|Monday, June 26, 2017|
|June 26, 2017 Legislative Update|
As the House and Senate near adjournment, both chambers are working hard to wrap up their work for the long session. A budget deal was released last week before being passed by both chambers, it is now on its way to the Governor, who has suggested he will veto the bill. Additionally, several major policy proposals were vetted in committees and on the House and Senate floor last week. It is likely that the legislature will conclude their business within the next week. The Senate has indicated that most policy committees have been shut down, with the exception of Senate Rules and Finance, and Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) has said he is hoping to adjourn by the 4th of July.
General Assembly Sends Final Budget Deal to Governor’s Desk
SB 257: Appropriations Act of 2017 passed its final hurdle before being sent to the Governor last week. After a negotiated budget deal was released on Monday night, the agreement was passed by both chambers; the Senate voted 39-11 on Wednesday, while the House’s final vote was 77-38 on Thursday. Gov. Cooper publicly opposed the proposal this week, particularly criticizing cuts to his office and the budget for the Attorney General, and many expect him to issue his fifth veto. Once the bill has been sent to the Governor, he has ten days to either sign or veto the budget, and if a veto is issued, the bill will require approval from three-fifths of present legislators to be passed into law. SB 257 passed with a veto proof majority in both chambers, with support from nine Democrats, four in the Senate and five in the House. A budget bill has only been vetoed twice in state history, in 2011 and 2012 by Gov. Beverly Perdue; in both instances the veto was overridden.
For an in-depth review of the budget deal, follow this link.
House & Senate Revise Revenue Laws
SB 628: Various Changes to Revenue Laws, sponsored by Sens. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph), Andrew Brock (R-Davie), and Tommy Tucker (R-Union), would make a number of technical and conforming changes to revenue laws including:
- Clarify that petroleum pipeline companies apportion income for corporate and franchise tax based on the number of barrel miles transported in this state, which codifies existing practice.
- Modifies a corporate income tax deduction for interest paid or accrued to affiliates.
- Clarify sales and use taxes on repairs, maintenance and installation services (RMI), and increases the percentage of RMI services that may be taxes as part of a capital improvement from 10% of the contract price to 25%.
- Allows the Secretary of Revenue to reduce a sales tax assessment involving the failure to properly collect sales and use tax on vacation rental linens by 90%.
- Provides a sales tax exemption from RMI services for aircrafts with a gross take-off weight of more than 2,000 pounds, currently, aircrafts between 9,000 and 15,000 pounds are exempt from the tax.
The bill has been referred to the House Finance Committee.
Several Regulatory Reform Packages Advance
Sponsored by Sens. Rick Gunn (R-Alamance), Dan Blue (D-Wake), and Kathy Harrington (R-Gaston), SB 155: ABC Omnibus Legislation would make various changes to state alcohol laws. The bill would allow counties and cities to pass ordinance to allow for retail and restaurant alcohol sales before noon on Sunday. The legislation reduces the restriction on the number of bottles that can be purchased by an individual after touring a distillery from one to five. The bill clarifies state law to allow for the sale of crowlers, which are 32 ounce cans sealed in a taproom or restaurant, and creates a permitting process for distillery tasting events on and off-site. Also, it would also create a permitting process to auction high-end wine and spirits, and authorize home brewers to share their products at exhibitions, fairs, and competitions. The proposed committee substitute to SB 155, which received a favorable report from the House Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee on Thursday, is a combination of several other bills related to state alcohol laws: HB 500: ABC Omnibus Legislation, SB 155: Economic Job Growth for NC Distilleries, and SB 604: Homemade Alcoholic Beverage Tasting Permit. The bill was referred to the House Finance Committee.
Reps. Scott Stone (R-Mecklenburg), Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg), and John Torbett (R-Gaston), have sponsored legislation aimed at streamlining the permitting process at the state and local level. HB 794: NC Permitting Efficiency Act of 2017 would create across the board requirements for counties and cities to issue site construction and land use permits. Also, the bill gives certain municipalities the authority permits related to State maintained roads within the municipality’s jurisdiction and extraterritorial jurisdiction. The bill passed the House on Thursday, 96-15.
