The North Carolina State Senate is the upper body of the North Carolina Legislature and consists of 50 members who serve a term of two years. Each member represents an average of 190,710 residents, as of the 2010 Census. The Senate elects officers from their membership including the President Pro Tempore.The North Carolina General Assembly, of which the Senate is a part, is to convene a new regular session every two years. The NC legislature makes decisions on the budget: taxes, tax credits, economic development, education funding, Pre-K, the courts, Medicaid, etc. It also passes laws that set environmental standards such as water and air quality, tax rates, tax credits, criminal justice. Legislators in both chambers serve two-year terms without term limits. Sessions begin at noon on the third Wednesday after the second Monday in January.
I believe that North Carolina can and must be a place where every single child has a world-class education, great career options, and a bright future.
I'm a small business owner and a proud product of Guilford County public schools and a North Carolina public university in UNC-Greensboro. Guilford County and the values I learned here have afforded me great opportunity and I see it as my job to push for policies that ensure each and every child in our community have those opportunities as well. As father to two young children, I know what it's like to balance work and community service with my top priorities: being a dad to Jack and Charlotte and a husband to Allison.
Before I was honored by the people of Guilford County with the duty of elected public service in 2018, I served on several local boards and commissions, including as the Chair of the UNCG Alumni Board, a member of the United Way’s Education Impact Council as well as the Guilford County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.
Without a doubt, the biggest single thing that the General Assembly can do to make a positive impact on our state is to close the health coverage gap by expanding Medicaid. Legislation that would do just that was my very first bill co-sponsorship at the beginning of the 2019 legislative session.
I think that future generations of North Carolinians will look back at our General Assembly’s refusal to accept federal funds to expand this health coverage to hundreds of thousands of people with a great deal of shame and embarrassment. Our state's residents and companies pay income taxes to the federal government that then goes to cover the cost of Medicaid expansion in 39 other states. Meanwhile, North Carolinians who are caught in the coverage gap are left with no health insurance.
Now, many years into the eligibility for expansion, the benefits to other states are both well-known and profound. Not only do lower income families who cannot afford private insurance gain the benefit of being able to go to the doctor when needed and the peace of mind that comes with it, everyone else benefits from the enormous job creation and economic impact. The latest study from the Cone Health Foundation found that our state economy stands to gain billions of dollars in increased economic activity and many thousands of new jobs under expansion. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, we need those new jobs now more than ever.
In general, businesses minimize monetary costs of operation in order to maximize profits and remain competitive. Incentives for switching to solar energy and other renewable sources are an important piece of a society-wide transition to green energy. The federal and state governments need to encourage the adoption of renewable energy sources so that we can reduce C02 emissions before it’s too late to curb global climate change.
I introduced Senate Bill 513, which would have put North Carolina on track to attain 100% green energy creation by the year 2050. That’s yet another bill that the Republican majority in the Senate refused to even consider in a committee. The fact of the matter is that time to act on climate is quickly slipping through our fingers. Investments in solar and other renewables today will yield the jobs of tomorrow and help to secure a safer environmental future for all of our children.
It’s simple: The General Assembly should pass a clean Medicaid expansion bill and send it to the Governor, without delay. My very first legislative action was to co-sponsor just such a bill. Unfortunately, Republicans in the Senate did not allow the bill to be heard in a single committee.
The families who stand to gain health insurance, health care providers, and North Carolina’s economy cannot afford another year of failing to close the coverage gap purely because of political ideology.
We don’t get “do-overs” when it comes to the cleanliness of our air and water and that is why I am so concerned about these and other “emerging contaminants.” In the Senate, I introduced the Polluter Pays Act, which would make companies that pollute our air and water with contaminants liable for the costs of environmental cleanup. Unfortunately, this bill was also denied a hearing before a single Senate committee.
One thing that the General Assembly absolutely must do is to pass a state budget that fully funds the operating expenses of the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). This is the organization that oversees monitoring, pollution cleanup, and permitting of potentially hazardous projects. Their work is essential to the continued environmental health of our state, but their budget has been shortchanged several times in recent years under Republican control of the legislature. That must end.
As a member of the Senate Committee on Redistricting & Elections, I get a front-row seat to the spectacle that is politicians deciding on the "best" legislative district maps. Regardless of how pure intentions may be, I believe that it is impossible for politicians to draw anything resembling fair district maps. Members of both parties have been big participants and beneficiaries of gerrymandering for hundreds of years, but this is one American tradition that must come to an end.
I am a strong advocate for placing an independent, nonpartisan commission in control of redistricting. In fact, this issue is one of the things that makes this year's election one of paramount importance. Every decade, following the census, state legislatures convene to draw new electoral maps to reflect the latest population figures. The legislators in control of the General Assembly after this next election will determine how district maps are drawn and what they look like for the next decade. Even if my party wins control of the Senate this November, I will still support an independent commission for drawing these maps.
