Monday night is usually a quiet session with no floor votes. However, last Monday, February 11th, was a celebration of 109 years of the Boy Scouts of America. We had a presentation of the annual report of Scouting in North Carolina. It featured recognition of how many Scouts become first responders and some of the heroic acts they perform. I rarely give the opening prayer at the start of session. However, as an Eagle Scout and the father and grandfather of Eagle Scouts I was honored to be asked to give the prayer Monday night.
The biggest issues of the week for me involved Transportation. Tuesday I chaired a House Appropriations Committee on Transportation meeting to discuss the moving of the Dept. of Motor Vehicles (DMV) headquarters out of their New Bern Avenue building and into another location. The proposed location is in Rocky Mount, about an hour from Raleigh. There were many questions and concerns about the expense of leasing or purchasing the buildings at the Rocky Mount site, as well as the impact on the over 400 employees. Further information is coming on the budget and the personnel impacts.
On Thursday, we again met in this committee, but jointly with members of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Committee. This time the subject was Dept. of Transportation (DOT) project delays. We are very concerned that the Highway Trust Fund is being drawn down to a base level of $500 million from a previous high of $2 billion. While we want the spending to get projects into the street, so to speak, we don’t understand project delays at the same time that the spending has increased. Part of the explanation given is that the Strategic Transportation Investment Plan (STIP) has increased the number of projects from approximately 400 to 1800, and this volume has put extra pressure on the system of DOT engineers and private contractors. Again, further information will continue to come on this issue.
Two of the new bills on which I am a primary sponsor as of last week was one to make the Osprey the official state raptor, and one defining Electric Standup Scooters. I also cosponsored bills on school safety and on the right to life. One can view all the bills I sponsor on the General Assembly website, www.ncleg.net . Just click on the House member list, then on my name, then on “Bills Introduced”. Many more bills are being drafted for introduction in the coming weeks.
One of the most interesting things we do is meet with people from a variety of backgrounds and professions to get information. Some of those topics last week were: Thyroid Cancer incidence in certain counties; Private Industry involvement in Environmental Protection; and issues of interest to the Outdoor Advertising industry.
We also had the North Carolina Tourism Industry represented at a reception. It was good to see Tourism advocates from Brunswick County, Mitzi York and friends.