By Cady Thomas
NCDOT is seeking public comment on the STIP. Please act now to have your voice heard: https://www.ncdot.gov/
NC GO! Dinner
Senator McInnis did great tonight at the NC Go Annual Dinner. NC Go’s chairman, Marc Finlayson led the discussion with Senator McInnis and Senator Mike Woodard.
They reflected on working together for many years and the success of transferring funding back to DOT from NC’s sales tax revenues this year.
Both Senators said we have to keep working and that everything is on the table – going to have to tax EVs, have to have the conversation around vehicle miles traveled, highway use tax, and tolling. But we have to modernize how we find transportation infrastructure. Senator McInnis said that companies coming here are betting NC is going to keep moving forward and we have to do something now.
Mark asked both senators what can we do in 2023? Senator McInnis – Potentially taxing delivery services like Amazon. EVs wear out their tires twice as fast as regular cars so we have to talk about what they are doing to the road. Senator Woodard – have to talk about the highway use tax.
Senator McInnis also talked about the labor shortage issues. He also said the community colleges have to work together. He wants to do a $100 million transportation campus with 4-5 colleges training for all the companies in need.
Both senators said the NCGA needs to hear the case for the legislators about the economic value our industries bring to the table. NC-10 Committee meeting in December. They are working on legislation now so bring them ideas!
The war in Ukraine is causing a shortage of diesel fuel in North Carolina. This will obviously increase the cost of transportation but it will also increase the prices of all goods.
Last week Governor Cooper issued an executive order for the NC Environmental Management Commission to begin rulemaking to adopt the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation. If adopted, NC would be the 7th state to adopt the rule requiring manufacturers of medium and heavy duty vehicles to sell electric models.
Bills and Legislation
Legislative Session in December?
The NCGA will return for two more mini sessions before the end of the year. Nothing is expected to happen during the November session. However, Speaker Tim Moore said this week that the December 13th session “is likely to have some business.” While he did not specify what could be taken up, it has long been speculated that they will vote on Medicaid expansion and potentially redistricting.
Legislative Leadership Priorities
If the Republicans get a super majority in both parties, next year’s legislative priorities could be greatly affected. However, the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate have given us a preview of their top priorities for the 2023-24 legislative session. Republicans have said voting legislation (photo ID requirement, same day registration changes, etc.) will be considered but Speaker Moore said they will not “restrict voter access.” Additionally they want to cut corporate and individual income taxes, make education changes and funding, and legislation to address rioting.
The Democrats contend stopping the super majority is the only way to stop further restrictions on abortion in NC even though neither Republican leaders has indicated this as a priority. However, House Leader Reives said if they win the majority they would codify Roe v. Wade. Governor Cooper is also concerned about another “House Bill 2” type bill limiting the rights of the LQBTQ community. Senate Leader Blue’s first priority would be preserving “access to the ballot box.” Other priorities include workforce and broadband internet expansion.
Numbers as of October 26, 2022:
3,237,440 total cases
601 people – 7 day average of those hospitalized
73% of adult population fully vaccinated, 63% of total population fully vaccinated (Note this has remained unchanged for months.)
Early Voting Has Started
Search your name here to find your early voting site.
Money, Money, Money, Money!
Tired of all the political ads? Just 1 more week to go but with both republicans and democrats amping up their spending in NC, you can expect more ads than you receive annoying calls about your car’s warranty. Read more here.
US Senate Race
Axios calls the NC US Senate race the “closest race in America nobody’s is watching.” Over the last 4 months the polls have gone from a 14% lead for Current Congressman Ted Budd to a 2% lead for Former NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley. This week, two polls show Budd has regained the lead but is still within the margin of error.
Don’t sleep on the races for NC Supreme Court as two seats are up for election this year. Lots of money is being spent on these races as it could change the balance of partisan power on the court. That has led some to investigate whether or not the current Supreme Court is speeding up controversial cases in case Republicans win control.
The oral arguments of Moore v. Harper will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on December 7, 2022. Named after N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, the case deals with the Independent State Legislature (ISL) which would allow a state legislature proposal for new congressional districts not to be overridden by a state supreme court’s interpretations of its state’s own constitution, including any provisions limiting partisan gerrymandering.
Last week, U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar asked to be allowed to participate in the case and said that if the court sides with North Carolina’s argument, it “would severely disrupt the administration of elections around the nation.” With such national implications, influential groups and political figures have submitted amicus briefs offering their views on the case. Most amicus briefs submitted to the nation’s highest court largely criticize the legal arguments being made on behalf of Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger, however a few outside observers have supported GOP lawmakers’ arguments.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Moore vs Harper is not likely until July 2023. Meanwhile, this year’s election of the NC Supreme Court justices will determine if democrats maintain a 4-3 majority.
Other Important Items
In order to build more toll lanes south of Charlotte, the state will have to partner with private companies. It has already been decided that more lanes will only be built if they are toll lanes but NCDOT likely cannot build the $2.1 billion project without private funds.
Last week Mitch Landrieu, Biden’s infrastructure coordinator, and US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack were in NC to announce $759 million in broadband funding for rural counties.