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Carolina Journal Radio No. 917: Looking ahead to North Carolina’s 2022 Senate race

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai
The Truth Network Radio
December 14, 2020 8:00 am

Carolina Journal Radio No. 917: Looking ahead to North Carolina’s 2022 Senate race

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai

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December 14, 2020 8:00 am

We still haven’t heard the final word on the 2020 election, but some observers are already looking ahead to North Carolina’s next big electoral contest. Voters will replace Republican Richard Burr in the U.S. Senate in 2022. Rick Henderson, Carolina Journal editor-in-chief, analyzes early announcements and speculation about a contest that could have a major impact on partisan control of Congress’ upper chamber. The federal government will look different under President-elect Joe Biden next year than it does now under President Trump. But some parts of the government will carry on without much change even as the White House sees a major shakeup. Jim Copland, senior fellow and director of legal policy at the Manhattan Institute, devotes a recent book, The Unelected, to the powerful people who play major roles in government decisions regardless of election results. Copland recently highlighted themes from the book in an online presentation for the John Locke Foundation. People of all political persuasions can agree that the 2020 election turned into a mess. Robert Natelson, a constitutional law expert and former Montana gubernatorial candidate, says one reason for the problem is that government officials ignored a key provision in the U.S. Constitution. During a recent episode of the John Locke Foundation’s “HeadLocke” podcast, Natelson shared his concerns. He also offered ideas for improving the current system. The U.S. Supreme Court recently welcomed Amy Coney Barrett as its newest justice. Campbell Law School constitutional expert Greg Wallace recently assessed Barrett’s likely impact on the high court during a presentation for the John Locke Foundation. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper starts his second term in 2021. He’ll be forced to deal with the same Republican leaders of the N.C. House and Senate who led those chambers during Cooper’s first term. That arrangement could mean two more years of budget gridlock. Or all parties could try to find new areas of compromise. Becki Gray, John Locke Foundation senior vice president, discusses the prospects for cooperation or continued stalemates over the budget and other key issues.

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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. The federal government will look different under a new Joe Biden administration, but some parts of government will move forward with little change, regardless of who's living in the White House.

You'll learn why. Almost everyone could agree that the 2020 election was a mess. We'll chat with a constitutional law expert about one important reason. Another constitutional law expert from Campbell University analyzes the potential impact of new Justice Amy Coney Barrett on the U.S. Supreme Court. And with Democrat Roy Cooper back in the executive mansion and Republicans still in charge of the state legislature, we'll discuss the prospects for compromise or gridlock in the 2021 North Carolina legislative session. Those topics are just ahead, but first, Donna Martinez joins us with the Carolina Journal headline. Well, just when you thought that election season was over, nope, the 2022 election season is already underway. And here in North Carolina, the key federal race we'll all be watching is for the U.S. Senate. That would be the seat now held by Republican Richard Burr, who has said that he plans to retire. Already, we've got one person who has thrown his hat into the ring for this seat. Rick Henderson is editor in chief of Carolina Journal. By the way, he's not the guy who's thrown his hat into the ring, in case you were wondering. No, no, no.

He's reporting on that race. He joins us now. Rick, welcome back.

Thank you, Donna, very much. Okay. Just confirm for us, you're not in the race for the Senate, right? Not to the best of my knowledge.

All right. But we do have one person, one Republican who made a really slick, effective video announcement that he wants to be in the Republican primary for that seat. That would be former North Carolina Congressman Mark Walker. Tell us about that.

Yes. Mark Walker chose not to run again for his seat in the sixth congressional district, so he retired from Congress and then has announced that he's going to run in 2022, produced, as you say, a very slick, high quality, a lot of production values in it, the YouTube video to introduce himself to people. It was a striking video because it incorporated a number of people, some of whom are well-known, everybody from former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas to some civil rights leaders, to pastors who are well-known around North Carolina.

Since the video was produced, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina has endorsed Mark Walker. But the message behind the video essentially is that he's someone who will fight for North Carolinians, he'll get things done and he will build bridges. And that was certainly the tone of the video in which he had both discussing himself and the people who were in the video with him talking about what he had done to reach out to work with minority communities, with the healthcare community, with faith organizations and the like. And his actual resume in Congress is pretty impressive as well. He had a reputation as being pretty close, I think, to President Trump, wouldn't you say? He distanced himself from President Trump, the nominee, initially, and then he embraced President Trump. What was interesting for me about Mark Walker was, first of all, he was a surprise winner of the Republican primary when he first ran in 2014. He was not really considered to be a serious candidate.

