After what was the longest legislative session in state history, lawmakers across the region had plenty to brag about at a recent event at the LeGrand Center.
The Cleveland County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Legislative Breakfast on Monday, allowing state Representatives Kelly Hastings and Tim Moore and state Senator Ted Alexander to brag about their accomplishments and take questions from local elected officials. and business owners.
Among the most notable accomplishments of the session is passing the state’s first comprehensive budget since 2019. That budget, Moore said, saw more than $150 million invested in projects across Cleveland County.
“That amount of money was never brought back to this county,” Moore said. “I would expect that we would see more money – maybe not that much – brought in this year.”
Moore credited local elected officials, as well as city and county leadership, for making these investments of public funds feasible.
“Management here is very committed. We don’t see that in every community in the state. And that’s important because when everyone’s rowing in the same direction, we have a united front and that’s what time that companies are interested in coming here,” he said. “Everyone here has had a tough time. We’ve seen jobs go. We’ve seen buildings shuttered and shuttered. We’re now seeing a period of unprecedented growth in this county and region.”
As former chairman of the legislature’s transportation committee, Hastings said he’s been watching two major road projects in Cleveland County closely,
The final stages of the U.S. Highway 74 bypass, Hastings said, were delayed by a lawsuit challenging a law that allowed the state to seize property owners’ land to build the bypass without compensating them for that land.
“So now (the state) needs to come to an agreement with these landowners on what the fair compensation for this land will be,” Hastings said.
Another project, to align the intersection of NC 150 and Marion Street in Shelby, suffered some financial setbacks. The project was approved and funded by the state, Hastings said, but inflated construction costs created a delay.
“This project was due to be leased in February. But with the astronomical increase in construction, (the Department of Transport) chose not to accept any of the offers because they were so high. They plan to go back and d ‘look and take other offers later this year, hopefully when prices have come down,’ he said.
Alexander had a lot to praise from the 2021 session, including a tax cut for retired military personnel and an effort to prevent business owners from being taxed for the money they received as part from the federal Paycheck Protection Program last year.
Although his biggest praise for the season was helping pass one of the most comprehensive updates to human trafficking laws in state history.
This reform includes more money for departments to investigate and prosecute cases of human trafficking and prostitution, as well as ways for people victimized by trafficking organizations to get certain crimes expunged.
“North Carolina was about 10th worst in the country for that. I hope and pray that we can reduce that,” Alexander said.
Lawmakers are gearing up for the “short session” of 2022, which lasts about two months in the summer. Given the length of the 2021 legislative session, Moore, who is Speaker of the House of Representatives, said he hopes to keep the next session at around six weeks.
Speaking over breakfast, Moore did not give details on what kind of bills could be expected during the session.
Dustin George can be reached at 704-669-3337 or [email protected]