North Carolina’s Third Congressional District

I am not endorsing anyone for the Third District House of Representatives seat in North Carolina. However, I heard Allen Thomas speak tonight, and I was impressed by a lot of what he had to say.

Mr. Thomas is a native of eastern North Carolina and is the former Mayor of Greenville, North Carolina. He graduated from New Bern High School,  continued his education at Eastern Carolina University, and finally earned his MBA at Chapel Hill. He started a business in North Carolina which he sold last year. As Mayor of Greenville, he was successful in lowering the crime rate in the city and bringing industry into the city and the area of eastern North Carolina. He also served on the board of Global Transpark, creating jobs for eastern North Carolina.

Mr. Thomas listed the following items as major issues in eastern North Carolina:

  • Reinforce the military presence and keep our military here after they leave the military by working with companies to create jobs
  • Reinforce the infrastructure of the area–transportation, broadband, connectivity
  • Insure the future for farmers and for fishermen

Mr. Thomas described himself as a fiscal conservative – he stated that the current national debt is unacceptable. We need to reexamine the role we have played as the world’s policemen and work toward a shared mandate to deal with terrorism and rogue nations.

On immigration Mr. Thomas stated that as a sovereign nation we need to secure our borders. He also noted that illegal immigration has created a shadow economy in certain areas of our economy and that needs to be considered in dealing with the immigrants who have been here for a long time who are not legal citizens. We need to bring that economy into the mainstream of the American economy.

On the issue of life, Mr. Thomas stated that his personal view is to protect life, but he did not want to see America go back to a time when abortions were illegal and performed in back alleys.

Mr. Thomas also pointed out the need for politicians of both parties to work together across the aisle.

Mr. Thomas is a very well-spoken, charismatic candidate. I disagreed with him on some basic issues, but he had some very good ideas.

Walter Jones Will Be Missed

Walter Jones was my Congressman. I met him on various occasions. He was a humble man who worked hard to represent the people of eastern North Carolina. I know of more than one instance when he went out of his way to help someone cut through the red tape of government to get help with an issue.

Tonight The Daily Caller posted an article about his death.

The article notes:

Jones, who represented his North Carolina district for over 20 years, was fighting off several illnesses over the last few months, according to Fox News, and was granted a leave of absence in late 2018 after missing several votes on the floor.

A strong supporter of the U.S. Marines, Jones previously served in the North Carolina General Assembly. His district has numerous military bases, and while he initially supported the war in Iraq, he eventually sided with Democrats calling for the withdrawal of troops from the country. 

…Back in 2011, Jones was one of 10 members of Congress to file a lawsuit against President Obama in an effort to stop the U.S. from sending troops to Libya, calling the U.S. bombing an “abuse of power.”

“Libya had done nothing to America,” Jones had said. “I realize they’ve got an evil leader, Qaddafi, but still, you don’t go around the world attacking countries because they have an evil leader.”

Any time a constituent spoke with Walter Jones, he told them how concerned he was about the budget deficit. He would not vote yes on any bill that increased the deficit. He was a man who represented the people in his district well and stuck to his principles.

North Carolina And The Certificate Of Need

I recently was part of a group that traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina, to hear a legislative committee meeting about the Certificate of Need that is required to open a medical facility in North Carolina.

The following write-up of the hearing can be found at the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA) Website:

The Certificate of Need (CON) hearing was on HB200, a bill sponsored by Representative Marilyn Avila that would remove several types of operating rooms (including those for ophthalmology procedures and colonoscopy) from the list of medical facilities which are required to apply for (a lengthy, expensive, difficult process) and get a CON before they can be set up.

It is our Legislative Action Committee’s position that hospitals have managed to have a monopoly on CON’s for years, have used them to shut individual physicians out of competition, and have used them to drive the cost of procedures up (people who pay for their own health care, and people who are experiencing higher and higher co-pays see this very clearly). This has resulted in higher salaries for some members of hospital staffs and very high retained earnings for some hospitals including the one here in New Bern.

The hearing was fast paced, enormously interesting, and did nothing to dispel our view.

Representative Avila introduced the bill, said a few words about it, and then explained that the group would hear from one person who was in favor of passage of the bill and a second person who was against it.

Connie Wilson, a lobbyist for a group of physicians, spoke first. She was followed by a lobbyist for a group of hospitals. They each spoke for about ten minutes.

Connie speaks fluidly. She’s very clear, concise, and straightforward. She builds her case with facts. She uses charm and humor. (Can you tell I was REALLY impressed?) She made the bill seem like the best thing to come along since sliced bread.

