May 10, 2013
NCGA Week in Review - May 6 - May 10
Berger Announces Tax Reform Plan
Senate leader Phil Berger announced a new tax reform plan at a news conference on Tuesday. The plan, titled the “Tax Fairness Act,” would lower the personal income tax rate to 4.5 percent for most residents, from a current high, marginal rate of 7.75 percent. The corporate tax rate would also fall from 6.9 to 6.0 percent, and the state franchise tax would drop marginally. The state and local sales taxes would also fall from 6.75 to 6.5 percent. In order to make up the lost revenue, the sales tax would be expanded to cover a majority of services in the state. Business to business transactions would be left out by allowing transactions involving payers of the franchise tax to be exempted. Supporters of the tax plan claim that it would eliminate pages of tax exemptions, deductions and loopholes. Meanwhile, opponents of the legislation argue that the bill is an attempt to shift the tax burden onto the poor and middle-class.
Boards and Commissions Legislation Restarts
A new bill was filed in the House that would overhaul the state’s boards and commissions. House Bill 1011 features the majority of the proposals included in Senate Bill 10, which fell apart after the House failed to pass the bill after it came out of conference committee. Unlike the conference report from SB 10, the new bill does not include language to do away with special appointed Superior Court judges, or to clear out the Utilities Commission and the state Board of Elections. The bill also removed a clause that would have banned any state agency from using state funds or receipts for a statewide climate change action plan or adaptation strategy.
House Passes Strategic Transportation Investments Plan
The House passed HB 817 on Thursday, sending the Governor’s transportation plan to the Senate. The bill overhauls the transportation funding strategy with the creation of a formula that will determine which projects are built. Before passing the bill, the House unanimously approved an amendment to require the Department of Transportation to publish detailed information about the formula as soon as possible. Supporters of the bill claim that it will send more money to major road projects that would reduce congestion around major cities and better connect urban and rural areas. Opponents of the legislation had issue with passing the bill before the formula has been created.
Concealed Carry Bill Passes House
The House gave final approval to a bill that would allow concealed weapon permit holders to carry handguns in restaurants serving alcohol unless the establishment posts a sign prohibiting it and store their guns in closed compartments in locked cars on college campuses and state government parking lots. Many anti-gun legislators attempted to amend the bill on the floor, but the changes were tabled through parliamentary procedures without debate. Opponents of the bill argued that allowing guns in more places would not make people feel safer and could lead to accidents. Supporters of the legislation countered that allowing law-abiding gun owners to carry their guns in more places would deter criminals and could help reduce casualties in mass shootings.
Governor McCrory Signs Six Bills
Governor Pat McCrory signed six bills into law on Wednesday. Senate Bill 117, known as Lily’s Law, codifies the common law that it is murder where a child who is born alive dies as a result of injuries inflicted prior to the child’s death.
The Governor also signed Senate Bill 369, which clarifies certain name change requirements and authorizes a parent to apply for a name change for a minor child without consent of the other parent if the other parent has been convicted of certain criminal offenses against the minor child or a sibling of the minor child.
Governor McCrory approved two bills dealing with hospitals. The first, Senate Bill 456, calls for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to designate qualified hospitals as primary stroke centers. The second, SB 98, expands the newborn screening program established by DHHS to include newborn screening for congenital heart disease utilizing pulse oximetry.
Also signed by Governor McCrory was House Bill 247, which allows health providers and health insurers to freely negotiate reimbursement rates by prohibiting contract provisions that restrict rate negotiations.
Finally, Governor McCrory signed Senate Bill 240, which directs DHHS and the North Carolina Medical Board to develop rules governing requests for and release of pathological materials.
Please contact the Raleigh McGuireWoods Consulting team if you have any questions or comments:
Harry Kaplan, Senior Vice-President
Jeff Barnhart, Senior Vice-President
Franklin Freeman, Senior Vice-President
John Merritt, Senior Vice-President
Johnny Tillett, Senior Vice-President
Rita Harris, Vice-President
Bo Heath, Vice-President
Kerri Burke, Assistant Vice-President
Sarah Wolfe, Research Assistant
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