|Monday, April 24, 2017|
|April 24, 2017 Legislative Update|
The House and Senate returned to Raleigh on Wednesday to resume work after a week-long spring recess. Both chambers are hustling to move on bills as April 27, the self-imposed crossover date when most bills have to move from one chamber into the other to remain eligible, draws closer. Legislators added an additional day of committee work to their schedules next Monday and the following days will be a long push towards Thursday’s deadline. This week, the legislature debated increasing the cap for beer distribution, slow drivers in the left lane, and free speech on college campuses.
Campus Free Speech Bill Receives Deadlock Vote
HB 527: Restore/ Preserve Campus Free Speech, a bill to “restore and preserve campus free speech” in the state’s university system, was heard in the House Committee on Education – Universities on Wednesday and received a 6-6 vote, effectively killing the effort.
The bill, which is sponsored by Reps. Chris Millis (R-Pender) and Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe), would direct the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to develop a policy on free expression and would allow people to file a lawsuit if they believe their speech rights have been violated, even if they were disrupting a class, speaking event, or meeting.
In the House committee, lawmakers raised concerns about a provision of the bill which would require campuses to remain neutral on public policy controversies and questioned the need for the legislation. Ultimately, the bill failed to receive a favorable report and remains in committee. The Senate companion, SB 507, which is sponsored by Sens. Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg) and David Curtis (R-Lincoln), is in the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.
Environmental Laws Bill Amended in Committee
A bill which contains numerous changes to the state’s environmental laws, SB 434: Amend Environmental Laws 2, was heard in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources on Thursday. Committee members considered and approved seven amendments to the bill, including:
- Repealing a lawpassed in 2009 that banned the use of plastic bags and non-recycled paper bags in portions of the Outer Banks. Amendment sponsor Sen. Bill Cook (R-Dare) argued that the ban, which has been in effect for two years, has not changed behavior and poses an unnecessary burden on industries creating jobs in the impacted portions of Dare, Hyde and Currituck counties.
- Repealing the Catawba River Basin Buffer rule. Under the amendment, the rule would only apply to the downstream to Lake James.
HB 434 now heads to the Senate Committee on Appropriations/ Base Budget.
Governor Cooper Vetoes Two Bills
On Friday morning, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed two bills passed by the legislature last week. The Governor had threatened a veto on both bills prior to their passage.
SB 68: Bipartisan Bd of Elections and Ethics Enforce, would merge the State Board of Elections and the State Ethics Commission. The legislature passed similar legislation in December, which was struck down by a three-judge panel in March. In Gov. Cooper’s veto message, he states that this bill is also unconstitutional and will result in deadlocked votes on the eight-member Board of Elections.
HB 239: Reduce Court of Appeals to 12 Judges, would reduce the size of the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12. In his veto message, Gov. Cooper states that the bill will increase the court’s workload and that the bill is an attempt by the GOP to stack the Court.
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Merger and House Speaker Tim Moore responded to the Governor’s vetoes, stating that the Governor is motivated to preserve his own partisan advantage.
To override either veto, the bill needs the approval of three-fifths of all members present in each chamber.
House OKs Public-Private Partnerships to Increase Broadband
The House okayed HB 68: BRIGHT Futures Act, which would allow local governments to partner with private companies to increase broadband activity, on Thursday afternoon. A committee substitute was heard in the House Committee on Energy and Public Utilities on Wednesday, where several changes to the original bill were approved, including:
- Allowing cities to lease wired or wireless network components that are part of a public enterprise operated by the city
- Establishing that cities and counties can lease wired or wireless network components for up to 25 years.
The bill, which is sponsored by Reps. John Szoka (R-Cumberland), Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), Susan Martin (R-Wilson) and Brenden Jones (R-Columbus), has been referred to Senate Rules.
No Deal on Raise the Cap
On Wednesday, an effort in the House to raise the amount of beer a brewery can self-distribute from 25,000 barrels to 200,000 barrels fell flat.
After a public hearing last week where beer and wine distributors spoke in force against the provision, which they say would harm their businesses, a new version of the bill emerged in the House Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Committee on Wednesday. The new version of HB 500: ABC Omnibus Legislation, which bill sponsor Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson) called a "shadow of its former self," strikes this section of the bill. Though craft brewers say they are disappointed, they still support the legislation.
HB 500 makes other reforms to state ABC laws, including formally authorizing breweries, wineries and distilleries to provide tastings at brewery tours and allowing brewery taprooms to obtain permits to sell other alcoholic beverages.