SB 100: Aerial Adventure Financial Responsibility, sponsored by Sens. Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland), Michael Lee (R-New Hanover), and Joel Ford (D-Mecklenburg), would require zip line and obstacle course operators to have at least $2,000,000 in aggregate liability insurance against the liability for injured persons or property. The bill would also instruct the Commissioner of Insurance to enforce the policy, and adopt rules of enforcement. Challenge or zip line courses on private property, not open for public use, or owned by the State would not be required to maintain liability insurance. A PCS to the bill was adopted on Tuesday by the House Committee on Insurance, which makes some clarifying and technical changes. The bill has been sent to the House Committee on Regulatory Reform.
Sponsored by Reps. Stephen Ross (R-Alamance), Pat Hurley (R-Randolph), Jamie Boles (R-Moore), and John Torbett (R-Gaston), HB 617: Clarify Sale of Antique & Specialty Vehicles would update the requirements for automobile dealers to sell certain vehicles. Initially the bill focused on existing dealerships holding special events to sell antique and collector’s vehicles, but a PCS introduced in the Senate Committee on Commerce and Insurance on Wednesday would allow certain electric car manufacturers to operate dealerships within the state. Current law prohibits motor vehicle manufacturers from directly operating a vehicle dealership, but the PCS would create a carve out and allow a manufacturer to operate up to six dealerships within the state so long as the manufacturer only produces electric cars and has never had an affiliation with another franchised dealership. The bill has not been voted out of the committee yet, if it receives a vote, it has a final committee stop in Senate Rules before heading to the Senate floor for a vote.
Senate Revises Charter School Changes
This week, a proposed committee substitute (PCS) was introduced in the Senate Committee on Education that would make a number of changes to state laws regarding charter schools. HB 800: Various Changes to Charter School Laws, which is sponsored by Reps. John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg), Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), Scott Stone (R-Mecklenburg) and Holly Grange (R-New Hanover), would:
- Allow education or charter management organizations to employ school teachers. Current law provides that a charter school’s board is responsible for contracting employees.
- Expedite the timeline for the State Board of Education provide a decision on charter school fast-track replication applications within 120 days of submission.
- Grant priority enrollment to students who were enrolled in a different charter school in the state in the prior year.
- Modify laws regarding NC Virtual Public School (NCVPS) to repeal a requirement that all e-learning opportunities be consolidated under NCVPS.
- Direct the Office of Charter Schools to assist charter schools that wish to participate in the NC Pre-K program.
After receiving approval from two Senate committees this week, the bill is now eligible to be heard on the Senate floor.
Senate Debates Various Health Care Proposals
HB 156: Medicaid PHP Licensure/ Food Svcs State Bldgs, which was amended by Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) in the Senate Health Care committee on Thursday, would create a Prepaid Health Plan (PHP) Licensure Act, governing the Department of Insurance’s licensure of PHPs as part of Medicaid transformation. The bill would require a PHP to be licensed by the Department of Insurance and sets a number of requirements for those licenses, including instating an application fee not to exceed $2,000 and annual license fees not to exceed $5,000, and allowing the Commissioner of Insurance to take certain actions if the PHP is in a hazardous financial condition. Additionally, HB 156 allows the Department of Health and Human Services to operate or contract for the sale of food at Department of Administration and Department of Insurance properties. The net proceeds of those food sales would be used to support programs that enable the blind and visually impaired through the Division of Services for the Blind. The bill was given a favorable report and has been sent to the Senate Finance Committee.
HB 277: Naturopathic Study, which was amended by Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) in the Senate Health Care committee on Thursday, would create a study on the practice of naturopathic medicine in NC. The bill directs a workgroup to study approved naturopathic medicine programs, the scope of practice for naturopathic doctors, and whether the practice should constitute the practice of medicine under state law. The bill now heads to the Senate Committee on Rules.
|Tuesday, June 20, 2017|
|June 20, 2017 Legislative Update|
As the legislature continues to move towards adjournment, lawmakers are considering major policy proposals and are nearing agreement on the state’s two year budget plan. This week, the legislature considered bills to ease regulatory burdens, reform parts of the state’s economic development structure, and improve health across the state.
