NC Chamber announces 2019 legislative priorities

North Carolina’s top business advocates lay out four-part strategy that includes education initiatives, workforce development, and infrastructure growth to support competitive business climate

North Carolina State Legislative Building

The N.C. Chamber released last week its list of 2019 legislative priorities, which it will use to guide advocacy efforts at the North Carolina General Assembly. The group says the annual “Jobs Agenda” is developed with input from key business leaders and builds upon the data-driven solutions identified in the Chamber’s strategic plan for the state’s future: “North Carolina Vision 2030.”

According to the press release, North Carolina Vision 2030 focuses on the four key issue areas identified by N.C. Chamber members as those most important for North Carolina’s continued growth and economic competitiveness: Education and Talent Supply, Competitive Business Climate, Infrastructure and Growth Leadership, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Four areas of focus

The Chamber’s 2019 “Education and Talent Supply” initiative will focus on areas from the implementation of higher academic standards across the state, to achieving a higher Pre-K enrollment rate, to college readiness programs and apprenticeship opportunities. They will also advocate for post-academic workforce development and training through community colleges, as well as private-industry inspired teaching talent recruitment.

As North Carolina continues to rank at the top or among the top places in the nation to do business or start a business, the Chamber lists “Competitive Business Climate” as another 2019 initiative. The group says it hopes to address issues that current and future members might identify as obstacles, and help create a climate that will promote the development, recruitment and ultimate success of any business in the state.

Toward that end, the Chamber says it will work to cap, reduce, and eliminate the state franchise tax over the next five years, as they see it as a regressive tax that penalizes North Carolina businesses for tangible investments in their business. Also, the Chamber says it is committed to bringing value-driven health care to North Carolina in order to improve health outcomes and make costs more predictable and affordable, and will oppose legislation that expands the number of health insurance mandates imposed on North Carolina businesses. They also hope to advance tort and civil liability reforms that could regain North Carolina’s position as a top-10 state for legal business climate, including reforms that provide certainty and protect companies from frivolous nuisance lawsuits.

For their “Infrastructure and Growth Leadership” initiative, the Chamber seeks to streamline the contested case process to promote efficiency and predictability for businesses to simplify and accelerate project delivery. They also hope to identify additional, diversified revenue sources to stabilize North Carolina road, rail, and port (land and air) infrastructure investments.

Lastly, the 2019 “Entrepreneurship and Innovation” initiative focuses on the creation of investment and start-up opportunities across the state. The Chamber says it will approach this through advocating for the creation of a research and development grant program for early-stage and start-up businesses, as well as promoting policies that encourage angel investing and venture capital investment in North Carolina companies. They hope to work with lawmakers and stakeholders to promote “Opportunity Zones” provided for within the 2017 federal tax reform law, and will work to advance policy recommendations that encourage business investment in non-urban and distressed areas of the state.

“Business has always been at the forefront of driving positive change in North Carolina, and this year’s Jobs Agenda demonstrates that continued commitment to problem solving and progress,” said Gary J. Salamido, Chief Operating Officer and Acting President of the N.C. Chamber. “These priorities are more than just policies and bills—they are creative and visionary solutions that will lead to meaningful change for job creators, workers and families throughout the state. We look forward to working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to advance the priorities of the statewide business community and ensure that North Carolina is the best place in the world to do business.”