Right to Work Constitutional Amendment
The House Judiciary I Committee approved HB 819: Protect NC Right to Work Constitutional Amendment with a narrow 6-5 vote on Thursday. NC is one of 28 states that has “right to work” laws, which ban mandatory unions. The bill, which is sponsored by Reps. Justin Burr (R-Stanly), Jimmy Dixon (R-Duplin), Michele Presnell (R-Yancey), and Chris Millis (R-Pender), would ask voters in the November 6, 2018 election to amend the state’s constitution to include that ban. Supporters of the bill stated that the legislation would further support the rights of workers, while opponents argued that the bill would make it more difficult for voluntary trade groups to serve workers. The bill now heads to the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.
Tickets for Slow Drivers?
Slow drivers in the passing lane can be a nuisance to speedy-drivers around them, but some NC lawmakers have tried to prohibit the act. SB 303: Use of Passing Lane/ Increased Penalty, which is sponsored by Sens. Jeff Tarte (R-Mecklenburg), Tom McInnis (R-Rockingham), Jim Davis (R-Macon), would have created a $200 fine for impeding traffic in the left-most lane of a limited access highway.
Though advocates for the bill argue that such policy makes roads safer, committee members in the Senate Committee on Transportation disagreed at the bill’s hearing on Wednesday. The bill would have applied to drivers who were obeying the speed limit, a provision which committee members objected to. SB 303 was voted down almost unanimously in Senate Transportation, meaning the bill is effectively dead. HB 827, which is identical to SB 303, remains active in the House, where it has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation.
Transportation Project Funding
The House Committee on Transportation okayed HB 220: State Infrastructure Bank Revisions on Wednesday. A committee substitute to the bill, which is sponsored by Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston), would enact a State Infrastructure Bank to provide financial assistance for transportation projects. The program would be complimentary to state’s existing transportation infrastructure program. Additionally, the bill would create an oversight board to review and approve loans and other financial assistance provided by the bank. The bill now heads to the House Committee on Finance.
A committee substitute approved in the House Committee on State and Local Government II combined two transportation bills into one. HB 110: DOT/ DMV Changes – Megaproject Funding, approved by the House on Thursday afternoon, combines the original language of HB 110, with HB 219: Transportation Megaproject Funding. The bill now makes a number of changes to the Department of Transportation and the Division of Motor Vehicles, and establishes a fund within the Highway Trust Fund to fund transportation projects with a cost exceeding $200 million in total costs. HB 110, which is sponsored by Reps. John Torbett (R-Gaston, Frank Iler (R-Brunswick) and Phil Shepard (R-Onslow), sits in Senate Rules.
|Monday, April 17, 2017|
|April 17, 2017 Legislative Update|
Although the legislature adjourned for its spring break on Tuesday, it did not slow down the pace of action. 194 bills were filed in the House this week. The House bill filing deadline for non-finance bills was on Tuesday. The Senate’s bill filing deadline was last week. Also, a group of House Republicans filed a bill to increase Medicaid coverage, the Senate confirmed three more agency secretaries, and the House and Senate conferred on legislation to gradually reduce the Court of Appeals. The legislature returns from its spring break on Wednesday, April 19th.
Competing Economic Development Proposals
House and Senate leaders proposed competing legislation to modify economic development incentives programs. HB 795: Economic Development Incentives Modifications was sponsored by Reps. Susan Martin (R-Wilson), John Szoka (R-Cumberland), Stephen Ross (R-Alamance), and John Fraley (R-Iredell). SB 660: Economic Development Incentives Modifications was sponsored by Sens. Harry Brown (R-Onslow), Danny Earl Britt (R-Robeson), and Michael Lee (R-New Hanover). Although there are many similarities, both proposals make various changes to the state’s economic development tier system and one of its grant program, JDIG. Both are central to the debate between urban and rural economic success in North Carolina.
Review the differences and similarities between the proposals here.
Athletics Conference Boycott Bill Filed
A group of House Republicans filed legislation on Monday that would withdraw UNC System schools from intercollegiate athletic conferences if the conference boycotts the State of North Carolina. HB 728: UNC Institutions/Conference Boycotts, sponsored by Reps. Bert Jones (R-Rockingham), Chris Millis (R-Pender), Mark Brody (R-Union), and Jeff Collins (R-Nash), would also prohibit the universities from rewarding media contracts to the boycotting conference. The legislation is in response to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s boycott of North Carolina after the enactment of House Bill 2.
