Local state House delegation takes oath of office
Three men were sworn in to the N.C. House of Representatives Friday night before a crowd of friends, family and constituents.
Dean Arp officially took his seat as the District 69 representative. Mark Brody became the first representative of the new 55th district. And Craig Horn officially began his second term as the District 68 representative.
"It was a humbling experience to see so many people come out and to receive their well-wishes," Horn said. "It was overwhelming."
This is the first time there have been three representatives speaking for the people of Union County, Horn said.
"I have every confidence in the two new representatives," Horn said. "I believe they will make exceptional legislators and work hard for the people of Union County."
The freshmen representatives will attend organizational trainings before the first session convenes January 30. Already, Arp said he is ready to take on important issues.
"That's the challenge because there are so many issues that will come before us," Arp said.
Some action regarding the $2.5 million debt North Carolina owes to the federal government for unemployment benefits is one of the first tasks Arp wants to focus on. While there have been early ideas about what changes are needed, he said he will wait to speculate on the state's best action.
"We've obviously not seen the formal propositions or had the discussions, but there have been a few outlining ideas about legislation thrown around," Arp said. "But something needs to be done."
Arp was named vice chairman of the house transportation appropriations committee.
Brody said he looks forward to discussing job creation.
"Something needs to be done to strengthen our economy," Brody said.
His position as vice chairman of the agriculture subcommittee will give him influence over the county's biggest industry.
Unemployment insurance reform, education reform and election reform are other areas Brody said he hopes the General Assembly addresses this session.
Horn said he will be taking his chairmanship of the house education appropriations committee seriously. Real education reform is needed, Horn said, but the changes will not only be about funding.
"We need to improve how we deliver education," he said. "We need to make full use of digital technology in the classroom to engage children. But we don't need to replace every textbook with an iPad."
The tax code is also outdated, Horn said.
"We in North Carolina are dealing with a tax system that was formed in the 20s and 30s," he said. "Our economy isn't based on manufacturing and cotton mills anymore. It's time to update the tax code for the current economy."