Child care summit at White House; Mark Robinson talks race; NC Speaker Tim Moore’s move helps office manager

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – North Carolina Rep. Ashton Clemmons (D-Greensboro) is representing the state this week at the White House-sponsored States Convening on Child Care, a gathering of legislators who are “working to improve child care access and affordability.”

Clemmons and Rep. Julie von Haefen (D-Wake) are among some 90 state legislators from 41 states. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan of Minnesota also attended. About 16 delegates from 13 states attended a similar session in March.


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State Rep. Ashton Clemmons (D-Greensboro)
Rep. Julie Von Haefen (D-Wake (NCGA)

“Strengthening our childcare system is one of the most important things we can do to strengthen our state’s families and businesses!” Clemmons posted on her Twitter account from the White House.

Data from ChildCare Aware show that in 2021, the average national price of child care was around $10,600 each year, The Hill reported. That number has risen since and easily can overtake the earning power of many two-wage-earner families in a state where the median household income is about $60,500.

Clemmons in March worked with a nonpartisan group of legislators in both the state House and Senate, the bipartisan bicameral Joint Legislative Early Childhood Caucus, on a slate of bills designed to address both the immediate problem of vanishing federal subsidies and the long-term problem of childhood development and the need for workforce development across the state.

“When I started out as a kindergarten teacher,” Clemmons said at the time, “I quickly learned that the most important time for children is before they come to kindergarten. … Their brains grow 85% by age 3.”

Most of the 10 bills (five mirrored bills in the House and Senate) have failed to gain traction. A bill about star ratings has, and some elements could be part of the budget bill being negotiated by a conference committee.

‘Ain’t no African American’

Lt. Governor Mark Robinson (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

Mark Robinson, whom if elected next year, could be the first Black governor of North Carolina and only the fourth ever in the nation, was very explicit in a campaign video recently to say that he “ain’t no African American.” The County News first reported about the contents of the video that was focused on Robinson’s assertion that he had no connection to Africa and that “my story is American.”

This report emerged just days after North Carolina’s Democrats in Congress and Jewish faith leaders had called for Republicans to denounce Robinson, the perceived front-runner in a race for the nomination against state Treasurer Dale Folwell and former Rep. Mark Walker, for antisemitic comments he had made on social media. Folwell and Walker also criticized Robinson’s remarks as divisive. The video took another tact.

“Yeah, I said I ain’t no African American. When we were fighting for our freedom in the Civil War, we weren’t flying no African banners. We were flying the Star-Spangled Banner,” the County News reported Robinson as saying in the video. “I have never pledged allegiance to any nation in Africa, nor do I ever intend to. I am American. My story is American. I am an American.”

The ad has appeared on Facebook, and there is a print ad as well. County News also delineated many other controversial comments about race that Robinson has made and quoted various Black leaders and Democrats as denouncing those statements.

By the way: Two days after the letter to GOP leaders about Robinson’s antisemitic rhetoric, there has been no response from Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) or Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland).

Report: Moore created court position for former employee

House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) (AP Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum)

Moore, though, has made a lot of news lately and not just from his podium in the House. You may recall that he recently settled a lawsuit with the estranged husband of a woman with whom he admitted having an intimate relationship.

Then on Wednesday The News & Observer in Raleigh reported that Moore and Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) budgeted new positions for the courthouses in their home counties that the Administrative Office of the Courts had not sought, one of which resulted in a new job and a $13,000 raise for one of Moore’s former office managers.

NC Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln)

The positions, called trial court administrators, help with civil case management, but only eight of North Carolina’s judicial districts have them, the districts with the most cases. The N&O reported that in 2022, Cleveland and Lincoln counties “staged the smallest number of civil case trials of the eight districts,” at 2,677, and Mecklenburg had the most, with 19,968.

Although the AOC had not requested the positions, Moore and Saine, who is the chief budget writer in the House, made them happen. “That’s how politics work,” Saine told the N&O, adding, “because I’m the budget writer and he’s the speaker. It goes into the budget for our areas and we’re able to see it through. It’s politics. I think readers would be shocked otherwise.”

Moore didn’t comment to the newspaper, but he did recently confirm that he won’t seek to extend his record four terms as speaker.

Manning escorts Israel’s president

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) (Courtesy of US House of Representatives)
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) (Courtesy of US House of Representatives)

6th District U.S. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro), vice ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and one of 33 Jewish members of Congress, was the committee’s escort when Israel President Isaac Herzog entered the House chamber to address a joint session on Wednesday.

“It is an incredible privilege to welcome and escort into the House Chamber President Isaac Herzog, a true statesman, visionary leader, and my dear friend of many years,” Manning said in a statement released by her staff. “As we commemorate our ally Israel’s 75th anniversary, we reaffirm the extraordinary, rock-solid alliance our two countries have built since the United States became the very first country to recognize Israel just 11 minutes after its founding. As a proud, lifelong supporter of Israel, I remain committed to doing everything I can to strengthen bipartisan support for the U.S.-Israel relationship and to protect Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state.”


Guilford County Superior Court Judge Tonia Cutchin swears in members of the county’s Board of Elections: Chair Richard W. Forrester, Eugene E. Lester, Kathryn S. Lindley, Carolyn W. Bunker and Felita R. Donnell. (GCBOE)

  • U.S. Sen. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) was part of two pieces of bipartisan legislation filed this week. He joined Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev,) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to introduce the Small Business Technological Advancement Act, which would permit small businesses to use the Small Business Administration’s loan program to finance technology that supports daily operations. Then he and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced a pair of bills to address how officials should “prepare for and respond to potential catastrophic threats” related to artificial intelligence. The “Strategy for Public Health Preparedness and Response to Artificial Intelligence Threats Act” would require the secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a strategy.
  • Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) also got into the act, first working with Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on legislation to provide support for Afghan nationals who helped American forces. The “Ensuring American Security and Protect Afghan Allies Act” provides a path to permanent citizenship for those Afghans who evacuated to America after the U.S. withdrawal. Then Tillis and Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) introduced a bipartisan bill to help young military families afford housing by recalculating the cost factors.
  • 9th District U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Southern Pines) participated in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing about threats to energy infrastructure to discuss the attacks last year on the power grid in Moore County. “Our committee’s continuous discussions with expert witnesses from across the industry are extremely valuable as we move closer to finding tangible solutions to strengthen our power grid in order to prevent future energy infrastructure attacks,” he said.
  • The Guilford County Board of Elections this week swore in its new members: Chair Richard W. Forrester, Eugene E. Lester, Kathryn S. Lindley, Carolyn W. Bunker and Felita R. Donnell. The members were appointed by the NC Board of Elections, and Gov. Roy Cooper appointed the chair. Each will serve 2 years.

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