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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.


The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled to overturn a portion of Duke Energy Carolinas rate increase on Friday April 12, sending the case back to state regulators for further action.

In a unanimous decision, the state's Supreme Court ruled that the North Carolina Utilities Commission failed to make the necessary findings of fact to support its decision to grant a 10.5 percent return on equity.


Applicants for the federal assistance program known as Work First may soon have to pass a drug screen before being eligible for benefits under Senate Bill 594, which was introduced by Senator Jim Davis (R-50). The bill, which passed the Senate Monday night in a 35-15 vote, is now heading to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The bill requires those seeking benefits and those currently enrolled in the program to pay for the drug tests upfront. If the tests are negative, applicants would be reimbursed for the tests through an increase in Work First payments. For applicants who test positive for controlled substances, they would be ineligible for benefits for a minimum of one year.


When the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force announced they would suspend the Tuition Assistance program for servicemembers I knew we needed to take immediate action. Last year, 300,000 of our brave men and women in uniform used this program to advance their educations.

While I recognize that sequestration is forcing the Department of Defense to make tough budget decisions, denying educational opportunities to our servicemembers is the wrong way to find savings. We cannot put the burden of addressing our long-term fiscal challenges on the backs of the men and women who serve our country. That’s not the way we do things in North Carolina, and it shouldn’t be the way we do business in Washington, either.


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