Jan 12, 2018
NCGA Week in Review
This week legislators returned to Raleigh for the first special session of
2018 and held interim committee meetings throughout the week. Additionally,
a three judge federal panel ordered lawmakers to redraw the state’s
congressional districts by January 29.
Legislators Return to Raleigh
On Wednesday, legislators returned to Raleigh for the first special session
of the new year. This week, both chambers approved of various appointments
and the House unanimously passed a bill they consider a first step in
addressing the unregulated chemical compound, Gen-X. The legislature
remains in session while members as the Joint Select Committee on Judicial
Reform and Redistricting considers potential reforms to the state
Appointment Bills Pass Unanimously
A variety of appointment bills were unanimously passed on Wednesday:
SB 308: Additional Speaker Appointments
– Makes five new appointments from Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and
reduces the term of one existing appointment.
SB 700: Confirm Charlotte Mitchell/ Utilities Comm.
SB 701: Confirm TaNola Brown-Bland/ Utilities Comm.
– Confirm Gov. Roy Cooper’s nominations to the Utilities Commission.
SB 699: Confirm Franklin R. Allen/ Bd. Of Ag. – Confirms Gov. Cooper’s nomination to the Board of Agriculture.
House Addresses Emerging Contaminants, Bill Stalls in Senate
Last week, the House Select Committee on River Quality
draft legislation to respond to emerging contaminants, including Gen-X. The
HB 189: Short-Term Response to Emerging Contaminants, was introduced as a committee substitute in the House Committee on
Appropriations on Wednesday.
When introduced, the language of the bill was identical to what was
considered last week. In committee, an amendment to dedicate funding to the
purchase of a high resolution spectrometer and a five-person staff within
the Department of Environmental Quality to operate it was adopted. The
spectrometer will be able to identify emerging contaminants.
House Democrats and Republicans alike acknowledged that HB 189 is a first
step and more controversial measures are likely to come up in the short
session. However, the Senate has not indicated whether or not they will
take up HB 189 during the current special session and it appears that the
chambers are divided over the issue. In a
statement, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) noted that he
takes issue with several portions of the bill, primarily that HB 189 does
not do enough in his opinion.
Yes, the legislature has not adjourned the special session and more issues
may come up in the coming days or weeks. The most likely issue being
judicial redistricting or reform, which was discussed at length in a joint
select committee yesterday. The House and Senate have not reached consensus
between Rep. Justin Burr’s (R-Stanly) redistricting
and the Senate’s appointment
Interim Committees Discuss Array of Issues
Seven interim committees held meetings this week, discussing a number of
issues that may come into the spotlight in the upcoming short session.
The House Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning and Long Term
how demographic changes and advances in technology will drive NC’s
transportation needs in the coming years.
The challenges of providing health care in rural parts of the state were
in the Legislative Research Committee on Access to Health Care in Rural
Virtual charter schools, advanced courses in public high schools, and
teacher licensure were
by the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee.
- Implementation of
HB 589: Competitive Energy Solutions for North Carolina, and a review of the state’s Oil and Gas Commission were
by the Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy.
The Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee
issues including ABC permitting, the periodic review of rules and the
regulation of a practice used by physical therapists called dry needling.
The Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global Engagement
updates on economic development incentives in NC, including a discussion of
the differences between the House and Senate versions of
SB 660: Economic Development Incentives Modifications, which is eligible for consideration in the upcoming short session.
The Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee
reports from the NC Department on Transportation on issues including
eliminating nurses from the Division of Motor Vehicles Medical Review
Rep. Burr and Sen. Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus)
overview’s of their respective chamber’s work to reform the state’s
judiciary at the Joint Select Committee on Judicial Reform and
Redistricting’s first meeting.
NC Congressional Maps Ruled Unconstitutional Political Gerrymander by
Three Judge Federal Panel
On Tuesday, news broke that a three judge federal panel had unanimously
that the state’s congressional maps, adopted by the legislature in 2016,
constituted an unconstitutional political gerrymander.
How did we get here?
Back in 2016, the legislature was tasked to redraw the state’s 2011
congressional maps after two of the thirteen districts were
an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. Per judicial order, the legislature
gaveled into a special session and adopted a map that supports a ten to
three Republican majority. Common Cause and the League of Women Voters then
claimed that the maps are partisan gerrymanders, both claims were
consolidated into one suit and a trial was held in October 2017.
The order states that the legislature must enact a remedial redistricting
plan by January 29. Additionally, the Court will appoint a special master
to assist in drawing an alternative remedial plan should the General
Assembly either fail to submit a plan, or submit a plan that fails to
remedy the constitutional violation. Congressional redistricting was not
addressed by the legislature while in session this week.
House and Senate leadership have made
against the decision and have vowed to appeal the decision to the Supreme
Court, seeking a stay that would allow the 2018 elections to go on with the
2016 maps. Senate Redistricting Chair Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) noted that
meeting the deadline would be impossible given restrictions placed on
legislators in the ruling. Democrats, meanwhile, have applauded the
decision. On Wednesday, Sens. Erica Smith (D-Northampton), Ben Clark
(D-Hoke) and Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg) filed
SB 702: Independent Redistricting Commission
, which would amend the state’s constitution to establish an independent
What’s the impact?
This decision puts NC in the center of a federal conversation about
partisan gerrymandering as the Supreme Court plans to take up partisan
gerrymandering cases from
later this year. While there have been consistent rulings against racial
gerrymandering in recent years, there is no clear precedent regarding
political gerrymandering. The decisions in the cases in NC, MD and WI may
have substantial impact on the nation as the 2020 census and nation-wide
congressional redistricting approaches.
In NC, immediate congressional redistricting may impact the state’s
partisan balance in DC. All 13 seats are up for reelection this year;
filing begins on February 12 and primaries are set for May.
A Look Ahead to Next Week
Here’s a look at the week ahead:
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
9:00 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
9:00 AM House Select Committee on Implementation of Building Code Reform
10:00 AM Child Fatality Task Force Meeting
1:00 PM Environmental Review Commission
Thursday, January 18, 2018
9:00 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services,
Subcommittee on Aging
9:00 AM Joint Legislative Emergency Management Oversight Committee
10:00 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice & Public
Safety Subcommittee on ABC Permitting and Enforcement
10:00 AM Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform
1:00 PM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice & Public