Political Notebook: Heggins elected chair of 13th District Democrats

Published 12:42 am Monday, May 31, 2021

Al Heggins, the mayor pro tem of Salisbury, has been elected chair of North Carolina’s 13th District Congressional Democrats.

The role was previously held by Veleria Levy, who also preceded Geoffrey Hoy in serving as the Rowan County Democratic Party chairperson until 2014. Levy has moved to the 12th Congressional District, which covers Mecklenburg County and the immediate surrounding area.

Heggins was elected during the 13th Congressional District Convention held virtually on May 22. Kenneth Stutts made the nomination during the convention.

“I’m humbled and honored to be serving as the next chair for the 13th Congressional District for the Democratic Party,” Heggins told the Post. “I hope to serve as a bridge-builder by modeling that regardless of party affiliation, Democrats and Republicans must stand together and insist our North Carolina elected representatives at every level serve with honesty, integrity, transparency and always place the best interests of the public first.”

Additionally, Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education member Alisha Byrd-Clark was re-elected treasurer of the 13th District Democrats.

The term is two years for officer positions in party congressional district organizations. In the chair position, Heggins will lead meetings of the 13th District Democrats, draft goals, attend state party meetings, serve as a spokesperson and perform other tasks laid out in the state party’s plan of organization. In a presidential election year, the 13th District Democrats chair can also serve as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

Sen. Ford, Commissioner Caskey to hold fundraiser June 17

Sen. Carl Ford and Rowan County Commissioner Mike Caskey, who is running for sheriff, are planning to host a fundraiser June 17 at the Salisbury Farmers Market.

The event will include food, live music and Cheerwine, with Congressman Ted Budd and state Senate Republican Caucus Leader Kathy Harrington expected to attend. It will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Sponsorship contribution levels include $49 for individuals or $75 per couple, $150 for “patrons,” $250 for “co-hosts,” $500 for “hosts,” $1,000 for “sponsors,” $2,500 for “chairmen” and $5,000 for “patriots.”

NC Restaurant and Lodging Association back Congressman Budd’s “Back to Work Bonus” bill

The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association and Greater Winston-Salem, Inc. have endorsed Rep. Ted Budd’s Back to Work Bonus Act.

Budd, a Republican representing the state’s 13th Congressional District, has filed the legislation to use funds from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits to provide bonuses as an incentive to those who return to work. It also seeks to strengthen work search requirements.

“Restaurants, bars and hotels across North Carolina — once again busy and vibrant with happy customers — are a sign of the post-COVID comeback of North Carolina. These businesses are eager to hire new team members to help them fully re-open and to provide the incredible service guests expect,” said NC Restaurant and Lodging Association President and CEO Lynn Minges. “However, the labor shortage in North Carolina has reached critical levels and restaurants are having to shut their dining rooms for days, not due to restrictions, but rather to lack of staff. The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association supports Rep. Budd’s Back to Work Bonus Act to help encourage and incentivize as many people as possible to safely return to work.”

Under the legislation, Americans who qualified for the federal pandemic unemployment benefits would receive a one-time $900 payment upon certification from an employer that a worker has been in the job for four weeks. The bonuses would also be available to any qualifying American who is hired before Aug. 14.

“Our No. 1 priority should be to get as many Americans back into the workforce as quickly as possible,” Budd said. “I’m extremely concerned with the backwards incentive that has been created through enhanced federal unemployment benefits. We have a record number of job openings while the workforce remains small. This tells me that federal policy is incentivizing folks to stay out of the workforce. We should reverse that incentive through a Back to Work Bonus.”

Gov. Cooper signs two Republican-sponsored bills into law

Gov. Roy Cooper last week signed two bills into law related to driver’s license permits for teens and the allocation of federal COVID-19 funds.

Senate Bill 69 allows a teenager who is at least 16 and younger than 18 to obtain a limited provisional license if that teen has held a learner’s permit for at least six months, hasn’t been convicted of a moving vehicle violation during that six months, passes a road test, has a driving eligibility certificate or high school diploma and completed a driving log of at least 60 hours.

“North Carolina’s teen driver’s license requirements save lives,” Cooper said, “… and this temporary adjustment keeps life-saving training while smoothing a process disrupted by the pandemic.”

The bill was sponsored by Republican Sens. Vickie Sawyer of District 34, Tom McInnis of District 25, Danny Britt Jr. of District 13 and Todd Johnson of District 35. It passed both the House and Senate unanimously on May 6 and May 17, respectively.

Cooper also signed S.B. 172, which establishes the State Fiscal Recovery Reserve and Fund, Coronavirus Capital Projects Reserve and Fund and the Local Fiscal Recovery Reserve and Fund. Additionally, it allocates and funnels federal COVID-19 relief throughout those funds.

Allocations include $3.26 billion for elementary and secondary schools, $19.85 million for YMCA centers, $556.61 million in emergency rental assistance, $805.77 million for child care grants, $701.28 million for higher education institutions and $315.9 million for expanded school and community health center vaccinations and COVID-19 testing. Emergency rental assistance was also allotted to the state’s regions, with Rowan sharing $56.77 million with Anson, Iredell, Lincoln and Stanly counties. The bill also calls for any unspent funds returned to the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, with up to $10 million to be allocated to the Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Management, and an extension of the Extra Credit Grant Program for families with qualifying children.

S.B. 172 is another Republican-led bill that passed each chamber almost unanimously. Two Republicans opposed the bill in the House, including Rowan’s former Rep. Larry Pittman, who now only represents a part of Cabarrus County.

“It’s critical that these funds be used to emerge from the pandemic even stronger than before with rent and utility assistance, food for children, help for local governments and help for children trying to catch up in school,” Cooper said.

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About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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