NCGA Week in Review, 2/28-3/4

March 5, 2011

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North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

Terminal Groins Legislation Moves Forward
The Senate environment committee approved legislation this week that would allow terminal groins in our state after being banned in North Carolina for decades. Beach erosion at inlets is one of the most serious challenges facing the North Carolina coastline, affecting public infrastructure, homes, beach access and environmental habitat. As erosion at inlets threatens a vital part of our state’s economy, it is a timely and important issue for the General Assembly this session.
While opponents believe that terminal groins won’t be able to stop natural forces and carry a high price tag, proponents argue that they will greatly help to slow down erosion, protect our state’s tourism industry and save significant money for taxpayers.
Senate Passes Medical Malpractice Reform
 After several weeks of debate in committee the Senate this week passed SB 33: Medical Liability Reforms by a vote of 36-13. Several changes were negotiated in committee with the final bill including a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages and setting higher negligence standards to successfully sue emergency room doctors. The original bill had a cap of $250,000, but the limit was raised to $500,000 per plaintiff. An amendment that would have shifted the cap to $500,000 for each health care provider sued was defeated.

Proponents of the legislation, including a wide array of health care and business industries says that similar reforms have been approved in at least 26 other states, can lower overall health care costs for citizens and businesses and will encourage more doctors to come to North Carolina.

Still Trying to Balance the Budget

This week the Senate approved a bill to give Governor Perdue the authority to make $537.7 million in cuts this fiscal year. The difference between this bill and the one from two weeks ago, which the Governor vetoed, is that this bill doesn’t designate the source of savings. The legislation did say however that the money cannot be taken out of the judicial or legislative branches of government. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.
Representative Pryor Gibson Turns his Priorities to Gov Perdue

The NC House honored Representative Gibson this week after recent news that he will be leaving his post to serve as Governor Perdue’s senior advisor for governmental affairs.  Rep. Pryor Gibson of Anson County replaces Andy Willis, who recently left to become the Governor’s new state budget director.

Gibson in his eighth term has held a variety of leadership posts, including co-chair of the House Finance Committee and has a longstanding reputation for building relationships with all members of the General Assembly.

Car Inspections May be a Thing of the Past

Dislike having to stand in line to get your car inspected every year in NC? You may no longer have to. A bill was filed this week that would eliminate the current inspection requirements to check breaks, windshield, headlights, horn and other car features, while still requiring vehicle emission inspections. The DMV has not yet taken a position on the matter, but has opposed similar legislation in the past.