Joe Sam Queen, NC State Rep. – Raleigh Report 10/29/19

Redistricting News:  

Redistricting committees have met to discuss three of the nonpartisan redistricting bills this week. This is the first time we’ve met to discuss any redistrict bill. I spoke at the meeting about the importance of preparing for public input during the redistricting process, which is vital to preserving the value of everyone’s vote.

I spoke at the Redistricting Committee Hearing this week about the importance of public input in the redistricting process.The best way to increase fairness is to have the voters involved.

We heard the following bills:

  • HB140 – To amend our state constitution, to establish nonpartisan redistricting criteria.
  • HB69 – To create a nonpartisan redistricting commission.
  • HB648 – To establish fair alignment and impartial redistricting criteria.

All three of these bills are good bipartisan pieces of legislation with both Republican and Democrat sponsors. I’ve cosponsored each of these bills and am happy that we now have the opportunity to discuss them.  (Read more it in this article.)

The Courts Speak:  This Monday, October 28th, 2019 a North Carolina Superior Court Panel approved the new Legislative District Maps for 2020 elections. So the North Carolina Legislative District Maps for the next election cycle are now approved. Click here to see the maps.

Additionally, they struck down the North Carolina’s Congressional District Maps because the Republican legislature had partisanly gerrymandered them, violating our citizens’ North Carolina Constitutional right to free and fair elections.New Congressional District Maps will need to be drawn by the legislature pending instruction from the courts. Stay tuned.


Broadband for Rural Communities:

WNC Regional Broadband Summit:  I joined the very well attended North Carolina Regional Broadband Summit at Southwestern Community College this past Friday.We heard updates from government officials and industry experts on the progress that is being made and challenges that we are still confronting on the ground as we try to provide all of Western North Carolina with quality high-speed broadband internet.

Mini-Budget for GREAT Grant Funding:  Last week, we passed a strong increase to our State’s GREAT Grant funding for rural broadband access.Our previous budget had $10 million for grants and this budget has $30 million for these grants, a threefold increase!

We passed this mini budget because the GREAT Grant funding was in Gov. Cooper’s budget along with the Republican Conference Budget. We still need a true Comprehensive, Balanced Budget, but it is good that we have secured this critical funding for broadband expansion in our rural communities.

Fiber Act Progress:  I am still working hard to move the NC Fiber Act to the floor for a vote. This bill has nearly 70 sponsors, of which I am one, more than a majority of the House, so I am confident that it will pass with bipartisan support if we can just get the Republican Leadership to let the bill come to the floor. The NC Fiber Act will allow our cities and counties across the state to play a role in expanding broadband access to each of their communities. Stay tuned.

Local Broadband Progress:  While we’re working hard to continue progress toward our ultimate goal, high speed broadband everywhere we have electricity, we have already secured hundreds of thousands of dollars for internet infrastructure that is currently being deployed in the 119th District. Read more about our real progress to date in Newsletter 17.