NCGA Week in Review July 8th – 12th

July 12, 2013

Pardon Our Dust

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On Monday, North Carolina’s congressional and legislative boundaries were unanimously upheld by a three-judge panel. In November 2011, the Democrats and their allies filed lawsuits against the maps, maintaining that the Republicans illegally created districts that packed black voters into districts, split voting precincts, and failed to keep whole counties within districts. The Republicans, who won majority of both the North Carolina House and Senate for the first time in over 100 years in 2011, disagreed with the allegations, saying that the maps were in line with previous redistricting decisions in the state.
The Superior Court judges rejected the argument that the 2011 maps were racially gerrymandered, and said that the maps do not “impair the constitution rights of the citizens of North Carolina as those rights are defined by law,” according to their ruling. The 2011 legislative and congressional districts will be used through the 2020 elections.
House and Senate leaders have said that progress is being made on both tax reform and budget negotiations between the two chambers. At the end of this week, it was expressed that compromise was getting close on the tax reform plan; therefore giving Appropriations chairs the confidence to move into budget negotiations to work out the differences. On Thursday, Senate Rules Committee Chair Tom Apodaca told the Senate Chamber that the House and Senate could come to an agreement on both tax reform and the budget early next week, meaning that the legislative session could adjourn for the year by the end of next week.
Senate Bill 112, Create Jobs through Regulatory Reform, was approved by the House on Thursday night. The legislation covers a wide-range of topics, including the requirement of lodging establishments to install carbon monoxide detectors in all rooms. Other parts of the 25-page bill range from ensuring the rights of college students to legal counsel before university proceedings, to clarifying the vegetation removal rules around billboards, repealing the law that allows residents to protest local zoning decisions, and clarifying the child care provider criminal background check laws. SB 112 passed the House 83-29, with supporters of the legislation saying that the bill was long-overdue, as it will scrap unnecessary state agency rules, in order to keep regulations less burdensome and costly in North Carolina.
On Thursday, the House passed legislation that will place a constitutional amendment on the November 2014 ballot. The constitutional amendment would restrict eminent domain in all cases except for public use; rejecting the U.S. Supreme Court Decision, Kelo vs. City of New London, which ruled in favor of the city, upholding the seizure of land for private gain. Representative Chuck McGrady added the provision to an agency bill, Senate Bill 636, Wildlife Resource Commission Penalty Changes, with the hopes that this would give the Senate an incentive to pass the provision, since several other attempts to pass the constitutional amendment have stalled in the Senate earlier this year. The bill passed in the House 103-10, and will now be sent back to the Senate for concurrence.
The House Environment Committee voted 12-9 to delay the cleanup of Jordan Lake until July 2016, on Thursday. Algae blooms in Jordan Lake are created through the nitrogen and phosphorous that enters the lake from upstream waterways through development, farms, and water treatment plants. Jordan Lake provides drinking water for more than 300,000 residents in the Raleigh area, but most of the nutrient runoff comes from cities north and west of the Raleigh area. The controversial measure has environmental groups saying that there is no reason to suspend the rules for three years, since there has not been enough time provided to reduce pollution in the lake. Local governments and businesses have expressed the burden that the rules have placed on development and business in the surrounding areas. The bill, Jordan Lake Water Quality Act, will now go to the House floor for debate.
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