Last week in the North Carolina General Assembly, we convened in regular sessions on Thursday. Much activity was going on outside of these sessions. I was able to attend meetings back here in the district on tourism and on Teacher of the Year for Brunswick County, we held the first meeting of the Environmental Review Commission in Wilmington, and we convened in Raleigh for veto overrides and new legislative districts.
Early in the week, on Tuesday, there was a meeting at Oak Island town hall of the NC Association of Resort Towns and Convention Cities. Mayor Cin Brochure is the President of the association and presented a webinar by Dr. Rebecca Tippett of UNC on the demographics and economic impact of tourism in North Carolina. With over 200,000 jobs and 60 million visitors per year it is amazing how little the resort towns receive from the almost $2 billion in local and state taxes produced. They have to provide infrastructure and services for the peak seasons’ population with a tax share based on their census population. For example, some of our beaches have populations under 1000, but produce taxes and provide services in the summer to 20,000 visitors per week. This group hopes to correct that in the future.
On Wednesday was one of my highlights each year. I was honored to be part of the panel to help select the Brunswick County Teacher of the Year for the third year. I was amazed in all my school visits at the number of outstanding teachers we have working hard every day. To interview the top seven and have to select the top three and top one is a very difficult though rewarding task. Most of our teachers are doing many creative and effective things in our children’s classrooms and need to be reminded every day how important they are to us.
That afternoon, the Environmental Review Commission met in its first meeting of the year in Wilmington. As an advisory member of the commission, I ran straight over there for the 1:30 meeting. It was a hearing, and although we got to speak of our concerns about the water quality issues, we were there to hear from the public. After local officials spoke, including Brunswick County Commission Chairman Frank Williams, we members addressed the commission. Then we heard from over 30 members of the public, mostly from New Hanover and Brunswick County. This is a statewide issue, not just a Cape Fear issue, and it has the attention of leaders from across the state. This is the first of many meetings of the commission to get to the bottom of how and why this type of pollution can happen, and what to do about it in the near term and long term.
After that meeting ended around 5:30, I went straight to Raleigh, due to the amount of business we expected the next day. Thursday, the House and Senate members of the respective redistricting committees were finalizing the new maps for House and Senate districts. While they are still revising and amending them, the House met in a regular session to vote on veto overrides. Two bills vetoed by the Governor were considered, House Bill 140 – Dental Plans Provider Contracts/Transparency and House bill 770 – Various Clarifying Changes. I am unclear why he vetoed them, but we overrode the vetoes 72-43 and 71-44 on a primarily party line vote.
Saturday was the annual banquet of the Brunswick County Sporting Dog Association. These are the hunting clubs and the proponents of hunting rights and 2 nd Amendment gun rights. I am always happy to attend.
We anticipate we will have district maps on which to vote this week, and possibly more veto overrides. We expect to be in session every day this week.