NC House of Representatives District 115
The North Carolina House of Representatives is the lower house of the North Carolina General Assembly. The House of Representatives consists of 120 members who serve a term of two years. Each member represents an average of 79,462 residents, as of the 2010 Census. The presiding officer of the House of Representatives is the Speaker of the House, who holds powers similar to those of the Senate President pro-tem. The Speaker is elected by the members from their membership for a two-year term. The Speaker’s duties include maintaining order in the House and appointing members to the House standing committees.The North Carolina General Assembly, of which the House is a part, is to convene a new regular session every two years, and the dates for these sessions are set by law. 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.
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1. What do you see as your most important priority if you are elected? [Youtube video for this question or text or both].
2. Education policy and funding issues have been in the news lately. What are your views and priorities on how this should be addressed in the coming year?
3. Tax policy can be used to address many issues –giving subsidies to companies coming to NC, balancing the needs of urban and rural areas, providing family support such as the earned-income tax credit, etc. What are your views about the tax policies in NC?
4. Many communities in North Carolina are experiencing significant violence. Do you think that changes to the laws in our state would improve safety in our communities?
Tax policy in North Carolina has been weighted towards allowing the wealthy to increase their personal wealth, rather than provide spending for the 'commonwealth.' We have by some measures the stingiest unemployment insurance program of any state. We need to re-institute the earned-income tax credit as a proven boon to low income workers. We need to take a hard look at returning to a more progressive system of graduated tax rates, understanding that our business leaders make more demands on state infrastructure: transportation, education and commerce. We will need to also take a hard look at how we are funding transportation needs as the gas tax is unable to keep up with the needs of a growing state.
Violence comes in many forms. I would like to look at alternatives to incarceration as punishment for non-violent crimes, both as better rehabilitation models and to save the state much needed funds for other purposes. We need to look at ways for the non-violent criminal to work to make full restitution for victims. We also need to recognize that many individuals who are incarcerated need drug rehabilitation before any other approach will be effective. One success in my time in Raleigh has been the effort to 'raise the age' of most juvenile offenders so that they cannot be treated as adults. Spending more money on this population of offenders ought to decrease their future recidivism, and keep them out of prisons with hardened criminals. We need to de-criminalize marijuana as a schedule 1 drug.
Having previously served in the NC House, I tried my best to simply serve the needs of our citizens and make the best decisions, outside of politics.
As a teacher, I like to quote one of our former U.S. Supreme Court justices, who stated in one of the Court's fundamental cases early on in our nation's history, "The power to tax is the power to destroy." Thus, it is so with our taxation policies today, too. When previously serving in the State House, I met several people who had had to leave my home county, due to the property taxes being so high. I've met even more since those days, who tell be they left because they couldn't afford the taxes on their homes, or were making the choice to forego medicines and food to pay their taxes. No taxes, at any level (federal/state/local), should ever be such a burden that people have to uproot from homes and families and relocate to where taxes are lower, just to make ends meet!
In addition to all this, no companies should ever be given benefits which are not given to every company and business equally.
Unfortunately, violence stems from the hearts of the people. In the 1980s, it was the leaders of the African-American and other minority communities throughout the nation who saw the increasing violence in our cities due to the drug trade (especially around the crisis at that time focused around trafficking crack cocaine). They then called on our national leadership to strengthen and make harsher the laws. Our national leaders listened and followed through with harsher sentencing guidelines. The result? For essentially parts or all of the last four decades, incarceration rates have shot up drastically, and the greatest burden of those increased rates has fallen mainly upon the African-American community and other minorities, in particular. Law changes rarely dissuade criminals. However, perhaps we should and could be explore the nature of what caused these actions in the first place and try to ameliorate those issues, so that these activities don't occur in the first place.
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