Dec 16, 2016
NCGA Week in Review: General Assembly Holds Two Special Sessions
Last week, Governor Pat McCrory called the body into the General Assembly’s third special session of 2016 to address damages done by Hurricane Matthew, Tropical Storms Hermine and Julia and western wildfires. The NC Constitution allows the General Assembly to be called into special sessions at the call of the Governor or by the request of the General Assembly with the signatures of three fifths of the House and Senate. At the close of the special session on Wednesday afternoon, the GOP announced that they had called a fourth special session with 103 signatures from Republican legislators. The fourth special session began on Wednesday afternoon and has allowed the legislature to consider 28 pieces of legislation, five of which were passed.
Special Session on Disaster Relief
The legislature convened on Tuesday to consider HB 2: Disaster Recovery Act of 2016, which was passed by both the House and Senate without opposition. Though a handful of other bills were filed, HB 2 was the only legislation considered during this special session.
HB 2 includes numerous provisions intended to relieve areas impacted by the natural disasters. The bill:
- Appropriates $200.9 million for various disaster relief efforts.
- Allows schools who missed an excess of two school days due to the disasters the option to make up two days and forgive the remainder of the missed days.
- Waives certain DMV fees for impacted areas.
The Governor signed HB 2 into law on Thursday afternoon and it will go into effect immediately.
Surprise Special Session Called
As the legislature wound down from the state’s third special session of 2016 on Wednesday afternoon, Republican leadership announced that a fourth special session had been called with a letter signed by 103 Republican members of the House and Senate. Both chambers were given until later in the evening to file legislation and rules were adopted to expedite the lawmaking process.
Members of the House filed 21 bills on Wednesday while the Senate filed seven bills. The legislature held a full day of committee meetings on Thursday and wrapped up business today. Legislation filed ranged in subject matter from designating new state parks, to regulatory reform, to decreasing the appointment powers of future governors. The legislature adjourned today, having passed five bills, shortly before 4:00 pm.
Democrats, including Governor-elect Cooper, have protested the special session, alleging that is was called illegally and voting against bills that they assert they would favor in a regular session.
The General Assembly passed five bills during this special session.
HB 17: Modify Certain Appointments/ Employment: Makes a number of changes to the appointment power of the governor including:
- Decreases the number of exempt positions within the state, which serve at the pleasure of the governor, from 1,500 to 425.
- Expands the authority of the State Superintendent.
- Establishes that the Senate must confirm all of the governor’s appointments.
- Removes the power of the governor to make appointments to the Charter School Advisory Board and Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina.
- Establishes a Safer Schools Taskforce to provide recommendations to the state on enhancing safety in public schools.
After lengthy debate in the both chambers over the constitutionality of the legislature’s special session, HB 17 passed through the House last night and the Senate today. It has been sent to the Governor for his signature.
HJR 24: Confirm Yolanda Stith/ Industrial Commission: A resolution to confirm Yolanda Stith to serve on the NC Industrial Commission. She will fill the seat left open by the resignation of Commissioner William Daughtridge.
SB 4: Bi-Partisan Ethics, Elections & Court Reform: This legislation makes several reforms to state laws governing elections, lobbying, and judicial procedure. The legislation:
- Creates a bi-partisan Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement responsible for elections, lobbying compliance, campaign finance and ethics. The Board will be comprised of eight members, four Democrats and four Republicans, who will be appointed by the governor and the legislature.
- Clarifies that the State Board of Elections has no authority to alter state legislative and congressional districts.
- Requires that elections for the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals will be partisan elections.
- Modifies the length of terms for Industrial Commissioners.
- Modifies appellate court review of certain cases.
The bill passed through the Senate yesterday and the House today. It was signed into law by the Governor immediately upon presentation. The passage of the legislation allowed Governor McCrory to submit a resolution to the General Assembly calling for the confirmation his nomination of Yolanda Smith to serve on the NC Industrial Commission.
SJR 6: Confirm Andrew Heath/ Special Superior Ct.: A resolution to confirm the Governor’s nomination of Andrew Heath as a special superior court judge for a five year term.
SJR 7: Confirm Adam Conrad/ Special Superior Ct. Judge: A resolution to confirm the Governor’s nomination of Adam Conrad as a special superior court judge for a five year term.
Failed to Pass:
The following bills were filed, but failed to pass during the special session:
HB 3: Regulatory Reform Act of 2016: This bill would have enacted a number of regulatory changes. The bill is nearly identical to a regulatory reform act that failed to pass in the final hours of the short session. Two controversial provisions were not considered in this week’s version of the bill:
- Repealing the ban on discarding televisions and computers in landfills
- Prohibiting wind turbines from being erected in military flight paths.
