Monday, 18 March 2019 16:02

Goodman, McInnis discuss bills at Chamber's Legislative Breakfast

Written by
Rate this item
(1 Vote)
Richmond Community College President Dr. Dale McInnis asks Rep. Ken Goodman and Sen. Tom McInnis about funding during the Chamber of Commerce's Legislative Breakfast on Monday. Richmond Community College President Dr. Dale McInnis asks Rep. Ken Goodman and Sen. Tom McInnis about funding during the Chamber of Commerce's Legislative Breakfast on Monday. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

HAMLET — Richmond County’s two elected members of the North Carolina General Assembly gave local government and business leaders a breakdown of the goings on in Raleigh early Monday during the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislative Breakfast.

First up was Rep. Ken Goodman, who will soon be leaving the legislature for the N.C. Industrial Commission- pending approval from the state Senate- following a recent appointment by Gov. Roy Cooper.

Goodman, D-Richmond, said this session has gotten off to a slower start than normal, but mentioned several bills he’s trying to get pushed through before May, including one allowing school calendar flexibility and another regarding sales tax reimbursement.

The two largest legislative issues, in his opinion are the governor’s school construction bond proposal and Medicaid expansion.

As for the latter, Goodman said he wouldn’t be surprised to see a bill come out of the House, but doubted it would make it through the Senate.

When it comes to the bond, Goodman said that’s one issue where he and Sen. Tom McInnis disagree.

He supports the governor’s $3.9 billion proposal and said it would be “more efficient” than the Senate’s pay-as-you-go plan.

According to Goodman, the schools would get the money up front and it would make more economic sense because the value of the dollar would be worth more now than later.

McInnis, R-Richmond, said the proposal was “not prudent” and that the Senate doesn’t want to risk damaging the state’s bond rating by borrowing so much money.

“I will not vote for a bond if we can pay-as-you-go,” he said.

When a House education committee passed a smaller $1.9 billion bond earlier this month, Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, told the Carolina Journal that State Treasurer Dale Folwell said the state’s debt capacity is about $2 billion.

However, despite being in separate chambers and opposite sides of the political aisle, the two legislators both support public education and the community college system.

Goodman said the state constitution calls for all children to receive and equal education, and that isn’t happening with the urban-rural divide, which is set to grow in the General Assembly.

McInnis, who was recently appointed to the Senate education committee in his third term, is the sponsor or co-sponsor of several education bills this year (including a companion to Goodman’s calendar-flexibility legislation).

One bill would revise teacher licensure requirements to address the state’s teacher shortage.

He said his bill would concentrate more on performance rather than “some bureaucrat,” adding that there are a large number of teachers who have not passed the “cursed” Pearson Education test which he called “nothing more than a money-making scheme.” 

McInnis also said his bill would put more power in the hands of local decision-makers.

Both McInnis and Goodman are former members of the Richmond County Board of Education.

Legislative records show McInnis is either sponsoring or co-sponsoring bills that would:

  • Waive tuition for survivors of corrections officers killed or disabled in the line of duty.
  • Revise the licensure law for continuing education requirements for general contractors.
  • Require an economics and personal finance course before graduating high school
  • Provide $566,587 for a Richmond Community College campus in Scotland County
  • Repeal the tuition surcharge imposed by the UNC Board of Governors on students who take more than 140 credit hours to complete a four-year degree or more than 110 percent of credit hours in a five-year program.

The legislators also praised Dr. Dale McInnis, president of Richmond Community College, for the institution having the third-highest growth rate in the 58-college system.

Part of that is due to short-term programs, like the new electrical lineman course.

Goodman called the college one of the biggest economic drivers in the county.

“I think you’re going to see more and more awareness that will translate into making community colleges better than they already are,” Goodman said.

Former school board member and Irene Aiken, who is also dean of UNC-Pembroke’s graduate school, asked what they thought about the future of the N.C. Promise, a tuition plan to make college more affordable.

 McInnis said he sees it being expanded.

“There’s no excuse for anyone saying they can’t afford to go to college,” he said, adding that, with all the forms of help available, individuals could pick up beer cans off the side of the road to help pay tuition.

“People who are qualified and work hard should be able to go,” Goodman added.

When asked by 2019 Chamber Board President Neil Robinette about state support for economic development in rural counties, McInnis said the college plays an important role with creating a job-ready workforce and enhancing vocational training for jobs.

He added that the days of dropping out and working at a mill are over and the school system needs to do a better job of identifying students’ strengths and weaknesses so they have an idea of what they want to do when the graduate high school.

McInnis also said there is an issue with applicants not being able to pass drug tests.

Goodman said that he had previously introduced a bill requiring companies to invest the same amount as government so they’d “have some skin in the game.” However, that bill didn’t pass.

“I think everyone wants economic development in rural counties,” he said.

While they’re all for economic development in Richmond County and the other counties in their respective districts, Goodman and McInnis are also supportive of property rights.

For the fifth time since he’s been in office, Goodman has introduced a constitutional amendment that would clarify the state’s eminent domain law.

In the the controversial decision in Kelo v. City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the takings clause in the Fifth Amendment could be used for “public benefit” not “public use” as worded.

In that case, a Connecticut town used eminent domain to purchase properties to make way for a Pfizer pharmaceutical plant, claiming the proposed jobs would benefit the public.

Local homeowners sued and lost.

The case was decided in 2005, but Pfizer pulled out. To this day, the land remains undeveloped.

Goodman wants to keep that from happening here. 

McInnis is a co-sponsor of a similar bill in the Senate.

Goodman’s bill passed the House and is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.

 

Last modified on Monday, 18 March 2019 17:26