Name as it appears on the ballot: Grier Martin
Campaign website: www.griermartin.com twitter: @griermartin
Phone number: 919-781-210
Years lived in the district: 15
1. In your view, what are the three most pressing issues North Carolina faces? If elected, what will you do to address these issues?
-Education: I will work to raise our teachers’ salaries above the national average and stop draining money away from our public schools.
-Jobs: To get jobs to our state we must have an educated and trained workforce. See above, and add increased support for our community colleges and keeping tuition low at our public universities.
-Public confidence in government: I introduced HB92 (http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2015&BillID=H92) ,bi-partisan legislation to reform how we draw legislative and congressional districts and will continue to push for this reform. I will work to restore a system of public financing of appellate judicial elections that will help protect our judicial system from special interest money.
2. If you are challenging an incumbent, what decisions has the incumbent made that you most disagree with? If you are an incumbent, what in your voting record and experience do you believe entitles you to another term?
In my time in office I have voted for ethical government, clean air and water, and education. I have voted against racial discrimination, abusive gerrymandering, and shifting the tax burden to middle and lower income North Carolinians.
3. The most contentious issue of this year—and this election—has been HB 2, especially in light of the NCAA’s decision to pull its championships from the Tar Heel state. Do you believe that the law has provided any benefits to North Carolina? Do you believe it should be repealed root and branch? If not, in what ways would you like to alter it?
I introduced (with Rep. Darren Jackson, Susi Hamilton, and Graig Meyer) HB946 (http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2015&BillID=h946&submitButton=Go) which would have completely repealed HB2. I continue to support full repeal of this disastrous law.
4. Currently, twenty-nine states have minimum wages above the federal minimum. North Carolina is not among them. Do you believe North Carolina should raise its minimum wage—or, alternatively, give municipalities the ability to raise minimum wages within their jurisdictions?
I support an increase in our state’s minimum wage.
5. In a similar vein: beyond the bathroom issue, HB 2 also overrode local antidiscrimination ordinances, which has become something of a pattern in recent years, with the legislature preempting local governments from passing laws it doesn’t like. Do you believe the state too often intrudes into local affairs? Why or why not?
HB2, Asheville’s water supply, Charlotte’s airport, Greensboro and Wake County’s districts, and many other issue are all examples of excessive interference by the legislature in local affairs. We must curb this kind of interference. While the state should continue to oversee local government, we should only intervene where there has been clear abuse or significant potential for harm exists.
6. What, in your view, is an ideal salary for a beginning teacher? If it is more than the $35,000 currently being earned by beginning teachers in North Carolina, how would you work with your colleagues to increase teacher pay?
We must raise teacher pay to above the national average. (approx.. $56, 000/yr.). There is no easy way to do this, but a start would be to rescind the legislation that shifted the tax burden away from the wealthiest North Carolinians to the backs of the middle class.
7. A federal appeals court struck down the state law requiring voter ID and containing other voting restrictions. Do you agree or disagree with that decision? Please explain your position.
I agree. I voted against the voter suppression legislation because it was a blatant attempt to prevent African-American citizens from voting.
8. In recent months, two public servants in the Department of Health and Human Services have accused administration officials of minimizing the risks that Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds pose to nearby water wells. Do you believe the state has taken the proper safeguards to protect drinking water?
No. The McCrory Administration has said it wants to make environmental regulation more “customer friendly”. This sounds good, but they’ve forgotten that the “customer” is the citizen of our state who breathes the air and drinks the water.
9. The current administration has been frequently criticized by environmental advocates over things like, for instance, the cleanup of Jordan Lake. Do you believe these criticisms are warranted? In what ways do you believe the state’s current environmental policies have succeeded or failed? What would you like to improve?
There remain many successes in policies currently in effect, all passed before the election of Pat McCrory and the current majority in the General Assembly. One of the greatest of these is the renewable energy portfolio standard (REPS). Under the current regime, however, we have seen a constant shift away from protecting clean air and safe drinking water and towards protecting corporate donors.
10. Democrats have called for an expansion of Medicaid, which would provide health coverage for 244,000 North Carolinians. Would you support such a move? Why or why not?
Yes. Expansion would improve the health and lives of these North Carolinians and is the right thing to do. It would also create thousands of needed jobs. I co-sponsored HB 330, which would have significantly expanded Medicaid coverage in our state.
11. Similarly, in recent months two large insurers have decided not to issue policies on North Carolina’s Affordable Care Act exchange, which puts those on the individual market in something of a precarious situation. What do you believe the state can or should do to improve its citizens’ health care?
Expand Medicaid, as noted above. We must also work with the federal government to refine incentives for insurers to offer ACA policies. We should also reverse portions of the recent changes to Medicaid to better reflect the House position that had strong bipartisan support.
12. Name three things you would change in the current state budget and, if your changes would free up money, what your spending priorities would be.
-Reverse the recent shift in the transportation budget away from the strategic mobility formula. Such a change could result in more transportation alternatives for the Triangle.
-Reverse the changes in our tax structure that moved the tax burden away from the wealthiest North Carolinians and toward the middle class. The money freed up could help pay for teacher pay increases.
-Eliminate all non-budgetary special provisions in the budget. It is impossible to know how much, if any, money this would save, but it would result in more careful consideration of some major policy decisions that received inadequate scrutiny.
13. Give an example of a time, during your political career, when you have changed your position as a result of a discussion with someone who held an opposing view.
One recent example occurred in the process of drafting my amendment to HB2 (http://ncleg.net/Applications/BillLookUp/LoadBillDocument.aspx?SessionCode=2015E2&DocNum=10&SeqNum=0). As originally drafted, my amendment would have added statewide protection from discrimination for categories that lost local protection under the bill: sexual orientation and veteran status. A quick conversation with an advocate convinced me of the compelling need to include protection for transgender North Carolinians, also. I regret that the majority voted to reject my amendment.