U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., talked about issues affecting the economy and local businesses, such as tax policy and infrastructure, during a lunch meeting Thursday with York County Regional Chamber members in Rock Hill.
He also talked about the potential for a mass transit line from the Carolina Panthers relocating its training facility to Rock Hill.
Norman brought up bills he sponsored focusing on veterans initiatives, helping first responders and removing Congressional perks. He also talked about issues he wants to focus on in the future.
But most of the about 60 minutes he talked, focused on immigration and raising minimum wage.
Here are the main talking points:
Norman said he’s been to the border and seen evidence of drug trafficking.
“That’s not Girl Scout cookies they’re bringing, folks,” he said, to crowd laughter.
He said the U.S. southern border needs a wall to control drugs coming into the country. He used an Alabama vs. Clemson football game as an analogy, comparing people entering the country illegally to people entering a football game without paying for a ticket.
“I said, ‘Let me ask you, what would happen if you went to your seat and somebody was sitting there that didn’t pay?’” Norman said. “What would happen if you went to the concession stand and people were in front of you that didn’t pay. That’s the kind of thing we’re facing.”
He said an open border takes opportunity away from Americans.
“And the analogy I use with the Clemson and Alabama game, if you think that line of thinking — to just open it up, let everybody go into a football game — then we just have a disagreement.”
With the influx of people coming to York County, he said he plans to make improvements to the aging infrastructure in the area.
“Our roads, our bridges are no more important than it is here in South Carolina because we’re getting people,” he said of York County growth. “We’re having people come here.”
Norman said he wants to focus on improving the bridges in York County.
“Some of (the bridges) are 60, 70 years old,” Norman told The Herald after the meeting. “We need to address that. We don’t need to wait until the bridge collapses.”
Business in York County
Norman praised President Donald Trump for his stance against regulating businesses. He said the unemployment rate is low and smaller businesses are booming because of the lack of regulation.
“As I go around the fifth district, that’s one thing — that most businesses are not afraid to invest because they don’t see another regulation coming down the pipe,” Norman said. “In the previous eight years, we were in the doldrums. Now, businesses are excited.”
York County’s unemployment rate is down to 3.2 percent. Norman said eight years ago, the unemployment rate was 13 percent in York County. He said the unemployment rate has fallen thanks to tax cuts and Trump’s businessman background.
“People don’t realize the jobs that are out there, particularly if they work with their hands,” Norman said. “College is not for everybody. But if they work with the hands. They don’t realize the money that they can make.”
Norman said raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour with the Raise the Wage Act will take jobs away from young people.
“It’s dumb,” Norman said of raising the minimum wage. “You don’t do that. It’s dumb.”
He said only 2% of the U.S. workforce is paid minimum wage.
“You can start out there and then work your way up as you learn the job,” Norman said. “You let the people hiring set that and reward people. That’s a job-killing act in my opinion.”
Norman said he is excited about a deal that will bring a Carolina Panthers’ practice facility to Rock Hill. He said he has been criticized by constituents “for giving billionaires breaks” with the deal.
But Norman said with the deal, it’s important that taxpayers know where their money is going.
“When you have an opportunity like this, I felt like it was a golden opportunity to not only have a world-class facility and have 200 acres around it to develop,” he said. “That makes sense to me. And it is earned over time.”
Norman said he thinks it is likely the Panthers’ deal will bring a mass transit line, but tension in the House will make it difficult.
“Pelosi is in charge,” Norman said. “Nothing comes to the house until she approves it. If it’s a win for this president, she’s not going to do it.”