Apr 7, 2017
NCGA Week in Review
It was a busy week for the North Carolina General Assembly as the Senate’s
final bill filing deadline passed and both chambers work towards the
crossover deadline at the end of the month. Next week, the legislature will
take a short break and no votes will be recorded from Wednesday April 12 th through Tuesday April 18th.
Business & Economic Development
This week, a number of bills impacting business in North Carolina were
filed. Here’s a peek at three bills that intend to maximize the state’s
economic development efforts and bring business to the Tarheel state:
Sponsored by Sens. Harry Brown (R-Onslow), Danny Britt (R-Robeson), and
Michael Lee (R-New Hanover),
SB 660: Economic Development Incentives Modifications
aims to focus economic development efforts in distressed areas across the
state by changing economic development incentives and other changes within
the Department of Commerce (Commerce). The bill would:
Amend the Department of Commerce’s (Commerce) contract policy to favor
projects and project location on the basis of providing the greatest
relief to communities experiencing chronic economic distress.
Require all contracts with Commerce to include each company creating
new jobs and the location of each project.
Prohibit Commerce from considering positions of workers with H-1B visas
as jobs when contracting with local governments.
Amend Commerce’s policy to emphasize the Department’s duty to “maximize
the return on investment of economic development dollars by selecting
projects and project locations on the basis of providing the greatest
relief to communities experiencing chronic economic distress.”
Require Commerce to create improvement plans for each county.
Revise tier rankings including removing unemployment benchmark
adjustments for small counties and Tier 1 areas and an exclusion of
prisoners, establishing that designations are only effective for a
calendar year and including average unemployment rates, capita per
income on county percentage, assessed property value per capita and
population growth as benchmarks.
Sponsored by Sens. Rick Gunn (R-Alamance), Rick Horner (R-Wilson) and Tom
SB 591: Site and Building Development Fund would create a fund within Commerce to provide local governments with loans
to develop buildings and sites to attract business. If passed, the bill
would direct Commerce to develop and maintain a list of potential qualified
business facilities. The bill also outlines the process for local
governments to apply for a loan and would base interest rates by tier
designation – 0% for tier one, 1% for tier two, and 2% for tier three
Both SB 591 and SB 660 have been referred to the Committee on Rules and
Operations of the Senate.
Since 2010, 31 states including the District of Columbia have passed
legislation recognizing benefit corporations (B-corporations), for-profit
entities which create a public benefit. Reps. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson),
Josh Dobson (R-McDowell), Stephen Ross (R-Alamance), and Lee Zachary
HB 616: North Carolina Public Benefit Corporation Act, which would recognize this type of corporation. The primary benefits of
B-corporations include allowing directors to consider financial and
non-financial interests when making business decisions, attracting talent –
millennials and increased attractiveness to investors and stakeholders. A similar bill
passed the state Senate in 2011, and Rep. McGrady introduced identical
legislation in 2015, but the bill failed to pass the crossover deadline. HB
616 has not received a committee referral yet.
Additionally, the Senate passed their tax package
SB 325: Billion Dollar Middle Class Tax Cut, in part reducing the personal and corporate income tax and increasing the
standard and child deduction, by a vote of 34-13. The bill will now be sent
to the House for consideration. The House and Senate have competing tax
packages, which will likely be worked out in budget negotiations. To read
more about the tax plans being considered by the chambers, click
A proposal to constitutionally limit state legislators to two-four year
terms was defeated by a 10-13 vote in the House Committee on Elections and
Ethics Law on Tuesday. According to bill sponsor Rep. Harry Warren
HB 193: Legislative Four-Year Terms, the bill would have allowed legislators to focus on legislating, instead
of campaigning. Legislators are currently elected to two-year terms and NC
do not have term limits. Opponents to the bill, including Reps. Henry
Michaux (D-Durham) Michael Speciale (R-Craven) argued that frequent
elections keep legislators responsive to their constituents and campaign
promises. The bill is also sponsored by Reps. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford),
Larry Yarborough (R-Person) and Jay Adams (R-Catawba).
The power struggle between Gov. Cooper and GOP legislators over elections
oversight continued this week as Rep. David Lewis introduced a bill to
rework a law passed last December which combined elections and ethics
duties into one board and gave the legislature sole appointment power to
SL 2016-125: Bi-Partisan Ethics, Elections & Court Reform, was ruled unconstitutional by a three-judge panel last month. This week,
Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), unveiled a proposal to rework the law and
give the appointment power to Gov. Cooper while maintaining a bipartisan
split board. Rep. Lewis has said that he hopes this bill puts an end to the
litigation, but Democrats, including the Governor have opposed the bill.