Phil Berger, Jr., who will be soon seated on the North Carolina Supreme Court, was the frontrunner and by far away the favorite. And Mark Walker won pretty easily and he did it through grassroots efforts. Now, when he got to Congress, he immediately started making a name for himself in Republican circles. He was named the head of the Republican Study Committee, which is the House Republican think tank, if you will, on Capitol Hill.

And it was the place where a lot of future majority leaders and or speakers were groomed. And so his decision not to run was a bit of a surprise, although he was basically redistricted out of his own district because it was made Democratic friendly in the last round. But he's somebody who has made a name for himself in Washington. He should have plenty of support. And he also, I'm sure, did this early on so that he might try to nudge some other people to consider not running for the seat.

Exactly. That gets us to a couple of interesting names. First of all, let's talk for a moment about another member of the Trump family, and that would be the president's daughter in law, Laura Trump, who actually is from North Carolina. And there's been a bit of scuttlebutt in some of the national political publications that maybe she is thinking to try to get into this Republican primary.

Anything to that? Only what we've heard as far as speculation is concerned. I mean, it's fairly clear that the Trump family, both his blood relatives and through marriage, want to stay active in Republican politics. As possible, Laura Trump would consider running, as I say, she would have, of course, name recognition over Mark Walker initially. But Mark Walker would certainly have the resume of being an effective member of Congress, of knowing Capitol Hill, of being someone... I think part of what the Republicans are doing is they're looking back on the Trump presidency and some of the members of Congress who seem to be more interested in being on Fox News and actually legislating.

Mark Walker was someone who was comfortable being on Fox News, but also comfortable legislating. And so that may be a selling point that he offers over Laura Trump, who almost certainly would not have problems raising money. But now that you've got both Mike Huckabee and Tim Scott openly endorsing Mark Walker, that may make some other people more hesitant to endorse Laura Trump.

But we'll see. Now, speaking of those endorsements, and they are high profile, what would that mean for another name that's been bandied about? And that is former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory. Is he going to jump into this race? He may. He's been talking about it for some time.

And privately, he's been discussing it. Again, he would be someone... That would be a fascinating primary if it were a two way or three way primary in that regard, because you would have the person who was governor of North Carolina, who has remained very visible in the four years since he's been governor. Pretty good fundraiser. A very good fundraiser and someone who also has been, I guess, someone who's been a very effective member of Congress and is well respected on Capitol Hill and well respected by a number of different groups.

And then you'd have the daughter-in-law of the former president. I mean, that would, again, if the Tillis Cunningham Senate race blew away all the fundraising records, this one may do it all over again. Oh, you brought up the name I wanted to talk about. And that is a Democrat, Cal Cunningham, who, of course, lost his bid to unseat Republican US Senator Tom Tillis. Now there's been some reporting in some major publications, including, I believe, Axios, saying that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is blaming Cal Cunningham for the Democrats not being able to take over the United States Senate on election night. So what about Cal Cunningham?

Any future there? And what about the person that he actually defeated in the Democratic primary to run against Tillis? And that would be Erica Smith. Well, I think Cal Cunningham may again run for office at some point, but now he's becoming the perennial ballot placeholder, so it seems for the Democrats. And it's funny that Senator Schumer would blame Cal Cunningham for losing the election because it was Chuck Schumer who basically had Cal Cunningham cleared the field so that Cal Cunningham could run in the first place.

And so shoot the messenger, if you will, that boy on there. Erica Smith may well choose to run again. A name that I'm hearing also is State Senator Jeff Jackson from Mecklenburg County, who is someone who has basically been very active on social media, setting up himself as a moderate and as someone who would be an effective member of the Senate. So I mean, it's the Cunningham script all over again. But in this case, Jeff Jackson does have a strong legislative record to run on and has been a very effective fundraiser for Democrats across the state.

