Political Notebook: NC Chamber of Commerce names Rowan lawmakers ‘2021 Jobs Champions’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 21, 2021

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Chamber of Commerce named all four of Rowan County’s lawmakers “2021 Jobs Champions” in its annual “How They Voted” report.

The report details state legislators’ voting records during the legislative session on bills related to jobs, economic development and other measures of the Chamber’s agenda. The Chamber scored legislators’ support for issues relevant to the business community, including education, talent supply, competitive business climate, infrastructure and growth leadership. Overall, the chamber rated the state Senate with an average of 86% based on how legislators voted. The House received an average of 85%.

The chamber recognized 76 representatives in the North Carolina House from both sides of the political aisle along with 36 state senators as “jobs champions.” Lawmakers are deemed “jobs champions” for supporting legislation the chamber deems “pro-business” at least 80% of the time. This year, the chamber supported 18 pieces of legislation, with half a dozen other bills deemed “anti-business.”

Rep. Harry Warren, a Republican representing Rowan County, received a score of 94% this legislative session and 87% overall. Warren was docked for supporting one of the bills deemed “anti-business” by the Chamber, which was House Bill 486. That bill would have replaced the high school end-of-course tests with a national assessment and eliminated the ACT WorkKeys for career and technical education students. It advanced to the Senate in April with no action since.

“I am proud to once again be recognized as a Jobs Champion by the N.C. Chamber for my strong pro-jobs voting record,” said Rep. Harry Warren, a Republican. “I will continue to support and advocate for bills that grow our economy, encourage job creation and create more economic opportunities for hardworking North Carolinians.”

Rep. Wayne Sasser, a Republican representing Rowan, Stanly and Cabarrus counties, also received 94% for both this session and overall. Like Warren, Sasser also supported H.B. 486.

“Bringing jobs to North Carolina and the counties that we represent is one of our most important jobs,” Sasser told the Post. “Rowan County has been one of the major beneficiaries. I am honored to be recognized as a jobs champion.”

Sen. Carl Ford, a Republican representing Rowan and Stanly counties, received a 100% score for this session and a lifetime score of 88%.

“I’ve always been pro-business,” Ford said. “That’s why I vote for tax cuts for everyone including businesses.”

Ford added that his less-than-perfect score can be attributed to past votes against any measures that expand alcohol sales.

Rep. Julia Howard, a Republican representing Rowan and Davie counties, also received 100% for this session and a score of 86% overall.

“It’s just an honor because we all try to do everything we can to put businesses back together,” Howard said, adding that businesses are currently undergoing rules and regulations they don’t need.

For example, she referenced her efforts earlier this year related to unemployment benefits. One allowed first quarter unemployment taxes to be forgiven and another called for the employer to file for benefits on behalf of the employee to simplify and expedite the process. And as an additional help, the base tax rate for unemployment insurance will remain at 1.9% this year rather than the rate of 2.4% that was expected before the pandemic.

“In an era of widespread economic uncertainty, North Carolina’s job creators need to know which of our leaders are willing to act to give them more of the certainty they need,” said North Carolina Chamber President and CEO Gary Salamido. “The bold leadership displayed by Rep. Warren and other NC Chamber Jobs Champions in 2021 will help our businesses push past lingering uncertainty to fuel opportunity and recovery for millions of North Carolinians. We look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Warren in the year ahead to foster renewed growth and success across our communities.”

Health bills backed by U.S. Rep. Hudson pass Congress

WASHINGTON — Two health-related bills supported U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican, introduced have passed Congress.

Hudson currently represents North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District, but has declared a run for the 10th Congressional District, a newly drawn district in effect for the 2022 election that contains his home in Cabarrus County as well as all of Rowan County.

Hudson is a leader on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health. One of his recent successful measures is House Resolution 3743, which increases funding for the National Institutes of Health and the FDA for their respective nonprofit foundations to continue encouraging public-private partnerships and collaboration in developing new vaccines and medical treatments faster.

The bill passed 374-52, with only six Democrats opposing. Hudson introduced the bill with Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat from California, signing on as co-sponsor.

Another measure is House Resolution 5551, which reauthorizes funding for the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. The resolution calls for $186 million in such funding for each fiscal year beginning 2022 until 2026. Hudson said the center has been receiving unauthorized appropriations for more than a decade now.

“Families that rely on the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities should not have the can kicked down the road,” Hudson said. “By reauthorizing funds for this center, we are giving programs that work to address birth defects, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, child development, newborn screening, autism and other (conditions) the attention and much-needed stability they deserve.”

H.R. 5551 passed 405-20, with opposition from 15 Republicans. Rep. Earl Carter, a Republican from Georgia, was the primary sponsor of the bill and Hudson was the only Republican co-sponsor. The bill was also co-sponsored by Rep. Henry Cuellar from Texas, Rep. Lori Trahan from Massachusetts, Rep. G. K. Butterfield from North Carolina and Rep. Jason Crow from Colorado, who are all Democrats.