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Carolina Journal Radio No. 916: Truitt to take reins as top N.C. education official

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai
The Truth Network Radio
December 7, 2020 8:00 am

Carolina Journal Radio No. 916: Truitt to take reins as top N.C. education official

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai

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December 7, 2020 8:00 am

North Carolina welcomes a new state superintendent of public instruction in 2021. Republican Catherine Truitt will take the job after serving as leader of the online-only Western Governors University in this state. Truitt also served as former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s top education adviser. Terry Stoops, John Locke Foundation vice president for research and resident scholar, assesses Truitt’s top priorities in her job at the head of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Mention the word “environmentalism,” and many people will think of left-of-center activists who oppose development, energy exploration, and other economic activity. But a recent article in the magazine National Review advocated a conservative form of environmentalism. Donald van der Vaart, John Locke Foundation senior fellow, discusses the pros and cons of the arguments put forward in the leading conservative magazine. The new year will generate new congressional and legislative election maps for North Carolina. During a recent news conference, N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, rebutted myths about the impact of election maps during the past decade. Moore also offered clues about the type of mapmaking process he will support in 2021. Though Democrats came up short this fall, they continue to work toward turning North Carolina as blue as possible politically. Scott Walter, president of the Capital Research Center, discussed Democrats’ strategy during a recent online presentation for the John Locke Foundation. You’ll hear highlights from his remarks. When Moore bangs the gavel on the opening day of the 2021 legislative session, he will tie a state record. Only two other men have been elected to four terms as state House speaker. Rick Henderson, Carolina Journal editor-in-chief, highlights some key priorities Moore has mentioned for the new session that starts in January.

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From Cherokee to Kuretuk, from the largest city to the smallest town, and from the statehouse to the schoolhouse, it's Carolina Journal Radio, your weekly news magazine discussing North Carolina's most important public policy events and issues. Welcome to Carolina Journal Radio, I'm Mitch Kocai. During the next hour, Donna Martinez and I will explore some major issues affecting our state. Should conservatives put forward their own brand of environmentalism?

A leading conservative magazine recently featured an article that argued yes. We'll discuss the idea with one of North Carolina's leading conservative voices on environmental issues. Let's continue to try to turn North Carolina blue. We'll chat with a right-of-center observer who has monitored their strategy and tactics. The Speaker of the State House of Representatives recently offered clues about how he and his colleagues might approach election map-making in the new year. Plus, we'll discuss some other top 2021 priorities for House Speaker Tim Moore.

He's about to tie a record for longest-serving House Speakers in North Carolina history. Those topics are just ahead, but first, Donna Martinez joins us and she has the Carolina Journal headline. In just a few weeks, Republican Katherine Truitt will be sworn in as North Carolina's new Superintendent of Public Instruction, having defeated her Democratic challenger Jen Mangrum in the November election. So what issues will likely to be front and center for the new superintendent? Dr. Terry Stoops is with the John Locke Foundation.

He's Vice President for Research, also the Director of Education Studies. He has been taking a look at what she will face come January. Joins us now to talk about all of that. Terry, welcome back to the show. Thank you. So you said in your piece that she's got stuff already piling up on her desk.

When she walks in, Terry, day one, what's on the top of the pile? Well, it has to be COVID-19 and the issues that surround that, not only school reopening, but the learning loss that students are experiencing in COVID-19. We have to have a plan in place ready to address the learning loss as quickly as possible. And I'm sure that that's going to be one of the things that she's going to focus on in talking to legislators is that not only are we going to need to have a plan in place to address learning loss, but we need the resources to be able to provide students the type of services that they need to be able to address it. Now, I think that some of those certainly can be done out of the Department of Public Instruction. My preference would be to provide some sort of voucher or ESA for students to be able to get one-on-one tutoring services.

Education savings account. Yes, yes. Sorry, in education, we throw around the acronyms like crazy. That's right.

