Last week, prominent Republicans pushed forth the passage of House Bill 334, a bill that would change North Carolina’s tax code with respect to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The catch? House Speaker Tim Moore and other lawmakers would benefit from the tax cut.
Under the new changes, PPP loans would remain un-taxed and companies could count the PPP money spent as an expense for the purposes of a tax deduction. The bill passed in the House, without any public disclosure that many of the lawmakers, including Moore, pushed for the bill owned businesses that accepted PPP money.
According to WBTV, Tim Moore’s law firm received two loans totaling more than $25,000, records show. Rep. John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg), a Finance Committee chairman who advocated for the bill, runs two companies that received nearly $400,000 combined, while Senator Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson), the primary sponsor of the bill, owns a business that accepted a PPP loan of more than $1.1 million.
Rep. Julia Howard, a senior finance committee chair, publicly opposed the bill that would give tax breaks to dozens of lawmakers businesses. Despite Howard questioning the ethics of the legislation, the House Speaker removed Howard from her position — underscoring the GOP’s loyalty to their wallets over principles.
With hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians facing evictions, and many small business owners still struggling from the financial impact COVID-19 has imposed, lawmakers should be focused on guaranteeing a just recovery of their constituents, not seeking a financial advantage for themselves.
Bottom Line: Rep. Howard was right for raising concerns. For too long, Republicans in the NCGA have repeatedly found ways to dodge transparency and accountability. From it’s “special sessions”, to the backroom deal that produced HB2, to last week’s PPP loans controversy, the pattern continues.
As an WRAL editorial states, “North Carolinians have a right to know this information so they can judge for themselves – not simply from an opinion issued by legislative employee – if their legislators have conflicts and whether their actions are in the public interest. Citizens have a right to be a part of ALL discussions on legislation”.