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Summary from The Legislative Forum

Summary from The Legislative Forum

Summary from The Legislative Forum on December 9, 2021

Prepared by Katie Loovis on December 16, 2021  

Last week, The Chamber hosted The Legislative Forum, which is an annual convening and part of our 2021 Critical Issues Series. The forum was divided into two segments: a Federal Legislative Update and Discussion with U.S. Representative David Price (District 4) followed by a State Legislative Update and Discussion with N.C. Senator Valerie P. Foushee (District 23), N.C. Representative Verla Insko (District 56), and N.C. Representative Graig R. Meyer (District 50).

Segment 1: Federal 

During the federal discussion, Rep. Price acknowledged the complicated times we are experiencing with our democracy and then unpacked four key items that he believes benefit our community:

  • The American Rescue Plan, which builds on the CARE Act, has a significant focus on supporting small businesses, and has bolstered the economy through the pandemic.  

  • Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, which takes an expansive view of infrastructure to include broadband, water and sewer development, and all modes of transportation. The deal will provide formula and competitive funding opportunities for NC’s transportation and transit, including an expansion of high speed and high-quality rail travel between Charlotte and the District of Columbia, support for the regional commuter rail, and RDU improvements.  

  • Fiscal 2022 appropriations, which are still underway. While the country is still operating under a continuing resolution from the Trump Administration budget, Rep. Price hopes Congress will replace it with a full year omnibus bill soon.

  • Build Back Better, which focuses on human infrastructure and includes a generational investment in housing and health care provisions as well as support for eldercare, childcare, and pre-K.

Segment 2: State

During the state discussion, the panel shared reflections on state redistricting, the budget, and the long session, which was still underway at the time of this forum. The Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro economy is often referred to as “Ed, Med, and Bed,” meaning education, healthcare, and hospitality, and the panel provided updates on how the most recent budget relates to these local economic drivers:

  • Education: The recent budget had some mixed elements related to education for Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro. Unfortunately, the budget includes funds to relocate of the UNC System office to Raleigh, but it also includes supplemental education funds for which Orange County and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are eligible (called the “Low Wealth Schools Supplement Fund”).

  • Health Care: There’s a double negative in the state budget when it comes to health care for our community: the budget lacks Medicaid expansion and includes a new hospital tax. The latter will not be phased in until after next year’s short session. This is something Rep. Meyer is monitoring closely and could be a hardship for our hospitals.

  • Hospitality: There’s better news for the hospitality industry, as there’s a new $500 million fund for small businesses that have experienced 20% or more in loses in the last year due to the pandemic, and 3/5s of those funds are reserved for the restaurant and lodging industry. Of the funds, individual businesses can secure up to $500 thousand in direct cash assistance for rent, payroll, and other expenses. Also, the state enacted PPP tax deductibility, which will help small business owners and S-Corps.

Other state-related topics that were discussed included high speed internet, workforce development, universal Pre-K and education, transportation, and housing, and the panel culminated in a conversation about their wish lists for our community.

During the forum, all four elected officials announced their retirements (Price and Insko) and campaigns for new seats (Foushee for US Congress and Meyer for NC Senate).  

The Legislative Forum was presented by Servpro of South Durham & Orange County on Thursday, December 9, 2021 from 8:30-10am via zoom (watch the video). The forum provided Chamber members and friends updates, reflections, and predictions on federal and state policies and legislative activities that matter to local businesses and the Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro community. The forum was part of the 2021 Critical Issues Series, which includes nearly a dozen forums related to the economy, economic development, public policy, and elections. The series is presented by Chapel Hill Media Group, Duke Energy, and Durham Technical Community College, and coordinated by The Chamber's Government Affairs Committee. For questions, contact Chamber Vice President of External Affairs, Katie Loovis.

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