Three and four letters will always come. So, looking at ways, at strategies, research-based strategies to be able to address the learning loss has to be the first thing that she starts to tackle when she gets into office. Tell us more about that, because how will we know? I mean, we think, and it seems likely based on a lot of the analysis that you have been writing about at johnlocke.org, that we've got a lot of kids who have been mandated into remote learning. And while that may be a great environment for some kids, for a lot of kids, it may not be a great environment. So, when Katherine Truitt looks at this issue of learning loss and COVID-19, how will we know even where we are as a baseline with these kids? We'll really have to triangulate the data.

So, we know that remote learning is an inferior instructional delivery method. So, we have to realize that so many of our students in remote learning are receiving inferior instruction, and then we look at what's happening in other places that have done the kind of testing that we should have done at the beginning of the school year, such as Dallas, Texas, where they found that a significant portion of their students had lost ground in math and reading. And then I think that we're probably going to see some of the initial data trickle in at the end of the first semester when students take courses because of their block schedule. So, we have students that take a full year's course in one semester. So, we'll have some initial testing data at the end of the first semester that will give us a clue as to how our kids are doing. Now, these are mostly high school students, so it really won't get to the elementary and middle school students. By then, we'll have to wait to the end of grade and end of course tests come at the end of school year, which at this point have not been canceled.

Oh, my. You mentioned resources. That takes us to another item that the new superintendent to Katherine Truitt will have to face. Tell us about relationships with the legislature, with the governor when it comes to resources. Well, she will have to encounter a state board of education that didn't get along with the previous superintendent of public instruction, Mark Johnson. So, she has to repair some of the relationships there. And I think she'll absolutely do that.

I'm not really too worried about that. And she has a General Assembly that is willing to help the Republicans understand what the needs are. They understand that within reason, they will provide the resources necessary to address those needs. Now, we don't know much about what the budget is going to look like for the upcoming fiscal year. And this is really the big concern is that if there's a significant budget deficit, it's going to limit what the legislators can do to provide help to our schools. But I trust that they will do everything in their power to be able to help schools address learning loss. And we should also consider the fact that the Congress may provide additional funding for the state as well.

Some sort of aid package may come down sometime next year that will help North Carolina address some of its needs. Katherine Truitt formerly worked in the Governor Pat McCrory administration. She was his education advisor for a time. So, I think that means that she knows at least some of the state legislators who are still there, holdovers from that era. What about her relationship with Governor Roy Cooper? It seems like every governor in North Carolina wants to be the education governor.

And as you and I have talked about many times, we got so many fingers in the pie, it's hard to see the pie. So, how does she deal with a governor that may have different policy views? She's a Republican, he's a Democrat. Yeah, Katherine has really been reaching out to folks on both sides of the aisle to try to establish some dialogue and some common ground. She made this really clear in her interview with Carolina Journal that she wants to not only get the best ideas from both sides, but she wants to get both sides talking, having some dialogue about what our schools need and how best to address the issues. So, I think that she has struck a very hopeful tone that people from the Cooper administration probably have already reached out to her, probably in discussion with some of the problems that we're going to be facing. The governor is going to have some appointments to the State Board of Education. Really, Katherine has no say over who those appointments will be, but she will have to learn how to work with those individuals that are appointed to the State Board of Education by the governor. So, I think everyone should be really hopeful with the way that Katherine has really come out and tried to establish common ground with both Democrats and Republicans because she has really put kids first. Children are at the centerpiece of her campaign. They're at the centerpiece of the transition of her being superintendent of public instruction, and I hope that they will be the centerpiece of her term and hopefully multiple terms as superintendent. Well, speaking of putting kids first in this whole equation, she is a supporter of more choices for parents, more empowering options for parents, and there are threats to school choice in North Carolina. There are some who don't think that that is a good idea.

What is she facing in that arena? Well, fortunately, those who were most opposed to choice, many of those who were most opposed to choice were not elected. The lieutenant governor candidate and the superintendent of public instruction candidates on the Democratic side both opposed the expansion of school choice. And really, Governor Cooper, his opposition to the Opportunity Scholarship Program will kind of be muted by the fact that the General Assembly has Republican control. There's really no prospect legislatively of the Opportunity Scholarship Program being eliminated or defunded. Really, the biggest threat right now is in the courts where there's a lawsuit opposing the Opportunity Scholarship Program.

That's where the biggest threat is. I think that Katherine Truitt will be a champion for charter schools, that she doesn't have much really to say about the voucher programs because they're administered in a different department, but I think she'll protect the charter schools, which are under her purview, and make sure that they have the resources that they need from the State Board of Education level and from the Department of Public Instruction level to be successful. We've been talking with Dr. Terry Stoops.

He is vice president for research, the director of education studies at the John Locke Foundation. Terry, thank you. Thank you. Stay with us. Much more Carolina Journal radio to come in just a moment. Tired of fake news?

Tired of reporters with political axes to grind? Well, you need to be reading Carolina Journal. Honest, uncompromising, old-school journalism you expect and you need. Even better, the monthly Carolina Journal is free to subscribers. Sign up at carolinajournal.com. You'll receive Carolina Journal newspaper in your mailbox each month.

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I'm Mitch Kokai. Mention the word environmentalism and it's likely that most people will think of protesting environmental activists. Most of them operating far left of the political center. But you don't have to be a left-winger to care about the environment. A recent issue of National Review featured an article titled Toward a Conservative Environmentalism. It touts the potential of a congressional group called the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus. Is this group on the right track?

Do its supporters follow some of the same bad ideas as environmentalists on the left? Joining us to discuss these questions is Don Vandervoort. He's a senior fellow at the John Locke Foundation and he worked for nearly three decades at North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality, serving as its leader, the departmental secretary under Republican Governor Pat McCrory. Welcome.

Thanks for having me. First of all, let's talk a little bit about some of the things in this article Toward a Conservative Environmentalism that you agree with. The author of this piece really takes it to the folks who are on the left and their approach to environmentalism. And do you think that he gets that part right? Well, yes, I think the article correctly identifies the most recent shift in the environmental movement.

It's not that recent. I think it is to the author, which is that the impetus is more founded on an anti-humanist approach. And for those who don't know what that is, that essentially means that some level of population control is needed to protect the environment. In other words, simply putting controls on or limiting the kinds of fuels or cleaning up fuel, all those typical environmental management tools aren't enough, according to this movement.

And what you really need is a reduction in the number of people and a change, a fundamental change in the standard of living. Really, underlying that approach is this more socialist economic framework, because otherwise you don't have the control that you need. And you see some of this in North Carolina's own plans developed in the Cooper administration to deal with the environmental issues. I don't think Cooper can take any credit for originalism, but they have co-opted the national position of these more left-wing environmental groups. And most people have heard of the Green New Deal. The Green New Deal is really a sort of a manifesto. It's a cultural, it's really an economic manifesto written by the anti-humanist organizations. One of the things that we have seen that fits in with this whole pattern is the positive reaction among some of these left-of-center environmentalists to what has happened since the COVID-19 pandemic. They're saying, hey, fewer people are driving, people aren't going out and about. This is great.

We need more of this. And that's exactly the position that the anti-humanists would pursue, which is we need to change the way we live. We need to, in fact, direct – we need a strong central government that can actually direct – this is some of their strategies – direct who gets certain levels of energy and who doesn't. They would have you believe that they would direct more energy, for example, for fundamental manufacturing or needed manufacturing. It's rife with crony capitalism. And we can go on about that. The issue, though, from an environmental standpoint is that there isn't – I've never seen a real nexus to that environmental improvement.

Even in this case with the COVID, you don't see dramatic reductions in certain pollutants. It isn't the case that they would have you believe it is. It's really about changing social norms. We are chatting with Don Vandervoort. He is a senior fellow at the John Locke Foundation and former secretary of North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality.

Let's switch gears a little bit. This article talked about what's wrong with the environmental left. And then it suggested there are some ideas about how conservatives could take on a more active role in dealing with environmental issues and focuses specifically on this Roosevelt conservative caucus or conservation caucus that was set up in the Congress a little bit more than a year ago.

What do you think about these ideas? Well, one of the premises that is totally wrong in this article and others is that they take as axiomatic that the conservatives or the Republicans, however you want to characterize them, are somehow anti-conservation, anti-environment. And that's absolutely false. I've worked through many different administrations.

And I can tell you most of the professional staff have a very clear idea of what they need to do and that goes forward. Those are all based on the fundamental structure that was put in place by the EPA, which remember was started by Richard Nixon. Yes, it's highly inefficient and yes, there is a lot of wasted effort. But if you look back at the time when the EPA began to the time we are now, it has been a wildly successful effort. And that goes across both Democrat and Republican administrations.

It's absolutely false. It's a political narrative to say that somehow Republicans or conservatives are anti-environment. So that really segues into where we are now. The unfortunate thing for environmentalists is they really have done a very good job and we are very successful.

Our air, our water and our solids, our ground level of groundwater, it's amazing how much cleaner they are now than they were 30 and 40 years ago. And so now the question is to remain relevant, what do we do? And what's happened is they've been sort of hijacked by this anti-humanist effort. And at the UN level, the global level, they've been hijacked by socialists. And so what this article then goes on about and they get this right, they figure out that what I've just talked about, the fact that America's environment is so much cleaner now than it was 34 years ago, so much cleaner than other developed nations because we've had the good fortune of having a capitalist system in place and we've been able to create the wealth necessary to implement these costly strategies.

And so now where are we? We've got to come up with another boogeyman and that is climate change. Yeah. In fact, there's a sentence near the beginning of this article that says the formation of this Roosevelt caucus that we mentioned signaled the beginning of a new era in conservative politics characterized by a heightened concern for environmental issues such as climate change. I'm sure you've read that and cringed. The fact of the matter is, is that to the extent man has a role in global warming, even the EPA under Obama recognized that it is, we're talking about a hundred year manifestation. It's going to take a hundred years to get to the point where we're seeing changes.

And so we have some time. And I think that's why you see some before COVID, we had some really rather shrill arguments about how climate change is going to befall us in the next 12 years and then that was passed and it became increasingly panic stricken. The fact of the matter is that professionals who do this at the EPA, like I said, they're working with a hundred year timeline and there are things we can put in place to the extent man plays a role. Nothing new about this and I think what you really have to look at now is who and how are the adults in the room going after this issue. Nothing is new about it.

I think politically there may be some people who are trying to straddle the fence, but it's just not realistic to say this is a new phenomenon. As the issue moves forward, the discussion of what to do, if anything, about the environment, we hope that one person who will play an active role for years to come is our own Don Vandervoort. He is senior fellow at the John Locke Foundation, former secretary of North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality. Thanks so much for joining us.

Thank you. We'll have more on Carolina Journal Radio in just a moment. If you love freedom, we've got great news to share with you. Now you can find the latest news, views, and research from conservative groups across North Carolina all in one place. North Carolina conservative.com. It's one stop shopping for North Carolina's freedom movement. At northcarolinaconservative.com, you'll find links to John Locke Foundation blogs on the day's news, carolinajournal.com reporting and quick takes, Carolina Journal radio interviews, TV interviews featuring CJ reporters and Locke Foundation analysts, opinion pieces and reports on higher education from the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, commentary and polling data from the Civitas Institute, and news and views from the North Carolina Family Policy Council.

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I'm Mitch Kocai. Republican wins in the 2020 election mean that GOP lawmakers will continue to run North Carolina's State House and Senate in the new year. That could have a profound effect on redistricting, the process of drawing new election maps based on updated census information. House Speaker Tim Moore of Cleveland County defended Republicans' work on drawing maps over the past decade. I've been very proud of the way we have done redistricting. There's all this talk, you'd hear folks on the Democrat side saying, gerrymander, gerrymander. Well, the districts that a Republican majority was elected with, folks need to get a little history. In 2010, when Republicans took the majority, we were elected with maps drawn by Democrats. This year, we were elected with a majority with maps that largely were dictated by what a Democratic map drawer had done. So there ought to be the end of this talk about gerrymandering and all that.

