State Rep. Hager retains chair of Utilities Committee

Jan. 02, 2013 @ 09:54 AM

A second-term member of the North Carolina House has been renamed the chairman of the House Public Utilities Committee.

House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, recently renamed Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherfordton, to the position he held during the last session.

The difference is that, this session, Hager will be the lone chairman of the committee. During the last session, Hager served as the co-chairman of the committee and was the lone freshman to hold a co-chair position in the House.

He was the co-chair of the committee with Rep. Fred Steen, R-Rowan, who will not return to the House in January.

"I think it's a great opportunity," Hager said. "We have a lot of opportunity in this area and we are looking at a lot of different things for the next session."

Earlier in December, Hager was also named the House Majority Whip, the fifth-highest ranking office of the Republican House Caucus.

"No one can dispute that Mike Hager is a talented and energetic legislator," Tillis said, in a statement. "In a very short time, he has established himself as a leader within the Caucus. He is also an expert on energy issues and utility management, and as chairman of this committee, he will be perfectly positioned to craft legislative policy in his strongest issue area."

During the upcoming 2013 biennial session, Hager said that the Public Utilities Committee will undertake various pieces of legislation, including the state's renewable energy portfolio and the state's natural gas — or fracking — policies.

In addition, Hager said that he wants to see the committee look back and previously enacted legislation regarding public utilities and energy.

"I want to look at putting a committee together that looks at all major legislation that deals with energy and makes sure that the legislation does what it says it is going to do," Hager said.

He said his goal in looking back at previous legislation is to ensure that that legislation is providing what it was intended to provide.

"If it does we can carry on and, if it doesn't we can re-look at," Hager said.

In the end, he said that the state's approach to energy can be a catalyst to the mission to create new jobs in North Carolina.

"We have a new crop of House members coming in and we have a majority that will be huge," Hager said. "But, in the end, we have to do what we say we are going to do and energy policy impacts the job growth environment."

According to Hager, the culmination of looking at new energy policy and eying previous legislation, energy can be used to help with job creation.

"Through policy and rolling back regulation without hurting energy, we can help enhance job growth," Hager said. "Job growth needs to be our sole focus."

The North Carolina General Assembly is slated to start its session on Jan. 30, 2013.