Grange eyes leaderships roles in regulatory reform, transportation

Holly Grange Swearing In

A year ago, local Realtor, security firm executive and admitted “political junkie” Holly Grange said she never would have considered getting into politics.

But the mother of two decided to jump into the political arena last November, shortly after state Rep. Rick Catlin announced he wouldn’t seek reelection for the 20th district he represented, and completed her campaign for the seat last week when she was sworn in as one of the newest members of the North Carolina General Assembly.

“I’m excited to be able to start early and work with other members of the House to set the agenda,” Grange said.

Grange will be one of three freshmen representatives getting an early start, giving them an edge over other first-year legislators who will be elected in November. She has already started to get to know her colleagues, as she attended her first party caucus meeting last week.

The head start could help Grange land spots on the committees where she has the most interest.

Her leading choices are the House Regulatory Reform and the House Transportation committees, while she also believes her experience in the defense industry would allow her make meaningful contributions on the Homeland Security, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Grange comes into the position with some experience in statewide transportation politics, having served on the board of directors of the North Carolina Ports Authority since 2014. Grange, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, is also on the board of directors of the USO of North Carolina and works as the directory of community relations for Osprey Global Solutions, a security and defense firm started by her husband, retired Army Major General David Grange.

But it’s a different work experience that has Grange interested in the regulatory reform committee. Grange said her experience as a Realtor opened her eyes to the restrictions placed by the state on business owners.

“Look at how hard it is to become a hairdresser in North Carolina,” she said. “Administrative regulations and professional licensing are creating too many hoops for people to go through before they can start a business.”

Catlin, the man who held the seat, said he met with Grange in Raleigh and introduced her to key staff and legislative researchers. One area where Catlin expects Grange to have an impact is on coastal issues, saying she was in line with the policies he supported to protect local waterways. Catlin was awarded the 2015 Pelican Award from the N.C. Coastal Federation for his work on environmental legislation.

“It’s a great opportunity between now and the start of the session to become informed on the process,” said Catlin.

Grange said that waterway maintenance and beach renourishment would be among the top issues she followed, along with working for increased teacher pay.

Catlin announced in December that he wouldn’t seek reelection and resigned after the end of the assembly’s 2016 summer session, making room for Grange to serve the remainder of his term. Grange defeated New Hanover County Board of Education member Tammy Covil in March’s Republican primary for the seat, capturing 62 percent of the vote. With no Democrat challenging her in the general election, Catlin was able to transition the seat to Grange by resigning and allowing Gov. Pat McCrory to swear her into the seat after a unanimous recommendation from the New Hanover County Republican Party Executive Committee.

While the North Carolina General Assembly isn’t scheduled to return to session until next year, the governor or legislative leaders can call the assembly back into session to address emergencies or pressing issues. North Carolina lawmakers called a special session as recently as March, where it passed the controversial House Bill 2 that addressed Charlotte’s transgender bathroom ordinance and created a national controversy as a result.

By Terry Lane on September 6, 2016 – 11:29am news
Email: terrylane@luminanews.com


Grange pushing “second chance” bill

Robert Childs, executive director of the N.C. Harm Reduction Coalition

Proposal would forbid state agencies from asking criminal history on applications

RALEIGH — A proposal by New Hanover County state Rep. Holly Grange that would give people with criminal convictions a better chance at job interviews could be taken up by the N.C. Senate during this year’s short session.

House Bill 409 would forbid state agencies from asking for criminal histories on job applications. It passed the House during the 2017 session and was referred to the Senate Rules Committee. Grange said she planned to ask the committee’s chairman, Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, to help her move the bill forward in the Senate.

“It’s an important bill,” said Grange, R-New Hanover. People with criminal records who can’t find a job “lose all hope and think they’re not contributing to society and not taking care of their families.”

The National Institute of Justice concluded that not only does employment after release reduce the chance of returning to prison, but “employment prospects for applicants with criminal records improved when applicants had an opportunity to interact with the hiring manager, particularly when these interactions elicited sympathetic responses from the manager.”

The bill encourages private employers to follow the state’s lead, but does not require them to. Grange said she could understand a hesitancy on the part of legislators to mandate the requirement on private employers.

“This only applies to state jobs,” she said. “It doesn’t even apply to local governments.”

Such “ban the box” legislation — so named after the box on most job application forms asking candidates to indicate a criminal history — has the support of advocacy groups like the N.C. Harm Reduction Coalition, which helps people engaging in risky behaviors stay safe.

“North Carolina should not prevent opportunities of economic liberation for its residents with criminal records. After they serve their time, we should provide them with opportunities for a fresh start, because they deserve a fair chance at employment. Consistent employment of people with criminal records results in reduced crime, a boost in tax revenues and reduced court costs,” said Robert Childs, the organization’s executive director.

Childs provided the StarNews with studies showing that “fair chance” hiring practices reduced recidivism court costs in municipalities that enacted them, helping some of the estimated 70 million Americans with some kind of criminal history a chance to contribute to society.

“The bottom line is that so many people have criminal records,” Grange said. “The best way to reduce recidivism is to have someone who has been rehabilitated have gainful employment.”

House Bill 409 facts

  • Would forbid state agencies from asking for criminal histories on job applications.
  • Does not apply to private companies.
  • Passed the House 98-14 on April 11.
  • In the Senate Rules Committee and can be voted on in the short session.

Reporter Tim Buckland can be reached at 910-343-2217 or Tim.Buckland@StarNewsOnline.com.