After two weeks of negotiations, the House and Senate have reached a deal on the state budget package. The budget is expected to be unveiled the evening of Monday, June 20th with the House and Senate to follow with the necessary floor votes this week.
Reps. Susan Martin (R-Wilson), John Szoka (R-Cumberland), Stephen Ross (R-Alamance) and John Fraley (R-Iredell), introduced a proposed committee substitute (PCS) to HB 795: Economic Development Incentives Modifications in the House Committee on Commerce and Job Development this week. The bill, which received a favorable report on Thursday and now heads to the Committee on Finance, would:
- Reduce the number of jobs required for a project to qualify as high yield under the Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG). Under current law, a business must invest at least $500 million and create 1,750 jobs to receive this designation. Under HB 795, the requirements would instead be based upon the tier designation of the projects location, ranging from 1,750 jobs for projects in high-growth areas and 800 jobs in tier 1 areas.
- Reduce the filing fee for JDIG award applicants based upon tier area, ranging from $10,000, the current amount for all filings, for tier 3 areas and all high-yield projects, to $1,000 for tier 1 areas.
- Revise the system currently used by the Department of Commerce to rank counties for economic distress to evaluate ratio of employment to population for the civilian population aged 25 to 64, average annual wage and adjusted assessed property value per capita and eliminate all adjustment factors.
- Require the Department of Commerce to report on the performance of each county and offer performance assistance to all counties.
- Require all state agencies that use the tiers for non-economic development purposes to elect whether or not to continue use of the tiers. If an agency were to discontinue use, they would be required to develop criteria to achieve program objectives by October 1, 2017.
- Require the Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global Engagement Oversight Committee to study and propose legislation that separates the economic development tiers and non-county designations for targeted programs.
- Extend the JDIG sunset to January 1, 2025.
To read more about HB 795, please click here to review a summary prepared by legislative staff.
- Make conforming changes to the process for Medicaid beneficiaries enrolled in a LME/ MCO to appeal or file grievances, to align with recently passed federal managed care regulations.
On Thursday afternoon, the House passed SB 16: Business & Agency Regulatory Reform Act of 2017, after a committee substitute that was introduced in the House Committee on Regulatory Reform on Wednesday. The bill, which now heads back to the Senate for concurrence, includes provisions that would:
- Amend laws regarding bed and breakfasts to remove a 23 guest per night limit, and allow the inns to serve lunch and dinner and charge for those meals separately.
- Amend alarm system business licensing statutes to remove a requirement that alarm system sales agents be residents of NC.
- Repeal a requirement that businesses must employ a minimum of 26 employees to purchase stop-loss insurance.
- Authorize private condemnation of land for pipelines that originate outside of the state.
- Prevent cities from requiring improved stormwater controls when properties are redeveloped.
- Add backup lights to the list of lights covered by state vehicle safety inspections.
SB 16 passed with a 94-19 vote. To read more about SB 16, follow this link to review a summary prepared by legislative staff.
The Senate also introduced an omnibus regulatory reform bill this week via committee substitute. HB 374: Business Freedom Act, which passed the Senate Committee on Commerce and Insurance on Thursday would:
- Amend labor laws by limiting who can approve youth employment certificates, codifying the Carolina Star Program, and amending the Passenger Tramway Safety Act.
- Amend the definition of a landfill’s “life-of-site” to include that the period may not exceed 60 years.
- Allow construction of a parking garage to extend a lot line between a city-owned and a privately-owned lot without meeting certain building code provisions.
- Amend stormwater runoff rules for airports by restricting local governments from requiring control measures that promote standing water.
- Direct the Medical Care Commission to repeal the Hospital Facilities Rules and replace them with the American Society for Healthcare Engineers Facility Guidelines Institute “Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospitals and Outpatient Facilities.”
The bill now heads to the Senate Committee on Rules. To read a summary of the PCS prepared by legislative staff, follow this link.
|Monday, June 12, 2017|
|June 12, 2017 Legislative Update|
The legislature is moving full steam ahead towards passing a two-year spending plan as budget conferees have begun negotiating the House and Senate’s budget proposals. As the long session begins to wind down, House and Senate leaders are also wrapping up the confirmation process for Gov. Cooper’s remaining cabinet appointees, and discussing major policy proposals regarding rural economic development, the regulation of firearms, and newspaper carriers.
House & Senate Continue Budget Negotiations
House and Senate leaders named their respective budget conferees on Monday, and began the process of negotiating their budget proposals. Conferees are expected to work through the weekend and are on track to release their conference report as early as next week and no later than June 30, the end of the fiscal year. Once the budget is on the Governor’s desk, he will have ten days to either sign or veto the spending plan.
The list of conferees for both chambers can be found here.
To read more about the House and Senate’s differing proposals, follow these links:
NC House Releases Budget Proposal
NC Senate Releases Budget Proposal
House Debates New Rural Investment Fund
Sponsored by bipartisan group of House members, HB 904: North Carolina Rural Job Creation Fund would create the NC Rural Job Creation Fund, a new economic development fund aimed to target investment in rural areas. Sponsored by Reps. Stephen Ross (R-Alamance), Ken Goodman (D-Richmond), Jeff Collins (R-Nash), and John Faircloth (R-Guilford), HB 904 calls for an annual $50 million appropriation, which was not included in either chamber’s proposed budget, would:
- Provide matching funds to businesses that expand operations in rural or economically distressed areas.
- Invest at least 70% of its funds in tier one or two counties, with the remaining portion targeted to economically distressed areas in tier three counties.
- Require repayment of the investment if certain job growth measures are not met, and no more than $5 million in state funds may be invested in one business.
Bill sponsors say this legislation would increase access to capital for companies in rural areas, and would encourage private equity firms and other investment groups invest in rural North Carolina. HB 904 was heard by the House Committee on Commerce and Job Development on Wednesday and has been sent to the Committee on Appropriations.
House Clears Comprehensive Energy Policy Reforms
A bill to modify the state energy policies moved through the House this week after months of stakeholder negotiations. The bill aims to reshape the relationship between traditional utilities and renewable energy providers, which has been managed by Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (REPS) since 2007.
HB 589: Competitive Energy Solutions for North Carolina, sponsored by Reps. John Szoka (R-Cumberland), Dean Arp (R-Union), and Sam Watford (R-Davidson), passed the House this week, 108-11. Among other provisions, the bill would:
- Align the state definition of small power producers in state law with the federal definition of small power production facilities as a generating facility of 80 MW or less whose primary energy source is renewable, biomass, waste or geothermal resources.
- Require utilities to offer standard contracts to small power production facilities for up to ten years, dependent on the size of the facility.
- Create a process for the competitive procurement of new renewable energy resources for public utilities with 150,000 customers or more.
- Create a new renewable energy procurement program for large energy users, the military and the University of North Carolina system.
- Enable public utilities to recover the cost of Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA) qualified facility purchased power through the existing fuel clause rider.
- Reduce the cost of Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard requirements for residential customers from $34 per account per year to $27.
- Enact a new Distributed Resources Access Act to authorize leasing of third-party owned solar development.
- Direct the NC Utilities Commission to establish standards that include an expedited review process for swine and poultry waste to energy projects.
- Enact a solar rebate program to provide incentives to customers that install or lease solar energy facilities.
To read more about the details of HB 589 and how it compares to existing law, follow this link.
In an unusual fashion, Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) spoke in support of the bill in the House chamber on Wednesday. Proponents of the bill state that it will make solar more competitive in the state, while lowering costs tremendously for all ratepayers. The bill was referred to Senate Rules yesterday.
Autonomous Vehicle Regulations
Sponsored by Reps. Phil Shepard (R-Onslow) and John Torbett (R-Gaston), HB 469: Regulation of Fully Autonomous Vehicles seeks to regulate the emerging technology of driverless vehicles. Presently, NC is being used as a test site for autonomous vehicles, but state law does not permit the personal use of the vehicles. The bill, which passed the House in April by a vote of 119-1, was brought to the Senate Committee on Transportation on Wednesday for discussion only. If passed, HB 469 would:
- Clarify that the operator of an autonomous vehicle must be a licensed driver.
- Prohibit minors under the age of 12 from riding in an autonomous vehicle without an adult in the car.
- Define a fully autonomous vehicle as one that is able to perform all real-time operational and tactical functions required to operate in on-road traffic without driver interference.
- Require similar safety standards as traditional vehicles, such as requiring all passengers to wear a seatbelt and requiring liability insurance.
If the bill receives approval from the committee at a future meeting, it will have a final stop in the Senate Committee on Rules, where a Senate companion, SB 337, has been sitting since late March, before heading to the floor for a vote.
Newspaper Carriers & Employment Classification
A bill that would change the employment status of newspaper carriers from independent contractors to employees is headed back to the House for concurrence this week, after receiving approval from the Senate with a 29-14 vote. Sponsored by Reps. Allen McNeill (R-Randolph) and Lee Zachary (R-Yadkin), HB 205: WC for Inmates/UI & WC/Newsprint Employees passed the House in early March as a bill to provide worker’s compensation for certain prisoners working in prisons. However, when the bill arrived in the Senate, Sen. Trudy Wade (R-Guilford) added provision that would remove a carve out for newspaper carriers, which allows them to be classified as independent contractors instead of employees entitled to benefits such as worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, and taxation. Those opposed to the bill say it would cripple the state’s newspapers, especially in small towns. Proponents argue that this is a way to fairly treat individuals who work as employees, and are not currently provided benefits.
House Narrowly Passes Omnibus Gun Changes
Legislation to make various changes to state gun laws received approval from the House by a vote of 65-51 on Thursday. HB 746: Omnibus Gun Changes., sponsored by Reps. Chris Millis (R-Pender), Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus), Justin Burr (R-Stanly), and Michael Speciale (R-Craven), would allow an individual to carry a concealed handgun in areas where it is allowed to be carried openly. Also, the bill would lower the age to carry a concealed weapon from 21 to 18, and remove the requirement for a conceal carry permit unless the individual is prohibited from owning a gun under current law. Proponents of the legislation argue the bill provides clarity in current law, and allows for parity between open and concealed carry. Opponents say eliminating the conceal carry permit removes necessary safeguards and required firearms training that protects the public. The bill now heads to the Senate. Eight House Republicans joined the Democratic caucus in voting against the bill, so the current vote count would not be able to override a veto from Gov. Cooper.
Primary Date Change
In general election years, NC holds primaries on the first Monday in May, though a law passed in 2015 pushed the primaries to March in 2016 only, in an attempt to give the state more influence in the presidential election. A bill sponsored by Sen. Andrew Brock (R-Davie), would make that change permanent. SB 655: Change Date When Primary Elections Held passed the House 71-46 on Tuesday. The bill now heads back to the Senate after an amendment from Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Wake), changed the bill’s effective date from 2018 to 2020.
Supreme Court and Legislative Districts
Last year, a three-judge federal panel determined that 28 NC legislative districts were racial gerrymanders, and ordered the legislature to redraw the maps and hold special elections in 2017. The special elections were put on hold as legislative leaders appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court.
On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a ruling affirming the lower court’s decision, following a similar decision last month on the state’s congressional districts. The Court ordered the same three-judge panel to reconsider how to correct the maps. As the week continued, House and Senate lawmakers and Gov. Roy Cooper have disagreed on when the maps will be redrawn.
