State Rep. Robert Brawley (R-Mooresville) resigned as chair of the House Finance Committee Wednesday saying he disagrees with decisions of the Republican-led legislature and accusing House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Cornelius) of mistreating him. The dispute with Tillis stems in part from disagreement over Brawley’s bill to ease restrictions on the locally-owned MI-Connection cable system.
Brawley and Tillis also have bumped heads over the issue of highway tolls. On May 5, he came out publicly against the N.C. DOT’s plan to widen I-77 north of Charlotte using high occupancy toll lanes, or HOT lanes. Tillis supports the idea.
Brawley read his resignation letter on the House floor Wednesday, according to our news partner WFAE-FM and other news reports.
He says Speaker Tillis intimidated him over House Bill 557, a bill he filed that would broaden the service area of M-I Connection Communication System. The towns of Davidson and Mooresville have owned the system since 1997, and run it as a separate, town-owned business. It has about 15,400 customers in the Lake Norman area, primarily Cornelius, Davidson and Mooresville, and officials have said they’d like to grow the business by expanding to nearby residential areas and businesses. But amid lobbying from Time Warner Cable and other large telecommunications companies, the legislature in 2011 enacted legislation to restrict MI-Connection’s territory.
Brawley says the thinks that’s because Tillis has a business relationship with Time Warner Cable.
A spokesman for Tillis said the speaker has no such business relationship. “That’s bunk,” he said Thursday.
In his May 22 resignation letter, Brawley complained of Tillis:
“You slamming my office door shut, standing in front of me and state that you have business relationship with Time Warner and wanting to know what the bill was about. You and I both know the bill stifles the competition with MI Connections [sic] in Mooresville. MI Connections [sic] is being operated just as any other free enterprise system and should be allowed to do so without the restrictions placed on them by the proponents of Time Warner.”
Brawley also complained that the General Assembly had granted a monopoly to the family of a Republican legislator through a 2012 bill giving bail bond agents only one choice for training.
Brawley says Tillis asked him to resign over his negative comments about a bill authorizing toll roads in the state.
Tillis’s spokesman told DavidsonNews.net that Brawley’s resignation was “a mutual decision,” and that both men decided Brawley “was not a good fit” in the job.
RELATED LINKS AND COVERAGE
May 22, 2013, WRAL.com, “Mooresville Rep. Brawley joins campaign against I-77 tolls”
May 22, 2013, WRAL.com, Brawley’s resignation letter read on the House floor. (PDF)
May 21, 2011, DavidsonNews.net, “Gov. lets ‘Level Playing Field’ bill become law.”
NCLeg.net, web page for House Bill 557, “Utilities/MI-Connection Service Area”. Brawley sponsored the bill. The subtitle of the bill notes that it would revise “the service area in which the joint agency created by the cities of Davidson and Mooresville, known as MI?Connection, may provide communications service.” The bill, which has been referred to committee, also proposes this:
“The service area also includes the economic development sites, public safety facilities, governmental facilities, and educational schools and colleges located within the corporate boundaries of the City of Statesville and the corridors between Mooresville and Statesville and these sites, facilities, schools, and colleges. The corridors between these municipalities and these sites, facilities, schools, and colleges include only the area necessary to provide service to these municipalities, and these sites, facilities, schools, and colleges and shall not be wider than 300 feet. The Iredell County Board of County Commissioners shall vote to approve service extension to any governmental economic development site, governmental facility, school, or college owned by Iredell County. The Iredell County School Board shall also vote to approve service extension to its schools.