The fellow who spoke for hospitals used platitudes, veiled warnings about what “might” happen if some CON requirements were lifted, and tried to create fear. He did a respectable job for someone who had to defend an indefensible position, but I found myself constantly annoyed by things he said.

Then the questions began.

We’d been given to understand that 5 Representatives were of particular concern to folks who want the bill to pass, and every one of them was at the hearing, and each of them asked one or more questions that seemed to be from a negative perspective.

I’m going to tell you who each of the 5 is, what district he serves, what his contact information is, and then ask you a favor. Here they are…

Representative John Szoka is a Republican serving NC House District 45. His home is in Fayetteville. His office is in Room 2223 of the Legislative Building. His phone is 919-733-9892. His email is john.szoka@ncleg.net.

Representative Josh Dobson is a Republican serving NC House District 85. His home is in Nebo. His office is in Room 1006 of the Legislative Building. His phone is 919-733-5862. His email is josh.dobson@ncleg.net.

Representative Brian Brown is a Republican serving NC House District 9. His home is in Greenville. His office is in Room 604 of the Legislative Office Building. His phone is 919-733-5757. His email is brian.brown@ncleg.net.

Representative Kelly Hastings is a Republican serving NC House District 110. His home is in Cherryville. His office is in Room 1206 of the Legislative Building. His phone is 919-715-2002. His email is kelly.hastings@ncleg.net.

Representative Nelson Dollar is a Republican serving NC House District 36. His home is in Cary. His office is in Room 307-B of the Legislative Office Building. His phone is 919-715-0795. His email is nelson.dollar@ncleg.net.

If you live in the district of one of these folks, please go to see them, give them a call, or email them (expressed in the order of preference), and ask them to support HB200. Do this as quickly as you can. This bill needs to be reported out of the Health Committee, be heard by 2 other committees, and be voted on on the House floor by “crossover” on April 30 in order to remain viable.

Jay Singleton, DO, FACS, spoke at a recent CCTA meeting in Stanly Hall in New Bern, North Carolina. He is an eye surgeon who is supporting repeal of the Certificate of Need (CON). He sums up the issue as follows, “The CON law is one of the few existing laws that has been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  Hospitals have used this law for nearly forty years to become too big to fail in our state.  Many members of the general assembly have been duped by the hospital association and its lobbyists into believing healthcare would collapse and the sky would fall without this dubious law.  Do not fall for the chicken little argument.”

As a resident of Massachusetts, I had cataract surgery on each eye. The first surgery was done in the hospital at Boston Eye and Ear. That is an outstanding hospital, although it has limited available parking and is in the middle of city traffic. The second surgery was done at Surgisite in Waltham, Massachusetts. It was easier to get to, parking was available, and the experience was much easier and less stressful (aside from being much cheaper). Based on my personal experience, I would strongly suggest that the North Carolina legislature repeal the CON law and allow the free market to lower the cost of medical care in the State of North Carolina and to give people the option of receiving quality medical care in small local facilities that specialize in specific areas rather than exclusively in large hospitals.

 

An Unusual Storm

The Associated Press posted a story about the cold weather and snow that has hit the southeastern part of America. This is a picture of our neighborhood in eastern North Carolina. The weather is unusual and has temporarily crippled the local area.

Photo: So - This is North Carolina - Today!

The article reported how people were impacted by the storm and how they coped:

Overnight, the South saw fatal crashes and hundreds of fender-benders. Jackknifed 18-wheelers littered Interstate 65 in central Alabama. Ice shut down bridges on Florida’s panhandle and the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, one of the world’s longest spans, in Louisiana. Some commuters pleaded for help via cellphones while still holed up in their cars, while others trudged miles home, abandoning their vehicles outright.

Linda Moore spent 12 hours stuck in her car on Interstate 65 south of Birmingham before a firefighter used a ladder to help her cross the median wall and a shuttle bus took her to a hotel where about 20 other stranded motorists spent the night in a conference room.

“I boohooed a lot,” she said. “It was traumatic. I’m just glad I didn’t have to stay on that Interstate all night, but there are still people out there.”

No one knew exactly how many people were stranded, but some employers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield in Alabama had hundreds of people sleeping in offices overnight. Workers watched movies on their laptops, and office cafeterias gave away food.

The good news is that it will be above freezing in most places tomorrow and in the upper 50’s and lower 60’s by Saturday.

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