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Rep. Cody Henson receives Lassiter Award


 photo by Pete Zamplas
Rep. Cody Henson, R-Transylvania, was honored by members of the press on February 26th, for his efforts in curtailing bills that would have effectively eliminated legal notices in newspapers statewide. Henson was named the 2017 recipient of the William C. Lassiter Award during the North Carolina Press Association’s Winter Institute’s awards ceremony in Raleigh last week. The award recognizes members of the public who have made significant contributions in support of open government, and was originally named in honor of a former NCPA general counsel.

Rep. Henson — a freshman lawmaker representing Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties in District 113 — was presented with the award by Bill Moss, editor and publisher of the Hendersonville Lightning. Early in the 2017 session, House members and senators filed bills that would have effectively eliminated the legal notices in newspapers statewide and would have burdened newspaper circulation contractors with additional taxes. “The combined effect of these bills could have snuffed out readers’ right to know about government activity through public notices appearing in newspapers and would have crippled newspaper distribution efforts across the state,” Moss said.

Despite pressure in both the House and Senate from his own party, Henson voted against the statewide bill, a pilot bill that included Henderson County and a local Senate bill eliminating public notices in Guilford County. After Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the statewide bill, House whips counted votes for an override. If he didn’t vote yes when it passed, he told his peers, he would not compromise his principles to vote yes on an override — no matter the party of the governor. Rep. Henson is recognized throughout the state for doing what he thought was right.

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