Last week at the North Carolina General Assembly was short and to the point. The weather in Raleigh turned cold and blustery, and the House and Senate were both ready to complete our business and get back home to our districts for the holidays.
Before travelling to Raleigh, I was honored to be able to attend two Veterans’ Day events on Monday. Belville held an unveiling of their new monument in honor of all the services. Over 1000 people attended the ceremony at 11:00 in their riverfront park, and the monument was unveiled by veteran Mike Allen, Mayor of Belville, with the river in the background.
At 3:00 p.m., Shallotte unveiled their new monuments at Mulberry Park. Again, I was honored to attend and say a few words on behalf of our veterans. They have separate monuments honoring veterans of different wars from World War I to Iraq. It was a community effort of several years to raise the funds and bring it into being.
Congratulations to both Belville and Shallotte for these fitting tributes to our warriors who protected our freedoms over the years. We heard the true statement several times during the day that, “Freedom is not Free.”
After hearing that we would not have a voting session on Tuesday or Wednesday, I was able on Wednesday to speak to the Brunswick Chamber of Commerce leadership class. I shared information on what we do in Raleigh, how a bill is passed, and how the new court – ordered district maps have changed our county’s House districts.
Getting to Raleigh, we found that our House Redistricting Committee had finished their work on the court – ordered Congressional districts, and we were to vote on them Thursday. We also had two important bills allocating funds for disaster relief.
House Bill 1029 changes all 13 Congressional districts across the state. Our District 7 had a minor change that did not impact Brunswick County. It passed on a party line vote of 55 – 46.
House Bill 200 – 2019 Storm Recovery/Various Budget Corrections allocates almost $200 million additional funds to the recovery efforts from Hurricanes Dorian and Florence. Most of this is from the Savings Reserve or “Rainy Day Fund”, as well as better than expected funds from tax collections in this positive economic climate. It passed 100 – 1.
Senate Bill 356 – DOT Cash and Accountability allocates funds to the Department of Transportation to reimburse some of the many emergency repairs and debris removal they had to do after the last three major hurricanes, Matthew, Florence, and Dorian. Most of the funds come from the Build NC Bonds. The bill also establishes the Transportation Emergency Fund inside the DOT budget, so that more funds can be budgeted for disaster relief than in prior years. This should help relieve the stress on the General Maintenance Reserve, which has been almost depleted during some of the recent storms. It passed House 99 – 3. Both of these bills passed the Senate and went to the Governor.
We were excited to see an adjournment resolution that called for us to adjourn until January 14th. It appears the never – ending session will at least have a two-month break for the holidays, so we can be back in our home districts during this season.
Back home on Saturday, I was able to attend the Homeless Coalition soup lunch. It was good to hear about all the volunteer work that our citizens are doing for the homeless and hungry among us. The need is growing and more effort is needed, but we have some really dedicated people working on this important effort.