Up & Coming Weekly

July 25, 2017

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 8 of 32

8 UCW JULY 26 AUGUST 1, 2017 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM STATE REPRESENTATIVE BILLY RICHARDSON. COM- MENTS? editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com. 910.484.6200. Laws, to have an impact, must be en- forced — fairly and impartially. In North Carolina we have elected district at- torneys to enforce laws in our hundred counties. But it is the elected attorney general who oversees enforcing our laws in North Carolina. As such, many call our attorney general North Caro- lina's chief law enforcement officer. e attorney general, to be effective, must have the respect and support of all elected officials and the citizens of our state. Josh Stein is currently our elected attorney general. He needs our support and respect. Apparently, our legislature does not want our current attorney general to be an effective law enforcement head. During the last days of the last long session, after our Appropriations Committee met and decided about the attorney general's budget, leadership, at the urging of the Tea Party, decided to cut the attorney general's budget by $10 million. Not only did they cut his budget, but they cut it where it would hurt the most: personnel. And to ensure that the attor- ney general did not replace the cuts with leftover monies or reserves, they put a ban on his ability to transfer monies into these areas. Such cuts are not just cruel. ey are mean politics, and they are flat-out dangerous. e cuts will impair the attorney gen- eral's ability to keep criminals behind bars. For example, with more than 126 attorneys and other key personnel be- ing laid-off because of this $10 million cut, who will be available to prosecute white-collar criminals and our most vio- lent offenders? Who will handle close to 700 criminal appellate cases each year? With these lay-offs we also lose institu- tional experience, which further adds to the loss. ese cuts affect the department's ability to handle frivolous and other lawsuits filed against the state. Pres- ently, there are 115 civil lawsuits pend- ing with over $400 million in potential liability. ese include everything from breach of contract to tort claims. e attorney general's staff who will be laid off are all dedicated, hard-work- ing employees. ey enforce DWI revo- cations, do countless calls from agencies and citizens and enforce consumer protection laws. ey enforce credit and usury laws. ey represent every phase of the state and state agencies that we have, reviewing transportation contracts, enforcing regulations and protecting our interests. Now, every state agency will be short- staffed and face difficul- ties without effective as- sistance and counsel. Who will enforce and protect our waters from pollution and unintended consequenc- es of the same? is careless action by our leader- ship is unnecessary. We did not do this for cost-saving or out of necessity. We especially did not do this after hear- ings and deliberations. We did not even get the attorney general's input on the cutbacks. And we did not hear from our bosses — you the people. Rather, this is mean, cruel, harsh politics designed to hurt the attorney general, presumably because of his party-affiliation or because he refused to defend the unnecessary court cases our bad laws have created. Currently, we have more than 22 law- suits pending that are the result of bad legislation. is is wrong. Wrong intent. Wrong process. Wrong result. Laws not enforced, agencies not ad- vised and 110 fine state servants laid-off because of political gains and intent to harm. Mark Twain once said, "It's never wrong to do the right thing." e same is true of doing wrong. It's never right to do the wrong thing. is is wrong. We have important laws that protect you that need to be enforced. An unen- forced law is worse than no law because it creates disrespect for the law. e rule of law is essential to our democracy. Citizens want lawmakers to serve with a servant's heart. ey want us to stop playing petty games and to com- promise with each other and put their interests first. As former Republican Justice Bob Or said, "Our citizens deserve a General As- sembly who will stop this vindictiveness and move on to doing their business, which is serving the people." He is spot on. Playing political games with people's lives and the one-ups-man ship must stop. It is past time to put North Carolina first and political party engagement ship last on the priority list. Citizens Deserve Full Protection of Our Laws by STATE REPRESENTATIVE BILLY RICHARDSON N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein LEGALLY SPEAKING

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