So I think he would be someone who would be a formidable opponent to whoever runs either the Democratic Party or if he were to win in the general election. Well, this is going to be fascinating. 2022 already starting up.

We're talking about it. And of course, Carolina Journal reporting on these major races as well. Be sure and check out at least once, twice a day. And of course, get yourself a free subscription to the monthly print publication as well. Rick Henderson is editor in chief of Carolina Journal. Thank you, Rick. Appreciate your time.

Thank you very much, Donna. Stay with us. Much more Carolina Journal radio to come in just a moment. Tired of fake news? Tired of reporters with political access 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 You'll receive Carolina Journal newspaper in your mailbox each month. Investigations into government spending, revelations about boondoggles, who the powerful leaders are and what they're doing in your name and with your money. We shine the light on it all with the stories and angles other outlets barely cover.

But there's a bonus. Our print newspaper is published monthly, but our daily news site gives you the latest news each and every day. Log on to once, twice, even three times a day.

You won't be disappointed. It's fresh news. And if you'd like a heads up on the daily news, sign up for our daily email. Do that at Carolina Journal, rigorous, unrelenting, old school journalism. We hold government accountable for you. Welcome back to Carolina Journal Radio.

I'm Mitch Kocai. Elections matter, but elections don't tell the whole story about government operations. That's one of the messages Jim Copeland shares in his new book, The Unelected. Copeland is senior fellow and director of legal policy at the Manhattan Institute.

He discussed the book during a recent online forum for the John Locke Foundation. People don't understand just how much the government is doing to the public. They don't understand just how much government activity that oversees our lives, how much of that apparatus goes forward, no matter how we vote. Now, that doesn't mean that elections don't matter. I mean, whose president matters? Who's in the Congress matters here at the state level, the governor, the council will state, the general assembly matter. And here we elect judges and justices, and they really matter a lot too.

So it's not that the elections don't matter, they only capture an incomplete picture. There are a couple million federal employees. There are 50 states. There's thousands of municipalities.

There's well over a million trial law, private lawyers that influence us through the litigation system. And so all of these different pieces, I mean, we've heard attacks, some of the partisan attacks on the deep state and these sorts of things. And I try to stay away from that sort of partisan view and really just look at it more telescopically and thematically and look at what the government's doing that really departs from our fundamental constitutional design. What about the U.S. Constitution? The Constitution clearly had its flaws in the beginning, most notably the countenancing of slavery, but the Constitution really had two animating principles. There was a notion of limiting the government to prevent abuse. And this is a notion that dates back to John Locke, among others. And then the notion of having a publicly accountable government that was in some ways active and could get things done, but was ultimately accountable to the people. And these sort of representative democratic principles, as well as the sort of limited government, classical liberal principles, both animated that constitutional design.

And those two principles have been substantially eroded. I mean, it's hardly a surprise to anyone to look at the incredible growth of government. Copeland reminded his audience how large the federal government has grown since its early days. The first Congress, the total appropriations of the federal budget was only six hundred and thirty nine thousand dollars, even adjusted for inflation.

That's 10 million dollars. Right now, the Congress can't agree on the next level of covid relief, but the gap is between one trillion on the R side and three to three trillion on the D side, just orders of magnitude more government than we had in the early, early years. And a lot of people have written about this. And I tend to agree with the limited government types. I mean, that's I've worked in a think tank like John Locke that's committed to individual liberty and free markets and personal responsibility and these sorts of questions and skeptical big government generally. But what a lot of people haven't paid as much attention to and certainly not thematically and holistically is the the concept that we've lost some of this public accountability.

That's Jim Copeland of the Manhattan Institute discussing his new book, The Unelected. Copeland says the growth of unaccountable government has affected his own areas of interest, working on on things like tort reform in the civil litigation system, looking at the administrative state and regulation, looking at over criminalization, corporate governance, securities law, things like this. They all sort of come back to the central point where we see a lot of government being done and a lot of liberty being lost from individuals who are acting without public accountability. And in many cases, we see significant radical shifts in the legal and regulatory structure that govern our lives without Congress ever taking a vote, without the people we've actually elected deciding to do so.

