John Bell: Standing with our farming communities

Kinston Free Press | By John Bell
July 3, 2018 | Link

Last week, over 2,000 people traveled to Raleigh to participate in a rally in support of our farmers and agriculture. While it did not get the media coverage that a hand full of liberal activists generate when they routinely stage arrests and disrupt official business, these folks did it the right way.

They were respectful, but forceful. They came with a simple, but strong message. And Gov. Roy Cooper and other elected officials better pay attention. A sleeping giant has been awakened – and our farmers and agriculture communities will not be ignored.

It was truly inspiring to see so many hardworking farmers – who took the day off of work – to come make their voices heard and fight for their livelihoods.

I have the honor of serving four Eastern North Carolina counties in the N.C. General Assembly – Craven, Greene Lenoir, and Wayne counties. Eastern North Carolina is my home and agriculture is our way of life.

We hear a lot about what farmers do and the crops they grow, but we rarely hear what else they do. They’re deacons at church and Sunday school teachers. They’re the first one called to support the local booster clubs, BBQ suppers and community organizations. They voluntary their time as youth group leaders and little league baseball coaches – simply because they love their communities.

I will never forget how our farmers were also there to help in our time of need when Hurricane Matthew ravaged Eastern North Carolina. In addition to taking care of their farms, they serve as voluntary EMTs, firemen and reserve deputies in the sheriff’s department.

Our farmers truly are the backbone of our state, particularly in Eastern North Carolina. If it wasn’t for agribusiness, so many small town would not exist today. Agriculture, agribusiness and farmers keep these communities afloat every single day of the week.

However, for far too long, our farmers have been ignored. But something special is happening. They are making their voices heard and their presence felt, which is needed now more than ever.

Despite being there for generations and following every single law and regulation, N.C. farmers are being targeted by out-of-state trial lawyers and extreme environmentalists who want to put them out of business.

In response, the N.C. General Assembly passed the N.C. Farm Act of 2018 that puts in place common sense protections and provides certainty for our farmers and their operations – ensuring they can continue feeding the public and driving our economy.

Sadly, shortly after last week’s rally, Gov. Cooper ignored the concerns of our agriculture communities and vetoed this vitally important bill. Nevertheless, the General Assembly stood strong with our farmers and voted to override Gov. Cooper’s veto – making it the law of the land.

Going forward, we must learn from this and stay engaged. People need to know that food does not come from the grocery store – it comes from hard work on our family farms. Farmers drive North Carolina’s economy – and it’s time they get the respect they deserve.

I promise to always stand with our farmers, agriculture producers and rural communities. We must join together and work hard to protect, promote and preserve our agriculture heritage.

John Richard Bell IV is a Republican member of the North Carolina General Assembly. He represents the 10th district. Representative Bell was honored with the “2014 Rising Star” award by the North Carolina House Legislative Partners.

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N.C. House Passes Bill to Let Citizens Decide Voter ID Requirement

Raleigh, N.C. – The N.C. House on Tuesday approved a proposed state constitutional amendment that gives voters the opportunity to determine whether a photo ID should be required to vote. If approved in the November 2018 election, the constitutional amendment would place North Carolina in the mainstream with thirty-four states that already require some form of voter ID. The legislation now goes to the N.C. Senate.

“Voter ID is a common sense tool that upholds the integrity of the ballot box, prevents voter fraud and ensures confidence in the election system,” said Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne). “Furthermore, it is overwhelmingly supported by the public and is in line with the majority of states who already require an ID to vote. That’s why I have consistently supported a voter ID requirement in the past and was pleased to vote for this effort to give our citizens the chance to decide such an important issue in the upcoming election.”

