Editor’s note: N.C. Rep. Craig Horn will be providing Union County Weekly readers with monthly updates from the state capital, starting the week of Jan. 21, giving a glimpse into what state lawmakers are tackling in this session.
One is beginning to see the changes come over our State Capitol as the recent election results sink in. I have just returned from a three-day conference of state legislators in Washington, D.C., followed by two days of freshman orientation in Raleigh. I feel like I should return home and hide under the bed until all of this goes away! The realities of the challenges ahead are now sinking in, and I am ever more anxious to get on with my first legislative year.
In Washington, I attended the American Legislative Exchange Council workshops and task force meetings on the state budget process, education and Agriculture & the Environment. I expect to be permanently assigned to the Task Force on Agriculture, Energy, Natural Resources and the Environment. I also plan to be involved in the Education Task Force. It is the purpose of these task forces to develop model legislation to deal with the challenges the states and the people face in these general areas. Several of us spent time with U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and met with representatives from various companies to discuss options on how to control state costs and improve programs available to North Carolinians. U.S. Rep. Virginia Fox gave our delegation a wonderful nighttime tour of the Capitol, which included visits to the floor of the House and the Senate, an awesome, inspiring one.
The freshman orientation in Raleigh was helpful and overwhelming. We were briefed on committee procedures, legislative organization and what we could expect from the legislative support staff. We spent time in bill-drafting, legislative and fiscal research and program evaluation as we learned not only what to expect but also the process of creating a bill to present to the legislature. As expected, it is neither as simple as it first appears, nor does it generally move quickly. I was particularly taken by the Program Evaluation Division insofar as it is their mission to evaluate the effectiveness of state government programs and determine not only if we are getting our money’s worth but also to recommend improvements and streamlining to lower costs and improve delivery.
I am pleased to announce that Ernestine “Ernie” Parker has agreed to serve as my legislative assistant. Ernie has 14 years experience in legislative bill drafting as well as experience as a customer service rep. Ernie will help me meet the expectations and needs of Union County and the state of North Carolina. Her experience and calm demeanor will be a great asset to all of us. Within the party caucus, I will serve on the Budget Policy Committee, co-chaired by Reps. David Lewis, Julia Howard and Nelson Dollar. This committee will develop strategies to deal not only with North Carolina’s anticipated $3.5 billion budget shortfall but also create party policy on the budgetary process.
On Friday, Dec. 10, I will visit Weddington High School to meet with two Advanced Placement Government classes to discuss not only the role of the legislator but also how we may go about dealing with the more than $20 billion N.C. general fund budget. I am excited about this opportunity, particularly as a result of my experience with several students two weeks ago at the “We, The People” debate competition at the Jesse Helms Center in Wingate. I not only was a judge for the competition but also was invited to be the keynote speaker wrapping up the day’s program. You can read my remarks on my website.
I continue to invite your comments and your participation with me in the business of the state of North Carolina. It is together that we can and will raise the bar of excellence and restore the blessings of true liberty to our lives.
Rep. Craig Horn