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News State / Region

Wayne Goodwin meets with firefighters, county leaders.

Being 317 miles from Raleigh, it isn't often that state officials make their way into Macon County. Last week, Wayne Goodwin, who serves as North Carolina's Insurance Commissioner as well as the State Fire Marshal, visited counties in the western part of the state in hopes of bridging that gap.

"As Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal, it is necessary and vital for me to reach out to all counties across North Carolina," said Goodwin. "Growing up in a rural county myself, I empathize with how many western counties feel when 'Raleigh' wrongly thinks the western part of the state ends in Asheville or Hickory. Macon County residents deserve service from statewide officials just as much as every other county. So, I spend much of my time traveling in-person to all corners of the state and being as accessible and helpful as possible. It's always a pleasure of mine to visit Macon and surrounding counties."

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In an attempt to restructure the distribution formula for sales tax in the state, Senate Bill 369 (Sales Tax Fairness Act) would mean an annual loss of more than $1 million in revenue for Macon County.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, ROnslow, introduced a bill that would move North Carolina to a plan of distributing sales tax revenue based on a per-capita basis rather than based on the location of the sale, which is the system the state currently employs.

Essentially, S369 would convert 2 percent of local sales taxes to a state sales tax over three years. The state would allocate 2 percent of the 6.75 percent state sales tax to counties and cities on a per capita basis. The timeline for the bill would introduce the redistribution over a three year period, being fully implemented by January 2018.

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N.C. one of only two states to charge 16- and 17-year-olds as adults

This past Tuesday morning, Rep. Marilyn Avila (R-Wake) announced the introduction of HB399, the Young Offenders Rehabilitation Act. This legislation would raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction, so that 16- and 17-year-olds who commit misdemeanors are handled in the juvenile system, not the adult criminal justice system. According to Rep. Avila, the lead bill sponsor, ‘raising the age’ is a win for our families, communities, and state finances.

“Raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction will lead to both significant fiscal savings, safer communities, and much better outcomes for children,” stated Rep. Avila. “That’s why a strong bipartisan majority of House members voted to approve the bill last year.”

During the 2013-2014 legislative session, “Raise the Age” legislation overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives, but failed to receive a hearing in the Senate.

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Western Carolina University is the recipient of $50,000 in funding from the University of North Carolina General Administration to create a program designed to help former college students who didn’t finish their bachelor’s degrees go back to school.

The funding through UNC General Administration’s Office of Academic and Student Success will be used for the planning and implementation of a WCU initiative named the Finish Line. The UNC system allocated a total of $320,000 to fund targeted efforts at UNC campuses to recruit, enroll and retain the students.

The program is for people living in North Carolina who attended a U.S. college or university in the past, but left without earning a diploma. In the UNC system, these former students are known as “part-way home” because they have completed part of their undergraduate studies but, for a variety of reasons, did not make it to graduation.

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