Record Number of Builders Sworn in as Legislators

The members of the 2021 General Assembly reconvened in Raleigh on Wednesday to kick off the legislative “long-session.” The long session is the first of a biannual legislative process that allows members to introduce legislation without restrictions. Over the next several months, more than 1,000 bills will be introduced by 170 members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

At the start of the session, a record number of builders were sworn as legislators. Several of these builders are long time members of NCHBA and have years of experience in the home building industry. Their wealth of knowledge will only help to continue to make North Carolina a great place to build homes. The House members include Mark Brody (R-Union), Steve Tyson (R-Craven), Matthew Winslow (R-Franklin), Larry Potts (R-Davidson), Jeff Zenger (R-Forsyth) and Senator Steve Jarvis (R-Davidson).

The Republicans hold majorities in both chambers. In the House, the breakdown is 67-53 in favor or the GOP. The Senate is 27-23 with the GOP holding control. However, neither chamber has a vetoproof majority if and when the Governor objects to legislation.

The largest issues facing legislative leaders and the Governor will all center around COVID-19 relief and the effects that the pandemic will have on the budget. The legislature and the Governor have not come to an agreement on the state budget since 2018. Instead, the state has relied on several “mini budgets” that have ensured that state operations continue without interruption.

In 2021, NCHBA’s team will continue to work with legislators on behalf of our members in an effort to ease the regulatory burden on home builders across North Carolina. The last several sessions have produced extraordinary results for the home building industry, saving builders millions of dollars in taxes and regulations. With regulations touching nearly every aspect of land development and home construction, NCHBA will continue to scale back on unnecessary barriers that prevent the industry from reaching its full market potential.

The legislative process will pause over the next two weeks as legislators and staff take care of several logistical formalities. Leaders in both the House and Senate chambers will work with members on committee and office assignments. The next scheduled session will be held on Wednesday, January 27th. 

Builders Pause Work to Review COVID-19 Safety

Veritas Construction of Kernersville, NC conducts a COVID-19 Safety Stand Down on one of its job sites.

Builders across North Carolina participated in a COVID-19 Job Site Safety Stand Down January 11-15, 2021. The North Carolina Home Builders Association, in partnership with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Builders Mutual, asked members to pause work on job sites for at least 10 minutes to review COVID-19 safety precautions.

Workers were reminded of the importance of wearing face coverings, maintaining a distance of six feet between workers at all times, cleaning and sanitizing frequently used tools, equipment, and frequently touched surfaces on a regular basis, ensuring the proper sanitation of common surfaces and equipment, and providing safe, clean, and accessible restrooms and adequate hand washing stations.

Need information about how to conduct a COVID-19 Safety Stand Down of your own? NAHB has developed detailed blueprints — in English and Spanish. You can access additional materials and a comprehensive Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Plan for Construction here.

How to Participate in COVID-19 Safety Stand Down

As the map below demonstrates, COVID-19 continues to spread in North Carolina and stress medical resources such as hospitals. It is critical as an industry that we do our part to reduce the spread of the virus.

https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard/county-alert-system

You can help, January 11-15, by spending 10 minutes on your jobsite reminding workers how they can keep themselves and others safe.

NCHBA is joining with the National Association of Home Builders and Builders Mutual in asking builders to pause work for a COVID-19 Jobsite Safety Stand Down. As part of the safety stand down, members are being asked to relay coronavirus safety precautions, such as wearing face coverings, maintaining a distance of six feet between workers at all times, cleaning and sanitizing frequently used tools, equipment, and frequently touched surfaces on a regular basis, ensuring the proper sanitation of common surfaces and equipment, and providing safe, clean, and accessible restrooms and adequate hand washing stations.

Three Steps to Hold Your Own Stand Down:

  1. Prepare. Compile the information you will need for the stand down. NAHB has developed detailed blueprints — in English and Spanish — for builders and trade contractors to conduct their COVID-19 safety stand downs.
  2. Cover the basics. As COVID-19 cases surge, stress the importance of preventing the virus spread by encouraging workers to following basic infection prevention measures.
  3. Hold your stand-down. Present the information to the workers, keeping it short and simple. The safety information can be distributed digitally (through email and/or text).

You can access additional materials and a comprehensive Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Plan for Construction here.

Construction Jobs Remain Strong

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people lived and worked this year and many industries laid off employees due to economic constraints. One of the overall bright spots in the economy, however, has been the home building and remodeling industry. Residential construction was deemed an essential business by many state and local governments across the country during COVID-19 business restrictions. Throughout the pandemic, many individuals working in the skilled trades remained gainfully employed. If you or someone you know is seeking a career change or a fresh start in the new year, the skilled trades can offer a rewarding career path and a well-paying salary.

Working in the home building industry is more than just another job, it is a pathway to earning a great salary. Half of payroll workers in construction earn more than $49,030 and the top 25 percent make at least $68,690, according to the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics Survey data and analysis by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). In comparison, the U.S. median wage is $39,810, while the top quartile (top 25 percent) makes at least $64,240.