Last Thursday, four Republicans filed HB 662: Carolina Cares, which would provide health care coverage to North Carolina adults between the ages of 19 and 64 not currently eligible under the Medicaid program eligibility criteria, and not entitled to enroll in Medicare Parts A or B. Participants must also have a modified adjusted gross income does not exceed 133% of the federal poverty level.
Under the proposed Carolina Cares program, which is based off of the Medicaid expansion program in Indiana, qualifying adults would pay monthly premiums equal to 2% of their household income with some exceptions. Participants would also have to be working or seeking employment in order to be eligible. Exemptions are included for adults caring for a dependent minor or a disabled adult child or parent, persons in active treatment for substance abuse, or individuals determined to be medically frail. The Department of Health & Human Services would be required to establish preventative care and wellness activities for the program, including physicals, screenings for mammograms and colonoscopies, and weight management programs.
Governor’s Veto Stamp Expected to Return
Governor Cooper is expected to veto two bills that were sent to his desk this week.
The House and Senate concurred on legislation that would merge the State Board of Elections and the State Ethics Commission. The General Assembly passed similar legislation in December, which was struck down by a three-judge panel in March. Legislative leaders say this bill would address the concerns of the judges in the previous court case. SB 68: Bipartisan Bd of Elections and Ethics Enforce would create an eight member board, four members from each party. The Governor would appoint members from a lists of nominees from both major parties. Republicans would chair the committee in presidential election years, and Democrats would chair in mid-term elections. The bill also would lower the vote threshold to five, and would enforce state lobbying laws, which is currently under the authority of the Secretary of State.
The legislature approved HB 239: Reduce Court of Appeals to 12 Judges this week. Sponsored by Reps. Justin Burr (R-Stanly), David Lewis (R-Harnett), and Sarah Stevens (R-Surry), the bill would gradually reduce the Court of Appeals from 15 to 12 judges through retirements or resignations. It would also facilitate certain cases to bypass the Court of Appeals, and be sent directly to the Supreme Court. Proponents argue this is an effort to save the taxpayers money because the Court of Appeals has had a lighter workload in recent years. Opponents say this is an attempt to prohibit Governor Cooper from appointing judges to the court. Governor Cooper said he will veto the bill.
Governor’s Agency Confirmations
Three of Governor Cooper’s cabinet nominees were unanimously confirmed by the Senate this week to lead their respective state agencies:
- Michael Regan, Department of Environmental Quality
- Tony Copeland, Department of Commerce
- Susi Hamilton, Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
Governor Cooper also released his last two cabinet nominees to lead their respective state agencies:
- Ron Penny, Department of Revenue
- Eric Boyette, Department of Information Technology
Eight of the ten cabinet secretaries have been confirmed under the new confirmation process established by the Senate. Governor Cooper challenged the constitutionality of the confirmation process, which was implemented by the legislature in a special session in December. A three-judge panel ruled against Cooper in late March, which allowed the confirmation process to continue.
|Monday, April 10, 2017|
|April 10, 2017 Legislative Update|
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 12th 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 McInnis (R-Rockingham), 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 counties.
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 (R-Yadkin) introduced 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 – especially 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 here.
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.
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 (R-Rowan), 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 that board. 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.
|Friday, March 31, 2017|
|March 31, 2017 Legislative Update|
In the midst of bill filing deadlines and with crossover, the date which bills must cross from one chamber to the other, looming next month, the General Assembly has had an eventful week. A bipartisan compromise on HB 2 has been the big story this week. Meanwhile, 189 bills were filed in the Senate and 65 in the House this week.
HB 2 Repeal
Just over a year ago, HB 2: Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, now commonly referred to as the bathroom bill, was passed in response to a local ordinance enacted by the Charlotte City Council that would have allowed people to use the bathroom corresponding with their gender identity. Yesterday, a compromise bill to repeal HB 2 passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Cooper.
On Wednesday night, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) announced that they had reached an agreement with Gov. Cooper on a repeal bill. In their statements, the Governor noted that the compromise is not perfect, but it is necessary, while Rep. Moore and Sen. Berger noted that they are pleased that the proposal protects bathroom safety and privacy.
HB 142: Reset of S.L. 2016-3 was introduced in the Senate Rules Committee yesterday morning. The bill:
- Repeals HB 2.
- Clarifies that state institutions, including the University of North Carolina and the Community College Systems, and local boards of education, are held to state laws on multiple occupancy restrooms, showers and changing facilities, not local ordinances.
- Places a four-year moratorium on local governments enacting non-discrimination ordinances.
The bill went into effect immediately upon the signature of Gov. Cooper.
