Ford, Warren and Crutchfield discuss goals for General Assembly session

Published 12:06 am Tuesday, January 31, 2023

RALEIGH — Members of the North Carolina General Assembly convened for the year’s first legislative session on Jan. 25 at the North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh, kicking off the first week of their long session.

Sen. Carl Ford, who represents Rowan and Stanly counties in the 33rd District, said the week starts off busy and the rest of it is a lot of waiting for bills to be filed. Ford is on his fourth term as a state senator.

“That’s the way it will be for a couple of weeks because you have to get the bills filed before you start having committee meetings,” Ford said.

He is serving on seven committees and is the chairman of three: state and local government, pensions and retirement and aging, as well as appropriations on general government and information technology. It’s a little too early to tell what’s going to happen in the committees because you don’t know what bills members are going to file, Ford said.

He is planning on filing four or five bills, but said he goes with President Calvin Coolidge’s advice, “it’s better to fight bad legislation than to pass good legislation.”

To Ford, state and local government is the best way to make changes.

“Local and state government is always the best because you’re always helping people in their districts, be it Republican or Democrat. Most of them are good ideas, some of them may not be but most of the time those local bills pass because we all understand that ‘hey, we passed it, you’re the one who has to hang at home if it’s not good,’ so a lot of those will be going down in the starting weeks,” Ford said. “Local bills are pretty important to everybody up there.”

Ford said one bill that he wants to work on and thinks is important is “the heartbeat bill,” which will make it illegal to get an abortion once a heartbeat is detected. State legislatures in Ohio, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia have all already passed that bill.

Harry Warren, who is Rowan County’s representative for District 76, said it seemed busier than he remembered first weeks being in the past, with a good number of bills being introduced on the first day. Warren is currently on his seventh term serving in the general assembly.

Warren had a list of bills he was trying to push coming into the session, but said it’s hard to predict what issues will arise that take precedent.

“The list can shrink as more research is done, or grow when a new issue arises, so you don’t really have a plan other than to address whatever requires a legislative solution,” Warren said. One issue he said he is focusing on is the appropriation requests for Rowan County municipalities, schools and other local entities.

Another bill Warren is sponsoring is House Bill 2, which will will give the sheriff’s office the additional time it needs to utilize a North Carolina Department of Public Safety grant the office was awarded for the purchase new arms and safety equipment, Warren said. Right now, the deadline for the purchases is June 23. If the money isn’t spent, then it has to be returned to the Department of Public Safety. House Bill 2 will extend the deadline to September, Warren said, giving more time for the sheriff’s office to make the appropriate purchases.

Warren is also a member of seven committees and serves as chairman for the Oversight and Reform Committee, as well as the State Government Committee. He said his goal for each committee is to make sure each piece of legislation that is presented is voted upon “with impartiality and judged solely on the basis of its merits.”

Freshman member Kevin Crutchfield, who is serving his first term in the General Assembly, said he still has a lot to learn, but is thankful for the experienced legislators who have helped guide and teach him as he learns the ropes. He serves as representative for Cabarrus and Rowan counties for the 83rd District and was also voted the Republican freshman leader.

His goal for this session is to introduce bills that will “help my constituents and the people of North Carolina,” Crutchfield said.

Crutchfield is sponsoring House Bill 22. If passed, the bill would allow military veterans who have a general discharge or have been medically discharged to receive a concealed carry permit. Currently, North Carolina law only allows veterans who have an honorable discharge to receive a concealed carry permit.

“I believe that this is important because as a supporter of our Second Amendment rights and our service men and women should be able to exercise that right as well,” Crutchfield said.

He is also focusing on bills that pull from his experience as a small business owner, saying he believes “it is important that we make sure North Carolina continues to be a state where small and independent businesses grow and prosper.” He is hoping to introduce those bills in the next few months.

Rep. Julia Howard, who represents Davie, Yadkin and Rowan counties in the 77th District, did not respond to a request for comment.