Feb 10, 2017
NCGA Week in Review
Business has picked up at the legislative building this week as committees
have begun to meet and consider legislation. This week, 43 bills were filed
in the House, and 35 in the Senate. Although only a handful of bills have
been heard in committees, several have met to brief new members on the
policies and procedures of their respective bodies.
Members of the House and Senate have sponsored
SB 65/ HB 68: BRIGHT Futures Act
this week. The bill aims to further economic development in rural areas by
implementing infrastructure to support broadband, retail online services,
grid power, health care, and training initiatives (BRIGHT). Sponsored by
Sen. Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland) and Reps. John Szoka (R-Cumberland),
Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), Susan Martin (R-Wilson), and Brenden Jones
(R-Columbus), the legislation creates a grant and loan program for local
governments, which will be offered by the Rural Infrastructure Authority.
The loans will be directed toward physical infrastructure as well as
digital infrastructure, such as broadband, computing and communications
components. The legislation provides funds for work force development
programs, and creates the “No Adult Left Behind” Initiative, which will
evaluate adult education and job training in rural areas. The bill also
starts the North Carolina Board of Science, Technology, and Innovation.
HB 13: Class Size Requirement Changes
received a favorable report from the House Appropriations Committee, and
has been sent to the floor. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Chuck McGrady
(R-Henderson), Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes), Chris Malone (R-Wake) and Kevin
Corbin (R-Macon), is an attempt to correct the issues regarding class size
requirements that were passed in the previous session. Under this
legislation, schools would be able to return to the previous flexibility
offered for the teacher student allotment ratio, which is +/-3 over the
current allotment of one teacher per 18 students.
HB 39: Amend Appointments/UNC Board of Governors
passed the House on Wednesday, 108-4, and has been sent to the Senate.
Sponsored by Reps. David Lewis (R-Harnett), John Fraley (R-Iredell),
Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe) and Darren Jackson (D-Wake), the bill would
decrease the number of members appointed to the UNC Board of Governors by
the General Assembly for a two year term from 16 to 12. This would
ultimately reduce the size of the board from 32 to 24 members. Proponents
of the legislation believe a smaller board will bring in more focused and
dedicated members. Concerns were raised, however, that a smaller board
could limit the representation of the system’s historically black colleges
and universities and smaller institutions.
HB 56: Amend Environmental Laws
was referred to the House Committee on Environment on Wednesday. The
legislation, sponsored by Reps. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) and Larry
Yarborough (R-Person), would implement additional emergency procedures for
intermediate and high hazard dams. The bill would require the owners of
dams that have been classified as “intermediate” or “high hazard” to submit
an emergency action plan to the Department of Environmental Quality within
90 days of receiving its classification. The plan must include potential
emergency conditions and security risks should the damn fail, and a
description of a plan of action, warning and evacuation in an emergency
situation. The emergency action plan will also include a map of the area
that could be damaged by potential dam failure.
Members of the House of Representatives filed a bill on Wednesday to
provide tax relief to small business owners.
HB 61: Small Business Income Tax Relief
, sponsored by Reps. Kyle Hall (R-Stokes), Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), Brenden
Jones (R-Columbus), and Beverly Boswell (R-Dare), the bill would cap small
business income tax at $50,000. For a couple filing married file jointly,
the income tax would not exceed $100,000. The bill defines a “small
business” as a business whose receipts are not greater than $1,000,000
Reps. Bill Brawley (R-Mecklenburg), John Szoka (R-Cumberland), and Jason
Saine (R-Lincoln) filed
HB 59: Revenue Laws Technical Changes
on Wednesday, and the bill has been referred to the committee on Finance.
The bill implements several tax provisions, and makes changes to the
franchise tax on foreign and domestic corporations. The legislation also
makes adjustments to sales taxes for motorsports teams, and implements
excise tax changes.
House Finance Committee staff gave a presentation on Tuesday. The
presentation covered general fund sources, and changes to state tax policy
that have been implemented in previous legislative sessions. A link to the
presentation can be found
A three judge panel issued a hold late Tuesday night on a law that gave the
Senate power to confirm or deny appointments to the Governor’s cabinet. The
panel will meet on Friday to determine whether to continue the hold on
Senate confirmation hearings for a longer period of time. The judges halted
the confirmation process that was set to start on Wednesday morning with a
hearing for former House minority leader, Rep. Larry Hall (D-Durham), who
has been appointed to lead the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
The trial for
Cooper v. Berger
is planned for March.
Reps. Bert Jones (R-Rockingham), Chris Millis (R-Pender), Dennis Riddell
(R-Alamance), and Mitchell Setzer (R-Catawba) filed a bill on Tuesday to
call for a convention to amend the United States constitution. Legislative
leaders are working with a national organization, Convention of States,
which would like to propose amendments to the constitution that would
restrict federal spending and jurisdiction, and introduce term limits for
members of Congress. Sens. Norman Sanderson (R-Pamlico), Ralph Hise
(R-Mitchell), and Tommy Tucker (R-Union) have proposed companion
legislation in the Senate,
HB 44/ SJR 36: Convention of the States
. Senators Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth), and Ronald
Rabin (R-Harnett) have filed
SJR 40: Constitutional Amend.Convention/Countermend
regarding the rules, operations and procedures of the convention and the
selection of delegates. The same senators have also filed
SJR 41: Amendment Convention Procedures,
which outlines the application process for the convention. Reps. Jeffrey
Elmore (R-Wilkes), Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe), and Darren Jackson (D-Wake)
have sponsored an opposition bill,
HJR 52: Rescind Calls for a Constitutional Convention
, which would rescind the application for a constitutional convention.
Legislation was filed in the House on Wednesday that would move all
municipal elections to even-numbered years.
HB 64: Municipal Elections to Even-Numbered Years
was sponsored by Reps. Harry Warren (R-Rowan), Debra Conrad (R-Forsyth),
Bert Jones (R-Rockingham), and Jeff Collins (R-Nash). If signed into law,
the change would go into effect in 2022.
HB 57: Enact Physical Therapy Licensure Compact
was filed on Tuesday. Sponsored by Reps. John Szoka (R-Cumberland), Grier
Martin (D-Wake) and Holly Grange (R-New Hanover), the legislation is an
effort to reform the licensure for physical therapists. The bill would
create a compact that would allow for mutual recognition of physical
therapist licenses in multiple states. The bill would benefit individuals
in the practice of physical therapy who relocate frequently between states,
especially spouses of active duty military members.
UNC School of Global Public Health gave a presentation to the House Health
Committee on Wednesday. The presentation covered a broad array of topics
related to chronic disease, current health trends in North Carolina, and
substance abuse. Faculty members also answered questions regarding the
expansion of Medicaid, particularly related to cost, quality of care, and
potential health benefits. Gov. Cooper attempted to expand Medicaid early
last month, which was temporarily blocked by a federal judge.
Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston), chairman of the House
Transportation Committee, filed
HB 81: STI/Regional & Division Weighting
on Thursday. The bill would implement recommended changes to the state
transportation investment strategy formula. The recommendations come from
the House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning and Long
Term Funding Solutions. The adjustments to the formula will impact the
funding of regional impact and division need projects.