Skip to content

Get Connected & Stay Informed

Access networks, knowledge, and a team of professionals dedicated to helping you thrive.

Lower Your Business Expenses

Save money on small business health and dental services, credit card processing fees, workers’ comp coverage and more.

Increase Your Community Impact

Successful businesses create successful communities and we are passionate about both. Get informed, get engaged, and make your voice heard.

Top Five Takeaways from the State Legislative Forum

Top Five Takeaways from the State Legislative Forum

Overview: The Chamber hosted the annual State Legislative Forum on December 4, 2020 (watch the video). This forum fostered a candid conversation on the state-of-play on state legislative affairs among the Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro delegation to the NC General Assembly: Senator Valerie P. Foushee (District 23), Representative Verla Insko (District 56), and Representative Graig R. Meyer (District 50). 

Top Five Takeaways: The following are the top five takeaways from the discussion with the state delegates, including their reflections on the last session, assessment of current realities, and predictions on the year ahead:

  1. Covid Collaboration: Despite complicated political divides, the Covid response effort during the last session proved to be the most bipartisan and collaborative effort in our delegation’s collective 30-year experience in the NC General Assembly.

  2. Big Bucks on the Table: The state is operating on a continuation of the 2018 budget, which means that despite the pandemic, the state is accruing revenue faster than it is spending it and apparently there are big bucks on the table: ~$4.5 billion in unappropriated revenue, ~$2.5 billion in the rainy-day fund, and money in unemployment reserves. The question remains, how will the state invest the multiple billion dollar surplus?

  3. University Concerns: While education and workforce development continue to be a top priority for our delegation and there is strong bipartisan support for community colleges in the General Assembly, delegates expressed concern for the university. Apparently, pandemic realities and generational enrollment declines are causing a contraction in higher education across the nation and contributing to a conversation in NC about “right-sizing” the university. The delegation pledged to do what they can to keep the university whole but expressed concerns about the challenging road ahead.

  4. Broadband Expansion: Rural broadband is a top issue at the General Assembly with strong bipartisan support and national investments coming down the pike that could make a meaningful difference. According to one of the delegates, current estimates put NC’s broadband challenge at about $1.5 billion. The federal government will be announcing the recipients of a gigantic broadband expansion program in a matter of weeks. While the funds will likely not touch much of Orange County, the funds will certainly help other parts of the state to help close the gaps.

  5. Redistricting: Heads-up that redistricting begins the first year after the census results, i.e., 2021. Given the recent history of gerrymandering in NC as determined by a judicial panel (source) and the current political divide, how redistricting gets handled will be a hot issue with ramifications for the next decade.

Other Points of Interest: The delegation touched on other important issues throughout the forum, including concerns about energy (how we produce, distribute, sell, and consume it), transportation, equity, K-12 school construction needs and declines in early childhood education, and the soon-to-be lifted eviction moratorium. They also discussed public-private partnerships as a constructive strategy to move solutions forward.

Bottom Line | Our Voice: North Carolina showed the nation once again in the 2020 general election that it is not red or blue, but a decidedly purple state. NC voters went R for President, D for Governor, and many of the statewide races were extremely close. One could reasonably argue that NC voters want to see the parties work together in a constructive fashion. We observed remarkable collaboration this past year as the R's and D's navigated Covid relief. But 2021 is loaded with landmines from investing the surplus and passing a budget to navigating redistricting. Can the sane center prevail? Let’s hope.

Powered By GrowthZone