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Political notebook: Chamber of Commerce drafts priority projects

Last month, the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce’s Board of directors approved its annual list of priority projects.

The list is annually used as a guide for Rowan’s representatives in Congress and the U.S. Senate when the chamber takes its fall trip to Washington D.C.

The two transportation projects included on the list may be most familiar to Rowan residents. The projects are an extension of the Rowan County Airport’s runway to 6,000 feet and an interchange with I-85 at Old Beatty Ford Road.

Both projects are coming close to becoming a reality, but still face obstacles.

Purchasing additional property is one of the few remaining steps for the runway extension.

The I-85 interchange hasn’t yet been funded by state government as a part of the 20-year transportation plan. First up on I-85 is a widening from the Rowan County line to China Grove.

Public safety and economic development in southern Rowan County are two reasons cited previously in favor of the project.

Other priorities included on the chamber’s list are:

• Advocating for a bi-partisan federal bill that supports open internet principles.

• Modernizing and streamlining the federal income tax code.

• Supporting federal grants for a number of education and economic development issues.

• Identifying and leveraging private sector solutions to healthcare challenges to help control costs and improve quality of care.

• Rewarding employer-led wellness strategies that promote behavioral and lifestyle changes leading to decreased costs and improved quality of care.

McCrory signs bills into law

Three of the bills signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory this week include:

• The Foster Care Family Act, or Senate Bill 423

The Senate Bill provides liability insurance for foster parents, eases the ability of foster children to obtain a driver’s license and requires county social services departments to work to find foster children permanent placement with a parent, relative, guardianship or an adoptive placement.

The new law also would require the Department of Health and Human services to draft a Medicaid waiver for foster children with serious emotional distress.

• Senate Bill 534, which continues government expenditures at the same level as the previous fiscal year.
 The previous fiscal year ended on June 30, and state legislators haven’t yet passed a budget for the current fiscal year, which began on July 1.
Senate Bill 534 expires on August 14, the date before which state legislators would have to pass a budget.
Currently, the budget is in a conference committee to sort out differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget.
• House Bill 148, which requires moped owners to have insurance similar to car owners on July 1, 2016.
General Assembly takes a summer vacation
With a budget not yet passed, state legislators will take a week-long vacation starting Monday.
The general assembly adjourned Thursday after approving a resolution that shuts down most operations at the Legislative Building until July 13. The General assembly has previously taken a few days off around July 4.
County commissioners schedule one July meeting
The Rowan County commissioners will also have a summer vacation.
Commissioners have canceled the regularly scheduled second meeting for July, which would have been on the 20th at 6 p.m.
The only meeting of the Rowan County Commissioners in July will be on Monday.
Commissioners will meet again on August 3.
Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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