We spend a lot of time chipping away at the vast Republican conspiracy in this space, so it’s only fair to point out one of the positive things about one-party rule in our state: We’ve got a major power player in Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford), who rose to state House whip in 2016 after his third term in District 59.
And while it’s tough to separate Hardister from the policies of his party — which seemed aimed towards creating a permanent underclass that’s held beneath the heel of a permanent Republican majority — we’re going to give it a shot.
It’s true that Hardister would not have risen in the ranks so quickly were he not a reliable Republican vote, but he’s using his time this term dynamically, sponsoring more than 100 bills, many of which have nothing to do with further marginalizing poor people and insulating the rich.
Some are ridiculous token plays at bipartisanship, like HB 394, sponsored with Guilford Democrat Ashton Clemmons, which designates the Moravian cookie as the official state cookie.
But there’s a lot of money for his district in his slate of bills, including money for the NC Folk Festival, Coltrane Jazz Festival, tornado-damaged homes, NC A&T University, Wake Baptist, War Memorial Foundation, Senior Resources of Guilford County and more.
And he’s continuing his streak of reforming the state’s antiquated alcohol laws. On the docket this year are HB 378, which would allow distilleries to actually sell drinks — which would seem like common sense, but whatever — and HB 536, an omnibus ABC reform bill that seems to expand the places where alcohol can be sold, helps small brewers get distribution, gives ABC stores Sunday hours and closes an ancient loophole that technically prevents a bar patron from buying a shot and a beer at the same time.
We’ll have more in-depth coverage of these bills and others in our Legislative Issue in a few weeks, including which of these bills actually passes.
But because it’s Hardister’s job to muster votes, it’s a pretty safe bet that he’ll be able to whip up support for many of his own efforts.