And so that's the principle thesis of the book. Copeland identifies four different types of influential unelected government actors. Each of these forces matter and we might reform one of them and it wouldn't necessarily change as much as we might think if we're not cognizant of the fact that all these other sort of players are similarly working to govern us without any sort of public accountability. And so the first of these are what I call the rule makers. And this is really the fundamental function of Congress.

All of us who grew up when I did it, basically anyone who grew up in the seventies, eighties and nineties, if they watched ABC Saturday morning and saw the cartoon shows, they would see Schoolhouse Rock. One of my favorites was I'm Just a Bill. I'm Just a Bill, Yes, I'm Only a Bill sitting here on Capitol Hill. And that still describes how a bill becomes a law, but it misses a lot of the way that rules actually get enacted. So in the criminal law sphere, for instance, we don't know for sure how many federal crimes there are. It's just too voluminous for us to even know.

But the estimate is around 300,000 federal crimes exist. Of those, 98% came into being without an express enactment by Congress. So in other words, what Congress did was create a rulemaking agency somewhere in the executive branch, and they drafted the rules, and Congress never saw those rules again. And those rules can lead people to go to prison, to get in trouble. This is quite a departure from the principle espoused by Locke, among others, that sort of animated the Constitution that the lawmakers had to make the laws.

They couldn't delegate the lawmaking and make new lawmakers. But that's, in fact, what we've done. Beyond the rulemakers are the enforcers. If we make it too hard to actually create new rules and aren't paying attention to enforcement actions from the executive branch, then we can get something that's in some ways more lawless than just regulatory rulemaking itself. And that is sort of this ad hoc government by the threat of force. And so when I'm talking about it from big businesses, I sort of compare it to the Godfather.

This is an offer you can't refuse. Because if you're a big business dealing with the federal government, often they have your business totally under their control in the following respect. I mean, if you are a military contractor, obviously, if the federal government says you can't sell to the military anymore, then you're out of business. If you're a pharmaceutical company and the federal government says you can't get reimbursed through Medicare and Medicaid anymore, you can't do business. If you're a financial company and the federal government says, ah, you lose your license to practice in these financial markets, you're out of business. And so really, if you're a big business, you're out of business. So really, the strong arm of the federal government is often coming into play. The problem extends beyond big business. If you're a small business owner without a team of lawyers at your disposal, how are you supposed to comply with 300,000 federal regulatory crimes?

There's just no way. And this also happens very much on the state level. Copeland's third group, litigators who take people to court. A lot of folks, I think, reflexively libertarian-oriented folks, classical liberals say, oh, well, this is much better than the administrative state.

Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. But make no mistake, I mean, this is still state action. So nobody is a defendant in court by choice.

Someone is a defendant in court because another person sues him or her. The final group on Copeland's list, the new anti-federalists. What we've also sort of seen with this new anti-federalism are these elected officials, but they're local or state elected officials basically dictating policy for everyone else. So the mayor of New York coming out and trying to change climate change policy, which is clearly an international question with a federal nexus, but trying to do it from the city hall in New York or in San Francisco. We see these sorts of cases. We saw this with the tobacco lawsuit sort of first where the litigation gets farmed out to plaintiff's attorneys on behalf of the state attorneys general, who often get a lot of campaign contributions back from the plaintiff's lawyers that they turn around and hire.

And so we see this sort of national policy being driven by state and local officials. The book is titled The Unelected. The author is Jim Copeland, director of legal policy at the Manhattan Institute.

He spoke recently for the John Locke Foundation. We'll return with more Carolina Journal Radio in 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 It's one stop shopping for North Carolina's freedom movement at North Carolina

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I'm Mitch Kokay. It's no secret that the 2020 election turned into a mess. During a recent edition of the John Locke Foundation's Headlock podcast, constitutional law expert Robert Nadelson offered one reason. He says, officials ignored a key provision in the US Constitution. It's article two, section one, clause four, which is called the same day clause. And it was adopted because the founders knew that if you stretch an election over a long period of time, you're likely to run into problems. People may move from place to place and vote more than once. There also are disparate kinds of treatment of ballots that occur when you have an election from time to time.

Candidates have various opportunities for mischief when you stretch out the election along a period of time. And so the founders put in the Constitution a provision called the same day clause, and it applies only to presidential elections. And it says that Congress may establish may establish a uniform day nationwide by which the presidential electors choose the president. And it also may establish a time necessarily uniform when we, the people, go to the polls to choose the electors.

The current law dates to 1948. And what it says that the electors are going to meet on December 14th and that we're going to vote for them on November 3rd. Well, of course, this year we disregarded the November 3rd date. What we did in various states is we stretched out the voting for weeks. And some of the problems that have arisen are traceable to the kinds of things the founders decided to insert the same day clause to prevent.

What should we do about it? I don't believe in mail-in balloting. I think it is uniquely subject to breakdown. It is true that it is possible to carry on an honest mail-in election. But the mail-in balloting procedure is open for corruption. While it is possible to run a fair election through mail-in balloting, it's more difficult. I also think there's a certain civic virtue in everybody getting together and going down to the polling place and seeing your friends and neighbors. I mean, that's part of what we're losing in America right now, this idea of civic connectedness.

That's why we seem to hate each other so much. And so I like the idea of an election day, not an election season. If a person can't head to a polling place on election day, Nadelson suggests votes by proxy or electronic voting. He hopes officials will attend the he hopes officials will address the issue before the next presidential election in 2024. We'll return with more Carolina Journal Radio in a moment. It's a no-holds-barred discussion that challenges soft-headed ideas from the left and the right. But like Carolina Journal Radio, Headlock is smart and timely. But with Headlock, you'll hear more about the culture wars and you'll get some more humor as well. We guarantee great information and a good time. Double down with us, listen to Carolina Journal Radio each week and listen to Headlock too. Remember, you can listen to Headlock at 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 Kocai. The arrival of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court has helped revive interest in the important role the court plays in our lives. During a recent online forum for the John Locke Foundation, Campbell Law School Professor Greg Wallace discussed Barrett. I think anybody who watched the hearings recognize that not only is Judge Barrett a phenomenal candidate on paper, but she certainly is a phenomenal candidate in person. Her ability simply to remain cool, calm, and collected in face of some of the inane questions that she was getting from the Democrats on the panel alone, alone in my mind qualify her for the court.

But I think that once she's on the court, we're going to see a couple of things happen. First, she is going to represent a significant ideological shift on the court. And one of the most important aspects of that is that Chief Justice Roberts is no longer going to be a significant swing vote in many of these cases that he was in the last couple of terms since Justice Kennedy retired. So I think that's going to be important even if Justice Roberts votes with the three left-leaning members of the court. There's still going to be a 5-4 more conservative right-leaning majority on the court.

And the other thing I think we're going to have to wait and see is that perhaps the backlash to her appointment to the court may end up in the Democrats doing the unthinkable, and that is expanding the number of justices on the court. Wallace noted the political nature of U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings. These hearings are politicized because the court has been so politicized. I mean, that's just the, if you want to see how political the court is, just these hearings are exhibit A.

But what's happened here is that it has gone way beyond the sort of resume type qualifications into qualifications with respect to views. And that is because the political left has, if they can't win elections, they can't get their policies enacted by statute, by the legislature, then they have turned to the courts to get their policies enacted by the courts. That's why these justices who goes to the court is so important because it depends on what kind of views are going to prevail at the court. Now, look, the senators can vote for or against a nominee for any reason whatsoever. The Constitution simply says they're to give advice and consent.

But that's where we are right now. That's Campbell Law School professor Greg Wallace discussing Justice Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. Wallace addressed the threat that a Democratic Congress might pack the Supreme Court in the future. One of the funniest things that I thought has characterized the last few weeks is the Democrats' attempt to set up say that pushing through Judge Barrett's confirmation is itself court packing.

That is butchering that term, how it's used historically. Of course, you know, that's solely for political purposes they were doing that. But court packing obviously means adding seats to the Supreme Court. We've had the Constitution does not specify the number of seats that the Supreme Court is to have.

And so that's simply a matter of statute. And if the Democrats get control of the Senate as well as keep control of the House and win the presidency, then I think that's a very distinct possibility to counterbalance the appointment of Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court. Several high-ranking Democrats have talked about it.

Chuck Schumer has said the Senate minority leader has said nothing is off the table. But I would go back to the words of both Justice Ginsburg who thought it was a bad idea and would result in greater politicization of the court. And Joe Biden back in 1983 indicated that FDR's attempt to pack the court back in the 1930s was a boneheaded idea.

