WCQS has been speaking with area lawmakers about the recently completed legislative session in a series of "Legislative Wraps." Our series continues with Rep. Brian Turner, a Democrat representing Buncombe County. Turner says during the session he made real efforts to reach across the aisle to find common ground with Republicans. Because of that, he says he was able to establish some valuable working relationships with the majority party. You can hear the full interview with Turner above. Some highlights are featured below.
The GOP-controlled legislature made some big changes to taxes this session, continuing a trend of decreasing corporate and income taxes while expanding the base for sales taxes. In one of the more controversial changes, the expanded sales taxes will be distributed only to certain counties. Buncombe County will not see any of that money. And Turner says the formula for how the money is distributed makes no sense to him.
One of the final acts of the legislature was to expand and extend the state's main job recruitment tool, the Job Development Investment Grants, or JDIG. The House granted Governor Pat McCrory's request for the money early on in the session, but the Senate took until the last days to agree to it. Turner says the money enables North Carolina to compete for jobs.
Brian Turner was critical of what he saw as a recurring theme of this session. In one of many instances when the legislature exercised its authority over local governments, the last bill passed by the General Assembly, a so-called "technical corrections" bill included language preventing municipalities from adopting anti-fracking ordinanances.
Republicans at the legislature continued to press their agenda on social issues during the last session. In interviews with WCQS, Republicans Reps. Josh Dobson and Chuck McGrady expressed relief at the passage of legislation exempting magistrates with "sincerely held religious beliefs" from performing same-sex marriages, in light of the controversy over Kim Davis in Kentucky. I asked Turner what he thought about the bill.
The full interview is at the top of the page, and links to the other interviews in our series are below.