NCGA Week in Review: July 15th – 19th

July 19, 2013

Pardon Our Dust

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North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis announced that he expects the 2013 long session to come to a close by Wednesday or Thursday of next week. Speaker Tillis set out a timeline where he expects that budget negotiations will conclude this weekend, with the conference report being posted on the General Assembly’s website for public review on Sunday night. In his timeline, he perceives that the budget will be debated and voted on by the House on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Senate leaders expressed the same optimism. They expect to be done with the year’s work late next week.
On Wednesday, the General Assembly gave final approval to House Bill 998, Tax Simplification and Reduction Act. The tax reform plan has been called historic in nature; the plan is the first overhaul of North Carolina’s tax code since the Great Depression in the 1930s. The tax reform legislation now sits on Governor McCrory’s desk, and it is expected for him to sign the legislation very soon. Once signed, provisions of the bill will begin to go into effect as early as January 1, 2014.
On Thursday, the Senate released a draft of the bill that will require North Carolina voters to show government-issued photo identification when they go to the polls. House Bill 589, VIVA, was approved by the House in April, but the Senate version makes several considerable changes to the version that was already approved by the House.
The major difference between the proposed House and Senate versions is the list of acceptable identification documents required in order to vote. The Senate version prohibits the use of UNC system or community college student IDs, private college or university IDs, state employee IDs, or local government issued IDs in order to vote. The Senate version also allows out-of-state drivers licenses to be used for only 90 days after the voter registers in North Carolina.
The primary sponsor of the legislation in the House expects that there will be negotiation between the House and Senate, to ultimately come to an agreement on the parts of the voter ID legislation that are in controversy. If the legislation passes, North Carolina voters will be required to show identification beginning in the 2016 election cycle.
The Senate chamber approved a new state scholarship program for children with disabilities on Thursday. House Bill 269, Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grants, will allow parents or guardians to apply for a scholarship grant that assists them in paying for private school, for their child with disabilities. The scholarship is $3,000 per child per semester. Proponents of the measure say that some students with disabilities cannot have their special needs appropriately met in public schools, and this scholarship will help these children have their needs specifically met in a private school setting. The bill passed in the Senate by a vote of 36-6, and will now go back to the House for final approval.
A bill that would have made substantial changes to North Carolina’s immigration laws was turned into a study, through an amendment offered on the House floor on Tuesday. Freshman Representative Brian Brown, and one of the primary sponsors of the bill, offered an amendment that turned the entire immigration reform bill into a study, except for one provision. Representative Brian Brown stated that there were still concerns from people on both sides of the issue, so more investigation into the matter was needed.
House Bill 786, RECLAIM NC Act, would have allowed police to verify a person’s immigration status when reasonable suspicion was present, increase penalties for the manufacture or possession of a fake ID and for identity theft, and would allow a judge to refuse pre-trial release for immigrants believed to be a flight-risk or threat to society. House Republicans were found to be divided on a provision that allowed driving privileges to be granted to immigrants in the United States illegally.
The one provision that was not included in the study, but will move forward into law, is the language that prohibits companies from receiving local and state contracts unless they comply with the E-Verify laws in North Carolina.
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