Opinion: Daily Journal

Stay the course in 2018 for short-session success

The N.C. General Assembly is scheduled to return for the 2018 short legislative session on Wednesday, May 16. There’s speculation on what they will do and just how short the short session will be. Analysts and lobbyists are asking where they will go and what it will mean beyond the summer of 2018. 

The best answer of where to go in 2018 is simple. Stay the course, continue the momentum that was started several years ago, and stick with solid ideas that work. North Carolina’s economy is recovering and growing, more people are working, and there are more opportunities ahead if we continue on the road to freedom. 

North Carolina has seen transformational tax reform, with people keeping more of their hard-earned money. We can do even more with ending the double taxation of investments and repeal the state capital gains tax. Limiting the growth of government while building savings reserves is smart fiscal management and planning. We anticipate a revenue surplus again this year, and that should be dedicated to building our reserve funds even further and shoring up the pension plan for state retirees. 

Regulations cost our economy billions of dollars every year. We should continue our regular review of old rules and cost-benefit analysis of all new rules. Let people work by reforming licenses required for so many occupations.  Remove restrictions on craft breweries and distilleries to distribute their products to their customers. Stop the special giveaways to some industries and create a fair playing field for all businesses with lower taxes and fewer regulations across the board. Eliminate the special grant program for Hollywood film companies. 

Education is the key to opportunity. Expand choice so that students and families can find the best education option to best meet their unique needs. We need more schools; allow innovation to drive school construction needs. Change the way we fund schools so that the money follows the student to ensure success in the classroom. Consolidate school systems where it makes sense and deconstruct large systems when needed to ensure the best opportunity in every school. 

A fair and effective criminal justice system means criminals are punished and those who earn it get a second chance. Clean up North Carolina’s convoluted and confusing criminal code by starting with an index of all crimes to find duplication, eliminate outdated crimes, and simplify the language to make criminal intent a default requirement for criminal convictions. Protect property from being taken by police departments from unjust asset forfeitures. 

Ensure health care is affordable, accessible, and high-quality in all areas of the state. Allowing medical professionals to practice to the full extent of their training expands care. Telemedicine and direct primary care practices expand care to more patients at a lower cost and with more convenience. Repealing certificate-of-need laws will allow more medical facilities to be built and more equipment to be purchased.  

Energy costs drive economic decisions. When the cost of energy goes up, the cost of everything goes up. Low-income families are impacted disproportionately by higher costs. We should explore offshore exploration and use the best energy source at the lowest cost. 

Investment in infrastructure pays big benefits. Broadband is widely available across the state but should be expanded across rural areas without government interference. The private market invests better. Transportation investments should be based on data, not political favors, and should be focused on safety, congestion relief, and economic growth.  

No one is truly free unless her property is safe. Property rights should be guaranteed by ensuring that government cannot abuse its eminent domain powers. Amending our state constitution with clear protection of property rights is a good idea and long overdue. 

What’s the secret to a successful 2018 legislative short session? Stay the course for a prosperous North Carolina.