Legislative Update

Tuesday, September 19, 2017
September 19, 2017 Legislative Update

General Assembly Focuses on Judicial Redistricting During Interim

The House Select Committee on Judicial Redistricting, chaired by Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly), held its inaugural meeting on Tuesday with two presentations on the state’s court system. In April, Rep. Burr introduced HB 717: Revise Judicial Districts, which overhauls the state’s judicial districts, and Judicial redistricting will likely be in the spotlight when legislators return to Raleigh next month.

During their first meeting the committee focused on the history and current structure of the state’s court system. The committee received presentations from James Drennan, a former head of the NC Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) and current professor at the UNC School of Government, and Judge Marion Warren, the current head of the NCAOC.  

Professor Drennan’s presentation reviewed the state’s judicial history, focusing on substantial judicial reforms. The last time the state’s judicial system saw serious reform was from 1955 to 1962 when lawmakers passed sweeping reforms to unify the state’s disjointed court system. Additionally, Drennan discussed the selection of judges and different methods used across the country. Currently, judges in NC are selected through partisan elections, while some other states utilize legislative or executive appointment or merit based systems.

Director Warren’s presentation was focused on the role of the NCAOC in overseeing the state’s system of judges, clerks and district attorney offices. The NCAOC provides centralized administrative and operational services for all state courts.

The committee will meet again Tuesday, September 19 at 1:00 PM.

 

 

Posted by: Kerri A. Burke, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
August 15, 2017 Legislative Update

This week in North Carolina politics, the House and Senate redistricting committees jointly met to approve the criteria that will be used in order to create the new maps, as ordered by the court.

Redistricting Criteria Adopted

Yesterday the House and Senate redistricting committees met jointly to adopt the criteria that would be used to draw the new maps. Democrats on the committee pushed back on several of the proposed criteria, but ultimately all nine of the criteria proposed by the House and Senate redistricting chairs passed.

Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) stated that they hope to have the maps drawn and released to the public by August 23, with floor votes on August 24. Last Monday’s court ruling requires for the new maps to be in place by September 1.

Equal Population: Requires the use of the 2010 census data for drawing districts that are within five percent of the ideal district population. For the House, that is almost 80,000 citizens, for the Senate, it is approximately 190,000 citizens.

Contiguity: Districts must be contiguous, and that contiguity by water is sufficient. Sen. Ben Clark (D-Hoke) proposed an amendment that would require the contiguity of the district to be easily accessible for commerce throughout the district, without requiring a legislator to drive through an adjacent district to access another part of their district. The amendment failed.

County Groupings & Traversals: Requires that legislative districts must be established within specific county groupings. The House and Senate groupings were approved by the committees last week.

Compactness: Reasonable efforts must be made to improve the compactness of the current districts.

Fewer Split Precincts: Reasonable efforts must be made to split fewer precincts than in the current districts. Democrats proposed amendments to this criteria, attempting to add a sentence that would only allow for precincts to be split in order to achieve balance in district populations, not for partisan advantage.

Municipal Boundaries: Allows for municipal boundaries to be considered. Democrats on the committee contended that “communities of interest” should be added to this criteria. Rep. Lewis stated that the term is too vague, and that there is no one definition of the term.

Incumbency Protection: Allows for reasonable efforts and political considerations to be used in order to avoid pairing an incumbent member with another incumbent member. Several Democrats opposed this criteria, stating that there should not be a protection for incumbents.

Election Data: Maintains that political considerations and election results from previous elections may be used. Several Democrats pushed back against the criteria, stating that map drawing should be nonpartisan, in order to prevent districts being drawn to produce a partisan political advantage. The Supreme Court has ruled that political gerrymandering is constitutional.

No Consideration of Racial Data: Directs that data identifying the race of individuals or voters to not be used. Rep. Lewis stated that race would not be a factor in these maps since the courts ruled the 28 districts in the current maps to be unconstitutional, believing that race was the predominant factor in drawing those maps. Several Democrats on the committee questioned how the maps would satisfy the Voting Rights Act, which is intended to ensure that minority voters are able to elect the candidate of their choice, without considering race when drawing the new maps.

 

Posted by: Kerri A. Burke, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
August 8, 2017 Legislative Update

The legislature convened for a one-day session last Thursday, where they considered several conference reports, two local bills, and one bill making appointments to several boards and commissions. Then on Friday, lawmakers heard from members of the public during a House and Senate joint redistricting committee hearing. Lawmakers will be back in town this Thursday for another joint redistricting meeting.

Legislators Return to Raleigh

Last Thursday, legislators returned to Raleigh to consider several items of unfinished business from the 2017 regular session. During the one-day August 3 session, lawmakers did not consider any of the four bills that the Governor vetoed in July, but they did vote on several bills that were in conference committees at the end of session.

