The following article appeared in the Raleigh News & Observer on January 31, 2017.
Deregulation, hurricane relief, bipartisanship
are priorities for new NC House majority leader
In August, when state Rep. John Bell was elected majority leader by the House Republican Caucus, he said he was looking forward to traveling the state and helping maintain Republicans’ 74-seat majority. Now, with a supermajority secured for the GOP and the long legislative session underway, Bell and the rest of his caucus can get down to work.
This year, that means work on the budget. Bell, 37, who works for a credit union in Goldsboro and is one of House Speaker Tim Moore’s top lieutenants, describes the two-year budget as “the biggest issue we will handle all session.”
The Senate will kick off the budget-writing process this year. Once that’s complete, Bell said with a slight laugh, the House will “take their budget and we’ll fix it and make it better.”
Before any of that can happen, the General Assembly has to wait for Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to put forth his budget proposal. Before leaving office, former Gov. Pat McCrory released budget priorities that included transportation initiatives, increased teacher pay and mental health funding and replenishing the state’s Rainy Day Fund. Bell said he’s hopeful the next state budget will be prove to be legislation that “can be bipartisan across the whole entire state.”
One of the major plot points in the state budget will be education. “Education is a huge issue because it represents 57 percent of our state budget,” Bell said.
Bell said he hopes for regulatory reform this year or next year. He said a proposed reduction of regulations that didn’t pass last year “weighed on a lot of us and that’s a priority that a lot of members of the General Assembly would want to see move forward.”
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