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Jan 31, 2020

NCGA Week in Review

Members of the General Assembly have been hard at work in their districts making the most out of the interim. Across social media, members can be seen visiting local schools, restaurants, and hosting panels to hear their constituents' concerns. The time away allows them to share what is happening in Raleigh, what to expect when short session begins, and to ponder legislative priorities for their districts. Members will continue to travel back and forth to Raleigh to convene for interim committees.

Interim committees allow members to hear in-depth presentations on specific topics from legislative staff, state agencies, and other organizations. During the interim, members are able to reflect on the issues at hand, prioritize the issues, and work through them without having to take a vote right away. The General Assembly will reconvene Tuesday, April 28th at 12:00 PM. During the short session, legislation eligible for consideration will include bills affecting the budget, local bills, pensions and retirement changes, constitutional amendments, redistricting bills, bills responding to redistricting litigation, and bills vetoed by the Governor. 


Revenue Laws Study Committee

The interim Revenue Laws Study Committee met on Wednesday, January 29th. Rep. Julia Howard (R-Davie) presided over the committee's first meeting of the interim. The committee took a look at the annual Internal Revenue Code bill, which seeks to align some federal tax provisions and apply them to North Carolina taxpayers. The House Committee on Finance discussed and voted on Senate Bill 622: Reduce Threshold/Medical Expense Deduction during the one day session on January 14th. The bill passed through committee and subsequently passed on the House floor 118-0. The Senate declined to take the bill up that day and is expected to consider it during the short session. 

In December, Congress enacted H.R. 1865: Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020  which contains a provision that allows taxpayers to deduct medical and dental expense that exceed 7.5%. In North Carolina, the threshold is currently set at 10%. During the initial discussion in House Finance, Rep. Howard stated,

"This change allowing the enhanced medical expense reduction will not apply until we reference the code as updated to the 2020 version. We, the House Finance Committee, felt that it is important and the right thing to do to give tax payers the knowledge, because most taxpayers start filing in February. There is a lot, 218,000, taxpayers that use this deduction, and most of them are already struggling with medical filings. This is just a simple addition." 

In the review of tax laws, the staff presented information on how local sales taxes are collected and redistributed.In their comments, staff noted that local sales tax redistribution is “antiquated” in many ways, emphasizing specifically adjustment factors that are “outdated.” 

Staff added that Revenue Laws will look more closely at local sales tax redistribution and “ways to modernize and simplify it” at next month’s meeting. The committee will meet again on Wednesday, February 12th to discuss the bill further. 

Click here to view the presentations and handouts from the meeting. 


State Board of Education 

The State Board of Education (SBE) will meet for its monthly meeting February 5th and 6th. The board has been tasked with preparing and presenting reports to the General Assembly to address various education issues throughout the state. During the monthly meeting, the board will take up reports on the State of the Teaching Profession and Read to Achieve. Both reports come at a crucial time as the battle over teacher retention, recruitment, and pay has been highlighted in the ongoing budget debate between the Governor and the General Assembly. Read to Achieve has been one of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger's (R-Rockingham) main education policy priorities. 

In 2017, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 599: Excellent Educators for Every Classroom which mandated the SBE to monitor and compile an annual report on the state of the teaching profession in North Carolina. The reports must include, among other thing, data on the decisions of teachers to leave the teaching profession as well as data on teaching positions that local boards of education are unable to fill. The goal is to eliminate opportunity gaps by the year 2025. The SBE will make recommendations to the General Assembly based on the 2018-2019 report at mext week's meeting. 

Another contentious topic of debate has been early childhood reading proficiency rates across the state. Following pressure from the legislature and the recent WestED Leandro report, the board will receive Read to Achieve Data from LEAs across the state.The data will reflect reading proficiency data collected from K-3 surveys provided by local boards of education. The board will discuss whether the data in on track with the goals that have been set. Those goals include:  

  • Improve school and district performance by 2025
  • Increase the percentage of grade in 3-8 math
  • Increase the percentage of student proficient in reading by the end of the 3rd grade, and
  • Increase the number of school meeting or exceeding growth measure by subgroup

You can read the Read to Achieve data presentation here


Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
10:00 AM Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee
1027/1128 LB

Thursday, February 6, 2020
10:00 AM House Select Committee on School Safety
1027/1128 LB

Monday, February 10, 2020
1:00 PM Child Fatality Task Force - Perinatal Health Committee
1027/1128 LB

Tuesday, February 11, 2020
9:30 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services
1027/1128 LB

1:00 PM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Medicaid and NC Health Choice 
1027/1128 LB