With the North Carolina General Assembly returning to Raleigh just next month, there will be plenty of issues for conservatives to watch. This year is the bi-annual "long session", which begins January, as opposed to the even years "short sessions" which are supposed to run only during the summer months.
According to Tom Campbell, who blogs for NC Spin, and hosts the television show of the same name, 2009 could be a break out year for unions in North Carolina. As unfriendly as our state has traditionally been to organized labor, this year, state employees are fighting for collective bargaining rights. North Carolina is one of only two states that has a law prohibiting collective bargaining by state government workers.
In May, the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC), officially became a union when it joined with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Despite the fact that North Carolina is strongly in the blue corner, the Democrats in State leadership have, in years past, turned a deaf ear to union pleas. North Carolina's citizens are generally center-right and their lawmakers have understood that. However, with changes in the economy and with the election of a liberal President, Democrat leaders could begin to cave.
Another issue to watch pertains to coastal insurance. With more than 350 miles of beaches, North Carolina citizens treasure their coast. But, what happens at the coast affects taxpayers in the mountains in the Western part of our state, too.
According to Eli Lehrer, writing for the John Locke Foundation, "the plan exists to write homeowners' and 'wind only' insurance coverage for coastal property owners who cannot find coverage in the private market." He added that the NC Beach Plan is under fire and says that "North Carolina could soon face a 'property insurance disaster'" unless the state shores up the plan. This will cost taxpayers in all parts of North Carolina, not just those at the coast.
Your blogger wonders, should the state even be the insurance business?
Finally, Campbell, in his NC Spin column, writes:
Ever since (2008) Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory advocated more vocational education in public schools there, have been many responding in agreement with him. Most of the emphasis on public education is for children to go to college but statistics prove fewer than 28 percent of our populous (sic) graduates from college, begging the question as to what we are doing to help those who don't get training and education to earn good wages. This might become an interesting subject for 2009 discussion.
Look for more issues to watch in this space, soon. Your blogger will be covering it all, starting in January.