by the military, the new law also gives credit for that training when they apply for an occupational license in North Carolina.
When the governor signed the bill, she said, “This bill helps streamline the procedures, so military spouses in North Carolina can get the certification they need to work. We owe it to them, to provide this kind of support. As one of the most military-friendly states in the nation, I am proud to sign this bill.”
On the bill’s final votes in the state’s Senate and House, no legislator voted against it. Seems like a no-brainer doesn’t it?
So why should I write about it now? A couple of reasons. I will tell you about the main one in a minute.
First though, the passage of this common sense bill is a textbook example of how difficult it is to push though the legislature even the most sensible legislation. You can follow the path of this bill on the North Carolina General Assembly website. Go to www.ncleg.net, look up House Bill 799, and check its history.
HB 799 had to go through almost 40 different steps from the time it was introduced on April 6 of last year until it became law 15 months later. After introduction in the House, it traveled to the Committee on Homeland Security, Military, and Veterans Affairs and then to the Finance Committee. On the House floor, it was amended twice and had to survive four separate votes. At each stop, the bill’s sponsors had to have a ready answer to every question or risk having the bill derailed.
The bill had an even more difficult time in the Senate. More committees, amendments, a “committee substitute” and a rush at the end of the session to keep the bill from being lost in the shuffle. And finally, the House had to vote to agree with the changes made in the Senate.
Now that the civics lesson is over, here is the main reason I am writing about HB 799: I am the proud father of the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Grier Martin. Although he gives much credit to his cosponsor, Rep. Rick Killian, another Army Reserve officer, and Sen. Pete Brunstetter, a Navy veteran, it was “Grier’s bill.”
HB 799 is not the only or even the most important legislation Grier pushed through. It was, however, his last. When the new redistricting plan put him with an admired colleague in the same district, he declined to run against her.
Since my son is not a candidate this fall, I can finally tell you how proud I am of him for his eight years of effective service in the Legislature and for his continuing work as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve and his prior active duty in Afghanistan. As proud as I am of these things, there is much more to praise—his judgment and commitment to things more important than politics.
Several years ago, influential people tried to persuade him to run for higher office. After he and his wife took a careful look at the pressures of service in Washington, they decided it was not the right thing to do.
I was amazed at his decision. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” I told him. “You will never get a another chance like this — to have the nomination to the U.S. Senate handed to you.”
“Well, Dad,” he said, “I will never have another chance to have a 5-year-old daughter again, either.”
How right he was.
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D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Fridays at 9:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV.