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Bi-weekly newsletter from the office of Representative Mary Belk.
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We met the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America lobby group while they were staking out the elusive Judiciary IV committee meeting during Crossover Week.  

My First Crossover Week 

During new Member orientation, we were warned that our first ‘Crossover Week’ would be memorable. After we spent a couple of nights in the House Chamber past 10:00 PM and passed over 200 pieces of legislation in a week, I can safely say they weren’t kidding. I’ll never forget the amazing, disappearing-reappearing Judiciary IV committee meeting that was scheduled to consider the Constitutional Carry Amendment. Or the morning when Representative Speciale, perhaps one of the most conservative members of the House,  invited me to help force a vote on raising the craft brewery bottling and wholesale cap to 100,000 barrels. The one constant at this job seems to be that you need to approach each issue on its own merits, because you can’t assume you know exactly where your fellow legislators stand.   

The Crossover Deadline is a date chosen by the House and Senate each Long Session when  most bills that aren’t budget or redistricting must pass one chamber or the other, or they are effectively ‘tabled’ until the next session. Since the Short Session (even numbered years) is technically supposed to only consider appropriations bills, most legislation that doesn’t make the Crossover Deadline is effectively ‘dead’ for two years. You can imagine that this sharpens the focus of those of us attempting to get legislation passed.

I consider myself lucky that as a freshman member I was able to get H754, the Optional Meals for Bed & Breakfast Guests bill, passed with a nearly unanimous bipartisan vote in the House. I’ve already contacted Senators who sponsored similar legislation this year, as well as local Senator Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg), who has been a generous resource for honest advice. I’m confident that we can find support in the Senate for a bill that helps a small but vibrant part of our small business community grow and thrive. 

At the same time, I’m disappointed I could not get more support for the Opioid Opt-Out Act this year. I continue to agree with Donald McDonald, Executive Director of Recovery Communities of North Carolina, that the Opt-Out would be an effective tool to help battle opioid misuse and to support those in recovery. It gives them the freedom to choose medical treatments that will support their recovery, in consultation with their primary care physicians. However, I understand that legislation with such a broad reach needs to have input from and the support of multiple stakeholders. I am looking forward to working with the NC Medical Board and Mental Health Commission to educate my colleagues and build support for future passage of my bill.


To see a complete list of the bills that I have sponsored or cosponsored, please visit my NCGA ‘Introduced Bills’ page.
I got my first bill (HB754) passed in the NC House of Representatives! Special thanks to one of my cosponsors, Mike Clampitt (R-119), who spoke in favor on the floor.

Investing in Our Future

We’re about to start debate on the 2018-2019 budget in the House and it promises to be a tough battle between Governor Roy Cooper and the leadership in the General Assembly. Governor Cooper wants to use tax revenues for new investments in early childhood and workforce education, along with an across the board pay raise for teachers. Alternatively, the Senate budget will reportedly call for $100 billion in tax cuts over the next 10 years, which will disproportionately benefit those with higher incomes. I firmly believe the Governor’s budget would provide a much better return on our investment in North Carolina families and the future of our State.

$15 Million Smart Start Expansion – North Carolina is home to one of the oldest continuously running studies on the benefits of early childhood education. The Abecedarian Project (http://abc.fpg.unc.edu/), now part of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, has been following children since the 1970s and has proven that for children in poverty, early educational intervention can improve school performance, average pay as a young adult, and even the long term health outcomes once they’re in their 30s. One part of the study estimated that the return on investment was $17 for every $1 spent on early interventions. 

Governor Cooper’s plan to offer the first State-funded increase for Smart Start since 2008 would bring almost $1.5 million dollars into Mecklenburg County’s local Smart Start partnership, providing more flexibility on the local level to support more children in early childhood. After seeing depressing reports about the lack of social mobility in Charlotte, we have to take a clear-eyed look at what we can do to give children in poverty the best shot at an upward economic trajectory for themselves and their families.          

NC GROW Scholarships – NC GROW would offer scholarships for free community college tuition for recent high school graduates with a minimum of a 2.0 GPA who have exhausted other sources of financial aid. We all know that a high school diploma is not the ticket to the middle class it once was. We need to make the top notch job training and associate degree programs at our North Carolina community colleges available to everyone with the ability to succeed. 

An estimated 4,466 students would have been eligible for free community college in Mecklenburg County last year with NC GROW Scholarships. That means more workforce training and better paying jobs at home. This is common sense and the right plan for North Carolina. We should be focused on providing free community college, not spending money on tax giveaways to the very wealthy and corporations.
2016 National Champions, the Carolina Tarheels, visited with Roy Williams on May 3rd to accept well deserved congratulations from a joint session of the General Assembly.

My Committees

Now that Crossover has passed, we’re about to start committee meetings on bills passed by the Senate. I strongly oppose attempts to repeal the riparian barriers along the Catawba River, and the continued efforts to redistrict the city of Asheville (among other localities) to suit Republican candidates. I’ll update you with details once we see what bills are actually assigned to House committees.