So I don't know. Hopefully, cooler minds will prevail and we won't see that overt politicization of the court. Wallace addressed one of the key problems with lawsuits that head to the nation's highest court. Many of these lawsuits in federal court are collusive lawsuits in that the parties are not aligned in an adversarial relationship, which is the essence of the case or controversy requirement for these cases to be justiciable in federal court. I would argue that there is no adversarial posture here that all of these interests across the board for plaintiffs and defendants are the same.

They all want the same thing. What about a justice's approach to cases? Can he or she set political biases aside?

Wallace has some thoughts. Every judicial candidate or appointed judge brings to their seat a certain set of political views, biases, worldviews, if you will. And it's good, 90, 95% of the cases, it's going to be based on fact and law. But when judges do make law, either by interpreting constitutional or statutory provisions that are somewhat ambiguous or by engaging in their common law judging at the state level, I think people ought to know what kind of laws judges are going to make before they vote for them. The best judges are those who recognize that they have views and they make an extra effort not to just jump to those views as the determinative of the outcome. I think you see this with some of the Republican appointees on the United States Supreme Court. It's not always easy to predict how the Republican appointees, I mean, we've seen Justice Gorsuch go with the interpretation of Title VII in the Bostock case. We've seen Chief Justice Roberts go back and forth.

We saw O'Connor and Kennedy do the same thing. It's interesting that the Republican appointees seem to do a much better job about keeping an open mind about things than the Democrat appointees. I can tell you and predict with almost 99% certainty how the liberal wing of the court is going to vote in any particular case. And that's because they vote in lockstep and they vote based on their policy views. And I think that's because they have views. It's very rare to see a liberal justice peel off and side with conservatives on issues where there's this liberal conservative split.

It's not so rare in the other direction. So I think judges need to be aware of that. I think they are.

I think how hard they try to address that is something. I also think the method of interpreting statutes and provisions is a very important thing. And that's why I think judges and justices who embrace originalism have at least arguably a greater check on their constitutional decision-making than the liberal justices who just see the meaning of the Constitution as sort of like an empty glass that you can fill up with whatever you want. That's Campbell Law School Professor Greg Wallace. He's speaking during a recent online John Locke Foundation forum.

It dealt with Justice Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. 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.

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Now, if past history is any indication, it could get pretty interesting, the relationship between the General Assembly and the governor, as we go forward with the General Assembly and the governor, as we go forward in terms of budgeting and all sorts of key public policy issues. And one of the people who's following all this very closely is our own Becky Gray. She is senior vice president with the John Locke Foundation. She joins us now. Becky, welcome back to the show. Thank you, Donna.

Always a pleasure. What are you expecting for the dynamic between the Republicans and the Democrat governor? Well, we may see very much what we saw in the past, and that's that the General Assembly moving forward with their priorities, the governor vetoing things that did not fit his priority, whether it was Medicaid expansion, which the General Assembly was not going to do, or teacher pay increases, which the General Assembly did do, but the governor didn't feel like it was enough.

It was also an election year, this last budget cycle that we went through. So, you know, what this is going to look like, and of course, Donna, the thing that's going to impact everything, as it has for the last eight months, is the pandemic, the COVID impacts that we've seen with high unemployment, with the impact that it's had on businesses, with the devastating effect that it's had on our economy, which of course increases the need for government services to people that have been out of work through no fault of their own, for businesses that are going out of business through no fault of their own, and then the impact on taxpayers. So, as this thing plays out, I think that's going to be the major story and the major driver through this. I hope that the governor will not get stuck on his priority issues and gum the works up and provide barriers for North Carolina's economy to recover, for people to get back to work, for them to become less dependent on government and able to take care of themselves and their families. Becky, how do you see that playing out, the COVID impact? Are you anticipating that there might be requests for additional state spending, or are we talking about federal dollars, more dollars potentially flowing into our state?

Both, actually. What we're seeing from Congress is it does look like they will pass some sort of COVID package that I'm guessing will be applicable for the new year. The past COVID package that we had, that money has to be spent by the end of the year, or it reverts back to the federal government with a new package from Congress.

