Some of you are aware I come from a family of historians so do not be surprised if occasionally I begin my newsletter with a history lesson. A few weeks ago I provided a brief history as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the NC Legislative Building on Jones Street, where we currently conduct the people’s business. Where did the legislature meet prior to that? Prior to 1963, the legislature met at the North Carolina State Capitol, located on Capitol Square in downtown Raleigh. The Old State Capitol was built in 1840 and is one of our nation’s most intact examples of a Greek revival public building.
This week we met at the State Capitol for an historic reason — to recognize and display NC’s copy of the Bill of Rights. President George Washington commissioned 14 copies of the US Bill of Rights after it was signed in 1789. Each of the thirteen colonies received one copy and one remained with the federal government. North Carolina’s copy was on display in the State Capitol until 1865 when a Union soldier stole it near the end of the Civil War. Our copy was discovered by an FBI agent during a 2003 investigation. After a lengthy court battle, our copy of the U.S. Bill of Rights was rightfully returned to the state in 2005. The NC copy of the Bill of Rights is so fragile that we are only able to display it in public once every ten years. So this week we gathered at the State Capitol to celebrate this wonderful recovery, as well as, the inalienable rights the Bill of Rights grants to each one of us as Americans. We truly are the land of the free and the home of the brave. In NC, we are proud to have been one of the original 13 states to sign the Bill of Rights.
Last week I attended the ribbon cutting for the opening of the Scotland County Small Business Innovation Center at the corner of US 401 Bypass and Heck Norton Road in Laurinburg. This new center is an example of great collaboration, resulting from the partnership of many people and agencies in Scotland County, NC, and the US Government. Richmond Community College will house their Small Business Center, the Career Readiness Certificate Trainer, and the Industrial Workforce Training Director — a one stop shop for small businesses and entrepreneurs in the region.
My wife, Donna joined me in Raleigh to attend the “Tastes of the Carolinas” reception. Over 100 vendors from NC had display booths and provided samples of agriculture and food made right here in our state. You name it… turkey, pork, cheese, produce, jams, and just about everything imaginable that can be made with sweet potatoes. My favorite was sweet potato chili. Agribusiness is the number one industry in NC and this evening was a showcase of NC food products.
On March 15, I enjoyed spending the day in Rowan County, beginning with a legislative breakfast meeting with about 70 members of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce. Along with other members of the state legislative delegation, I answered questions from chamber members about various state government matters. Next the delegation joined the Salisbury City Council and Rowan County commissioners at the Salisbury City Hall for a meeting regarding the Rowan County Airport. After lunch at Hap’s in downtown Salisbury, we met again at the Rowan County Administrative Office and had a town hall day meeting with other town officials in Rowan County about specific areas of interest to them. Before the day ended, I made stops at Rockwell Town Hall and to see friends at Gary’s BBQ in China Grove.
Our newly appointed NC Secretary of Commerce, Sharon Decker made a presentation this week to the Senate Commerce Committee which I serve on and shared her five tenets of Economic Development in NC. She plans to focus on: (1) Healthy NC Citizens, (2) Education, (3) Recruiting target industries in a more proactive way, (4) Tourism, Arts, Culture, Film, Sports development, (5) Quality of life and environment. Secretary Decker stated we need to sell and market the North Carolina brand.
As I have stated numerous times, creating jobs is my top priority and I remain focused on ways to make that happen. I have filed the following bills to support working families, help unemployed people find a job, and give the business community an incentive to hire more people.
SB 185 - I filed Senate Bill 185 to extend the Earned Income Tax Credit for five more years. The Earned Income Tax Credit expands our workforce, encourages gainful employment, and provides much-needed relief for hard working families. Originally passed by Congress in 1975, the Earned Income Tax Credit has garnered wide support from both Republicans and Democrats throughout the years. I am pleased to file this bill to help hard-working people in our district and across the state.
SB 242 - This bill offers a $2,000 tax credit to businesses that hire the long-term unemployed. Our district has been particularly hard hit by the recession and too many of our friends and neighbors remain out of work. Recognizing that employers are still concerned about adding to their payroll, this legislation provides an incentive to companies to hire qualified employees who have been out of work for a prolonged period of time.
Senate Bill 255 - I joined with Rep. Ken Goodman in filing the Small Business New Job Creation Incentive, Senate Bill 255 or House Bill 263 - an initiative designed to help expand job growth in the state of North Carolina. Small businesses, with no more than 50 employees, who meet the eligibility requirements, will be entitled to tax credits for hiring new employees. As a small businessman myself and after hearing from many other small business people, we need to help existing small business, not just large manufacturing companies, who want to locate here in NC. Our main focus is to create and maintain a strong workforce in our state. Rep. Goodman, who sponsored the House version (HB 263), and I believe it is important to train North Carolina workers and to be able to provide employment opportunities for them right here. We have to make sure to invest our tax dollars wisely in order to support these initiatives and also create further job growth in our economy.
As always, I welcome your ideas and suggestions. Please contact me at Gene.email@example.com or call 919-733-5953. If you would like to keep track of what’s going on in the NC House or Senate, visit the NCGA website at www.ncleg.net. If you are interested in receiving our newsletter, please send your request to Katie Stanley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— State Senator Gene McLaurin is from Rockingham. He represents Senate District 25 which includes the counties of Anson, Richmond, Rowan, Stanly, and Scotland.