The North Carolina General Assembly stopped in its tracks last month, but Rep. Graig Meyer (D, NC-50) is claiming that state policymakers have much more ground to cover.
Meyer and his colleagues agreed to hold two special legislative sessions later this year after a six-month stint of lawmaking that concluded on June 30.
Although many topics were discussed during that session, Meyer offered his thoughts on important subjects that were not broached by either of the primary political parties.
“What’s amazing to me are the things that Republicans and Democrats agree need to happen; every rural representative in the state wants to see an expansion of rural broadband access for economic and education reasons, and yet, they did nothing, and I just don’t understand why there are big projects like that, that everyone knows we need to take on, and there’s complete inaction,” he stated.
Meyer also noted that his party benefited from the guidance provided by Gov. Roy Cooper (D), whose political leanings contrast with the Republican majority in North Carolina.
“It actually made a pretty big difference to have Gov. Cooper in office for us in the Democratic party, even though we were in the minority; it’s certainly easier to make our arguments when we have the bully pulpit from the governor and we’re able to follow the governor’s lead rather than having to try and create things from a legislative body where we have a variety of opinions within our own caucus,” he relayed.
In addition to ratifying a state budget of $23 billion, lawmakers debated the merits of removing funding caps for projects that include local rail transport systems.
According to Meyer, additional state funding for the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project will not be forthcoming due to the politics that surround those caps.
“The House Transportation chairs want the cap lifted […] in part for the Durham-Orange Project, but they also want it lifted to allow expansion of light rail in Charlotte; I don’t know where the speaker stands specifically on it, but the Senate has not been willing to lift the cap, so right now […] not everyone’s on board with lifting the cap, therefore, the cap stays on,” he explained.
An average pay raise of 9.6 percent for teachers in North Carolina was factored into the budget, which passed after lawmakers voted to abolish impact fees in Orange County.
Meyer explained that even with the conflicts that continue to simmer in the state legislature, he was proud to have helped raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 18.
“The one legislative issue that got done that I was happy about was that we did raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction, so North Carolina will no longer be the only state in the nation that has 16 and 17-year-olds in our adult court system; I’m not entirely happy with the final deal that we got on that, but we took a big step in the right direction,” he admitted.
The North Carolina General Assembly will reconvene on August 3 and September 6 to conduct business that may include responding to lawsuits and overriding gubernatorial vetoes.
Photo from graigmeyer.com.