The Governor has 10 days to sign or veto the four bills that emerged from conference committees and were subsequently approved by both chambers.

On the Governor’s Desk

A bill originally titled “Amend Environmental Laws 3” emerged out of a conference committee as HB 770: Various Clarifying Changes. The new HB 770:

  • Makes changes to ensure that the state complies with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
  • Clarifies single-stream funding for LME/MCOs.
  • Modifies the membership of the NC Medical Board.
  • Bars attorneys serving as trustees from representing noteholders or borrowers while initiating a foreclosure proceeding.

SB 16: Business Regulatory Reform Act of 2017 gained six new provisions and deleted 11 provisions included in the previous version. The new provisions include:

  • Makes changes to Department of Labor laws.
  • Codifies the Carolina Star Program.
  • Makes changes to laws governing landfills and the life-of-site permits for landfills.
  • Clarifies the definition of “commercial real estate.”
  • Exempts certain pressure vessels form the Uniform Boiler and Pressure Vessel Act.
  • Extends the expiration date for certain wastewater system improvement permits.

No policy changes were made to SB 407: Employee Misclassification/ IC Changes, other than the effective date of the legislation. SB 407 also pushes back the effective date for the reduction of days (reduces from 14 to 10 days) that an employer has to file protest of a claim against the employer from October 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018.

The final version of SB 628: Various Changes to the Revenue Laws deleted provisions relating to captive insurance company taxes and adds in several new provisions, including modifications to gross premium tax laws and allows an individual to contribute their tax refund for early detection of breast and cervical cancer at the Cancer Prevention and Control Branch within the Department of Health and Human Services.

Awaiting Final Approval

HB 162: Amend Administrative Procedure Laws came out of conference committee and was approved by the Senate, but the House did not vote on it before going home. If passed, HB 162 would disallow any new regulations that would cost at least $100 million over five years and would require any rules with a projected $10 million aggregate financial impact during any five year period to be reviewed by the General Assembly. HB 162 is still eligible to be considered by the House during the August 18 session.

Redistricting process moves forward, next session scheduled for August 18

During the August 6 one-day session, House and Senate leadership announced the schedule that the legislature plans to follow in order to abide by the court’s ruling that the legislative districts ruled unconstitutional must be redrawn by September 1, 2017.

The session originally scheduled for September 6 has been moved up to August 18. During that session, which will likely last at least a week, the legislature will be able to consider veto overrides, bills in conference committees, constitutional amendments, and bills dealing with election law, including the new legislative maps.

Continuing with the redistricting process, last Friday the House and Senate redistricting committees jointly met to review the county grouping process for the new maps, and to hear from the members of the public on what criteria should be considered when creating the new maps.

Click here to review the documents from the meeting.

Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), chairman of the House Select Committee on Redistricting, announced that the redistricting committees would meet jointly again on August 10 to adopt the redistricting criteria. At that point, the map drawers will use that criteria to create maps. Once the maps are completed, they will be released to the public for review, and lawmakers plan to hold public hearings across the state on August 22.

Rep. Lewis stated that they hope to be able to hold floor votes on the maps on August 24. The maps are not subject to approval by the Governor, so they will become law immediately after they are approved by the House and Senate.

 

Posted by: Kerri A. Burke, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Monday, July 31, 2017
Your Voice Matters

The following blog was written by Rep. Becky Carney (D) and Rep. John Bradford (R), co-chairs of the Mecklenburg Delegation. 

We have temporarily adjourned from the 2017 legislative long session. We passed some meaningful legislation this session, and this is not by chance. In fact, some of the best legislative initiatives come from business owners that bring real world experience, insights and problem-solving ideas to the policymaking process.

The Charlotte Chamber maintains a constant presence at the NCGA in one way or another – phone calls, emails, quarterly elected-official breakfasts or face-to-face meetings with members of the Mecklenburg delegation. The Charlotte Chamber often provides feedback on pending legislation and, at times, even brings new ideas to the table about possible legislation. What makes the Charlotte Chamber so important and effective at the NCGA is that it is the voice of its members: the engaged business community.

We use the words “engaged business community” because engaging with legislators is critical to building long-lasting relationships that can ultimately provide long-term results. This is no different from a business engaging with its customer base to drive results. Legislators come from different backgrounds with varying skill sets and areas of expertise. It is impossible to be an expert at everything. To help fill the gaps the most effective legislators will find (or make) the time to meet with their constituents to gain a stronger understanding of a specific issue set as it relates to proposed or active legislation.