That's why Republicans are in charge, because we have now through these cycles proven that is not the case. The reality is the voters of this state, the voters of this state chose to have a Republican majority in the state Senate and in the State House. And every time these groups want to come in and try to attack, they're really insulting those voters. Frankly, they're not respecting the will of the voters in those districts around the state who know those senators, who know those House members. You come to statewide races, right? It's kind of hard to get in and just see you don't generally run into the governor at the food line, right?

I mean, it just doesn't happen. But the thing about legislative candidates is that we were in such small areas. We're among our constituents on a regular basis, church, school, the grocery store, wherever it is. And those communities know their legislators.

And so it's that I can't stress that enough. I think it goes to the fact about the out-of-state money as well, at the end of the day, have confidence in the voters and respect their decision. So I do hope that all that talk ends. But as we move forward to redistricting, I do. What I don't want to see is another decade of endless litigation, continual redraws, sniping about this. The people want us to get onto important business. I would I would dare I would be scared to venture a guess as to how many hours and how much money was spent with these constant attacks of our districts.

It just was unreal. And at the end of the day, it was we drew districts the basically the way the Democrats wanted them. And we have Republican majorities. So hopefully that'll be the end of that conversation.

But again, we're going to move on with it next year. And maybe this time, maybe this time, North Carolina will not be the top litigated state when it comes to redistricting. Recognize that the voters of the state decided they wanted a majority of Republicans in Congress, a majority of Republicans in the legislature. That's North Carolina State House Speaker Tim Moore. He's discussing the prospects for redistricting in 2021.

That's the process of redrawing state legislative and congressional election maps. We'll return with more Carolina Journal Radio in a moment. We're doubling down on freedom.

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Double down with us. Listen to Carolina Journal Radio each week and listen to Headlock too. Remember, you can listen to Headlock at johnlock.org slash podcast or subscribe or download each week at iTunes, Carolina Journal Radio and Headlock. Just what you need to stay informed and stay entertained. Both brought to you in the name of freedom by the John Locke Foundation. Welcome back to Carolina Journal Radio.

I'm Mitch kokai. It's no secret that Democrats and their left of center allies want to turn North Carolina's politics as blue as possible. In a recent online forum, the john Locke Foundation highlighted the left's long term political strategy. The audience heard from experts like Scott Walter, he's president of the Capitol Research Center. His group has documented the left's ongoing campaign.

There are three real prongs to this. The first one is actually the census for years left wingers have been spending 10s of millions of dollars to try to influence the 2020 census because that will affect redistricting both within states and also the spread of the US Congress over all 50 states. So that's prong one census prong to most broadly put, you could call it get out the vote geo TV as the political operatives say, but it's much more than just geo TV, which sounds like you know, busing people to the polls. It's massive campaigns to register voters to change voting rules to get rid of voter ID requirements and other other things that lessen vote fraud, have vote by mail, and also yes, busing people to the polls. The left does this using 501 c three groups to an amazing extent. And then prong three is for after 2020, namely redistricting both for state legislators and again for the whole US Congress in 2021. And that includes all kinds of lawsuits to fight about these things. It involves creating so called independent redistricting commissions, which my group has demonstrated to be a complete fraud.

They actually produce more skewed maps despite being called independent and even such crazy reforms as abolishing the electoral college. And you have all kinds of groups in North Carolina doing each one of those three things. You know, Art Pope once said that the left and the right are better organized in these kinds of fights than in any other state in the country.

And I think Art was right. But I'll just rattle off a few names here, see if they ring bells with people. North Carolina counts coalition. That's part of the national census counts group and blueprint North Carolina and democracy, North Carolina, they're endless.

