NC General Assembly Week in Review, Feb. 7-11

February 12, 2011

Pardon Our Dust

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North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review
February 11, 2011
On Monday, it’s that time of year again – Valentine’s Day – but it’s not just another Hallmark holiday, filled with candy hearts, awkward first dates, and gaudy decorations. Get ready, because Gov. Perdue’s sweet gift to the state of North Carolina will be her delivery of the biennial address, the State of the State. She is expected to drop hints about her two-year proposed budget that is to be released later next week.
Earlier this week, Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, introduced new legislation that would strengthen penalties for repeat offenders who drive under the influence. Laura’s Law is the namesake for Laura Fortenberry, who was killed last year by a repeat DWI offender.
Increased penalties would be:  extend the minimum sentence for repeat offenders from 30 days to 120 days; extend the maximum penalty from eight months to three years; and raise fines from $4,000 to $10,000. In addition, offenders convicted of a DWI would have to pay an additional $100 in court costs which is estimated to bring in an estimated $2.3 million. 
Charting a new course for charter schools may become a reality. On Wednesday, a Senate committee agreed to an amended bill that would create a separate oversight commission for charter schools, but the Board of Education could overturn any recommendations by a three-fourths vote. 
Democrats are expected to propose changes in the future, and there is question whether removing the State Board of Education’s direct oversight would be in violation of the state constitution. 
There is a perfect storm brewing to cut out rules and regulations that cause too much hassle, time and money to the state. The Governor’s Office and legislature are attempting to cut costs when possible and there are plenty of outdated rules (some 900) that can curb costs by being taken off the books. 
The full Senate passed Senate Bill 22, which would require agencies to meet very stringent criteria before adopting any rule that would raise costs for those subject to the rule. Also, the Senate has passed Senate Bill 3, which creates a Regulatory Reform Committee to examine and streamline our regulatory system. The bill is currently in a House Committee.
Next week Governor Perdue will find a measure on her desk from House Republicans asking her to eliminate $142 million from various state accounts and giving her the approval to cut another $400 million. Currently, she is saying she will probably veto it. The proposed measure won on a party-line vote of 66-51