It is our opinion that direct, personal interactions between legislators and their community business leaders doesn’t just make for better legislation and governance – it can also lead to better outcomes for our businesses and communities. Business leaders who are engaged in the issues and ideas swirling around the NCGA can gain significant insights to strengthen and grow their businesses and improve our communities. Legislators are elected to do the job of creating and voting on legislation, but the work of governing falls on all of us.

We encourage business leaders to expand their involvement with the Charlotte Chamber and take advantage of its strong relationships in Raleigh. If you want to have the biggest impact, however, we would encourage you to forge your own engagement directly with your very own House and Senate members. Reach out to them. You can look up a member on the www.ncleg.net home page and, from there, you can find links to their respective office telephone number, legislative email address and even his/her staff contact information.

Legislators are elected by the good folks in their respective Districts, and are eager to help in any way possible. Business leaders have much to share and legislators are always appreciative of the energy and insights they receive directly from their constituents. The first step is getting engaged and involved. We believe you will be delightfully surprised by the results! 

 

Posted by: Rep. Becky Carney and Rep. John Bradford @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
July 25, 2017 Legislative Update

When the NC General Assembly adjourned the 2017 long session, they did so with the intention of returning to the capital twice this year to wrap up some unfinished business. Legislators are slated to return to Raleigh in two weeks, on August 3, and then again on September 6. Additionally, this week the Governor took action on 40 bills and made a public announcement opposing offshore drilling and seismic testing off of the state’s coast, and a lawsuit between legislative leaders and the Governor on Medicaid expansion has been dropped. 

New Laws & A Veto

This week the Governor took action on 40 bills, signing 39 and vetoing one. 48 bills remain on Gov. Cooper’s desk. With the 30-day mark, where the Governor must either take action on legislation on his desk or allow it to go into effect without his signature, coming up at the end of this month, a flurry of action is likely.

Signed Into Law:

HB 26: Worker’s Comp/ Approval of Disputed Legal Fees

HB 30: Various Special Registration Plates

HB 115: Retirement Technical Correction Act of 2017. -AB

HB 135: Technical Changes to Courses of Study Statute

HB 149: Students W/ Dyslexia and Dyscalculia

HB 176: Pensions Integrity Act of 2017- AB

HB 183: Retirement Admin. Changes Act of 2017 – AB

HB 252: Building Code Regulatory Reform

HB 258: Amend Med. Mal. Health Care Provider Defin.

HB 275: No Stormwater Fees on Taxiways or Runways

HB 283: DHHS Recommend Telemedicine Policy

HB 299: State Health Plan Administrative Changes. –AB

HB 383: NAIC Models/ ORSA & Credit for Reinsurance-AB

HB 436: Local Government/ Regulatory Fees.

HB 464: Revise Schedule of Controlled Substances

HB 466: The Pharmacy Patient Fair Practices Act

HB 501: DOT/ Surveying Information in Plans

HB 532: Modify UNC Laboratory Schools

HB 548: Equalize Treatment of Wastewater Products

HB 550: Establish New Nurse Licensure Compact

HB 620: UNC Capital Projects

SB 78: Cost to Comply/ Fed Ed Funds/ PED Study

SB 88: Landlord/ Tenant-Alias & Pluries Summary Eject

SB 100: Aerial Adventure Financial Responsibility

SB 104: Require Criminal BGC/ Pharmacist Licensure

SB 107: Streamline Dam Removal

SB 196: Veterinary Practice Omnibus

SB 338: Disaster Recovery Act of 2017

SB 388: Incapacity to Proceed

SB 391: Ferry Transportation Authority

SB 413: Clarify Motor Vehicle Dealer Laws

SB 415: Clarify Def’n of Collection Agency

SB 450: Uniform Trust Decanting Act

SB 489: Clarify Workers’ Comp. Policy Cancellation

SB 548: Strengthen Human Trafficking Laws/ Studies

SB 567: Reform/ Correct/ Wills and Trusts

SB 569: Uniform Power of Attorney Act

SB 593: Arbitration and Mediation for Business Court

SB 621: Business Contracts/ Choice of Law and Forum

Vetoed:

On Tuesday, the Governor vetoed HB 205: WC for Inmates/ UI & WC/ Newsprint Employees. When HB 205 left the House, the bill only contained provisions to require the average weekly wage of inmates employed under the Prison Industry Enhancement Program be calculated in accordance with the NC Workers’ Compensation Act. While in the Senate, provisions were added to the bill to:

  • Classify newsprint carriers, who have been classified as independent contractors in the state of NC since 2003, as employees of the newspaper they are employed by.
  • Modernize publication of legal advertisements and notices to require newspapers to legal advertisements on their websites at no additional cost.
  • Allow Guilford County and any municipality within the county to use electronic means to provide public notice instead of publication.
  • Allow Guilford County to opt to post legal advertisements and notices on the county website for a fee, with money collected to be used for local supplements for teachers and other county needs.