Basically, the way to find them is to go look at the 990 filings by your two biggest to your biggest foundations in North Carolina, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and the Mary Babcock Reynolds Foundation. Those foundations fund pretty much all these dozens of groups throughout North Carolina, as well actually and as also nationally. So that's, that's the beating heart of this effort to flip North Carolina for a much more in depth report on all this, you can go to capital research.org. We have a five part series on plans to flip North Carolina is the title and it goes in a great detail. And it shows you how the North Carolina groups are affiliates of net national groups running all three prongs. That's Scott Walter at the Capitol Research Center, speaking during an online John Locke Foundation forum. Walter emphasized the money flowing toward left of center political causes. I know somebody who works with the Republicans in the redistricting fights around the country in the courts.

He was hoping he might be able to raise five $8 million in the next year. So while explaining to the same audience where he was saying how critical that was, that the left has an unlimited amount of money for litigation, there is absolutely no bottom to the well for the money to fund litigation on every kind of electoral fight. The other thing I would say in connecting North Carolina is the national to North Carolina. All of this kind of work is the the leader for the left is Eric Holder, who was Obama's Attorney General and notoriously corrupt one, he was held in contempt by Congress. And after he got out of the administration, he set up the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which has three parts. It has a PAC, it has a C4 nonprofit and a C3 nonprofit. The C3 is the National Redistricting Foundation. And then and it focuses the C3 money is focused on litigation. Obviously, being a C3 makes it easier for it to get foundation money from Ford and Open Society and all the rest of them. And it has North Carolina as a favorite target state. In 2018, it gave half a million dollars to the state Democratic Party in North Carolina, it gave $5200 to Judge Anita Earle's successful campaign, the court.

And it has raised at least a well, it's going to raise at least 50% more, maybe double in this cycle what it was able to raise in the 2018 cycle. Scott Walter highlighted a key focus area for left of center activists. The left is obsessed with process questions, right? They care about who's going to draw those lines, or who's going to sue over the lines, or who's going to settle the lawsuit over the lines, or who's going to be on the independent redistricting commissions. They're always obsessed with the rules to the game, because they understand that if you get to set the rules, you will probably win the game.

And the team can matter less than the rules. So the left is much better than our side at appreciating the importance of process and rules. The other thing I would say is we did a big study of all three rivers of money that go into government, right?

Following the money is a smart thing to do. It's certainly something that Democrats and left likes to do. So there's three rivers, there's the hard political dollars going to candidates and political parties. There's the independent expenditures or 501c4 money, which is what Citizens United affected, things like the NRA and Planned Parenthood are famous c4 groups. And then there is the c3 money from foundations like Z Smith Reynolds, going to nonprofit charities like Blueprint North Carolina and the rest. That river dwarfs the other two rivers, there is in billions and billions more in the c3 stream than there is in the independent expenditure stream or the hard dollar stream. And in the first two streams, the hard dollar and independent expenditures, very roughly, it's about equal on the two sides.

In the c3, nothing close, it's three to one for the left. Most of the left's voter registration isn't done through the party or even through c4s, it's done through c3s, which to me is a complete outrage as a watchdog for the sector. But the current legal status is as long as you do it in a nonpartisan fashion, it's okay. Now, I had a whole room full of people who know about this in DC and I asked one of them, can you name me one c3 in America on any side that actually registers voters in a nonpartisan fashion? And the and the room erupted in laughter because it's a joke.

But sadly, the law has not caught up to that, nor has the IRS. What should conservatives do about the political left's ongoing campaign? I'd put everything into one word fight. You got to fight very hard.

You got and Sun Tzu said in the art of war, you have to know yourself, but you have to know the enemy. One of the ways to weaken the enemy is to show what a tight knit little band of collusion folks you're really fighting on the other side. They would have a harder time in the press if all the members of the press and the general public fully appreciated just what a small world it is on the left in North Carolina. That would greatly weaken their credibility. It would make it harder to be as biased in reporting and things like Civitas is mapping the left dot com and our influence watch dot org that we run.

Both do a strong job of showing you all those links. That's Scott Walter, president of the Capital Research Center. He discussed the political left's efforts to turn North Carolina blue during a recent online presentation for the John Locke Foundation.