SB 68: Bipartisan Bd of Election and Ethics Enforce cleared two committees on Tuesday and was passed largely by party lines,
with a vote of 68-42, in the House on Thursday. The bill could potentially
be assigned to a committee in the Senate before heading to the floor for a
vote of concurrence. Gov. Cooper has indicated that he will veto SB 68,
however, Republican’s maintain a veto-proof supermajority in both chambers.
To override a veto, the bill would require the approval of 3/5 of present
members in both chambers.
Leadership Changes and Appointments
The House and Senate voted on the nominees for the UNC Board of Governors
this week. The Board oversees the University of North Carolina’s 16 school
system and the NC School of Science and Math. Due to a
law passed earlier this year reducing the size of the Board, the House and
Senate each elected six new members this year. Click
here to read more about the newly elected members.
Two of Gov. Cooper’s picks for his cabinet received confirmation from the
Senate on Thursday. Machelle Sanders was confirmed as Secretary of the
Department of Administration, and Dr. Mandy Cohen was confirmed to lead the
Department of Health and Human Services. Still awaiting confirmation are
Tony Copeland, Secretary of Commerce, Michael Regan, Department of
Environmental Quality, and Susi Hamilton, Department of Cultural and
Natural Resources, all of whom have received approval from Senate
committees. The Governor has not yet appointed permanent Secretaries for
the Department of Revenue and the Department of Information Technology.
Protecting Children & Families
Sponsored by Sens. Chad Barefoot (R-Franklin), Jeff Jackson
(D-Mecklenburg), and Danny Britt (R-Robeson)
SB 600: Britny's Law: IPV Homicide, named in honor of a NC woman murdered by her boyfriend during a domestic
dispute in 2015, would increase the penalties for certain domestic murders.
Under current law, prosecutors must prove premeditation to convict someone
of first-degree murder. Sen. Jackson, a former prosecutor in Gastonia,
noted that defendants are claiming that the murder occurred in the “heat of
passion” when there has been a history of domestic violence in the
relationship. SB 600 would add a list of domestic crimes to the statute
that outlines premeditation. The bill has been referred the Committee on
Rules and Operations of the Senate.
Sponsored by Reps. Sarah Stevens (R-Surry), David Lewis (R-Harnett), Nelson
Dollar (R-Wake) and Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe) and Sens. Tamara Barringer
(R-Wake), Kathy Harrington (R-Gaston) and Tommy Tucker (R-Union)
SB 594 /
HB 608: Family/ Child Protection & Accountability Act aims to improve NC’s child welfare system by making a number reforms,
- Directs DHHS to consolidate the state’s social services departments.
There is currently a department in each of the state’s 100 counties, the
bill directs DHHS to consolidate that to 30 regional departments by 2022.
- Directs DHHS and the Office of State Budget and Management to consult
with an outside organization to evaluate the state’s child welfare system
and develop a plan to reform the system.
- Implements a pilot program to waive a current requirement that foster
parents maintain employment outside of their work as a foster parent if the
home is utilizing Intensive Alternative Family Treatment (IAFT). IAFT is
used when a child suffers from mental health issues and therefore requires
a higher level of care.
- Shortens the timeframe that parents have to appeal permanency plans from
180 to 65 days.
The House version of the bill has not received committee referral yet, and
the Senate version has been sent to the Senate Appropriations/ Base Budget
While the risks of texting while driving are generally universally
HB 558: Study/ Texting While Driving Enforcement seeks to study how to improve enforcement of state laws that prohibit cell
phone use while driving. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Stephen Ross
(R-Alamance), John Faircloth (R-Guilford), Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) and
Allen McNeill (R-Randolph), would direct the Department of Justice to
The number of charges, convictions and dismissals for the state’s laws
pertaining to cell phone use while driving.
The issues preventing enforcement and prosecution of those laws.
A survey of how other states address the unlawful use of a cell phone
New technologies that cause driver distraction and are not currently
included in state law.
Resources that would aid law enforcement and the courts in addressing
issues in the enforcement and prosecution of these laws.
The bill has been sent to the House Committee on Judiciary II.