Key Facts

  • Thirty-four states require some form of voter identification to cast ballots in their election systems. 
  • North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast not to have any form of voter ID at the polls. 
  • North Carolina is one of only 18 states that do not require any form of voter identification at the polls. 
  • 69% of North Carolinians support voter ID in February 2018 Civitas Poll
  • 70% of likely U.S. voters support voter ID in August 2017 Rasmussen Poll
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Majority Leader Bell Supports Passage of NC Farm Act

Raleigh, N.C. – N.C. House Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne) issued the following statement on June 14, 2018 after supporting House passage of the N.C. Farm Act of 2018:

“I was proud to cast my vote in support of the Farm Act and stand with family farms and agriculture producers across this great state. This bill addresses the concerns of farmers and consumers alike. It was great to see farmers from Eastern North Carolina fill the gallery, speak in committee and reach out to my office to stand up for their livelihood and the right to farm in our state. I will continue to show my support for North Carolina farmers who feed not only this country but the growing population across the world.”

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Wayne agencies benefit from state budget

Goldsboro News-Argus | By Steve Herring
June 12, 2018 | Link


Several Wayne County municipalities, nonprofits and agencies have received grants in the state's new budget.

"To me it is a good budget period, and a really good budget for eastern North Carolina," said state District 10 Rep. John Bell of Goldsboro. "That is what they sent me up there to do."

Local funding includes downtown infrastructure grants of $50,000 for Pikeville; $25,000 for Seven Springs; $25,000 for Eureka; and $125,000 for Fremont.

Also in the budget is:

* $30,000 for Wayne Action Team for Community Health.

* $30,000 for Communities Supporting Schools of Wayne County.

* $50,000 for ReNu Life in Goldsboro.

* $7,500 for Make a Difference Food Pantry.

* $35,000 for Wayne Initiative For School Health.

*$7,500 for the Men of Faith, Integrity and Character.

* $7,500 for All the King's Children.

ReNu Life does great work with very limited funds, Bell said. Also, there are issues with the building, he said.

"They house a lot of traumatic brain injury patients," Bell said. "They were having some challenges on what to do with their building so I was able to secure them a half million dollars last year to support their operations in funding a building or rehabbing the building they currently have.

"This ($50,000) was an additional appropriation to help with that. They fill a niche that was really void. I am just glad I was able to help a little bit."

Also of local importance is that the budget fixes the low-wealth school funding formula, Bell said.

Wayne County Public Schools had been facing the loss of $2 million in low-wealth funding because the county's tax rate does not meet the threshold required to receive the funds.

The fix not only fully restores Wayne County's low-wealth school funding, but increases it by nearly $700,000 in reoccurring dollars over the current level.

A state law exempts counties with military bases and a student population of at least 23,000 from the low-wealth formula. Currently, that applies only to Cumberland County, the home of Fort Bragg, and Onslow County, home of Camp Lejeune.

The new budget lowers that number to 17,000 and mandates that Wayne County be held harmless to the sum of $7,642,721 -- the same amount the county received in fiscal year 2012-13.

The $23.9 billion state budget includes a $700 million increase in public education funding, large pay raises for state employees and educators, an additional $60 million in Hurricane Matthew relief and $35 million for new school safety initiatives, Bell said.

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Majority Leader Bell Applauds Passage of 2018 Budget

Raleigh, N.C. – The North Carolina House on June 1, 2018 approved a $23.9 billion state budget that includes a $700 million increase in public education funding, large pay raises for state employees and educators, an additional $60 million in Hurricane Matthew relief and $35 million for new school safety initiatives. The budget, which now goes to Governor Cooper, also includes key provisions that specifically benefit the people of House District 10.

“This is a great budget for the people of Eastern North Carolina and hardworking families across the state,” said Rep. John Bell (R-Wayne). “Our budget further invests in public education, funds new school safety initiatives, raises teacher and state employee salaries and directs more funding for Hurricane Matthew victims – while also providing tax relief for families and job creators and saving money for future disasters and economic downturns. 

