LUMBERTON — Democrats got slammed in the latest poll of “business-friendly” North Carolina legislators by the conservative North Carolina Free Enterprise Foundation.
Only two Democrats in the House of Representatives and no Democratic members of the Senate managed to outscore any Republicans in the 2017 Legislative Business Ratings report. Conducted during nonelection years, the report looks at voting records on selected legislation and polling of North Carolina business leaders.
State Sen. Danny Britt Jr., a first-term legislator who represents Robeson and Columbus counties, is one of the state’s top-ranked business-friendly legislators in the Senate, according to the report.
In the report, Britt ranked 11th out of the 50 North Carolina senators. Britt received a score of 93.1 out of 100 for his support for business.
Rep. Brenden Jones, a Republican who represents part of Robeson County and Columbus County, finished seventh overall among 120 House members.
Among House members representing Robeson County, Rep. Ken Goodman ranked 61st and was one of two Democrats who scored better than a small handful of Republicans. Goodman was followed by Reps. Charles Graham and Garland Pierce, who finished 104th and 106th respectively.
“I’m very pleased with the ratings and humbled by it,” Britt said. “We need to be more pro business and promote whatever we can get here in the county.”
The ratings were based on support of issues important to the business community, matters in which free enterprise principles were distinctly involved, and a clear distinction of legislative perspectives on business issues, according to the Free Enterprise Foundation. The ratings were measured based on voting histories from the N.C. General Assembly website.
One way Britt hopes to put Robeson County on the business map is by getting rid of regulations that would hinder businesses that want to move into the county.
“We have been losing a lot of businesses to South Carolina,” Britt said. “It’s important that we get more business friendly. Hopefully, in the future, we’ll be able to attract industry for Robeson County and Columbus County.”
Rep. Goodman said being business friendly is only part of the job.
“In this part of the state, being business friendly is a good thing,” Goodman said. “There was a time when Democrats promoted education, social issues and were business friendly. That’s the kind of Democrat I am.”
Reps. Graham and Pierce said the ratings are skewed to Republicans, who dominate both chambers of the legislature and the legislation that comes out of committees. Graham called the ratings “misleading.”
“The ratings are based on partisanship, and Democrats will never rank well in their system,” Graham said. “We are all working for our constituents and the state as a whole. Those who get the credit are Republicans, who head up every committee and control the legislation.”
“This does not tell the whole story,” Pierce said about the bills the Foundation chooses for the ratings. “There is a lot more in bills than people realize that can be very damaging.”
Democrats are not anti-business, just the opposite, Pierce said. Democrats are for the environment and are consumer friendly, issues Republican legislators fall short on.
“These are bills that are not good for the people,” he said. “Republicans say regulation hurts business, but not always. Where we can support the business community, Democrats did.”
North Carolina Free Enterprise Foundation lists Robeson County businessman and Republican Bo Biggs as a member of its board of directors. The foundation has ties to the conservative John Locke Foundation and the William John Pope Foundation.