Dome: Triangle legislator Neal Hunt gets key committee appointment

FROM STAFF REPORTSDecember 13, 2012 

The Triangle will again have a state senator on one of the most important committees in the General Assembly next session. Sen. Neal Hunt, a four-term Republican from Raleigh, will be one of three co-chairmen of the Senate Committee on Appropriations/Base Budget. Sen. Richard Stevens of Cary, who retired earlier this year, had been a co-chairman.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, a Republican from Eden, announced the appointments Wednesday. The other co-chairmen will be Republican Sens. Pete Brunstetter from Winston-Salem and Harry Brown from Jacksonville. Hunt and Brunstetter also served as co-chairmen last session.

The committee writes the state budget and implements much of the GOP-led legislature’s agenda.

“Sen. Brunstetter and Sen. Hunt, with strong support from Majority Leader Brown, played a vital role in crafting a bipartisan two-year budget that cut taxes, reduced spending and reformed public education – while closing a $2.5 billion deficit,” Berger said in a statement. “With their leadership, we will continue to fund the state’s key priorities while keeping our fiscal house in order.”

McCrory has Democratic fans

Pat McCrory has a predictably high approval rating among Republicans – 82 percent compared with 8 percent who disapprove and the rest undecided – according to a poll by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling.

But the governor-elect is also viewed relatively favorably in the eyes of Democrats. Thirty-three percent of Democrats surveyed have a positive view of McCrory, 35 percent disapprove, and the rest are waiting to see how the former mayor of Charlotte governs.

The poll suggests that North Carolinians are not, however, pleased with his transition into office because of his continued employment at a Charlotte law firm.

Fifty-one percent believe his employment at Moore & Van Allen amounts to a conflict of interest because the firm lobbies the state; 31 percent believe there is nothing wrong with the relationship.

To conduct the poll, 578 voters from across the state were surveyed from Dec. 6-9. The margin of sampling error is 4.1 percentage points.

Hagan wants delay in tax

Sen. Kay Hagan is leading an effort to delay a new tax on medical devices, which is part of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Hagan joined with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, both Democrats, saying delaying the tax, which takes effect in January, should be considered in any talks surrounding the fiscal cliff.

The tax is designed to raise about $20 billion over a decade, but the senators say it threatens an industry that employs more than 400,000 people across the country, including 24,500 in North Carolina.

Hagan and Klobuchar wrote a letter to Senate leader Harry Reid.

“My number one priority is getting North Carolinians back to work, and I am concerned about the effects of the planned medical device tax in North Carolina,” Hagan said. “The medical device industry is critical to North Carolina’s dynamic bioscience economy and when the tax was first proposed, I opposed its adoption. Democrats and Republicans must now work together to find a solution that does not harm our economic recovery.”

Lew Ebert, president of the N.C. Chamber, praised the move, saying the tax could cost an estimated $70 million in annual employment compensation.

Advanced Medical Technology Association, which represents device makers, is pushing for the delay. Among its members with a North Carolina presence are Hospira, Novo Nordisk, Sequenom, and TearScience.

Staff writers Rob Christensen, Austin Baird and Craig Jarvis

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