WCQS has been sitting down with area lawmakers in the weeks since the legislature wrapped up its long session. Today, we talk with Democratic Rep. Susan Fisher of Buncombe County. Fisher says the Republican-dominated legislature did nothing for the ordinary citizen while it gave tax cuts to the very wealthy. Our full conversation is above. You can find some highlights of the conversation below.
As mentioned above, Fisher says this legislature was good for the wealthiest in our state, but not so good for everyone else. One area she was particularly critical was in tax changes. The legislature allowed corporate tax rates to fall while they expanded sales taxes to services like the labor on auto repairs. And the new tax revenue generated by those sales taxes will be distributed to mostly rural counties. Buncombe will see none of that money.
One bill that passed that many Democrats cheered was a bond proposal that Governor Pat McCrory signed Wednesday. During the March primary, voters in North Carolina will decide whether the state should borrow $2 billion to pay for a number of infrastructure projects, many for universities across the state. McCrory was hoping for $3 billion and more funding for road projects, but was happy with the scaled-back version. Fisher was not.
The legislature made big changes to abortion laws this session. And despite a pledge during the campaign McCrory made not to sign any restrictions on abortion, he signed each bill. One passed earlier in the session and took effect on October 1st. It mandates a 72-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion. The state budget that passed banned funding for the women's health group Planned Parenthood that's long been a target of conservatives because they also perform abortions. And Planned Parenthood was targeted in a last minute bill banning the sale of fetal tissue in North Carolina. That was a response to highly-edited sting videos that were made to suggest that the group profited from the sale of fetal tissue, which the group has vigorously denied, saying no tissue is even donated in North Carolina. Throughout the session, Fisher was strongly critical of those bills.
The legislature passed a largely scaled back version of a bill slightly loosening gun laws in the state. For instance, guns would be allowed on school campuses as long as they're in locked cars. Not long before we spoke with Fisher, news broke of a school shooting on a campus of an Oregon community college. With that incident fresh in our minds, I asked her what she thought of the legislature's actions on guns this session.
There's much more in the full conversation at the top of the page. Links to more interview are below and there will be more in the days and weeks ahead.