The earning potential is strong for both men and women in the industry. On average, women in the United States earn 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. Women in the construction industry earn 97 cents for every dollar a man earns. Recent studies show women gaining ground in the industry. The number of women employed in the construction industry grew substantially last year, rising to around 1.2 million and surpassing the peak of pre-recession employment levels, according to NAHB.

Not only is the residential construction industry inclusive, training programs offer a viable alternative to the 4-year college track without the burden of sky-high student loan debt. In the 2018-19 school year, the average amount borrowed by bachelor’s degree recipients who took out loans to pay for college was $28,800, according to the College Board’s Trends in Student Aid 2020 report. The residential construction industry offers a variety of training programs at a fraction of the cost of a four-year degree.

There are many resources available to help individuals get started in a career in the trades. The North Carolina Home Builders Association (NCHBA) can connect students to apprentice programs or other job training programs locally. The National Housing Endowment, in partnership with the Home Builders Institute, offers several scholarships to students pursuing a career in the building industry. 

Working in the trades brings a sense of satisfaction for completing high-quality work that contributes to home building and ultimately helping to fulfill the American Dream.

NCHBA Election Success Was Unprecedented

The unofficial 2020 general election returns are in and NCHBA’s advocacy program enjoyed unprecedented success. While all precincts have reported statewide, the results are unofficial because of absentee and provisional ballots. Absentee ballots which are postmarked no later than election day and received by the November 12 deadline by local boards of elections are yet to be counted. Provisional ballots voted on election day are also still to be tabulated So, the results of several close races could change.

NCHBA’s state election advocacy program consists of two complementary initiatives—NC BUILD-PAC and the Home Builders Education Fund, Inc. (HBEF). The former is a political action committee governed by its own Board of Trustees and it is funded by the personal contributions of our members. The latter is an entity created by NCHBA in 2015 which is able to spend funds received from the association and is governed by its own Board of Directors. NAHB BUILD-PAC contributions to federal candidates are the third component of our advocacy program. Those contributions are initiated by our NC trustees and approved by our national PAC Board of Trustees.

NC BUILD-PAC

During this cycle, NC BUILD-PAC contributed a total of $241,602.55 to candidates in 141 races for the General Assembly.

In the Senate, 39 of the 50 Senators to be seated in January received BUILD-PAC support. In the House, 120 members of the NC House of Representatives to be seated in January received BUILD-PAC support.   We participated in 141 legislative races and our candidate won in 134 of them (95%).

We also contributed to 10 candidates in 9 statewide Council of State and appellate judicial races where 8 of these candidates won for an 80% winning percentage.

HBEF, Inc.

During this cycle, the HBEF contributed a total of $599,432.19 to candidates in 90 races ($114,864,39 to 20 primary election candidates and $484,667.80 to 70 general election candidates).  A total of 19 of our 20 primary candidates (95%) won and 68 of our 70 general election candidates won (97%) for cycle winning percentage of (96.6%). Of the 90 races, we participated in 75 by mailer support of the candidate and in 15 by a prominent billboard in their district. Specifically, we generated a total of 1,068,418 mailers in these 75 races.

General Election Highlights

We successfully supported three new home builder members of NCHBA who were elected to the House—Steve Tyson (HD 3—New Bern); Matt Winslow (HD 7—Youngsville); and Jeff Zenger (HD 74—Lewisville). These three join two incumbent home builder members of the House—Mark Brody (HD 55–Monroe) and Larry Potts (HD 81—Lexington) who won re-election. These five home builders plus newly elected home builder Senator Steve Jarvis (SD 29—Lexington; who we strongly supported in a primary win against an incumbent senator) form a strong “home builder caucus” for our legislative agenda. All of these member received both BUILD-PAC and HBEF mailer support.

In the general election, Zenger was our top priority in the House. We sent 5 separate mailers to a broad universe of voters in his district. The HBEF was the only outside group (apart from the Republican House Caucus) to participate on Zenger’s behalf. We firmly believe that our support pulled him across the finish line in an extremely close vote.

In fact, Zenger’s race was thought by most to represent the district which would assure GOP control of the House. As it turned out, the GOP gained a net 4 seats to push its present majority from 65-55 to 69-51.  Despite the loss of two seats due to redistricting litigation, the GOP maintained its majority in the Senate by a margin of 28-22.

The HBEF participated in several key legislative races in both the House and Senate and continued its longstanding record of bipartisan support for pro-housing candidates.

Our entire membership of 14,500 received a mailer from the HBEF which highlighted our BUILD-PAC support of several candidates for statewide and appellate judicial races. As noted earlier, 8 of these candidates in 9 races won. As close as these races were, we believe this mailer may have made a significant difference in the outcome in each of these races.

NAHB BUILD-PAC

We are delighted to report that all of the candidates supported by NAHB BUILD-PAC, at our request, were elected. A total of $75,500 was distributed to these winning candidates by our national PAC during the 2019-2020 election cycle.

Final Observations

Our grand total advocacy spending for all of our efforts including NAHB and NC BUILD-PAC and our HBEF was $959,034.74.

As our advocacy outreach expands, our influence grows. Through the HBEF, we have demonstrated that we can make a real difference in the outcome of races (e.g., Jeff Zenger, Steve Jarvis, etc.). We are delighted with the results our advocacy efforts are producing and we thank you for your support!