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Tim Moore: Stepping up in the House 

by Scott Mooneyham, NCLM Advocacy Communications Strategist

On the surface, new state House Speaker Tim Moore’s attraction to politics appears simple enough to explain. After all, his father, Rick Moore, is a long-time member of the Kings Mountain City Council. But if you thought the Moore family was another case the political bug running from father to son, parent to child, you would be wrong. It was the younger Moore who ultimately transmitted the bug to his father.

"I can’t explain it. Some kids were interested in football or racing or whatever else, and I just, somehow or someway, was interested in politics," Moore said. "We had a little store out in the country, and I remember I would always get a lot of the (political) signs out and put those out, when I was high school and even junior high. So, I would kind of get my dad involved."

That involvement in politics and political campaigns grew in college, both at Campbell University and UNC-Chapel Hill.

"It’s ironic. I was speaker of the Student Congress in Chapel Hill and now speaker here. I’ll let you know later which one I like better," he said.

After a stint as Cleveland County Republican Party chairman and being selected for a term on the UNC Board of Governors, Moore won a seat in the state House. A little more than 12 years later, he sits in the top job in the House — Speaker.

Just prior to his official election to the post by the full House membership, Moore took some time out from a hectic schedule to discuss that penchant for politics, his new role, and how he sees the latest legislative session unfolding.

What was it that actually led to your decision, back in 2002, to run for the House, as opposed to becoming involved in politics in other ways?

I actually had been approached in 2001 about running for Court of Appeals. (Rep. Paul) “Skip” Stam was organizing that effort to provide a slate of candidate, and I thought a little bit about doing that, but really, at the end of it, I decided that the legislature was where my interest was. Cleveland County is a very rural county, and I saw a lot of the challenges that we had. The textile industry had declined. I saw a lot of people who had lost their jobs. I saw a lot of challenges, but I also saw a lot of good people stepping up to do a lot of good things in the community, a lot of them are paying huge dividends now, the Gibson Theatre, the Scruggs Center, a lot of new industries have come to town. I felt like I ought to do something.

How do you see the House and General Assembly changing now with you becoming speaker?

I think (former House Speaker and current U.S.) Senator (Thom) Tillis did a fantastic job, and in the last four years since we’ve been in the majority, we have dealt with most of the issues the caucus was talking about and was most interested in — tax reform, regulatory reform — those were huge issues. We dealt with accountability and responsibility with spending. Now, it is mainly about jobs and good governing. I told my caucus I just want to focus on governing, because we dealt with some very weighty issues over these last four years. There will be things that neither of us are thinking about that will come up, but I think as long as we deal with them candidly and make sure we keep the lines of communication open, we’ll come to some good solutions.

As you know, the historic preservation tax credit is an important issue to our members. Do you see that being restored this session?

I support the historic tax credits. Whether we do historic tax credits or grants or something, we need to continue to invest in our downtowns and give some incentive for folks to redevelop a building. There are some who oppose it who say you are picking winners and losers. You’re not. If you let the downtowns decay and go away, then you are going to end up spending more on trying to deal with the other problems that come along with that. I am really interested in making our downtowns vibrant. I am actually invested in an older building in downtown Kings Mountain. I want to see downtowns flourish. We have these great economic engines in our urban areas, Raleigh and Charlotte, but we see challenges in smaller towns. You see empty storefronts. And then you see towns where there has been a big effort to revitalize the downtown area. Shelby has done it very well. And all the businesses there are locally owned small businesses. They are folks who live in the community and invest in the community and stay there. I really believe that is the key. We have to have our big box stores that consumers demand. I shop there like everyone else. But I really enjoy going to the small merchant.

What do you think are going to be the big issues this session?

The budget is going to be a big issue. Economic development is going to be big. To keep competing with other states, and other nations for that matter, to recruit and retain companies, we are going to have to make sure that what we are doing is working as far as the taxes. Although folks don’t like incentives, we are going to have to make sure that what we are doing as far as incentives is strong, so that we can retain and recruit industry. We have to be competitive. The way these consultants and folks who do the site selection work is, you are either in the game or you are not. We’ve got to be in the game. I know the governor is working really hard on that to try to recruit these companies, and I want to see us be a part of that. Regulatory reform will continue, making sure that we don’t have overly burdensome regulation on businesses and individuals.

There has been some talk of another round of tax reform. Do you think there is an appetite for that in the House?

I think maybe some small initiatives, particularly if they are focused on dealing with some shortcomings we have on economic development. Those would be welcome. But as far as another major tax overhaul package, it is a little soon for that. We passed a good reform this last session. We need to give that time to see what’s working and what’s not before we engage in any additional major tax reform.