“It also includes key investments in House District 10 that I fought for that encourage economic development and improve the quality of life for my constituents and communities across Eastern North Carolina. I am proud to support this responsible, pro-growth budget that will meet the needs of our great state and ensure North Carolina remains on a sustainable path that has led to a surging economy and record budget savings.”

Key provisions in North Carolina’s new spending plan include: 

Investing in House District 10

  • $2 million for Lift Fan Facility Project at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station
  • $30,000 for Wayne Action Team for Community Health
  • $30,000 for Communities Supporting Schools of Wayne County
  • $50,000 for ReNu Life in Goldsboro
  • $17 million for Global Transpark in Kinston
  • $10,000 Friends of the Homeless Shelter Kinston
  • $12,500 SAFE of Lenoir County
  • $7,500 for Make a Difference Food Pantry
  • $35,000 for Wayne Initiative For School Health
  • $40,000 for Lenior County United Way
  • $25,000 for Town of Eureka
  • $125,000 for Town of Fremont
  • $25,000 for Town of Hookerton
  • $50,000 for Town of Pikeville
  • $25,000 for Town of Seven Springs
  • $25,000 for Town of Snow Hill
  • $25,000 for Town of Walstonburg

Helping Hurricane Matthew Victims Recover

  • $60 million new funds for disaster relief
  • State disaster relief funds total over $360 million since Hurricane Matthew
  • $10 million for infrastructure grants for Golden LEAF Foundation

Investing in Teachers and Schools

  • A fifth-consecutive teacher pay raise averaging 6.5%
  • A $700 million increase in public education funding
  • $3,150 average principal pay raise

Making Schools Safer

  • $35 million for school safety initiatives
  • $241 million lottery funds to build or upgrade school facilities

Improving Compensation for State Employees

  • A new baseline salary of $31,200 for all state employees
  • A 2% raise for most state employees and a cost-of-living supplement for retirees

Connecting Rural North Carolina

  • $10 million investment in broadband access for rural communities

Ensuring Taxpayers Keep More of Their Hard-Earned Money

  • 99% of North Carolina families will pay lower state income taxes, or no taxes, in 2019
  • 25% new state income tax rate, down from a top rate of 7.75% since 2011. 

Rewarding Law Enforcement and Corrections Officers

  • A 4% pay raise for all corrections officers
  • $44,000 starting pay for State Troopers
  • In 6 years of service a State Trooper will reach top of pay scale: $64,202
  • $15 million for security and safety improvements in state prisons 

Saving for the Future

  • $161 million added to state’s rainy day fund for emergencies, which is now at a historic high of $2 billion
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Majority Leader John Bell Appointed to Serve on House Select Committee on School Safety

Raleigh, N.C. – North Carolina House Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne) has been appointed by Speaker Tim Moore to serve on the newly created bipartisan House Select Committee on School Safety tasked with examining safety standards and procedures throughout North Carolina’s elementary, middle and high schools in the wake of the horrific school shooting in Florida. The committee will consult with local governments, school systems and policy experts in a range of fields to address violence prevention, emergency management and security in North Carolina classrooms.

“As a father, I am committed to ensuring the safety of our students and preventing such senseless tragedies from happening in North Carolina,” said Rep. Bell. “This committee will provide us important insight from local school leaders, mental health experts and law enforcement agencies on the steps we can take to better secure our classrooms. In the aftermath of the Florida school shooting, it is critical that we hear all the ideas, concerns and expertise available to us on this vital issue. As elected officials, it is our duty to uphold the safety of our citizens and I look forward to working with my fellow committee members to identify solutions that will keep our students and teachers safe.”

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Rep. John Bell Files for Reelection

Goldsboro, NC - Majority Leader John Bell released the following statement after filing for re-election on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018:
 
"In 2012, the voters gave me their trust to represent them in Raleigh.  You sent me to Raleigh to clean up our state government and to put North Carolina back on a path to prosperity. We were facing a $3 billion dollar budget deficit, the third highest unemployment rate in the country and job creation was stagnant because of onerous government regulation and over taxation.
 