Higher Education Reforms & Workforce Development
In an effort to improve outcomes in the UNC system, Sens. David Curtis (R-Lincoln), Harry Brown (R-Onslow) and Tom McInnis (R-Rockingham) introduced SB 519: NCGRADE on Wednesday. Currently, the average graduation rate in the UNC system is six-years, which the bill sponsors consider to be too long. The bill would:
- Establish that applicants to UNC system schools must have a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a seven-point scale for admission.
- Create the NC Graduation Rate Acceleration Double Enrollment (NCGRADE) Program. This program would allow students who do not meet the GPA requirement to participate in a dual-enrollment program between the university and a participating community college. The student would earn an associate’s degree at the designated community college before enrolling at the selected constituent university.
- Found a NCGRADE Grant Fund to grant $1,000 per academic semester for participants in the NCGRADE Program.
The bill has been referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.
Many legislators and the Governor believe that reestablishing a teaching fellows program for future educators may help the state respond to teacher shortages. North Carolina had a teaching fellowship program from 1986 to 2011, which awarded scholarships to students with a promise that the student would teach in NC for at least four years. Sponsored by Reps. Craig Horn (R-Union), Stephen Ross (R-Alamance), Holly Grange (R-New Hanover), and Frank Iler (R-Brunswick) and Sens. Chad Barefoot (R-Franklin), Michael Lee (R-New Hanover) and Deanna Ballard (R-Watuaga) HB 339/ SB 252: North Carolina Teaching Fellows, would re-establish the program with a focus on STEM and special education teachers and low performing schools. The bill would provide forgivable loans of up the $8,250 per semester to students and in return, the students would be required to serve in schools across the state for an allotted number of years to receive loan forgiveness. The House version of the bill has been given the OK by the House Committee on Education – Universities and has now been sent to the House Committee on Appropriations. The Senate version of the bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Education/ Higher Education.
Regulatory Relief for Alcohol Industry
Along with HB 460/ SB 155: Economic & Job Growth for NC Distilleries, which was reported on earlier this month and moved forward in the Senate yesterday, the General Assembly has introduced an omnibus bill concerning the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Commission this week.
Sponsored by Reps. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson), Bill Brawley (R-Mecklenburg), Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) and Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), HB 500: ABC Omnibus Legislation would make a number of changes to the state’s ABC laws:
- Authorize the sale of growlers of beer and wine by locations with a retail permit.
- Allow breweries, wineries and distilleries to store alcoholic beverages off site.
- Authorize tastings at brewery tours.
- Amend home brewing laws to allow homebrewers to serve their product at organized affairs and exhibitions.
- Allow brewery taprooms to serve other alcoholic beverages.
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Support for Nonprofits
The Senate Committee on Commerce and Insurance reviewed and gave a thumbs up to SB 154: Charitable Fundraising for Nonprofit Orgs, a bill which would ease regulations for charitable fundraising events, this week. Sponsored by Sens. Rick Gunn (R-Alamance), Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth) and Kathy Harrington (R-Gaston), SB 154 would:
- Allow nonprofits to hold no more than four raffles per year. Current law allows nonprofits to hold two raffles per year.
- Increase the total allowed cash prizes and fair market value for prizes offered in nonprofit raffles from $125,000 to $250,000.
- Allow nonprofits to obtain ABC permits to serve alcohol at raffles and to offer alcohol as a prize in raffles.
The bill has been sent to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate, its last committee stop before heading to the floor for a vote.
Similar to SB 154, a bill sponsored by Reps. Jamie Boles (R-Moore), Marvin Lucas (D-Cumberland), Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) and Elmer Floyd (D-Cumberland), would allow nonprofits to hold game nights as a means of fundraising. HB 511: Game Nights/ Nonprofit Fundraiser was filed on Tuesday and has been sent to the House Committee on Alcoholic Beverage Control. The bill would nonprofits to acquire game night permits and hold up to four game nights per year as a means of fundraising. The bill would also allow nonprofits to serve alcohol at these events.
Sponsored by Sens. Don Davis (D-Pitt) and Louis Pate (R-Wayne), SB 497: Nonprofit Sales Tax Exempt would provide a sales tax exemption for:
- Not for profit hospitals and over the counter drugs purchased for for-profit hospitals.
- Organizations that are exempt from income tax under the 501(c)(3) code and meet other classifications.
- Volunteer fire departments and volunteer emergency medical service squads.
- Certain single member LLCs that are disregarded for income tax.
- Certain retirement facilities.
- University-affiliated nonprofits that procures, designs, constructs, or provides facilities to a school in the UNC system.
The bill has been referred to the Committee on Rues and Operations of the Senate.