Of course, we're watching that very closely, Don. I mean, that's the federal government, but what that looks like for North Carolina, we hope to continue to not be punished for the very good fiscal decisions that we've made here in North Carolina with, again, a robust economy, with putting money in savings, with really watching the debt that we go into, unlike other states that have been, you know, quite frankly, not made the good decisions that North Carolina has. We're also hoping that we have some flexibility with that money coming from the federal government to meet North Carolina's own unique needs as we move through this.

Now, we are going to see some, I think, additional pressure, some additional requests for spending. One of the big issues I'm seeing, and I'm seeing it more and more brought up in conversations, is the need for broadband and broadband access across North Carolina. We saw that before the pandemic hit, but with the challenges that the COVID-19 has brought with schools being shut down, with the online learning, what we're seeing from that is, you know, there's learning loss now with our students.

There's talk of many students failing, needing to repeat a grade, you know, how are we going to do that? How are we going to make sure that many of those students can have the resources that they need and many of them delivered over the internet? We're also seeing a big increase in telehealth and people using that to receive health care, checkups, different health needs that they have. And then, of course, you know, as many of us today at the Locke Foundation working from home, and as people continue to try to do that, they are depending more on broadband. And then it goes into economic development and economic growth in different parts of the state. If there's not good broadband access, our business is going to be interested in moving to North Carolina or expanding in North Carolina. So I think broadband is going to be one of the major issues. A lot of it is additional funding that may come from the federal government, may be state, but like everything we've talked about at the Locke Foundation, it's not necessarily how much money, it's how that money is spent. And if it's spent wisely and prudently and with not just the short-term goals in effect, but the long-term goals of how we're going to get North Carolina through this, I think that's going to be one of the biggest issues that we see moving forward.

You know, the issue of broadband I think is fascinating in a lot of ways because you have very eloquently laid out the challenge of everyone from a child trying to access their schooling and their homework to people working from home to business and industry really relying on that connection. But it also allows us to have a very important discussion about exactly how do we make sure that people have access. There are some, as you know, who believe that that means government should step in to ensure that. Others believe that private enterprise should step in to do that. Is that the kind of conversation you're going to be talking with lawmakers about?

Absolutely. Donna, as so many things, you know, often it's not an either or, it's and. And it's finding that proper balance of where is the best investment that taxpayers may make in this endeavor and what can we kind of put out to the private market to fill in those needs.

And so I think it's not going to be an either or, it's going to be and. So, you know, as we move forward with this, and that's very much the role that we play at the Locke Foundation is going in and evaluating those things through the filter of private markets, individual markets, free markets are what really drive the innovation. But often it is a core function of government to support those kinds of things. So that's going to be a big part of the discussion.

It's also part of the role that we play. You mentioned telehealth as you talked about how people are accessing medical care these days as the innovation of the global connection really takes over. That gets us to a question about how we actually make sure that every North Carolinian does have access to affordable health insurance and thus affordable and quality medical care. The governor and the legislature disagree about how to go about that.

They do. But, you know, again, a lesson from the pandemic, and if we've got silver linings, it's what have we seen that has worked through this pandemic? You know, one of the things that the government had to do is they had to waive some of the certificate of need regulations in order to ensure that there were beds available to treat COVID patients if that was needed. Well, it's worked pretty well.

We haven't seen the dire circumstances that some people predict if you eliminate certificate of need. So I think that's a discussion that's very, very ripe as we move into this. And also, you know, this notion of wellness and managed care and incorporating all the different parts of your health, which is part of the Medicaid transition and something that we're seeing in health care.

And so if you're able to confer with, you know, if you're suffering with substance abuse and you're able to talk to your therapist over the computer, if you're able to monitor your medications, you know, this also for people with ongoing health concerns, diabetes and things like that, they can monitor this over the computer without having to go into a doctor's office and the cost associated with that as well. So there's lots of options out there that we've been talking about for years at the Locke Foundation. I think the time, the window is wide open and the time is right to really, we've been able to see through this pandemic how many of these ideas actually work. That's all the time we have for the program this week on behalf of Mitch Gokai. I'm Donna Martinez. Join us 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 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 or call us toll free at 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 / 2024-01-15 03:00:16 / 2024-01-15 03:17:14 / 17

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