So much for the holiday break.
No sooner did 2015 end that my calendar is getting filled quickly with a slew of government meetings, hearings and press events.
By the time you read this, the N.C. State Board of Elections probably will have met to determine which Democratic, Libertarian and Republican candidates will appear on ballots in North Carolina’s presidential preference primary.
The presidential race is sure to dominate headlines nationally and locally throughout the year.
The first full week of 2016 will bring an event in support of the $2 billion Connect NC bond referendum, where a room at N.C. State’s Centennial Campus is expected to be packed.
And legislative committees that meet between sessions are sending out notices of upcoming meetings, where they will discuss important issues and recommend legislation to be considered in this year’s short session, which begins in late April.
During the first two work weeks of 2016 alone, no fewer than 15 legislative oversight committees are scheduled to meet to discuss topics such as transportation planning and funding, energy policy, economic development, health and human services, Medicaid, revenue and tax laws, capital improvements, the environment and the courts.
The Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee, for example, has a full agenda in this first week of January, including discussions on changes at the Division of Motor Vehicles, acceleration of highway projects, capital improvements at North Carolina ports, freight rail upgrades and the annual report from the agency that plans and builds toll projects.
The Revenue Laws Study Committee will meet in mid-January, and we might get a sense for the appetite of legislators to continue with tax changes that have taken up much legislative bandwidth since Republicans took over the House and Senate earlier this decade.
Will sales taxes be expanded to more services, and will corporate and personal income tax rates continue to get reduced? These are questions that committee might explore.
And at the very least, we'll get colorful and newsworthy quotes from lawmakers about the direction of the state's tax policy.
Meanwhile, the N.C. Lottery Commission also is slated to meet in the first week of January to review and approve contracts for vendors to provide the lottery's gaming system and instant ticket services.
This is a huge deal for the lottery, which has used the same vendor since it launched back in 2006. Current contracts expire March 30, 2017, but the lottery needs plenty of time to ensure a smooth transition without affecting service to lottery players.
The end result will be more bells and whistles for players in 2017.
All of this, of course, will take place as candidates vie for election in the March 15 primary and the general election in November.
Perhaps one of your resolutions for the new year could be to keep up with the workings of your state government. It's easy to do.
You can attend committee meetings and floor sessions from Raleigh in person, and live audio of many committee meetings is available through the General Assembly website, ncleg.net.
And as always, keep reading this column and pay attention to your local media outlets.
There won't be any shortage of news from the capital in 2016.