Frustrated members of the Joint Revenue Laws Study Committee unanimously voted to issue a subpoena to force the new head of the Division of Employment Security, Lynn Holmes, to appear before them. Holmes was the director of the Employment Security Commission before it merged with the state Commerce Department in November. The Perdue Administration then appointed her to lead the new division. The committee has been trying for months to have her brief them on what she was doing about the $2.5 billion debt to the federal government for loans to pay unemployment benefits. The state had to make a $78 million interest payment on the debt in September and will face other such payments unless a solution to the debt is found. Committee co-chair Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) said Holmes was asked to appear at the December 7 meeting but she chose to decline. He told members at that meeting Holmes would be subpoenaed.
In a written statement the Commerce Department claimed it was a scheduling problem.
Assistant Secretary Holmes notified Department of Commerce
leadership of a personal conflict and that she would not be able to attend
today’s meeting. The Department of Commerce and Assistant Secretary
Holmes notified General Assembly staff of the conflict. It’s my understanding
that a meeting has been set up next week with Senator Rucho, Secretary Crisco,
and Assistant Secretary Holmes. It is her intention to attend the January
meeting, and that no subpoena is necessary. The Department of Commerce is
committed to working with the General Assembly and providing information and
updates as requested.
Rucho said after the meeting the unemployment debt is the most important issue Holmes has to address and the committee needs her cooperation.