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By Josh Bergeron, Salisbury Post

Rowan’s state legislators will have authority over a range of topics — from energy policy to unemployment insurance — following a number of committee assignments this week by leaders in the N.C. General Assembly.

Leaders in the N.C. General Assembly announced interim committee assignments this week. The interim committees are mostly only used while the state legislature isn’t in session, according to Sen. Andrew Brock, R-34. Brock said topics of interim committees often mirror standing committees, but chairman and vice chairman positions may vary. The committees study and review related matters, including the potential to amend or repeal related laws.

Brock, in the midst of his seventh term, is the only Rowan legislator who serves as chairman of multiple committees. He is chair of the Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy and chair of the Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study. Brock was also assigned as a member to the Joint Legislative Committee on Elections Oversight, the Joint Legislative Commission on Government Operations and the Joint Legislative Committee on Information Technology. He’s an ex-officio member of the Environmental Review Commission.

Rep. Carl Ford, R-76, was assigned to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services. Ford is also the chairman of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Local Government. Ford is serving his second term in the legislature.

Rep. Harry Warren, R-77, was picked as the vice chairman of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance. He doesn’t have any other committee assignments. Warren is serving his third term in the legislature.

Sen. Tom McInnis, R-25, was assigned to three total joint legislative oversight committees: Agriculture, Natural Resources and Economic Resources; Economic Development and Program Evaluation Oversight. McInnis is serving his first term in the legislature.

Rowan reps among members of Congress voting against highway bill

U.S. Congress passed a five-year highway bill by a wide margin this week. The count among North Carolina’s members of Congress, however, was a bit closer.

The highway bill passed both houses of Congress with more than 80 percent of legislators in favor. Eight North Carolina House Representatives voted for the bill and five — including Richard Hudson and Virginia Foxx — voted against the bill. The House vote count works out to about 61 percent of members voting in favor. Both of North Carolina’s U.S. Senators voted for the bill, increasing the local margin of passage.

A news release from Foxx’s office about the highway bill called it reckless. Foxx said the bill doesn’t address a growing gap between the Highway Trust Fund’s revenues and expenses. Instead, it expands the gap to increase federal spending.

“That spending relies on $70 billion from taxpayers through a transfer from the General Fund that is offset with gimmicks,” Foxx said in a prepared statement. “It is the wrong way to proceed. We need a long-term solution that reevaluates the federal government’s transportation priorities and makes aggressive reforms on federal regulations and mandates. It’s past time to correct the federal government’s role in transportation programs and give states more control.”

In a joint news release with Burr, Tillis said the passed highway bill ensures the Raleigh-Norfolk and U.S. 70 corridors become part of the interstate system.

“The end result will be tremendous benefits for the people of North Carolina, including enhanced local economic development, reduced traffic congestion, and improved access to our military bases,” Tillis said.

In a news release, Rep. Alma Adams, who voted for the highway bill, pointed out four key provisions, including:

• Increase surface transportation funding for North Carolina by $490 million, with $34 million of that being for public transportation.

• Boost commerce and strengthens our economic competitiveness by providing dedicated funding specifically for freight projects, including freight rail, for the first time.

• Inject $3.7 billion over five years into bus funding – a 75 percent increase over current levels. This will reduce traffic congestion, by providing more public transportation options.

• Authorize $10.2 billion for intercity passenger rail investment, including Amtrak, while providing $199 million in guaranteed funding to help commuter railroads implement Positive Train Control systems.

Gov. McCrory uses media criticism to raise campaign cash 

Bumper stickers are the latest method Gov. Pat McCrory is using to criticize the media.

This week, McCrory announced he was running for governor, but he also released a bumper sticker that reads “I don’t believe the Raleigh News and Observer.” It features the newspaper’s logo.

In an email advertising the bumper sticker, McCrory’s campaign says: “The liberal media, radical left and professional protesters have been attacking the governor since Day 1. Just yesterday, the N&O launched another attack on the governor.”

Reporters at the News and Observer played with the bumper sticker, changing it to read “I don’t believe how awesome the News and Observer is.”

McCrory’s latest beef with the newspaper started with a story that revealed the governor brokered a meeting with state officials for a friend and campaign contributor. Specifically, the story found McCrory set up a meeting for a Charlotte developer who ultimately secured a prison maintenance contract.

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