Veteran lawmaker removed from committee 

Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, right, and Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie speak with Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett as North Carolina legislators gather on the House floor for a session to move forward a coronavirus relief package in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, April 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

RALEIGH — State Rep. Julia Howard, a realtor who has represented Davie County in the General Assembly for over 30 years, was removed from her post as House Finance committee chair on Tuesday. 

Howard pointedly criticized House Bill 334 last week, which seeks to align state tax laws to the federal government’s regarding expense deductions for businesses, alluding to ethical concerns. 

State Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) told NSJ, “following the federal one-time tax forgiveness on these loans makes sense for North Carolina as we kick start our economy.”

The Associated Press reported that Howard criticized House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) and other House Republicans for taking the Payroll Protection Program loans.

Howard also claimed she was pressured to hear the bill in the committee. She told the Raleigh News & Observer that the measure was an ethical conflict because her colleagues’ businesses would benefit if the measure became law.

“I told the boys in the (Republican) caucus meeting, ‘I am concerned that you should not be filing bills if you took the money,'” Howard told the newspaper.

More than 129,000 loans to North Carolina entities had been approved by last August, according to the AP.

Moore said bill supporters presented the measure recently to the House Republican Caucus, but that Howard did not support the legislation.

“The caucus saw this as tax relief for small businesses,” he said, adding that voting for it “is no different than voting on … child tax credits if you have children.”

In an emailed statement from House Republican leadership including Speaker Moore, President Pro Tempore Sarah Stevens and Majority Leader John Bell, they said, “Several weeks ago, the North Carolina Republican House Legislative Caucus overwhelmingly voted to move forward on House Bill 334. The understanding of the Caucus at large was that House Bill 334 would move expeditiously through the House Finance Committee. While we respect different viewpoints, Committee Chairs must be willing to put personal agendas aside and move forward with the will of the Caucus.”

Howard will remain a member at large, according to the statement.

The committee website now lists a trio of House Republicans as co-chairs: Reps. John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg), Mitchell Setzer (R-Catawba), and John Szoka (R-Cumberland).