Governor's visit was a welcomed occasion

By Vicki Hyatt | Sep 04, 2013

When N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory was in town Monday, I got a chance to visit with him briefly and gain a few insights into what’s happening in our state capitol.

The most surprising thing I gleaned about his governance plans involved executive orders. There’s been plenty in the news about new laws enacted by the Republican majority and the reaction from all sides concerning the wisdom or folly of the many changes they represent.

What I haven’t read about are the executive orders McCrory has issued moderating some of the legislation he’s signed.

The issue came to my attention when we were discussing a HB 74, a state law that basically prohibits towns or counties from having rules stricter than those of the state. In Haywood and other counties, that posed a question on whether ordinances that provide safety measures for building on steep slopes would still apply.

When mountain legislators were attempting to enact state legislation that governed this issue several years ago, the sentiment in Raleigh was that slope development rules needed to be addressed at the county or city level.

Several mountain counties, including Haywood, have such ordinances, but their enforceability was in question at one point because of the legislation. (I’ve since learned the last-minute changes made in the legislation are being interpreted to impact future local ordinances, not existing ones.)

McCrory promised to look into the matter.

“If that’s the case, I’ll try to get it changed,” he said. “It could be an issue we deal with through executive order.”

“Really,” I said.

The governor went on to explain that he had already modified several pieces of legislation he signed into law this summer, including an order for the State Highway Patrol to enforce the law regarding leaking solid waste containers. This is something the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was prohibited from enforcing under the legislation.

One executive order gives local governments some say on clear-cutting or trimming trees around billboards, unlike the new legislation passed loosening restrictions concerning billboards, and yet another order requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that fleeing felon and probation or parole violators are not provided Work First Program or Food and Nutrition Services Program assistance, a provision that’s part of the federal rules.

There’s a lot of discussion about how education fared in the recent budget process, with Republicans saying the state budget for education is the largest in the state’s history and Democrats pointing to national statistics showing North Carolina at the bottom of the heap for things such as per pupil funding and teacher salaries.

My question for McCrory was focused strictly on Haywood. Why has our public school system received $790,000 less this year than in previous years at a time when more state funds are being doled out for education than ever before?

The governor said he wasn’t familiar with the situation in specific school districts but promised he would provide me with an answer later this week.

During his walk through the streets of Canton, the governor heard several people in the crowd shout their support for education or was approached to ask about things like teacher’s pay.

Let’s hope the importance Haywood places on its public education resources is one message that wasn’t lost on the governor during his visit.

It was nice to see the top leader in North Carolina take the time to visit Haywood during one of the longest-running Labor Day events in the Southeast — the Canton Labor Day parade.

While the parade frequently draws politicians and dignitaries from many levels of government, the last time anyone along the parade could remember the governor showing up was when Gov. Dan Moore, a Canton resident, returned to his home town for the Labor Day festivities.

It was nice to have the governor visit here. One of his priority issues is jobs, and it is a priority we don’t want to miss out on here in Haywood. His visit shows he knows where we are and his willingness to reach out to all parts of the state.