Jason Saine

Rep. Jason Saine

Lincoln County state Rep Jason Saine has been named the state’s most business-friendly legislator by the North Carolina Free Enterprise Foundation.

“This is very humbling because, ever since I was appointed to the legislature, economic development has been one of my core focus areas through innovation and through tax reform,” Saine said. “It’s incredibly humbling and it’s a huge honor to know that those in the business community believe that I’m a legislator who has taken it to heart that we really are open for business and that we want to support our homegrown business and recruit new businesses to North Carolina. This is one of those achievements where I’ve always looked at these rankings when they come out, and I’ve always had a pretty good ranking, but to be ranked number one this year is incredibly humbling and quite an honor.”

The North Carolina Free Enterprise Foundation operates with a mission of providing non-partisan political research and objective analysis for the state’s business community, according to the organization’s website.

The foundation produces its legislator business ratings following each odd-year session of the North Carolina General Assembly. In addition to voting records, their analytical assessment of the business disposition of the state’s legislators is based on confidential input from a group of more than 400 business leaders, business trade association executives and government affairs professionals.

“When I came to the legislature in 2011, Lincoln County had 11 percent unemployment and I was included in that,” Saine said. “At the time, we had a very unfriendly environment for business, which is one of the reasons we were falling way behind our competitors. We were in a downturn economy, but what we had in place in terms of policy didn’t help, so we were actually telling business that they weren’t welcome in North Carolina. When I joined the legislature it was kind of my bias to make sure that we did away with unnecessary regulations that were having a negative effect on businesses. I also wanted to make sure that we had a favorable tax environment so that we are mentioned when companies like Amazon are looking to relocate.”

The North Carolina Free Enterprise Foundation legislative business ratings differed greatly along party lines, with the top 57 rated members of the House being Republicans, while the 44 lowest rated House legislators were Democrats. The divide was even more evident among Senators, where there wasn’t a single Democrat who outranked their Republican counterparts.

Saine, a Lincolnton Republican, topped the list of House legislators and outranked all of the state’s Senators as well with a 96.3 rating. State Sen. David Curtis, a Denver Republican whose district includes Lincoln County, ranked 18th among state senators with a rating of 89.

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