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North Carolina Legislator Profile Update: Rep. John Sauls (R-Harnett & Lee)

Rep. John Sauls is a Republican preacher representing House District 51. He served two terms from 2003-2006 and then retired, claiming to expand his congregation. However Sauls then retired from leading his congregation, handing over the pulpit to his higher-energy son, only to run for the NC House again in 2016. Since 2016 Sauls has served without distinction, sponsoring very few bills and missing many votes due to absences. He recently published Facebook ads listing the wrong district number and is known for being absent from floor votes and committee meetings. However, the votes he has been present for continue the Republican trend of prioritizing corporations and millionaires over the people in their districts.

Sauls claims he is pro-education, but consistently undermines his position. In the 2017 Republican budget, Sauls voted against increasing teacher salaries and prioritized tax cuts for corporations. Sauls also voted to cap class sizes without providing any additonal funding for schools. This puts more stress on schools, possibly costing some teachers their jobs and threatening schools’ ability to offer classes like art, P.E., and foreign language.

Sauls consistently voted for legislation that harms the environment. He voted for bills that limit protections of water sources and air quality. Due to Sauls’ votes, it is now much easier for large corporations to pollute the environment at the expense of North Carolinians.

Sauls voted against expanding health care access for North Carolinians. He struck down a bill measure supported by Democrats that would expand access to lower-cost healthcare. North Carolina has some of the most expensive health care in the country and experts say expanding Medicaid would help lower costs for thousands of families.  

Sauls sided against a measure that would provide funding to process thousands of untested rape kits. AG Josh Stein requested funding, only to have this request denied by Republicans. As a result of his vote, 15,000 rape kits will continue to remain untested, while the perpetrators roam free.

Sauls’ choice to side with corrupt co-Speaker of the House Jim Black in 2003 put him at odds with his own party. His willingness to cooperate with Jim Black was a point of contention among his fellow Republicans and though he claimed he left in 2006 to focus on his ministry, it seems more likely he left due to proximity to scandal.

Read on for more about Sauls’ record.

Photo: The Sanford Herald

Sauls supported the controversial co-speakership in 2003-04 that split the House and brought proceedings to a standstill, saying it was “the best arrangement the state could have ever had.” (Associated Press, 10/31/05)

Sauls claims to be pro-education but refuses to increase teacher salaries and prioritizes tax cuts for corporations over public education spending.

  • The 2017 budget shortchanged teachers by failing to meaningfully raise teacher salaries.
  • Sauls voted for H13, which capped K-3 class sizes at 22 to 24 students without providing additional funding to schools.
  • The legislature imposed smaller class sizes without providing additional funding.
  • Teachers worried they would be laid off to accommodate the smaller class sizes and schools will be forced to cut special classes (art, PE, etc.).

Sauls has repeatedly voted for legislation that loosens environmental protections and makes it easier for large corporations to pollute North Carolina’s air, water, and soil.

  • Sauls voted for H56, a bill that repealed the Outer Banks plastic bag ban and was called the “junk drawer of environmental laws” because it limited protections of streams and reduced regulations of landfills.
  • S131, supported by Sauls, deregulated policies that were meant to protect streams, beaches, and air quality.
  • Sauls backed H576, which would have allowed the spraying of “garbage juice” without a permit.
  • Sauls also voted for S16, a business regulatory reform bill that “imposes limitations on local governments’ power over landfill permits.”

Sauls voted against an amendment that would expand access to health care and lower its costs across North Carolina.

  • H998 was a largely noncontroversial measure that directed DHHS to study ways to improve health care in rural areas.
  • Democrats attempted to amend the bill to expand Medicaid, arguing that this would also improve rural health, but Sauls and other Republicans used a procedural vote to block Medicaid expansion.
  • Under Republicans’ watch, North Carolina has become the third most expensive state for health care in the country

Sauls sided against providing funding to process over 15,000 rape kits, delaying justice even longer for victims.

  • AG Josh Stein requested funds to clear the rape kit backlog.
  • Sauls denied the request for funding, delaying justice for victims.

Sauls claimed his responsibilities as a pastor kept him from running in 2005, but his support of Richard Morgan and Jim Black put him at odds with the growing conservative wing of the NCGOP.

  • Sauls supported the bipartisan co-speakership of Richard Morgan and Jim Black in 2003, a vote that lost him favor with more conservative members of his own party.
  • A letter to the editor in the Sanford Herald attacked Sauls as “not even a registered Republican” who “switched his registration” rather than becoming involved in GOP to “make it better.”

Click here for more about Sauls.