Mar 17, 2017
NCGA Week in Review
The realities of a Republican led legislature and Democratic Governor
became clearer this week as Gov. Roy Cooper addressed the legislature with
state-of-the-state speech and vetoed a bill for the first time. The legislature stayed busy
this week as bill filing deadlines are quickly approaching. Bills
concerning bees, basketball, and body piercing caught the attention of
many, as well as a more traditional legislative topic – tax reform.
Appointments and Confirmations
While the state awaits a judgment from the Superior Court, the Senate moved
forward this week in confirming the Governor’s cabinet picks. This week,
two of Gov. Cooper’s Secretaries
received confirmation from the Senate. Erik Hooks was confirmed to serve as Secretary of the
Department of Public Safety and Jim Trogdon was confirmed as the Secretary
of the Department of Transportation. Additionally, Senate committees issued
subpoenas for acting Secretaries Machelle Sanders, Department of
Administration, and Tony Copeland, Department of Commerce, to appear before
their respective confirmation committees.
Additionally, the Senate confirmed
Darrell Allison, the Executive Director of Parents for Educational Freedom in North
Carolina and NC Central University alumnus, to fill a vacancy on the UNC
Board of Governors.
Body Art Regulations
Though tattoo artists are required to hold permits and are subject to
inspections, under current law piercers are held to no health and safety
SB 256: Body Art Regulation Changes would add body piercings, branding, scarification and subdermal
implantations to the definition of body art, along with tattooing. All body
art professionals would be required to hold a permit with their local
health board and would be subject to inspections. Supporters of the bill
argue that the
risk of transmitting blood-borne pathogens necessitates additional regulations.
The House version of the bill, sponsored by Reps. Kevin Corbin (R-Macon),
Bert Jones (R-Rockingham), and Greg Murphy (R-Pitt), passed the House
Committee on Health this week and has been referred to Finance. Sponsored
by Sens. Jim Davis (R-Macon) and Valerie Foushee (D-Orange), the Senate
version has been referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the
Governor Cooper Vetoes Partisan Court Bill
Gov. Cooper issued his first veto yesterday afternoon, objecting to
HB 100: Restore Partisan Elections/ Sup. & Dist. Court, which would have made elections for district and superior court seats
partisan. In his message,
Gov. Cooper cites his concerns that making the courts more partisan takes
away from the issues heard in the court and that voters should elect judges
based upon experience and not party, and cites concerns about unaffiliated
candidate having a difficult path getting on the ballot. Overriding a veto
requires the approval of three-fifths of both chambers. With 74 seats in
the House and 35 in the Senate, the GOP could override the Governor’s veto
if they choose to.
HB 2 & Basketball
Following the fallout of HB 2, the “bathroom bill,” the National Collegiate
Athletic Association (NCAA) and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
moved championship tournaments and other events from NC last year citing concerns
about inclusion and civil-rights protections.
This week, Republican Reps. Mark Brody (Union), Chris Millis (Pender),
Larry Yarborough (Person) and Beverly Boswell (Dare), called the NCAA and
ACC’s tax exempt status into question with
HB 328: Athletic Associations Accountability Act. The bill would require the Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore
of the Senate to file a tax-exempt organization complaint with the Internal
Revenue Service against both the NCAA and ACC. Primary bill sponsor Rep.
Brody argues that the organizations have lobbied against HB 2 and as a
result are not eligible for tax-exempt status. The bill has been referred
to the House Committee on Judiciary.
House & Senate Tackle Tax Reform
This week, both the House and Senate released their tax proposals and the
Senate passed a bill that proposed to constitutionally cap the personal
income tax rate.
HB 356: Tax Reduction Act 2017 would:
- Increase the standard deduction for personal income taxes. The standard
deduction would be raised from $17,500 to $18,500 for married couples
filing jointly, with similar increases for other tax status categories. The
legislature increased the standard deduction last year in a continued
effort to reduce the tax burden.
- Exempt mill machinery from retail sales and use taxes.
- Simplify franchise tax calculation by eliminating a current requirement
that a corporation determine its franchise tax base by calculating the
appraised value of its real and tangible property and its total actual
investment in tangible property.
HB 356, which is sponsored by Republican Reps. John Szoka (Cumberland),
Jason Saine (Lincoln), Bill Brawley (Mecklenburg) and Susan Martin (Wilson)
has been referred to the House Committee on Finance.
Though the Senate has not filed a bill yet, they have
released the following proposal:
- Reducing personal and corporate income tax rates to 5.35% and 2.75%
- Increasing the standard deduction from $17,500 to $20,000 for a married
couple filing jointly, with similar increases for other tax categories.
- Increasing the current tax credit for families with children that earn
less than $120,000 annually.
- Increasing the amount of mortgage interest and property taxes that can be
deducted from $20,000 to $22,000.
- Switching to market based sourcing for tax calculation, which relies on
income received by customers in the state instead of employment and capital
Senate Finance Chairman Tommy Tucker (R-Union) stated that the Senate plan
would save businesses and individual taxpayers $1 billion in its first
year. House Finance Chairman Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) reported that the
House bill would save businesses $135.8 million per year, while individual
taxpayers would save $64.5 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year and $124
million in the following year.
Additionally, by a 36-13 vote, the Senate passed
SB 75: Const. Amd. – Max Income Tax Rate of 5.5% on Tuesday. Sponsored by Sens. Tommy Tucker (R-Union), Andrew Brock
(R-Davie) and Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph), SB 75 would constitutionally cap
state income tax rate at 5.5%. The bill has now been sent to the House
Committee on Finance.
Saving the Bees
As the plight of the bees garnered national
media attention this week through a breakfast staple and its mascot, Reps. Pricey Harrison
(D-Guilford), Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson), Grier Martin (D-Wake) and
Mitchell Setzer (R-Catawba), filed
HB 363: The Pollinator Protection Act on Wednesday. The bill would allow neonicotinoids, a class of insecticide
and the most
widely used pesticide in the US, to be used only by farmers, licensed applicators and
veterinarians and would ban the use by unlicensed home, garden and
landscape application, which currently constitutes 25% of their use.
associated with the declining bee population worldwide – 44% of beehives in the US
were lost in 2015, which could have long term negative impacts on produce
production capabilities. HB 363 has been referred to the House Committee on