We'll return with more Carolina Journal radio in a moment. Real influence, you either have it or you don't. And at the John Locke Foundation, we have it. You'll find our guiding principles in many of the freedom forward reforms of the past decade here in North Carolina. So while others talk or complain or name call, we provide research solutions and hope. Our team analyzes the pressing issues of the day, jobs, health care, education and more. We look for effective ways to give you more freedom, more options, more control over your life. Our goal is to transform North Carolina into a growing, thriving economic powerhouse, the envy of every other state. Our research has helped policymakers make decisions that ensure you keep more of what you earn, expand your choice of schools for your kids, widen your job opportunities, improve your access to doctors, the recipe for stability and a bright future for truth, for freedom, for the future of North Carolina. We are the John Locke Foundation. Welcome back to Carolina Journal radio.

I'm Donna Martinez. As the end of the year nears, holidays are on the minds of lots of North Carolinians, but some elected officials are already looking ahead to 2021. That is the case with North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, Republican of Cleveland County. He recently met with reporters to look at key issues for North Carolina's 2021 legislative session, which starts in January. Carolina Journal was there and Editor in Chief Rick Henderson joins me now with a look ahead. Rick, welcome back to the show.

Thank you, Donna. Is Tim Moore going to be House Speaker again? Almost certainly, barring unforeseen catastrophe, he will be reelected as Speaker of the House. I would imagine the Democrats will probably put up a rival candidate. I don't think he's going to be elected by acclamation. But because Republicans have 69 members in the upcoming General Assembly and Democrats have only 51, then Tim Moore will win.

He was unanimously re-nominated to be Speaker by his caucus, so there was no dissent there at all. So I think it's going to happen. Now, they're supposed to come back in January. And before they actually get down to business with public policy, they're going to each party elects their leaders. Right.

That's right. And again, the Republican House caucus reelected everyone who is in their current positions as of the end of the session. There were some changes right before the session ended in the last few months of the session. But we'll see the same leadership team in place this time around. And it'll be interesting to see when they actually get back and then the Speaker appoints the committee chairs, who those people will be as well, because those are ones who the leadership team basically sets parameters and guidelines and goals. And then in the case of the Whips, they actually make sure that the votes there to pass the bills.

But the committee chairs are the ones who are really the policy leaders in this. So Tim Moore talked with reporters a bit about how he sees the 2021 session shaping up. He talked about redistricting. Now, of course, that means drawing new legislative maps. That's an outgrowth of the new census.

What did he have to say? He said that he was pretty happy with the process that took forward in 2019 when a court-appointed special master required the General Assembly to draw new maps and the process that they used at the time was one in which the members of the General Assembly met in large committee rooms. Most of the deliberations were open to the public. And then they also, they live streamed them over YouTube and had, in the chat area, people could send in comments and questions.

People could email questions. They set up a special email address for the redistricting process. And generally speaking, with only a few exceptions, the people were very happy with the results under the circumstances, considering that they pretty much had to adhere to districts that they didn't draw in the first place. But they ended up passing them. And Republicans, I guess, are really happy with how it turned out because they did very well in the election.

Right. And that's the very interesting point, just as an aside, that those were the maps that were used for the recent 2020 elections in which the Republicans pretty much cleaned house. They were voters overwhelmingly sent to Republican majorities back to the General Assembly. So it makes one wonder what complaints potentially there will be from Democrats this time around when the Republicans again use that transparent process to redraw based on census. Yeah, that's part of the that's going to be one of the key things, because the current GOP majority, which will have held now for a sixth term, came into power in 2010 under Democratic maps. So they've they've had these, you know, decades of court battles and many times that the districts redrawn, I think, at least twice over the past decade, if not more than that. And still, Republicans have prevailed. The I think one thing that the speaker presumptive said was that was that they are really hoping that they can avoid litigation this time around. And so we all hope that because it's been continual.

I think only the lawyers hope that we have litigation. But but no, I think that that they they liked that process because the process was much more collaborative. And although not everybody was happy with it, and I'm sure folks would have liked to have had everybody in the room and had thousands of people milling around still, nonetheless, it was very open and people seem to like the way it turned out.