The bill was referred to the House Committee on Regulatory Reform but did not receive a committee hearing this week.
HB 4: Terminate Agreement for Tolling of I-77: Would have terminated the state’s current contract with Cintra to expand Interstate 77 in Mecklenburg and Iredell Counties. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Transportation but did not receive a committee hearing this week.
HB 5: Municipal Broadband Service Area: Would expand the areas exempt from certain broadband service requirements. The bill was been referred to the House Committee on Public Utilities but did not receive a committee hearing this week.
HB 6: Independent State CIO: If passed, this bill would establish that the Department of Information Technology would no longer be a part of the Executive Branch, and that the State CIO would be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and not the Governor. The bill was referred to the House Rules Committee but did not receive a committee hearing this week.
HB 7: Study Validity of I-77 Tolling Contract: Would direct the Department of Administration to study the validity of the contract between the state and Cintra to expand I-77 in Mecklenburg and Iredell Counties and to report to the General Assembly by April 2017. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation but did not receive a committee hearing this week.
HB 8: Prohibit Discriminatory Profiling: Would prohibit law enforcement officers from engaging in discriminatory profiling and implement other reforms in an effort to reduce discrimination in law enforcement and neighborhood watch programs. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary I Committee, which has not indicated that they will take up the bill.
HB 9: Dog Breeding Standards/ Law Enforcement Tools: Would establish standards for care of dogs in large breeding facilities. The bill was been referred to the House Judiciary II Committee but did not receive a committee hearing this week.
HB 10: Clarify Funding Eligibility/ Charter Schools: Would in increase the responsibilities of the Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to construct, pave, maintain and repair roads and parking lots for traditional public and charter schools. The bill passed through the House last night and was been sent to the Senate, but was not taken up today.
HB 11: DOT/ Moratorium on Reductions: Would require NCDOT to report to the General Assembly before completing any restructuring or reductions in positions. The bill was been referred to the House Committee on Transportation but did not receive a committee hearing this week.
HB 12: School Calendar Flex/ CC: Would allow local boards of education to adopt school calendars that coincide with local community college calendars. The bill was reviewed by the House Committee on K-12 Education and was referred to the House Rules Committee, which did not review the bill.
HB 13: Class Size Requirement Change: Would modify the maximum average class size and individual class size requirements for kindergarten through first grade. The House passed the bill but it was not considered by the Senate prior to adjournment.
HB 14: Greene County Funds: Would appropriate $40,000 to Greene County to build a pull-off parking lot near the Nooherooka monument in Snow Hill. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Appropriations but did not receive a committee hearing this week.
HB 15: Honor State Employees and Teachers: Would designate December 20 as State Employees’ and Teachers’ Appreciation Day. The bill was referred to the House Rules Committee but did not receive a committee hearing this week.
HB 16: State Employees’ & Teachers’ Holiday Bonus: Would appropriate $268.4 million to issue one-time bonuses of $1,000 to teachers and state employees. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Appropriations but did not receive a committee hearing this week.
HB 18: Post-Arrest Photographic Images Not Public: Would make all pictures taken by law enforcement of a person charged with a misdemeanor or felony confidential until after conviction. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary III Committee but did not receive a committee hearing this week.
HB 19: Electric Usage Data Freedom: Would regulate the use and confidentiality of electric use data that is managed by utility companies. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Public Utilities but did not receive a committee hearing this week.
HB 20: Community Association Managers Licensing Act: Would require all community association managers to become licensed through the NC Real Estate Commission. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary IV Committee but did not receive a committee hearing this week.
HB 21: Big Brothers Big Sisters/ Extend OSBM deadline: Would appropriate $350,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters NC for the purpose of providing mentoring services and would extend the time period for the Office of State Budget and Management to respond to requests from the Department of Health and Human Services to maintain certain Medicaid components from 30 days to 120. The bill was referred to the House Appropriations Committee but did not receive a committee hearing this week.
SB 2: QZAB Use Modification: Would modify the uses for Qualified Zone Academy Bonds to allow grant the State Board of Education authority in approving how funds are to be used. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance but did not receive a committee hearing this week.
SB 3: Coastal Crescent Trail/ State Parks System: Would add the Coastal Crescent Trail to the Mountains to Sea State Park. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources but did not receive a committee hearing this week.
SB 5: Repeal Sales Tax Exemption: Would repeal a sales tax exemption for certain property used in wastewater dispersal systems. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee but did not receive a committee hearing this week.