By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
February 19, 2013
RALEIGH — Focusing on fixing the economy, reforming education, and increasing government efficiency, N. C. Gov. Pat McCrory touched on a number of issues of concern to the Christian Action League Monday night during his State of the State address, mentioning specific legislation to help battle drug addiction as well as measures that would land more lottery funding in the classroom.
“For the sake of North Carolina families, I ask you to please send me legislation to reestablish drug treatment courts and legislation to increase penalties for those who set up meth labs in our communities,” the Gov. told the General Assembly. “I will sign both of those pieces of legislation immediately.”
The Christian Action League has lobbied for a number of methamphetamine bills over the past few years, including House Bill 29, which would increase the penalties for anyone operating a meth lab in the presence of children, the elderly or the disabled and would also make it a felony for someone with a prior meth conviction to possess a medication containing pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in crystal meth. The bill, which passed out of committee this week and calendared to be taken up on the House floor Wednesday, is expected to be one of several aimed at reducing meth labs. The state saw a 30 percent increase in meth lab busts last year despite efforts to track psuedoephedrine purchases electronically.
McCrory’s comments on the drug followed his recognition of Mike and Rebekah Allred from the Durham Rescue Mission, whom he said had overcome their drug addictions and turned their lives around.
“As a former mayor, I have seen firsthand the collateral damage to families, our communities and taxpayers if we continue to sweep these issues under the rug,” McCrory said of drug and mental health problems.
He also insisted that binge drinking and recreational drug use among college students were not laughing matters.
“There must be enforcement in our schools and our universities and enforcement of their policies and our laws…. We need to help these students who are doing harm to themselves and our families,” he said. “This is not about ‘going through a time of their life,’ and we must offer help, both through enforcement and counseling.”
The governor also called for more Education Lottery funds to go to education and to have fewer strings attached.
“I’m recommending that we pursue legislation to reallocate a portion of money away from the bloated, and frankly annoying, advertising and the large administration costs of the Lottery Commission, and we will use that money to help our students directly with technology,” he said, adding that current restrictions have created “a pot of money right now that can only be used on certain things,” primarily construction.
“Why not let all of our 100 districts use that money on technology and virtual learning?” McCrory asked.
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said any plan to curtail the state’s spending on the lottery and its promotion is a step in the right direction.
“We would not support the lottery no matter how much money it raised for education, but we are pleased to see efforts on the part of state leaders to adhere to at least some of the promises of its promoters,” said Dr. Creech. “We would certainly advocate for less funding for lottery ads which lure more and more folks into gambling each day.”
He said he was glad to hear the governor speak out about binge drinking and drug abuse on college campuses and about going after meth producers and drug cartels.
As for McCrory’s main themes of economy, education and efficiency, Dr. Creech said the state can benefit from his refusal to borrow money from Washington, his insistence that education must prepare students for the real job market and his “culture of customer service” mandate.
“The governor has stepped on some toes in six weeks and will no doubt do so again, but we are encouraged by his determination to keep North Carolina’s spending within its means, to encourage a strong work ethic and to make hard decisions that may be painful now, but will pay off in the long run,” he said.