- published 3/27 (Larry) - unpublished ?

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News State / Region

As I travel our state, I regularly meet farmers across North Carolina who are working day in and day out to fuel our state’s thriving agriculture economy.

Agriculture is North Carolina’s largest industry, and as a U.S. senator, it is my job to make sure federal policies work for our farmers. Too often in my conversations with farmers across the state, I hear about the burdensome rules and regulations that they must comply with that distract from their ability to operate their farms.

Take Allen McLauren, a cotton farmer in Laurel Hill. Allen has spoken with me about a redundant Environmental Protection Agency regulation on pesticides. Because pesticides are already strictly regulated under a different set of rules, this regulation has little or no environmental or public health benefits. It does, however, require Allen to spend time and money to receive a permit before applying pesticides on his farm.

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Government has truly become Big Daddy in many people’s minds. Nothing proves this claim more than recent arguments on the floor of the North Carolina Senate regarding SB 594. The proposed legislation is simple. It requires a drug test in order for individuals to receive Work First cash benefits and job training. However, to hear liberal politicians rail against the law, one would think that supporters of the legislation were forcing the poor into the streets.

Instead, the bill goes out of its way to protect the rights of qualified individuals to receive temporary assistance for their needy families and to provide job instruction under this federally funded, staterun program. The number one qualification is that applicants not abuse drugs.

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A group of bipartisan representatives are working together to improve North Carolina's redistricting process. For decades, North Carolina legislators have been tasked with redrawing congressional and state legislative district lines every 10 years, after the results of the census are released. Whichever political party is in control during the process, is historically accused of gerrymandering the districts for the benefit of their own party.

With the legality of the latest redistricting process being disputed in court, House Bill 606 was introduced in hopes of preventing such accusations in the future. Democrats and Republicans in the North Carolina House of Representatives are working together to take on the responsibility of redrawing district lines out of legislators hands and to employ an independent nonpartisan commission to make the changes.

Republican legislative gains in 2010 made it possible for them to draw election districts a year later and build on those gains in the 2012 elections.

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North Carolina’s economy depends on people like Oscar Wong. Oscar started the Highland Brewing Company nearly 20 years ago as a hobby in the basement of a taproom in downtown Asheville. Since then, he has grown the brewery from a three-person operation to a 40- person company that ships beer all over the Southeast.

Oscar didn’t start his business looking to win any awards, but last year the Small Business Administration named him North Carolina’s Small Business Person of the Year.

With his experience building a small business from the ground up - or basement up, in his case - Oscar was a natural choice to co-chair my newly formed Small Business Advisory Committee, which will advise me on legislative issues and help me develop policy proposals to support our state’s small businesses.

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published: 10/18/2013
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