Editor’s note: Each month, Representative Craig Horn will offer his perspective as a new member of the North Carolina legislature.
A New Year and a New Era begin today. The N.C. House of Representatives will get down to business quickly. Speaker-Designate Thom Tillis has announced he is paring the number of standing committees from 35 to just 18. This will force the committees to focus their efforts and expedite their agendas. I would expect that committee chairmen and vice chairmen will be announced within the next several days.
I have requested appointment to the following committees: Finance, Education, Commerce, Agriculture, Military Affairs & Homeland Security and Transportation. I have also asked to serve on Judiciary, Rules and Ethics. Committee assignments will follow the appointment of committee chairs. I have been in Raleigh quite a lot lately and have participated in mock sessions not only to practice my skills on the floor of the legislature but also to help Speaker-Designate Tillis hone his skills as well.
Although all the members have been assigned temporary offices and phone numbers, don’t write any of that in ink. I expect permanent offices and phone numbers will become final within 10 days. Office assignments are always a big deal. I have lived through the politics of office assignments way too many times in my business career to have any interest in the legislature version. One can only imagine the egos at work in this activity!
Of course, most of the legislature’s business takes place in committees. Bills are hashed out, modified and debated. What goes in often bears little resemblance to what comes out. With the challenges of this year’s budget issues and redistricting, as well as the reduced number of committees, one can expect a lot of action in those gatherings. That is why committee assignments are of such importance. Nevertheless, lawmakers are not prohibited from participating in issues before committees to which they are not assigned. I will follow closely and offer testimony on those bills that I sponsor as well as participate in debate on issues affecting District 68, regardless of committee assignments.
I am already working closely with Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow County, to sponsor a bill to ban the sale and distribution of the new drug K-2 and its family. Additionally, I plan to co-sponsor the “Honest Elections Act” requiring a valid photo ID to register and vote. And I have begun work on a bill to encourage the manufacture of goods in North Carolina and put our citizens back to work. This bill is intended to reduce government intervention in manufacturing and lessen the confiscatory burden of counterproductive taxes on all goods actually manufactured in North Carolina.
One of the more frequently asked questions that I get is about the distribution and sale of liquor in North Carolina. I do not support the current system of government monopoly in the distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages. I think that this should be handled in the free and open marketplace. The state should neither compete with nor replace private enterprise in the sale, distribution or marketing of any product. I do, of course, believe the state does have an important role in regulating the sale of alcoholic beverages.
I will be attending the eighth annual legislators’ retreat in Pinehurst Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 10 and 11, sponsored by the James B. Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership & Policy. On Jan. 13, I will attend our final freshman orientation program on Ethics in Government at the N.C. School of Government. The General Assembly convenes Jan. 26 with our official swearing-in and the first day of the new session.
Please contact me with your views, opinions, suggestions and criticisms. We are in this together, and I need your help. I am happy to announce that my new legislative aide Laurie Payne is on board. We wish you and your family a safe and happy new year. Be sure to follow us at www.CraigHorn.com.