Enough is enough. I know that I am not alone when I say that I am sick and tired of seeing news of tragic acts of gun violence result in little or no change in law surrounding gun safety. And my feeling of exhaustion is nothing compared to the painful experiences of those who have had loved ones or themselves been touched by gun violence.
To re-frame this question, I would pose the decision before us as a choice between changing policies that regularly lead to more than 15,000 preventable deaths in this country each year versus doing nothing. It is clear that the epidemic of gun violence is a public health emergency and not simply a question of rights. Some commonsense, first-step policies that I think most of us can agree on are universal background checks on all gun sales and transfers and passage of a “red flag” law that helps to keep guns out of the hand those who are most likely to cause harm.
I plan on bringing a voice for our low-income, small business and working class families to the NC state Senate.
I have served the people of North Carolina in the General Assembly as the Policy Advisor for the Majority Whip of the House of Representatives, Jon Hardister. During my time as a Policy Advisor I helped hundreds of constituents within the 59th House District who needed solutions to their issues with government. I have also advocated for those who need a hand up. I have worked alongside our Guilford County Commissioners to bring a Mental Health Facility to Guilford County. I have also worked with and listened to community leaders in Greensboro and High Point to ensure everyone has access better access to economic opportunity.
As the Vice President for Triad and Triangle Golf Today, a small family business that is in its 26th year of operating,I understand that families know how to spend their money better than politicians do. Working for a small business during the pandemic, Sebastian understands businesses are having to do more with less, that is why I have been a part of finding pragmatic solutions to regulations that have hurt small business and I have been an advocate for lower taxes. Small business is the backbone of the North Carolina economy and that is why I have worked alongside leadership in the General Assembly to make North Carolina one of the best places to start a small business and to ensure your children have more opportunity in North Carolina than anywhere else in the country.
Six months ago, our country and state faced a pandemic that we did not fully understand. As our neighbors fell ill and some tragically lost their lives, our state moved to slow the spread of the virus. This left a tremendous amount of North Carolinian's out of work and many students to finish their studies online.
As we fast forward to today, we know a lot more about the virus. The science and data is showing that we have flattened the curve, our hospitals have sufficient capacity, and we have a better understanding of how to combat the coronavirus.
Unfortunately, we still have businesses in our state that are unable to reopen. I have continued to call for consistency with our state policy and to allow businesses to reopen safely and to get North Carolinians back to work.
With some colleges like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill going strictly online, I have called for a price reduction for our students and parents. If they are not receiving the full college experience, they should not receive the full college bill.
As a former Policy Advisor in the North Carolina General Assembly, a key part of my job was finding solutions to the problems facing North Carolinians. Not only was my job to find solutions, but I worked diligently for these solutions to get passed into law. Utilizing my experience, I believe passing the RECOVERY Act will jumpstart the North Carolina economy.
I believe this was a mistake to eliminate the incentives for solar energy. As a member of the NC state Senate, I will propose legislation to reinstate these incentives and explore more options for clean energy.
A lot of time has been spent debating Medicaid expansion in our state. I was born on Medicaid and my mother was on Medicaid when she had me. While I support the safety net of Medicaid and what it offers to those who need help the most, Medicaid should not be the ideal plan for North Carolinians because it does not produce better health outcomes.
I want to see a healthier North Carolina. I am following the data and the science to get North Carolinians better health outcomes. The science and data is clear that Health Savings Accounts are how we keep North Carolina leading the country in practical and beneficial policy.
For this plan to work for every North Carolinian, we must urge our Congressional Delegation to expand HSA's. I am committed to working with Congressman Ted Budd to get this through the finish line.
For those in low-income situations, the state should explore providing vouchers to the HSA program to ensure that they are seeing better health outcomes as well.
It is one thing to talk about taking measures to have clean air and water. My step father worked everyday as a contractor to Duke Energy to promote safe drinking water in North Carolina.
I helped the legislature in reaching across the aisle and worked with Rep. Pricey Harrison on HB 560 that would help with cleaner drinking water in Guilford County.
I support it and have worked on it as an advisor to Rep. Jon Hardister. I will get it through the state Senate as the next Senator for Guilford County.
The Democrat caucus signed a pledge to defund the SRO's in our schools and my opponent has remained silent on this effort that would make our schools less safe. I chaired Rep. Jon Hardister's school safety bipartisan advisory committee where we explored real issues to keep North Carolinians safe.
We took the recommendations from our Advisory Committee to the House Select Committee and passed bipartisan legislation for safer schools. This invested in Mental Health Resources, more training for school administrators and an app that would help schools be safer.
I will continue to work with our community, PTA's, school administrators and legislators to keep North Carolina schools safe.