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Rowan legislators want Cooper to ‘get on board’ with Republican agenda

By Josh Bergeron
josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — State Sen. Tom McInnis says any good idea is one worth listening to, but some of Rowan legislators don’t even want to talk about cooperating with Governor-elect Roy Cooper.

Cooper will face veto-proof majorities in both houses of the N.C. General Assembly when he takes office in January, meaning he’ll need to work with Republicans in the legislature to get his proposals passed through both houses. None of Rowan County’s legislators will hold major leadership positions, but they’ll have a vote.

McInnis, a Republican who represents the 25th Senate District, was the most optimistic of the bunch. He would say only that he’s willing to listen to ideas.

“A good idea, no matter where it comes from, is a good idea, and if he comes up with one then I’m willing to listen,” McInnis said. “I’m not interested in his income producing schemes that raise taxes on the middle class. He says everybody in North Carolina has to pay their fair share, but everybody in North Carolina is already paying their fair share.”

McInnis said Republicans in the General Assembly have a plan that’s working to help average North Carolinians and listed raising the standard deduction for income taxes as an example.

Sen. Andrew Brock, R-34, was the only other legislator for Rowan County willing to comment about the General Assembly in 2017. Rep. Harry Warren, R-77, didn’t respond to a number of requests and hasn’t responded to other recent requests by the Salisbury Post. Rep. Carl Ford, R-76, declined to comment.

For Brock’s part, he said Republicans in the General Assembly have turned the state around. Cooper should take note, Brock said.

“I hope that Governor-elect Cooper sees that North Carolina is on the right path and gets on board,” Brock said. “A lot of the issues that he has championed were the wrong path, and hopefully he will be able to look at some of the things we’ve done to turn North Carolina around.”

Brock said there are “some heavy-handed rules” in the N.C. Senate that Phil Berger, the Senate’s president pro tem, could enforce if Cooper decides to “try his old tricks.” Brock did not elaborate what the rules might be but said Berger has not enforced them so far.

Brock said there may be some areas where Cooper and the Republican-controlled General Assembly can agree.

“I don’t think that we are going to say no from the very beginning,” he said.

House Bill 2 is one area where McInnis and Brock say they remain unwilling to budge. Cooper made House Bill 2 a central part of his campaign. The measure drew the most attention for a provision that overruled a Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance and required people to use public bathrooms that correspond with the gender on their birth certificate.

“I just can’t see why we would revisit it,” Brock said.

McInnis expressed similar sentiments. However, McInnis said he’d be willing to vote for a repeal of House Bill 2 if Charlotte also agreed to repeal its nondiscrimination ordinances — a proposition that has previously been raised by legislative leaders.

“It’s absolutely a common-sense bill and the folks in Charlotte started this to begin with,” he said.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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