In his veto message, the Governor noted that he supports the original content of the legislation, but opposes the bill because it “enacts retribution on the media.” The bill has been returned to the legislature and is eligible for consideration in both the August and September sessions.

Gov. Cooper Takes Stance on Offshore Drilling & Seismic Testing

At a press conference on Thursday morning, Gov. Cooper said he will oppose seismic testing and offshore drilling off the coast of NC, and that the Department of Environmental Quality will submit detailed comments to the federal government today. North Carolina is on the list of potential off-shore drilling locations after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to expand off-shore drilling in April. In his statement, Gov. Cooper said that the risks do not outweigh the benefits of offshore drilling and seismic testing, and that is the duty of North Carolinians to protect the coast. 

Legislators Drop Lawsuit Challenging Medicaid Expansion Attempt

In early January, prior to the transition between the Obama and Trump administrations, Gov. Cooper announced that he planned to take immediate executive action to expand Medicaid, in defiance of a state law that gives the legislature sole power to do so. A lawsuit between GOP leadership and the Governor followed, but was dropped this week because Gov. Cooper never submitted formal paperwork for expansion and the suit is now unnecessary. NC is one of 19 states that has not expanded Medicaid. 

What to Expect in August & September at the NCGA

Per SJR 686: Adjournment Resolution, the NC General Assembly is slated to return to Raleigh twice in the coming months, reconvening first on August 3, and then again on September 6.

In August, the legislature is authorized to consider vetoes issued by the Governor, nominations and appointments, bills responding to litigation concerning state congressional, legislative, judicial, municipal and county maps, bills that were returned to their originating chamber by June 28 for concurrence, bills providing for impeachment and revenue related bills that have either passed a second floor vote in the receiving chamber but have not been taken up for a third reading or have passed a second, but not third, reading for concurrence, which means that the following bills can be taken up.

Vetoed:

HB 576: Allow Aerosolization of Leachate

HB 511: Game Nights/ Nonprofit Fundraiser

HB 205: WC for Inmates/ UI & WC/ Newsprint Employees

In Conference:

HB 56: Amend Environmental Laws

HB 90: NC Truth in Education

HB 162: Amend Administrative Procedure Laws

HB 403: Behavioral Health and Medicaid Modifications

HB 482: County Comm. Role in School Bldg. Acquisition

HB 770: Amend Environmental Laws 3

SB 16: Business & Agency Reg. Reform Act of 2017

SB 99: Report Certain CTR Data/ Auto Ins. Accuracy

SB 335: Study/ Fair Treatment of College Athletes

SB 582: Agency Technical Corrections

SB 628: Various Changes to the Revenue Laws

SB 656: Electoral Freedom Act of 2017

Returned for Concurrence:

SB 114: Annual Reports/ Prop. Tax/ Recodification Comm.

SB 223: Exclude Tiers 1 & 2 from JDIG Cap

Passed 2nd Reading in Receiving Chamber:

SB 552: Omnibus Occupancy Taxes

Related to Impeachment:

HB 925: Creation of House Select Investigatory Com’t

In addition to the above legislation, in September, the legislature may also consider bills proposing an amendment to the NC Constitution and making statutory changes to implement those constitutional amendments, meaning the following bills are eligible.

Constitutional Amendments:

HB 3/ SB 34: Eminent Domain

HB 105: Const. Amendment – Limit Governor/ LG to 2 Terms

HB 133: Elect the State Board of Education

HB 148: Amend NC Constitution – Literacy Requirement

HB 145: Repeal Const. Reg. of Concealed Weapons

HB 146: Citizen’s Allegiance to U.S. Constitution

HB 147: Amend NC Constitution – Remove Secession

HB 193: Legislative Four-Year Terms

HB 413: Limit Legislative Service to 16 Years

HB 551/ SB 595: Strengthening Victims’ Rights

HB 674: Independent Redistricting Commission

HB 727: Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights

HB 735: Redistricting by Computer

HB 819: Protect NC Right to Work Constitutional Amendment

HB 820/ SB 631: Protect Right to Work/ Conforming Changes

SB 75: Const. Amd. – Max Income Tax Rate of 5.5%

SB 677: Protect Right to Hunt and Fish

Moreover, the SJR 686 requires the legislature to redraw the state’s legislative maps, in which 28 districts have been ruled unconstitutional racial gerrymanders, no later than November 15. There will be some clarity towards this process next week as the Joint Select Committee on Redistricting meets on Wednesday and a three-judge federal panel will hear arguments the following day on when maps should be withdrawn and if a special election should be held prior to November 2018. 

Posted by: Kerri A. Burke, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
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