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Note: The Commerce Department has taken issue with my characterization of Decker’s comments,  please see a note about their objections below.

N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker told a group of reporters in Raleigh Monday that turmoil and conflict surrounding this year’s state legislative session has made it difficult to sell North Carolina on the national stage.

“I’m fielding calls every day , ‘what the heck’s going on (over) there?,’” Decker said, in response to a question about the turmoil surrounding this year’s legislative session. She added, “The current environment makes it very challenging to market North Carolina.”

Decker’s comments were made Monday while speaking to a group of reporters in Raleigh and were in response to a question about how receptive businesses were to the state given the national attention that the ambitious, conservative agenda, including an extensive proposal to change the state’s tax system, at the N.C. General Assembly have earned. The weekly arrests of protestors upset at what they see is an agenda that hurts the poor and middle-class at “Moral Mondays” events have also brought a considerable amount of national attention to the state.

N.C. Commerce Sec. Sharon Decker

N.C. Commerce Sec. Sharon Decker

She also said that the state’s current corporate income tax is too high in order to be competitive, and that she plans on continuing to use incentives as a way to lure employers to the state.

Decker added to her comments, saying that she doesn’t believe the state has lost any jobs as a result of the controversy surrounding Jones Street but has heard from company’s concerned about what will happen to the state’s corporate tax rates.

North Carolina has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the nation, and Decker said she’s been concentrating much of her effort on addressing job shortfalls.

This year has seen weekly arrests of protests at Moral Monday’s events and messages coming from Republican leaders in the legislature has been about a state left with broken systems after decades of Democratic leadership.

Click here to read the latest Associated Press article that raises questions about whether the criminal charges filed against the nearly 700 protesters are appropriate. Read More