(Editor’s Note: This article in which Carolina Public Press interviews Rep. Kevin Corbin is the third in a series of question-and-answer interviews with new members of the North Carolina General Assembly from Western North Carolina districts.)
Voters elected Kevin Corbin to a seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2016 after he served almost three decades in Macon County public offices. Corbin, 55, was a 20-year member of the Macon County Board of Education and served for six years on the Board of Commissioners, with five years as the board chairman.
Corbin, a Republican, easily won election to the state legislature against Democratic candidate Randy Hogsed, with a nearly 20,000-vote advantage in the 120th District, which includes Macon, Clay, Graham and Cherokee counties.
Corbin, a graduate of Franklin High School and Appalachian State University, owns the Corbin Insurance Agency and Blue Ridge Insurance Group. Carolina Public Press submitted a series of 12 questions to Corbin. His responses are below.
CPP: What motivated you to run for office?
Rep. Corbin: I served 26 years in local government as a school board member and as chairman of the county commissioners in Macon County. Local government experience is key to understanding what is needed in counties. I love Western North Carolina and am happy to represent my neck of the woods in the North Carolina House.
CPP: What do you believe are the key issues facing the incoming class of the General Assembly?
Rep. Corbin: Jobs and education are key issues for me and two of the most important issues to folks in my district. I would love to see a continued trend to fund education and work toward economic development. I worked diligently in these areas in local government and will continue to do so at the state level.
CPP: Gov. Roy Cooper recently proposed expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Please explain your opinion of this proposal.
Rep. Corbin: Remember, I own an insurance agency that is heavily involved in health insurance for both under and over age 65 customers. There are definitely folks that are dropping between the cracks. We see it every day. A lot of it will depend on what President Donald Trump and Congress do with the ACA. I am not for just blindly expanding Medicaid until we see the direction the ACA is going.
CPP: What House committees will you serve on, or do you hope to serve on, and why?
Rep. Corbin: I have requested Appropriations, Education, K-12 Appropriations, Insurance, Wildlife and a couple of others. We should have our committee assignments by Jan 23. I will be happy to serve where I am asked.
(Editor’s Note: As of Jan. 25, legislative leaders had still not announced all committee assignments, but were expected to be announced soon, according to Rep. Corbin’s office staff.)
CPP: How has your prior work and public service experience prepared you to serve in the General Assembly?
Rep. Corbin: I served 20 years on the school board in Macon County and 16 years as chairman. I then served six years as a county commissioner and five years as the chair there. Local government is closest to the people and that is where my heart is.
CPP: What is your overall opinion of the state’s public education system? What changes would you like to see in North Carolina’s public schools?
Rep. Corbin: I support public education. It is essential to a healthy society. I will support increased funding to public education, not only to put more money in the classroom but to continue to increase teacher pay.
CPP: H.B. 2 has been a hot-button issue for both its supporters and opponents. What is your opinion of the law and do you believe it will remain in place?
Rep. Corbin: Until both sides bilaterally agree that the issue should completely go away, then it will not (go away). This should never have happened, beginning with the Charlotte ordinance and H.B. 2 in response. If Charlotte fully repeals and there are no threats of other municipalities doing the same, then I would support repeal. If not, then H.B. 2 should stay put.
CPP: Would you like to see any changes made to North Carolina’s gun laws (either strengthening or loosening those laws)?
Rep. Corbin: I am very pro-Second Amendment but I am not sure what changes, if any, should come to gun laws.
CPP: Please describe your personal political philosophy. What issues are most important to you?
Rep. Corbin: I am conservative when it comes to my feeling about the role of government. There is a place for government to assist us with things we cannot provide individually or as a smaller community. For example, education is a perfect example of something that government should provide. I can’t build my own school to educate my children, nor do most folks have the resources or education to provide teaching for their kids. We pool our resources as “government” and corporately provide things like education, law enforcement, infrastructure, etc. Remember that by working in local government literally half my life, I realize that government is us, for us and by us. Government should have limited invasion into our personal lives. I believe in limiting regulation to primarily safety and common-sense issues.
CPP: What are some pieces of legislation you’d like to sponsor or co-sponsor?
Rep. Corbin: Some things I am looking at now include additional funding for small K-12 public schools, a law that would protect whistleblowers for county and municipal police, legislation to return more lottery funds to public schools and an issue that came out of my county health department: a law that would regulate folks who perform tattooing. This is an example of a common-sense health regulation that currently does not protect our population from injury or disease.
CPP: Republicans have supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. How important is bipartisanship to you, and can you identify any areas where Republicans and Democrats in the legislature can work together?
Rep. Corbin: We do have a supermajority. That means simply that we can override a veto from the governor. I would hope we could work in a bi-partisan manner to bring commonsense ideas to North Carolina like increased education funding. I have a history of working across the aisle with Democrats who share some common values. There is more about us that is alike than different. Sometimes our differences are accentuated when maybe we should spend more time working together. Maybe I am too idealistic, but I have been involved in the process for a long time and believe that most of us share a common interest in protecting the environment, having safe schools and communities and educating our children. We disagree sometimes about the methods, but then we should just agree to agreeably disagree.
CPP: Forbes magazine recently ranked North Carolina as the No. 2 state in the U.S. in terms of business climate. How can the General Assembly work to ensure that trend continues?
Rep. Corbin: Minimize regulation, keep taxes low on individuals and corporations and otherwise do what we can as a state to encourage business growth.