MONROE – With the North Carolina General Assembly just finishing its third week of work, several area members of the State House of Representatives talked about what they hope is accomplished in the coming weeks.
Republicans no longer hold veto-proof super-majorities in either chamber after Democrats made gains in the House and Senate last fall.
District 55 Republican State Rep. Mark Brody represents part of Union County and Anson County. Brody said he will continue to remove what he calls burdensome regulations that hamper economic growth in the state. He recently attended a reception for Union County elected officials sponsored by the Union County Chamber of Commerce.
“We would like to accomplish a lot of things but we don’t know how far we are going to go because the makeup is different,” Brody said. “I’m working on a lot of regulatory reform. These folks here (chamber members) will benefit from the work I am doing in trying to reduce some of the unnecessary regulations. Not every regulation is bad but there are some that we can get rid of or streamline to accommodate the real needs of business and help us grow.”
District 105 Democratic State Rep. Wesley Harris represents south Charlotte and the freshman lawmaker lists Medicaid expansion as one of his top priorities. About 20 percent of the state’s residents are enrolled in Medicaid, and Democrats say more than 500,000 low-income residents would become eligible if the program is expanded. The federal government picks up 90 percent of the cost of the program and Harris said the remaining cost can be covered by negotiating with hospitals to fill the remainder of the gap.
“We (Democrats) have introduced a Medicaid expansion bill,” Harris said. “I think it is a net economic benefit for us. It will give all our uninsured in North Carolina at least some access to healthcare. Our opinion is that it is already paid for, but the devil is in the details. We are optimistic that we can get it. We will see when that bill gets into committee how much bipartisanship there will be. People are talking across the aisle. That (expansion) will be the big battle of the session.”
District 69 Republican State Rep. Dean Arp, of Monroe, said he is working with local law enforcement to craft legislation to address the state’s opioid crisis.
“The opioid crisis is an important issue that we need to address,” Arp said. “I am going to be rolling some things out that we are working on. We need to have a soft approach to those who are addicted and caught up in this thing and help them with that addiction. But some of those who are drug pushers out there, we need to come down pretty hard on those. I hope to continue that type of philosophy in some of the laws that will roll out.”