The day before North Carolina lawmakers return to session at the General Assembly, North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore joined us for a virtual town hall meeting, previewing what to expect as legislators return to Raleigh in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The coronavirus has rocked everybody’s world,” said Moore. “This is truly a global issue. We know that right now is a time that we need to make changes in how we’re doing things to help North Carolina weather this storm and survive.”
Moore discussed COVID-19 relief packages, as well as North Carolina waiving the unemployment insurance tax that businesses would have paid in the first quarter this year. More than 400 people listened in to hear Speaker Moore.
On the healthcare front, he talked about investing in personal protective equipment, expanded testing, and seeing what the state can do to expand coverage for telehealth.
Speaker Moore also discussed the situation facing North Carolina schoolchildren. Even though school is canceled for the rest of the school year, Moore said lawmakers must find a way to ensure that children get the core knowledge that they need to be successful.
Moore explained that North Carolina received roughly $6 billion in federal funds. He said some of that money already has been allocated to universities, hospitals, and government agencies, but about $3.5 billion still must be allocated in this calendar year.
“There’s a time and a place for partisan politics, but this is not it,” said Moore. “We have to get it right. We have to work together and build consensus.”
In the House proposal, Moore said lawmakers would look at appropriating the money in two parts. Explaining the need not to allocate it all at one time, Moore said there are too many unknowns with the virus, including what it will look like in the fall.
“We certainly don’t want to be caught flatfooted,” said Moore. “There are a lot of things that we just don’t know.”
Moore said the House proposal has $75 million that would go to Golden Leaf Foundation for bridge loans for small businesses.
“The most important thing for businesses that we can do is to take action to allow liquidity for small businesses,” he said.
Moore talked about how, before the pandemic started, North Carolina had low unemployment and consistently recruited businesses to the Tar Heel State.
“Things were going really well and then this COVID-19 came around and just rocked everybody’s world,” he said. “This has been a challenge without parallel in any of our lifetimes.”
Lawmakers will take more steps to address that challenge when session begins today, April 28.
We want to thank Speaker Moore for taking time out of his busy schedule to share his insights on this important topic with those who watched our virtual town hall.
We will continue to update our membership and the regional business community as leaders at the local, state, and federal levels continue to address the effects of COVID-19.