A dispatch from Clayton News-Stars Amanda James: Wearing a Carhartt jacket and hiking shoes, Gov. Pat McCrory ate Tuesday at Jones Lunch, a diner in downtown Clayton. I need a hot dog, a red hot dog, McCrory shouted as he walked into the 54-year-old restaurant.
The visit to Clayton was the first visit to a Main Street, after McCrorys State of the State address Monday night when he said that he wanted to help revitalize small towns across the state.
Youve got to hear from people outside the bubble, said McCrory. You kind of lose sense of reality in the bubble, referring to the political zone in Raleigh. Im living in a big house now, said McCrory. Theres no reality in that house.
McCrory took questions from people in the crowd of about 75. Councilman Art Holder asked the governor how he planned to get programs started for people to get back to work. McCrory responded that one of his plans is to export more of the products from this area overseas including to Asia, India, and South America. He said that he plans to work a lot with the agricultural community.
Asked to talk more about his plan for Main Streets across the state, and how to help communities like Clayton, specifically, McCrory said his policies on infrastructure, tax, and streamlining the government will all help the community in Clayton.
Burr Jones and his father Curtis Jones, owner of Jones since 1958, said they are supporters of McCrory. They said the only other famous politician to visit the restaurant in its history was Elizabeth Dole.
Estate tax scrutinized
North Carolina is moving to eliminate its estate tax under legislation approved along mostly party lines in a House committee Wednesday.
The legislation that resulted from the so-called fiscal cliff altered the federal tax, eliminating a 100 percent credit for any state estate tax levy. So now, as Republicans contend, it is a double tax charged by the federal and state government separately.
The state tax applies to estates with a value of more than $5.25 million or $10.5 million for a married couple. The rate starts at 0.8 percent and increases to 16 percent for the largest estates.
In 2010, 123 people paid the estate tax. It is estimated to generate $52 million in next fiscal year.
Democrats said the tax cut for the wealthy sends the wrong message at the same time that the GOP-led legislature is letting expire a modest tax break for low-income taxpayers, called the earned income tax credit.
Rep. Susie Hamilton, a Wilmington Democrat, said she would be inclined to support the legislation under different circumstances. I cant support repealing a tax that would benefit 123 people when we have effectively raised taxes on almost 1 million people in the state, she said. I think it makes us look like a body that has no interest in helping families and the most needy in this economy.
Bill toughens meth penalties
The House overwhelmingly approved a bill, HB29, that makes it a felony for someone who has been convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine to possess products containing pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient of the drug that is also found in cold medicines.
It would also impose tougher penalties for making methamphetamine around children, the elderly or the disabled.
N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper issued a statement Wednesday morning in support of the bill.
Cooper said there has been a surge in meth labs in North Carolina, reaching a new high last year in part because cookers discovered an easier method to make the drug in smaller batches.
Staff writers John Frank, Craig Jarvis and Amanda James
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