Dome: Brubaker's clients include pay day lenders, blue chip companies

Staff writersJanuary 29, 2013 

Former House Speaker Harold Brubaker, who resigned early last year so he could begin lobbying in January, has lined up some big-name clients.

Brubaker has corralled such blue chip firms as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, GlaxoSmithKline and Nationwide Insurance and Affiliates, according to papers filed with lobbyist office in the Secretary of State’s office.

He has also signed on with the pay day lending industry, or more formally known as the Community Financial Services Association of America.

Other clients include 21st Century Oncology, Dental Group Practice Association, N.C. Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association and Park Ridge Health.

Brubaker, the only Republican N.C. House Speaker of the 20th century, was House budget chairman last session. But he resigned his seat in July rather than in December to get around the six-month cooling off period that bars lawmakers from going straight into lobbying.

Tillis says no to Panthers

House Speaker Thom Tillis said Tuesday that the Carolina Panthers would not get direct state taxpayer dollars for stadium renovations. “I’ve been clear with the Panthers organization that it is not appropriate to have state taxpayer dollars go directly into the stadium, so that is more or less a level set on our part,” he said, a day after meeting with owner Jerry Richardson in Raleigh.

At the same time Tillis, a Republican from Mecklenburg County, touted the Panther’s as an employer, noting that they are responsible for 4,000 direct jobs and 1,500 indirect jobs. He said he would work to find local solutions that would involve taxpayer support, such as the Charlotte city council proposal to hike the food tax.

“They are a major employer in North Carolina. And every month I probably get an opportunity two to three times to talk with major businesses in North Carolina who are considering moving somewhere else. And that is a very real possibility for the Panthers.”

Support for Medical marijuana

Supporters of legalizing the medical use of marijuana are touting a new poll showing that a majority of North Carolinians support such a move.

A survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic leaning firm in Raleigh, found that 58 percent of North Carolinians believe that physicians should have the right to prescribe marijuana for patients. Another 33 percent were opposed, and 9 percent were undecided.

Rep. Kelly Alexander, D-Charlotte, is expected to introduce a bill when the legislature convenes Wednesday, legalizing the medical use of marijuana, said Perry Parks, executive director of the N.C. Cannabis Patients Network.

Supporters of the legislation have scheduled a rally at the Legislative Building on Feb. 12.

Top trooper steps down

The head of the State Highway Patrol is stepping down, as expected with the new administration in state government.

Col. Michael Gilchrist, who has been the commander since October 2010, will retire effective Friday. His second in command, Lt. Col. Gary Bell will serve as acting commander.

Bell, a native of Whiteville, has overseen field operations statewide for the past two years. Before that, he ran the professional standards section of the State Highway Patrol. He has also commanded an 11-county region in the south central and southeastern part of the state.

Staff writers Rob Christensen, John Frank and Craig Jarvis

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