WCQS has been speaking with state lawmakers about the recently completed legislative session in Raleigh. We continue our series with Rep. John Ager, Democrat of Buncombe County. As a farmer, Ager was able to speak about a range of topics dealing with agriculture and the environment. Highlights of the interview are below. The full conversation is above.
From coal ash to solar tax credits, wind energy, and offshore drilling, the environment played a major role in the recent session. I started by asking Ager about a last-minute addition to the legislature's so-called "technical corrections" bill that included a restriction on local governments from passing anti-fracking measures.
Republicans in the legislature finally delivered on their promise to reform Medicaid in North Carolina. If approved by the feds, Medicaid would be partially privatized in the state. I asked Ager what he thought about it.
A GOP-led push for more tax changes ended with the expansion of sales taxes to more services in North Carolina. They also made it so that new revenue would go to only certain counties, mostly rural and poorer. Buncombe County was not one of them, and Ager was no fan of the changes.
The legislature continued to pass more restrictions on abortion in North Carolina. One bill that took effect in October mandated a 72-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion. And a last minute bill targeting women's health organization Planned Parenthood bans the sale of fetal tissue in the state. That was a response to highly-edited sting videos targeting the group on a national level. On that bill, Ager says he found himself in a tough position.
In one of the more serious moments of our interview, I grilled Ager on the North Carolina legislature losing to their South Carolina counterparts in a biennial friendly basketball game. South Carolina won 66-63.
The full interview is at the top of the page. You can find links to the others we've done below. And there will be more conversations in the days and weeks ahead as our series continues.