NCGA Week in Review – May 13 – May 17

May 17, 2013

Pardon Our Dust

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Crossover Deadline Passes

The crossover deadline passed Thursday after a week of intense debate. Crossover is a self-imposed deadline that lawmakers for non-budget bills to clear either the House or the Senate. In order for a bill to continue to be eligible for consideration, it must have passed its originating chamber and have “crossed over” to the other chamber. The House and Senate acted on 259 bills this week, debating late enough into the night for House Speaker Thom Tillis to suspend the rule requiring House members to wear jackets and ties. Bills that do not pass through one of the chambers by the deadline are effectively dead for the session, unless lawmakers use one of several tactics to circumvent the deadline. Although the deadline brings many bills to a stop, some of them get around the deadline through a number of methods, including gutting and amending another bill, adding it to another bill dealing with the same issue, inserting it into the budget as a special provision, or adding a fee. Constitutional amendments, redistricting bills, and adjournment resolutions are not subject to the crossover deadline.
House Announces Tax Plan
The House announced their tax reform plan on Thursday, and the legislation could be in committee in the next ten days. The plan, which has been called more modest than its Senate counterpart, would cut individual income taxes to 5.9 percent for all citizens, and lower the corporate income tax from 6.9 to 6.75 percent. Sales tax would also be expanded under the plan, covering services like auto repair, movie and entertainment tickets, and service contracts. The plan would result in a tax cut of $1.2 billion within five years. Supporters of the legislation claim that it attempts to mitigate any excessive burden on the poor, simplifies the tax code, and claim that almost all taxpayers would see a reduction in their taxes. Meanwhile, opponents of the legislation believe it is an unaffordable tax break primarily for the rich that could lead to cuts in education, environmental protection, and public safety.
Senate Will Take Up Budget Next Week
The Senate announced that it would take up the budget next week, and plans to vote on the next two years’ spending plan on Thursday. The budget will be posted online Sunday evening and appropriations subcommittees will start deliberations on Monday afternoon. The full Appropriations Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, before voting on Wednesday and Thursday. Senate Leader Phil Berger said that his tax reform plan most likely would not be included in the budget, but that revenue predictions in the budget would be consistent with the tax plan.
House Passes Toll Road Bill
The House passed a toll road bill Thursday that would prohibit the state from tolling existing interstate highways unless it maintains at least as many toll-free lanes as were in place prior to tolls being collected on the interstate. Currently, the law states that the NC Turnpike Authority can collect tolls on existing interstates with permission from the US Department of Transportation. Supporters of the bill claim that the bill would allow for new HOT lanes that could have higher speed limits than the other lanes, while still allowing people to use the roads at no charge.
House Clears Bill Requiring Autism Coverage
The House passed HB498 on Wednesday, requiring North Carolina health insurance providers to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism for children of their members. The provision applies to children under age 23 and would limit behavioral health treatment to $36,000 annually. The bill exempts small-employer carriers from the requirement if the new mandate raises annual premiums by more than one percent. One of the bill’s sponsors stated that premiums only went up a couple dollars in other states with a similar law. The bill had almost no opposition.
Other Notable Crossover Bills
Several interesting bills passed through one of the chambers before the crossover deadline. House Bill 695 passed through the chamber on Thursday. The bill prohibits the application of foreign laws in this state. While the bill does not mention Muslim Sharia law directly, it was the focus of the floor debate. Under the legislation, foreign laws cannot be considered in divorce, child custody or support, alimony or equitable distribution cases, if that would violate any party’s constitutional rights.
House Bill 846 passed the House on Wednesday with almost no opposition. The bill prohibits schools and employers from asking for passwords and prohibits requiring an employee or applicant from logging into a social networking site in the presence of an employer. This bill would keep potential employers and universities from asking for access to an applicant’s private email and social media accounts.
House Bill 683, titled the “Commonsense Consumption Act,” passed the House on Wednesday. Under the bill, cities would not be allowed to ban large servings of sugary drinks. Also, the bill prohibits people from filing frivolous lawsuits against food manufacturers or packagers for obesity, weight gain, or health issues related to consumption of their products.

Please contact the Raleigh McGuireWoods Consulting team if you have any questions or comments:

Harry Kaplan, Senior Vice-President
Jeff Barnhart, Senior Vice-President
Franklin Freeman, Senior Vice-President
John Merritt, Senior Vice-President
Johnny Tillett, Senior Vice-President
Rita Harris, Vice-President
Bo Heath, Vice-President
Kerri Burke, Assistant Vice-President
Sarah Wolfe, Research Assistant
Katy Feinberg, Strategic Communications