The Governor issued a proclamation for a two week long special session on Wednesday afternoon, calling legislators to begin redrawing new legislative maps the following afternoon. On Thursday, Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), chairmen of the elections committees in their respective chambers, called the Governor’s proclamation unconstitutional and a political move, before cancelling the special session.
Confirmation of Remaining Appointees
Governor Cooper’s final two cabinet appointees appeared before Senate committees for their respective confirmation hearings on Tuesday. Ron Penny, Secretary of the Department of Revenue, appeared before the Senate Finance Committee, and Eric Boyette, Secretary of the Department of Information Technology, appeared before the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee. Both appointees received recommendations for confirmation and the appointments now head to the Senate Select Committee on Nominations, and then to the full Senate for final approval.
|Friday, June 2, 2017|
|June 2, 2017 Legislative Update|
The budget process continued this week with the House passing their $22.9 billion spending proposal early Friday morning. Meanwhile, both chambers considered legislation impacting a number of issues including alcohol sales before noon on Sundays, environmental regulations, gun laws and more.
House Passes State Budget Proposal…Final Negotiations to Follow
After hours of debate on the House floor on Thursday and Friday, the House has passed their proposed budget with a vote count of 80-31 During the Thursday evening debate, the House considered 39 total amendments, 22 of which were adopted, including:
- Removing a provision that would limit the imposition of impact fees on low-income housing developments.
- Allocating $120,000 to Operation Medicine Drop, a program through the Department of Public Safety that hosts events for people to safely dispose of prescription medication.
- Creating a Financial Literacy Elective Pilot Program.
- Adding 250 additional Innovation Waiver slots to support individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
- Creating a NC Ready Sites Fund with the Department of Commerce and appropriating $5 million to the fund in 2017-18. The fund would be used to assist local governments fund improvement of public infrastructure to attract employers and create jobs.
The House and Senate will are expected to begin the conference process next week, where differences between the two proposals will be negotiated. Conferees will be named from both the House and Senate on Monday afternoon.
For detailed reviews of the House and Senate proposals, follow these links:
NC House Releases Budget Proposal
NC Senate Releases Budget Proposal
Wireless Infrastructure Passes House
A bill that would modify state law governing small wireless communication facilities has passed the House with a vote of 107-7. Sponsored by Reps. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), John Torbett (R-Gaston), and Michael Wray (D-Northampton), HB 310: Wireless Communications Infrastructure Siting would allow wireless communications facilities to use public rights-of-way for wireless infrastructure. The bill prohibits cities from instituting a moratorium on issuing permits for small wireless facilities as well. The bill now heads to the Senate, where a companion bill, SB 377, is currently sitting in the Committee on Rules.
Brunch Bill Passes Senate
A bill that would expand state alcohol laws, SB 155: Economic & Job Growth for NC Distilleries, passed the Senate on Thursday afternoon with a vote of 32-13. The bill, sponsored by Sens. Rick Gunn (R-Alamance), Dan Blue (D-Wake) and Kathy Harrington (R-Gaston), would allow alcohol sales before noon on Sundays, subject to local government approval. SB 155 would also:
- Allow distilleries to sell liquor for delivery outside of the state.
- Create a special permit to allow distilleries to give free tastings at special events.
- Allow the sale of certain alcohols at auctions with a special permit.
The bill has been sent to the House, where a companion bill, HB 460, has been sitting in the Committee on Alcoholic Beverage Control since late March.
Senate Amends Changes to Environmental Regulations Bill
A committee substitute to HB 56: Amend Environmental Laws was unveiled in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources last week, and approved by the committee on Wednesday. The committee substitute added provisions to the bill that would:
- Repeal a plastic bag ban in portions of Dare, Currituck and Hyde Counties.
- Amend several laws concerning riparian buffer zones, including the requirement for Jordan Lake to be cleared if local law enforcement determines there is a public safety issue, and excluding certain buffer zones from property tax bases.
- Revise laws concerning mining permits to require the Department of Environmental Quality to issue permits for a mining operation’s “life-of-site,” limit the amount of a bond the applicant must file to no more than $1 million and add an annual $400 operating fee per permit.