Sponsored by Sens. Jeff Tarte (R-Mecklenburg), Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), and Brent Jackson (R-Sampson), SB 304: Required Financial Audits would require financial audits of all state offices and nonprofits that receive state funds. Originally, the bill would have required audits every four years for all nonprofits that receive state funds. A change made in the Senate State and Local Government Committee this week changed that provision to require quadrennial audits only for nonprofits that has annual revenues of $1 million or more and independent financial reviews for nonprofits with annual revenues of less than $1 million. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Appropriations/ Base Budget.
|Friday, March 24, 2017|
|March 24, 2017 Legislative Update|
Senate Unveils Tax Package
SB: 325 Billion Dollar Middle Class Tax Cut was filed by the Finance chairs, Sens. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph), Andrew Brock (R-Davie), and Tommy Tucker (R-Union) on Tuesday. The bill, which also has the support of 17 Republican co-sponsors, is divided into three parts: personal income tax changes, business tax changes, and market-based sourcing.
If passed, effective January 1, 2018, SB 325 would:
- Reduce the personal income tax rate from 5.499% to 5.35%
- Increase the standard deduction to $20,000 (currently $17,500) if married, filing jointly; $15,000 (currently $14,000) for head of household; $10,000 (currently $8,750) for single; and $10,000 (currently $8,750) if married, filing separately.
- Expands the child deduction for people eligible for the federal child tax credit. Deduction ranges from $0 to $2,500.
- Reduces the income tax rate for C Corporations from 3% to 2.75% beginning 2018, and to 2.5% in 2019.
- Adopts market-based sourcing for multistate income tax apportionment.
- Creates a new general statute on market based sourcing for banks
Senate Introduces Ban on Electronic Devices While Driving
Sens. Jeff Tarte (R-Mecklenburg), Michael Lee (R-New Hanover), and Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga) filed SB 364: Brian Garlock Act on Thursday. The legislation would outlaw the use of a cell phone or electronic device while driving, unless it is done through a hands-free device. The crime would be punishable as class 2 misdemeanor and a $200 fine. The bill is named after a Charlotte teenager who passed away in a car wreck while using his cell phone in 2008.
Cooper’s Veto Overridden
The General Assembly overrode Gov. Cooper’s veto of HB 100: Restore Partisan Elections/ Sup. & Dist. Court this week, which will return partisan elections to district and superior court races. The House voted to override Gov. Cooper’s veto on Wednesday by a vote of 74-44, and the Senate followed suit on Thursday by a vote of 32-15. Superior and district court elections have been non-partisan since 1996 and 2001, respectively.
Comprehensive Regulatory Reform Moves Forward
The House Regulatory Reform Committee met on Wednesday to introduce a proposed committee substitute to SB 131: Regulatory Reform Act of 2016-17. The Senate version passed its chamber by a vote of 38 to 11 last week. The legislation is a revival of a proposed regulatory reform bill that passed the House and Senate last session. However, the two chambers failed to reach a compromise between their deregulation bills before the end of the short session. The bill eliminates or consolidates various reporting and permitting requirements in various industries such agriculture, environmental and natural resources, and state and local government.
Key differences in the House regulatory reform bill:
- Repeals a provision that encourages local boards of education to administer additional testing
- Removes certain motor vehicles emissions inspections
- Eliminates part of the coastal area management act
- Exempts landscaping material from storm water management requirements
- Removes the licensing requirement from the practice of horseshoeing
- Modify stream mitigation requirements for intermittent streams
- Instruct DEQ to study riparian buffer requirements for intermittent streams
- Amend private drinking water well permitting requirements
- Removes the print requirement for the state agency public records. Public records requirement can be satisfied by publishing online
Several committee members raised concerns about a new provision in the House version that would amend the sediment criteria regarding sand in the cape shoal. Regulatory reform, which is reducing government regulations on businesses, individuals, and local governments, has been an ongoing topic at the legislature in previous years.
Wind Energy Moratorium
House and Senate leaders filed companion bills on Thursday that would place a temporary moratorium on permits for the creation and construction of wind energy facilities, commonly known as wind farms. HB 465/SB331: Military Operations Protection Act of 2017 would also direct the General Assembly to study the impact of wind energy facilities on military operations. Reps. John Bell (R-Wayne), Jimmy Dixon (R-Duplin), and George Cleveland (R-Onslow) sponsored the bill in the House, and Sens. Harry Brown (R-Onslow), Norman Sanderson (R-Pamlico), and Louis Pate (R-Wayne) sponsored its companion in the Senate.