As your Representative, my colleagues and I have worked tirelessly to change course and put North Carolina on the right track. Today, North Carolina has one of the fastest growing economies in the country, our unemployment rate is at an all-time low, businesses are finding a friendlier regulatory environment, and people now have more money in their pocket because of our tax reforms.
 
We are also focused on building a robust North Carolina for future generations. Our state is building roads again; teachers are getting regular pay raises for their dedication to educating our children, state employees see more money in their paychecks, and most important we have gotten our budgets under control and put money aside in a rainy day fund in case of economic downturns or natural disasters.
 
I have stood firm in support of our men and women in uniform and sponsored legislation that protects Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. I fought to make sure the doors to the new Cherry Hospital were open to serve our most at-risk citizens. After Hurricane Matthew destroyed Eastern North Carolina, I worked with our local officials to make sure we had the funding necessary to recover – an effort I am still fighting for today! 
 
While I am proud of these accomplishments, there’s still more work to do. After much prayer, and with my family by my side, we have decided to file for re-election to the North Carolina House of Representatives. I am truly blessed by all the support, and I look forward to continuing serving as your Representative. God Bless!"

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Rep. John Bell awarded public safety award

Rep. John Bell awarded public safety award
Goldsboro News-Argus
By Steve Herring

For the second consecutive year, Rep. John Bell of Goldsboro has been recognized with a Defender of Public Safety Award.

The award, presented by the N.C. Sheriff's Association, recognizes recipients for work in the legislature to protect public safety in the state.

"Rep. Bell took a leadership role in advancing the legislative priorities of the N.C. Sheriff's Association which represents all 100 sheriffs in the state," said Sheriff Carson H. Smith Jr., association president. "As a result, our sheriffs are better prepared to protect the lives, liberties and property of N.C. citizens."

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John Bell: Great Representation For Wayne County

John Bell: Great Representation For Wayne County
Goldsboro Daily News
By Joel Gillie

On Tuesday, November 8th, eyes were glued to the news as votes were tallied for government positions across the country. While the presidential election had everyone’s attention, on the state level local representative John Bell was celebrating a victory. Voters in Wayne, Craven, Lenoir, and Greene counties had put their faith in Bell for a 3rd term representing their counties in the North Carolina House of Representatives.

The story begins in Mount Olive, NC. Bell was born and raised in Eastern North Carolina and his parents Ricky and Cindy were both great role models for Bell growing up. Bell graduated from North Duplin High School and continued his education at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. After college, Bell began his professional career with the Boy Scouts of America in Goldsboro with the Tuscarora Council covering Duplin and Sampson counties. Bell spent a brief time with the Gulf Coast Council in Pensacola, Florida but couldn’t stay away from North Carolina. Bell returned to NC to start his career in banking, managing a bank in Goldsboro. He moved to the NC Community Credit Union in February 2007 and is about to celebrate his 10 year anniversary with the credit union.

If you ask Bell who helped shape his life, he will tell you he had a lot of help along the way. Two staples in his life were his grandparents, Norwood and Elinor Ezzell. It doesn’t take long to realize he has experience with the issues he pushes in the general assembly. Bell’s grandfather was a veteran who started his own business and his grandmother made sure her kids and grandkids received a good education. His father Ricky worked for the NC DOT and his mother Cindy worked for the Red Cross and the medical manufacturing field.

Education, infrastructure, and business are some of the big issues facing our state right now.

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Deregulation, hurricane relief, bipartisanship are priorities for new NC House majority leader

Deregulation, hurricane relief, bipartisanship are priorities for new NC House majority leader
NC Insider
By Lauren Horsch

In August, when state Rep. John Bell was elected majority leader by the House Republican Caucus, he said he was looking forward to traveling the state and helping maintain Republicans’ 74-seat majority. Now, with a supermajority secured for the GOP and the long legislative session underway, Bell and the rest of his caucus can get down to work.

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