- Grant eminent domain power to private condemners for pipelines originating outside of NC.
The bill, which is sponsored by Reps. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) and Larry Yarborough (R-Person), has been sent to the Senate Finance Committee.
Transportation Megaproject Proposal Fails in Senate
Yesterday, the Senate voted 1-44 against HB 110: DOT/ DMV Changes – Megaproject Funding. The bill would have made a number of agency requested changes and created a Megaproject Fund to finance transportation projects with a statewide or regional impact and a cost of $200 million or more. The House has also included this language in their budget proposal. There is a Senate companion bill, SB 3, which includes only the agency-requested changes part of the bill, and it is currently residing in House Rules. On the Senate floor yesterday Sen. Kathy Harrington, a sponsor the Senate companion, said that the proposal undermines the Strategic Transportation Investment law. Because the bill failed on the Senate floor, the content of the bill is officially dead for the session.
House Debates Gun Law Changes
A bill that would make a number of changes to state firearm laws passed through two House committees – Judiciary IV and Finance, this week and now heads to the floor for a vote. Sponsored by Reps. Chris Millis (R-Pender), Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus), Justin Burr (R-Stanly) and Michael Speciale (R-Craven), HB 746: Omnibus Gun Changes would:
- Blend the open and conceal carry laws, with exceptions, which will also allow for individuals to carry a handgun at places that allow for open or concealed carry, at the age of 18. Currently, an individual may open carry at 18 and obtain a concealed handgun permit at 21.
- Standardize the process to obtain a concealed handgun permit by allowing sheriffs to schedule appointments for applications, as long as the appointment occurs within 15 business days, requiring the permit to be issued or denied within 90 calendar days of the application being submitted, and requiring the sheriff to submit a second request for mental health records within 45 days, if no response was provided to the first request.
- Modify the criterion that an applicant for a concealed handgun permit to require that the applicant not have a currently diagnosed and ongoing mental disorder, as defined by the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, that the sheriff determines would prevent the safe handling of a handgun. Also would require a permit to be denied to someone if adjudicated by a court to be a danger to self or others due to mental illness or lack of mental capacity. Government agency administrative determinations would no longer be grounds for the denial of a permit.
- Allow current legislators, legislative employees, or former sworn law enforcement officers with valid concealed handgun permits to carry at the legislature.
- Change three restrictions of weapons on education property including allowing chaperones and spectators with a concealed handgun permit to carry to extracurricular activities that are occurring in a public place, and authorizing individuals with a concealed handgun permit to carry on the premises of a place of worship that also operates as a school during non-school hours.
- Directs the State Board of Education to develop to high school elective courses on firearm education and wildlife conservation.
The bill now heads to the House floor.
|Friday, May 26, 2017|
|May 26, 2017 Legislative Update|
Business steadily increased this week at the legislative building as House Appropriations subcommittees worked on their budget proposals. Subcommittee chairs presented their proposed funding allocations to committee members on Thursday. Subcommittee budget reports will go before the full House Appropriations Committee next Wednesday morning. The House plans to vote on the full budget next Thursday and Friday. Also, a bill to legalize casino games at non-profit fundraisers, and a bill to increase penalties for crimes posted on social media were heard in committee this week, among other legislative issues.
