Rabin, Stone answer questions in town hall

Taxes, Second Amendment and education were on citizens' minds
Jan. 23, 2013 @ 09:12 PM

State legislators fielded questions and concerns Wednesday night during the first town hall meeting of the year for Lee County. 

N.C. District 12 Sen. Ronald Rabin, R-Lee, and N.C. District 51 Rep. Mike Stone, R-Lee, discussed revamping the state tax code, supporting the Second Amendment and inserting choice into the school system, among other topics, last night during the meeting held at the Lee County Enrichment Center, located at 1615 S. Third St.

"I made a promise to have town hall meetings," Rabin said. "I can't do my job unless I know what you all think. I am supposed to execute the will of the people, according to the state constitution, and that is what I plan to do."

The experts are the people who live here, Stone said, and legislators must take the time to find local solutions from the people within the district. 

"It is great to come back and talk to the community," he said. "They give us insight because this wasn't a blame game, but an informational meeting."

Several questions from the audience concerned the state tax code and unemployment in the county. The North Carolina tax code must be modernized for the state to regain its competitiveness and become business friendly, Rabin said. 

Since the Great Depression, the state tax structure has not changed and the North Carolina General Assembly has been unsuccessful in trying to update the books, Stone said. 

It will be difficult, they said, but both legislators expressed hope in accomplishing the task. 

A question concerning gun violence within Sanford turned into a concern for gun rights and the Second Amendment, with both men advocating for gun owners' rights. 

"It's a law enforcement issue," Rabin said. "And I am not sure how to resolve it. I just know that legal gun owners should have their guns because that is what the Constitution says."

Stone said he is also a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and would like to lessen the restrictions on individuals with a concealed carry permit, a permit to carry a gun in a concealed manner. 

"The last two years I have worked with local law enforcement to see what else we can do," Stone said. "Making sure they are taking advantage of grant programs. Can we get more police officers on the road and in the neighborhoods?"

Another Sanford man from the audience asked if the legislators would support a mandatory sentencing for people convicted of a gun crime. 

"I can tell you the issue has been talked about in several rooms in Raleigh," Stone said. "We are looking at any and all opportunities, but, first and foremost, protecting legal gun owners."

One area woman asked the legislators to "recapture North Carolina's tradition of excellence" in education, with a focus on public schools.

"You talk about gun violence," she said. "You talk about all of these things. But, what if the drop out rate was lower? And these youth were engaged in building positive futures. Education is the root of this."

Education is one of the state's top priorities because of its ripple effect into the economy and national security, Rabin said. Cutting the waste and increasing competition by giving the parents a choice will be key in state education system, he said. 

The most important aspect of a child's education is getting parents more involved and letting them decide what is best for their children, Stone said. 

Rabin held two other town hall meetings in his district, which includes Lee and Harnett counties and a portion of Johnston County, this week and said he plans more meetings around the area before the General Assembly convenes next week. 

Rabin won election for his first term and Stone won re-election for his second term during November's election. 

 

Closing remarks from the town hall meeting Wednesday