Joe Hackney

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Joe Hackney
Joe Hackney.jpg
Member of the North Carolina House of Representatives
from the 54th district
In office
January 1981 – Dec. 31, 2012
North Carolina House Minority Leader
In office
January 2011 – Dec. 31, 2012
Preceded by Paul Stam
Succeeded by Larry Hall
Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives
In office
January 2007 – January 2011
Preceded by James B. Black
Succeeded by Thom Tillis
Personal details
Born (1945-09-23) September 23, 1945 (age 71)
Silk Hope, North Carolina
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Betsy Hackney
Residence Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Alma mater University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Profession attorney, farmer

Joe Hackney (born September 23, 1945, in Chatham County, North Carolina) served for 16 terms (32 years) as a Democratic member of the North Carolina House of Representatives from the state's fifty-fourth House district, including constituents in Chatham, Orange, and Moore counties. A farmer and attorney from Chapel Hill, Hackney served as Speaker of the House for two terms and thereafter served as House Minority Leader until he chose to retire rather than seek another term in the legislature in 2012.[1]

Early life[edit]

Hackney was born on September 23, 1945 in Chatham County, North Carolina. He grew up on small dairy farm near Silk Hope in Chatham County, where he was the youngest of five children.

Hackney attended North Carolina State University before transferring to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned bachelor's and Juris Doctor degrees. He worked as a prosecutor from 1971–74 before going into private practice. In 1974, he was campaign manager for Congressman Ike Andrews.[2] While an undergraduate at UNC-Chapel Hill, he wrote his Honors Thesis on the history of the North Carolina corrections system.


He is married to Betsy Strandberg of Rocky Mount, North Carolina; they have two grown children, Dan and Will. Dan lives in Charlottesville, Va., and is employed at Sperry Marine as a software engineer. Will is a musician and a principal in Chapel Hill-Carrboro based Trekky Records, an independent record label.

Joe is the great great grandson of Daniel Hackney, who represented Chatham County in the North Carolina House of Commons in the 1840s and 1850s.


Hackney has been a partner in the Chapel Hill law firm of Epting & Hackney since 1974, currently emphasizing civil litigation and domestic relations.

In addition to practicing law, Hackney operates the family beef cattle farm in Chatham County with his brother, Jack Hackney.

Legislative highlights[edit]

He served two terms (four years) as Speaker pro tempore of the state House, and two terms as House Majority Leader (or Democratic leader, when no party had a majority in 2003–2004). On January 10, 2007, Hackney was nominated by the Democratic majority as Speaker of the House.[3][4] He was elected speaker when the new legislature convened on January 24, with all 68 House Democrats supporting him.[5] Hackney was reelected speaker for a second two-year term in January 2009. He was embroiled in a controversy during his tenure as Speaker when, on July 9, 2010, he relieved pastor Ron Baity of his duties as honorary chaplain of the House over the content of a prayer.[6]

After Democrats lost their House majority in the 2010 elections, Hackney was elected to continue leading his party as Minority Leader. He also became co-chairman of the House Ethics Committee in the 2011–12 session and was the only House Democrat given a committee chairmanship by Speaker Thom Tillis.[7]

Hackney served as President of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) for a one-year term starting in July 2008. In that role he led an organization made up of all state legislators and staff. NCSL advocates on behalf of states before Congress and the federal administration and provides professional development opportunities for legislative staff. In 2007, the National Conference of State Legislatures awarded Hackney its Excellence in State Legislative Leadership Award.[8]

Hackney has been consistently rated in the top ten for effectiveness (out of 120) by peers in the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research survey, when the House is in Democratic control. He rated 5th in 1992 survey; 4th in 1994 survey; 4th in 1999 survey; 5th in 2001 survey; 4th in 2003 survey; 3rd in 2005 survey; and 1st in 2007 survey.

He has sponsored many pieces of significant legislation, including the phosphate detergent ban; the Waste Management Act of 1989, which established an aggressive policy on reducing solid waste in North Carolina; the .08 DWI bill, lowering the permissible level of blood alcohol content for drivers; the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, giving additional protections to taxpayers dealing with the N.C. Department of Revenue; domestic relations reform measures, including bills to streamline procedures for equitable distribution, alimony and divorce; in 1995, a new rewrite of alimony laws and DWI laws; in 1997, Governor's DWI reform bill, including vehicle seizure and forfeiture provisions, and three equitable distribution reform bills; in 1999, clean air, clean water, and sedimentation bills, HMO liability, and DWI improvements.

Hackney is the winner of many awards for distinguished legislative service, including: Distinguished Service Award, by the Family Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, in 1981; Governor's Award as Legislator of the Year, by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, in 1985; Award of Excellence, by the Triangle J Council of Governments, in 1985; Distinguished Service Award, by the Research Triangle Group of the Sierra Club, in 1986; Service Award, by the Orange-Chatham Alliance for the Mentally Ill; Triangle Conservation Award, by the Triangle Land Conservancy, in 1987; Consumer Advocate of the Year, by the North Carolina Consumers Council, in 1987; Honorary Citizenship of the City of Raleigh, by Mayor Avery Upchurch, in 1987, for efforts in the passage of the phosphate detergent limitation; Resolution of Appreciation, by the Governor's Crime Commission, in 1987; Service Award, by the Joint Orange Chatham Community Action, Inc. Board of Directors, in 1988; Service Award, by the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club, in 1988; Legislative Award, by the North Carolina Chapter, American Planning Association, in 1989; Legislative Award, by the N.C. Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the N.C. Pediatric Society, in 1989; Appreciation Award, by the Chatham County Advisory Council of the North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service, in 1990; "Best Bets For 1990", by the Center For Policy Alternatives, Sustainable Growth Program, in 1990, "For Leadership in Reducing Environmental Hazards by Sponsoring Legislation to Establish Free Disposal Sites for Used Tires"; Service Award, by the Environmental Quality and Natural Resources Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference, in 1991, "In Appreciation For His Outstanding Leadership As Chairman ....1989–1991"; Recycling Merit Award, by the North Carolina Recycling Association in 1991; Appreciation Award, by the North Carolina Property Mappers Association, in 1993; Jake Alexander Public Service Award, by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Students Against Driving Drunk, and the Governor's Highway Safety Program, in 1993; Distinguished Service Award, by the Family Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, in 1996; Legislator of the Year, by North Carolina Citizen Action, for "your years of outstanding leadership and dedication to the fair protection of North Carolina families, workers and environment", in 1996; Certificate of Commendation, by the North Carolina Psychiatric Association, for "persistence and legislative commitment to improving mental health in North Carolina", in 1997; Governor's Award as Legislator of the Year, by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, in 1998; Friend of Education Award, by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Association of Educators, in 1999; Public Service Award, by the Child Care Services Association, for "outstanding advocacy and service on behalf of young children and their families", in 2003.


  1. ^ Leslie, Laura (2012-02-02). "House Minority Leader Hackney to retire". Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  2. ^ [1] Archived July 18, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ [2] Archived December 1, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Retrieved January 11, 2007.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  5. ^ [3][dead link]
  6. ^ "Pastor Yanked From Capitol Over 'Jesus' Prayer". Fox News. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  7. ^ [4][dead link]
  8. ^ [5][dead link]
Preceded by
James B. Black
Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Thom Tillis

External links[edit]