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Political notebook: Reps Warren, Howard, Sasser appointed to COVID-19 House Committee

Reps. Harry Warren, R-76, Julia Howard, R-77, and Wayne Sasser, R-67, have been appointed by House Speaker Tim Moore to the bipartisan North Carolina House Select Committee on COVID-19, which will be made up of working groups that will meet remotely to prepare immediate and long-term legislative responses to the developing crisis.

Howard is the chair of the Economic Support Working Group. Warren is a member of the same select committee. Sasser is in the Health Care Working Group.

“I appreciate the speaker’s confidence in appointing me to the House Select Committee on COVID-19,” Warren said. “I am especially excited to be serving on the Economic Support Group sub-committee.”

The committee meetings will be held via telephonic and remote participation. Members of both parties will chair the policy working groups that will minimize gatherings of staff and members.

The state House Select Committee on COVID-19’s charge includes addressing “documented and anticipated economic impacts associated with the spread of COVID-19 virus on North Carolina’s economy, including workforce dislocation, health system resource management, declined consumer activity, and temporary industry contraction.”

Moore said state lawmakers stand with senior citizens and vulnerable populations who are most at risk from COVID-19’s spread, as well as people across North Carolina facing an uncertain economic future. He said the extensive list of reforms the committee could consider necessitate the working groups begin meeting as soon as next week.

“The General Assembly has prepared for times of crisis with smart savings and disaster readiness policy that enable the administration to respond effectively,” Moore said. “But for actions the administration cannot take on its own, the House Select Committee on COVID-19 and its crisis policy working groups will identify immediate and long-term reforms to assist North Carolinians through this emergency.”

Rowan County Republican Convention rescheduled, will be virtual

The Rowan County Republican Party convention will be rescheduled to 9 a.m. Saturday, March 28, and will be a conference call.

County conventions across the state are moving to be virtual in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requested gatherings of 10 or more people be postponed.

In order to participate in the convention, email communications@rowanrepublicans.com with your name, email address and phone number, along with answers to “Do you want to become a Rowan County delegate at district and/or state convention?” and “Do you have any resolutions to be brought up at convention?”

The response is due by noon Thursday.  

Sen. Ford combats COVID-19 rumors

N.C. Sen. Carl Ford, R-33, addressed some rumors in a Facebook post Friday.

“We are all hearing new, terrible rumors every day,” he wrote. “You should probably assume that the rumors will grow in their audacity and there will be at least one a day.

He state there are no plans to shut down construction sites, no plans to shut down manufacturing sites and no plans to close county borders. He added there are no plans to require shelter in place.

He said to check www.ncdhhs.gov/covid-19-case-count-nc for a case count, which is updated daily.

Tillis sends letter to Trump in support of governor’s disaster declaration request

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican, sent a letter to President Trump supporting Governor Cooper’s Disaster Declaration request for North Carolina to help combat coronavirus.

“North Carolina has and continues to take unprecedented actions to combat the spread of the virus, protect public health, and mitigate the severity of its impact,” Tillis wrote. “The widespread impact of this disaster has exceeded the state and local governments’ capabilities.”

Tillis said immediate action is critical to stem the spread and impacts of COVID-19.

Rep. Hudson, Sens. Tillis, Burr urge Trump to protect agriculture industry

U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr as well as U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8, on Thursday led a bipartisan letter signed by more than 100 members of the House and Senate urging the Trump administration to maintain access to vetted, temporary workers to help ensure America’s agriculture industry has the workforce it needs to continue producing food during the coronavirus outbreak.

The members called on the administration to remove a number of specific hurdles in order to ensure the timely processing of H-2A visa requests, a temporary agriculture worker program.

“We understand the importance of maintaining public health safety during this time and appreciate the administration’s actions to minimize the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are substantial national security concerns that will arise should our farmers not have the labor they need,” the members stated.

The signers requested:

  • Use all existing available authorities to provide maximum flexibility to consulate staff in the processing of H-2A visa applicants, while implementing protocols to protect public health.
  • Identify any current legal or logistical hurdles that may prevent agencies from implementing additional flexibilities, such as developing a separate screening process or remote interviews, in processing H-2A visa applicants.
  • Provide an estimation of any costs associated with implementing any of the aforementioned actions.
  • Provide data on the number of H-2A petition beneficiaries nationwide and by state that are eligible for an interview waiver and will not be affected by these processing changes.

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