Pardon Our Dust
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The North Carolina General Assembly returned to Raleigh from a 10-day recess on Monday, July 13. House and Senate members have not yet come to a compromiseregarding their very distinct budget proposals. However, last week both the House and Senate took one step toward compromise and appointed a plethora ofconferees, 114 members in total, to the conference committee for House Bill 97, the budget bill.
Last Tuesday, the House appointed 82 conferees. Representative Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) was appointed as Senior Chairman to lead the House conferencecommittee. The House’s conference committee includes 19 Democrat House members and 1 Unaffiliated House member.
Last Thursday, the Senate appointed 32 members to its conference committee, comprising of all the Republican Senate members excluding Senator Bob Rucho(R-Mecklenburg). Senator Rucho was the only Republican Senate member not to vote for the final budget. The Senate conference committee will be led bySenators Harry Brown (R-Onslow), Kathy Harrington (R-Gaston), and Brent Jackson (R-Sampson).
The Senate also announced last week that it plans to conclude all work in its committees this week. The Senate will stop holding committee meetings afterthis week, thus if a bill is still in a Senate committee after Thursday it most likely will have to wait until the short session to be heard.
See House Bill 97 conferee listhere.
Before leaving for recess the House and Senate passed a continuing resolution (CR), a resolution agreed upon and passed by both the House and Senatechambers to keep state government running on a temporary basis until a final agreement can be reached on the budget. The CR is set to expire August 14,2015 at 11:59 PM.
So what happens in the event the House and Senate chambers do not pass a budget before midnight on August 14, 2015? The result could be a lapse in stateand federal budget authority and need for a state Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP), or the legislature will need to pass an additional CR, which wouldallow for funding to continue in the meantime.
Under the current CR, funding is maintained at 100% for current for state government programs and services. However, according to amemorandum circulated last weekfrom the Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) to state agencies, under a COOP some government operations may not continue. The “minimum functionsand services that must be performed for immediate response to issues of public lives or safety, or to avoid catastrophic loss of state property,” must beidentified by each department and incorporated into a statewide plan.
Although the memorandum states it “fully expects that the 2015-17 biennial budget . . . will be enacted without a lapse in budget authority,” OSBM hasrequested all department heads submit their plans by July 27, 2015.
Read the current CRhere.
Public hearing scheduled on Regulatory Reform Act of 2015
On July 2, 2015, the Senate gave approval to HB 765, Regulatory Reform Act of 2015. Because the Senate adopted changes to the house bill, HB 765 was sentback to the House for a concurrence vote. When the bill was originally passed by the House, it was a one-page environmental technical correction bill.After the Senate took possession of it, HB 765 became a 58-page environmental regulatory reform bill.
Last week, instead of bringing the bill up for a concurrence vote, the House placed it into the House Environment committee. Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 21,2015, at 10:00 am the House Environment committee will hold a two-hour public hearing on the regulatory reform bill.
Read a summary of H765here.
House continuing study of H482, Employee Misclassification Reform
On Tuesday, July 14, 2015, a five-person subcommittee of the House Judiciary II committee heard public comment regarding HB 482, Employee MisclassificationReform. The primary issue of the meeting focused on the classification of employee versus independent contractor, while other issues included a provisionon prohibiting employee retaliation, Industrial Commission stop work orders prohibiting companies from operating without proper workers’ compensation, andtechnical issues raised by staff and state agencies.
The NC Department of Revenue, NC Justice Center, NC Chamber, and Retail Merchants, were among those testifying before the committee. The NC IndustrialCommission submitted recommendations to the committee, but did not present at the July 14 meeting.
The subcommittee will meet again tomorrow, Tuesday, July 21, 2015, at 1:00 pm, and is expected to release a new draft bill in the coming weeks to the fullHouse Judiciary II committee.
Protest Petitions to be eliminated with H201, Zoning Changes/Citizen Input
Last Wednesday, the House passed House Bill 201, Zoning Changes/Citizen Input. The bill eliminates the protest petition option for residents, whichrequired a city council to vote by supermajority, (three-fourths votes), rather than by a simple majority, on rezoning proposals. Instead the bill requiresthe clerk of the board to deliver written statements regarding a proposed amendment from any resident or property owner in the city to the city council ifsubmitted at least two business days prior to the proposed vote.
If signed by Governor McCrory, the law would apply only to zoning changes initiated after August 1, 2015. Governor McCrory is expected to sign thelegislation, stating “I’ve always felt majority rule should be the case in all governments unless they’re veto overrides and things of that nature,”according to theCharlotte Observer.
Read the billhere.