And it did allow an awful lot of interaction between the members of the General Assembly, the staff people, the attorneys who were looking at the legality of the maps and members of the public who were visiting as well. Well, we mentioned that voters overwhelmingly sent back Republicans to have majorities in the North Carolina House and Senate. North Carolina voters also reelected Democrat Roy Cooper as governor. As it relates to House Speaker Tim Moore, did he talk at all about the relationship, which during the first Cooper term has been contentious between the legislature and the governor's office?

What about that? Well, he was he was hopeful that they could actually work together on more issues. They did work together on a number of issues throughout the first term of Governor Cooper. The problem, of course, was with Medicaid expansion, which was an issue that predated Cooper's inauguration back in 2016. And he was talking about trying to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act through executive order before he even took office. And then he tried to actually tried to do that after he was sworn in.

And that was immediately nixed. But that's been the main issue that has divided the governor from the Republican led legislature since the inauguration. And it's something that Speaker Moore said he hoped that that they would actually figure out some way to come up with ways to improve access to health care. But the Medicaid expansion as a pure, straightforward, no strings attached proposition was not going to happen and that it really wasn't very productive for the governor to even come to them with that idea because there just weren't the votes for it. Now, we also saw last session that there was a contentious debate between the Republicans in the legislature and Governor Roy Cooper over spending and budgeting the governor consistently wanting to spend lots more money than the legislature wanted to spend.

We had some vetoes, et cetera. Did Speaker Moore talk about that and what he foresees for 2021? Well, part of it is caution because he doesn't really know what the revenue availability is going to be because of the COVID pandemic and the fact that businesses are still not up to full speed and that there are an awful lot of demands on public services that haven't been there. And local governments, of course, tax collections are way down for them, too.

And so he was very cautious about that. He did mention that North Carolina has come out of this pretty well, fiscally speaking, that we've been pretty responsible in our spending. We haven't had to do any massive layoffs, layoffs of any sort in state government or in local governments yet as far as we can tell. And also that we're in pretty reasonable shape to get through the fiscal year without having to do any of those sorts of things barring some sort of calamity. So the challenge is going to be whether or not the federal government comes up with a new COVID relief package, which includes age of the states and how soon it does and how much it is, because there's anticipation that there are going to be some budget shortfalls for the fiscal year that starts in July. And that's the one that they're going to be working on the budget. That's where all the budget negotiations will take place over the next six months is for that next biennial budget. And so that's where the issues of whether or not there's going to be federal relief, how fast we'll get people vaccinated or the therapeutics together to make sure that we can reopen the economy safely. Those are the big issues there.

Well, it's fascinating. And certainly Speaker Moore laid out what are key issues. I know Carolina Journal is going to be reporting on all of these when they come back into session in January.

Things like redistricting, the drawing of the legislative maps based on the new census, also fiscal and budget issues and that COVID relief from the feds and health insurance and access to health care. Rick Henderson is editor in chief. Thank you, Rick. Thank you, Donna.

That's all the time we have for the program this week. Thank you for listening. I'm Donna Martinez. Come back again next week for more Carolina Journal Radio. Carolina Journal Radio is a program of the John Locke Foundation. To learn more about the John Locke Foundation, including donations that support programs like Carolina Journal Radio, send email to development at johnlock.org or call 1-866-JLF-INFO.

That's 1-866-553-4636. Carolina Journal Radio is a co-production of the John Locke Foundation, North Carolina's free market think tank and Carolina Broadcasting System, Incorporated. All opinions expressed on this program are solely those of the participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of advertisers or the station. For more information about the show or other programs and services of the John Locke Foundation, visit johnlock.org or call us toll free at 1-866-JLF-INFO. We'd like to thank our wonderful radio affiliates across North Carolina and our sponsors. From all of us at Carolina Journal Radio, thank you for listening and please join us again next week.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-18 03:06:01 / 2024-01-18 03:23:10 / 17

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