A visit to House of Flags, legislature reconvenes and voter ID

Published 4:00 pm Monday, April 2, 2012

The month of March passed by quickly with trips to Raleigh for interim committee meetings, then back to the mountains to work with constituents, local government officials and businesses. I listened and learned folks’ current concerns and needs related to our state government.
House District 113 includes south Henderson, Polk and Transylvania Counties – I think the best house district in North Carolina. While visiting I did walk-abouts to meet local citizens. It’s gratifying to find many residents are informed on state issues and offer good ideas for solving state problems.
House of Flags Museum – Columbus, N.C.
I had a wonderful day in Polk County and one stop I encourage folks of all ages to visit in Columbus is our nation’s only flag museum– a real treasure where history and patriotism abound. There are more than 250 full size flags displayed with lots of explanations of their significance.  It’s an ideal outing for school students, senior citizens and all those between. I’m confident you’ll not be disappointed.  See houseofflags.org for more information.
I will continue with more visits in April. Please contact me if you have suggestions or for visits to places with which I may not be familiar, and should be.
Legislature reconvenes
The Short Session of the 2012 Legislature will convene on May 16. Budget readjustments will be the major item of business. Revenue is around $145 million ahead of projections at this time.  We will have a much clearer revenue picture after the April 15 tax deadline. With North Carolina’s unemployment number in double digits, any new or added taxing and spending will be negligible for fear of reducing employment. In fact, budget analysts still project a $90 million shortfall in revenue collections thru June 30.
Additionally, there will be a $250 million loss of federal funding for education jobs at the end of September. Another $230 million will be required to fix the Medicaid shortfall.  Finding the revenue to fix this $500-$600 million hole will not be easy. The economy will not likely pick up enough to offset these significant shortfalls. Stay tuned.
General Assembly members are not allowed to introduce new legislation in this year’s Short Session.
Some of you have read that a House Committee in Raleigh is discussing recommendations for how Mission Hospital should conduct business. I understand the recommendations may be adopted by the committee on April 19. Subsequent legislation could have a severe and negative impact on our ability to access quality health care, especially in rural areas.
Folks in Western North Carolina are not represented on this committee. I have offered to serve and will talk with Speaker Thom Tillis this week. In any case, you may count on me to attend the committee’s next meeting on April 19. And I will involve myself in the process if legislation is forthcoming in May.

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