Rep. Ken Waddell (D-Columbus) reviews his freshmen session in the General Assembly
CHADBOURN, NC (WECT) – Going from small-town Mayor to state legislator was a bit of an adjustment for Ken Waddell. He and more than 40 other freshmen may have cast their last votes of 2013 this past week, when the state House and Senate canceled two vetoes by Governor Pat McCrory.
"There are some things you just never expect when you get there," Waddell said during an interview this week in Chadbourn Town Hall, where he spent years serving the public. "It seemed to be a roller coaster ride of tactics by the leadership and then counter-tactics by the minority party to get their point across. But, I really enjoyed it, and I was able to get some things done that I thought were important for the (Columbus, Bladen and Robeson) counties I represent."
Waddell took his responsibility seriously, casting 1280 of a possible 1288 votes (99.4%) according to information provided by the General Assembly. He was not afraid to cross the aisle to support Republican-backed proposals, as he did in 14% of his votes. Click here to see how Waddell voted on all pieces of legislation during the 2013 session.
"People expect you to go to Raleigh and work on compromise," Waddell said. "There may be ninety percent of a bill that you agree with, and there might be ten percent that you philosophically don't agree with, but you have to look at the total bill and the folks you are representing back home. I come from a pretty conservative district, even though it's mostly Democrats in the district."
He calls HB 505 one of his proudest accomplishments. The bill made a pilot program for inspecting animal operations by the Division of Soil & Water Conservation a permanent initiative.
Waddell is one of three Democrats voting for the Tax Simplification and Reduction Act, a GOP proposal to reform the state's tax code. Rep. William Brisson of nearby Bladen County and Rep. Paul Tine of Dare County were the others. "I'm not really convinced that it is going to work, but I am willing to give it a try," Waddell said when asked why he crossed the aisle on the issue. "One of my major concerns is that if you are going to cut revenue, especially for those folks who have a lot, are they going to re-invest that money back into North Carolina? Are they going to re-invest that money back into making jobs? I do not think that we have addressed the jobs issue, especially in the rural areas, like we should in this legislature. I hope that when we get back for the short session there will be more work done."
Waddell also supported the initial Voter Information Verification Act in the House, commonly called the "Voter ID" bill. But, he voted against the final version of the bill after it passed the Senate. "It was a 14-page bill when it left the House," said Waddell. "It was reasonable in most instances. The Voter ID part wasn't going to be implemented until 2016, so there was enough time to get the kinks worked out of it. When it came back from the Senate, it was a 61-page bill, and it had a lot of components in it that didn't have anything to do with voter ID. Straight-party ticket, no pre-registration for 16- and 17-year olds, doesn't have anything to do with voter id. You're trying to teach civic responsibility to the citizens, and I think that sets a bad tone."
Waddell believes film incentives will be an issue lawmakers will deal with in 2014. He is hoping more work will also be done to create jobs in the rural areas of North Carolina.
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