Under the Dome

Lawmakers in India for economic, education visit

Ten state legislators are among two dozen North Carolina leaders who left for India on Friday for a 10-day economic and educational visit.

This is the fifth trip abroad organized by UNC’s Center for International Understanding. Picking up the cost of the plane flight, meals, lodging and ground transportation are three groups: Durham-based pharmaceutical services company Quintiles, the Local Government Federal Credit Union, and the Moise and Vera Khayrallah Fund of the Triangle Community Foundation.

None of those three groups are currently represented by lobbyists. The center also sought donations from other entities, some of whom might turn out to be represented by lobbyists.

The State Ethics Commission cleared the trip in November, saying it qualified as an “educational meeting,” and that lobbyist principals are permitted to donate money to the center to pay for reasonable actual travel expenses.

The opinion, which the center’s executive director requested in September, says the visitors will spend 8 to 10 hours a day over seven days going to meetings, presentations and site visits. There is an optional trip to the Taj Mahal.

They’ll be meeting with trade, commerce and industry associations, a member of Parliament, a company that provides solar and biomass energy to underserved households and businesses, a software services firm and others.

Rep. Tom Murry, a Republican from Morrisville who is chairman of the House Commerce and Job Development Committee, said the trip will help make North Carolina competitive in the global economy.

Lawmakers attending besides Murry are: Sen. Josh Stein, D-Raleigh; Sen. Nathan Baskerville, D-Henderson; Rep. Robert Bryan, R-Charlotte; Sen. Rick Gunn, R-Burlington; Rep. Grier Martin, D-Raleigh; Rep. Susan Martin, R-Wilson; Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Asheville; and Sen. Jeff Tarte, R-Cornelius.

Other participants are the Alan Gordon Immigration Law, the Cabarrus County School Board and Board of County Commissioners, Aerial BioPharma, the N.C. Dental Society and the state departments of commerce and agriculture and consumer services.

An earlier version of this story noted that the Ethics Commission opinion identified the N.C. Biotechnology Center as one of the participants in this year’s trip. However, the center says it is not part of the India visit. It did join the trip to China last year.