You can often tell if a bill has a chance of getting to the floor if it is assigned to a committee other than Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House. I have been assigned to five committees and one sub-committee. You can see the bills currently assigned to my committees using the links below.

My Committees:
Appropriations
Transportation
Banking
State & Local Government I
Judiciary IV

My Sub-Committee:
Appropriations – Justice & Public Safety

Your State & Your Government

If you don't have time to make it to the mountains, or want to avoid the crowds, Uwharrie National Forest & Morrow Mountain State Park are an hour from Charlotte!
It’s Spring and time to enjoy the natural beauty that our great State has to offer. Our beautiful mountains  and beaches are obvious choices, but have you had a chance to visit Uwaharrie National Forest, or Morrow Mountain State Park? They are located just an hour northeast of Charlotte, just on the other side of Albemarle, and they offer almost everything you can find in the Mountains (camping, swimming, hiking, fishing, riding), but without the crowds!

The North Carolina State Park website is a great resource for finding parks all over the State, planning your trip, and even making camping reservations. If you’re looking for more well-known National Parks, like the Great Smoky Mountains, you can find that information on the National Park Service website. Finally, I can’t forget our National Forests, which are a bit more rustic, but perfect for the adventurous among us!      

Did You Know? You can request free mulch from the city’s yard waste recycling program! Fill out THIS FORM on the Landscape Management website to request your delivery.

Don’t forget! Visit NCCash.com today to see if you have unclaimed property under the supervision of the NC Treasurer’s office. 

My office is here to help you navigate any issues you may have with state services. Please call myself or my legislative assistant, Ralph Belk, at 919-733-5607 or email me at mary.belk@ncleg.net with any questions or concerns
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Ralph and I participated in the free AIDS and Hepatitis-C testing provided by Alliance of AIDS Services - Carolina. I'm an old pro at needles compared to my boy.

In the News

Diagnosed with breast cancer as a candidate, Mary Belk’s now fighting it as a lawmaker
Charlotte Observer

Mary Belk Wants Her Health History to Shape Her Legislative Advocacy
North Carolina Health News

Legislating a family business for some
News & Observer

Cooper signs class size fix into law
WRAL

Legislature merely delays the inevitable on class sizes
Charlotte Observer (column by 7th grade language arts teacher)

Editorial:  A compromise saves classes, but more funding is the real answer
The News & Observer

Editorial:  NC GOP should have to answer for wrong claims about voter fraud
The News & Observer

NC judges side with Cooper, temporarily block legislators’ latest attempt to remake elections board
The News & Observer
 
North Carolina judges back governor over election changes
Associated Press
 
NC attorney general tells DeVos he is investigating Charlotte School of Law
Charlotte Observer
 
NC chief justice backs trying 16-, 17-year-olds as juveniles
WRAL
 
Gov. Cooper: NC should keep Economic Development Partnership, spend more on schools
Charlotte Observer
 
Elon Poll of NC Registered Voters on Public Officials and Key Issues
Elon University
 
Cooper names former Charlotte mayor, two more to N.C. Utilities Commission
Charlotte Business Journal
 
Gov. Roy Cooper on N.C. economy: 'Ready to take off'
Charlotte Business Journal
 
NC to get federal help following last week’s flooding
WNCN
 
Cooper committing to work with NC economic recruiter
Associated Press
 
Gov. Cooper names 3 to education board – but legislature has the final say
The News & Observer
 
Editorial: Legislators need to get out of the courtroom and down to business
Capital Broadcasting Company

In Enka, Cooper criticizes GOP elections bill, tax cut plan
Asheville Citizen-Times
 
100 days into term, Trump’s approval slumps in North Carolina
The News & Observer
 
New NC driver’s licenses should get you through airport security more easily
Charlotte Observer
 
Duke Energy Aims to Cut Coal From One-Third of Power Output
Associated Press
 
Some entire N.C. towns may become vacant memorials to Matthew
The News & Observer
 
Tourism officials hopeful HB2 rollback will open doors to more entertainers
Winston-Salem Journal
 
“Dreamers” Good for N.C. Economy
Column by Rep. Pricey Harrison in News & Record
 
Cooper does end run around GOP court reduction plan
WRAL
 
Litigation between Cooper, legislative leaders costing $760k
WWAY
 
Frustrated? NC Rep. Deb Butler vents on video
Wilmington Star-News
 
Should hunting be allowed during Sunday church services? House looks to loosen law
The News & Observer
 
Anti-union ‘right to work’ amendment gets NC House backing
The News & Observer
 
Despite criticism, House lawmakers approve corporate perks for charter enrollment
NC Policy Watch
UNCC Graduates Mary Belk & Linda Hunt Williams
Copyright © 2017 Representative Mary Belk, All rights reserved.


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