Budget Proposals Released by Subcommittees
House subcommittee budget proposals were debated and amended by committee members before being voted out favorably to the full appropriations committee. Next Tuesday, the House Finance Committee will review the finance portions of the budget, and House Appropriations Committee will debate the complete version of the House proposed budget on Wednesday morning. Copies of the subcommittee budget proposals are available here:
Agriculture and Natural Resources, Money Report
Agriculture and Natural Resources, Special Provisions
Capital, Money Report
Capital, Special Provisions
Education, Money Report
Education, Special Provisions
General Government, Money Report
General Government, Special Provisions
Health and Human Services, Money Report
Health and Human Services, Special Provisions
Information Technology, Money Report
Information Technology, Special Provisions
Justice and Public Safety, Money Report
Justice and Public Safety, Special Provisions
Transportation, Money Report and Special Provisions
Farm Act Moves Through Senate
Sponsored by Sens. Brent Jackson (R-Sampson), Norman Sanderson (R-Pamlico), and Andrew Brock (R-Davie), SB 615: North Carolina Farm Act of 2017 would make various changes to the state’s agriculture laws. The bill would change the general statutes to allow agricultural, horticultural and forest land to be valued at present value as it relates to property taxes, exempt certain farm facilities from odorous emissions requirements, and modify zoning and land regulations related to whether or not a facility is classified for agritourism use. The bill also instructs the Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission to study any modifications that should be made to the Handlers Act, which regulates the practices of individuals who handle fruits and vegetables. The bill received a favorable report from the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, and was referred to the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
Game Nights for Non-Profits
HB 511: Game Nights/ Nonprofit Fund-Raiser, sponsored by Reps. Jamie Boles (R-Moore), Marvin Lucas (D-Cumberland), and Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), would allow non-profits to serve alcohol at fundraising events where gambling is taken place. Commonly known as “casino nights,” the events feature casino style games, where participants could win prizes or awards. Serving alcohol at these events is currently illegal, however, district attorneys rarely prosecute it. Proponents of the bill say the legislation would provide clarity and uniformity across the state. Opponents believe this will open the door to loosened gambling regulations in North Carolina. The bill received a favorable report from the House Finance Committee on Tuesday, and was referred to the floor.
A bipartisan group of House members sponsored legislation to modify North Carolina’s outdoor advertising regulations related to the removal of signs and billboards along federal and state highways. HB 581: Revisions to Outdoor Advertising Laws , sponsored by Reps. David Lewis (R-Harnett), Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), Ken Goodman (D-Richmond), and Ed Hanes (D-Forsyth) sets nine factors the Department of Transportation (DOT) must consider when determining just compensation for billboards and signs. The owner of the billboard or sign would also be able to recoup relocation and other costs from DOT, who opposes this bill along with several environmental groups. Proponents of the bill say this would provide a fair process for billboard and sign owners to recover property and just compensation for their losses.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
Sens. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover), Harry Brown (R-Onslow), and Brent Jackson (R-Sampson) sponsored legislation that would modify plaintiff requirements in asbestos lawsuits. SB 470: Personal Injury Bankruptcy Trust Claims would require plaintiffs to disclose all bankruptcy trust claims they have made and to which trusts, in their lawsuits. Proponents of the bill say this will prevent individuals from receiving more than 100% compensation for their injuries. Sen. Lee a sponsor of the bill, stated that this bill would preserve bankruptcy trust funds for future victims. Opponents of the legislation say this would complicate the process for asbestos and mesothelioma victims to receive funds, which could cover damages and medical bills. The bill received a favorable report from the House Judiciary II Committee on Tuesday.
Posting Crimes on Social Media
HB 918: Post Crime on Social Media/Enhanced Sentence received a favorable report in House Judiciary II Committee on Tuesday, and was sent to the House Appropriations Committee for its review. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Garland Pierce (D-Scotland), Joe John (D-Wake), Mitchell Setzer (R-Catawba), and John Blust (R-Guilford), would increase the penalty for an individual convicted of a violent felony that posts a video or photograph of the crime on social media. The legislation is in response to recent news stories on violent crimes posted on social media.
Supreme Court and Congressional Districts
The United States Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s ruling on North Carolina’s congressional districts on Monday. In a 5-3 decision, the Supreme Court stated that districts one and twelve, both represented by Democrats, relied too heavily on race when the districts were drawn in 2011. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) represents district one, which covers parts of northeastern North Carolina along the Virginia border and Durham County. Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) represents district twelve, which includes parts of Greensboro, Charlotte, and some of the area between the two cities. In response to the lower court’s ruling, state legislative leaders redrew the districts prior to the 2016 election. The state’s current congressional delegation is seated to represent those districts, which favor Republicans 10 to 3.