Pardon Our Dust
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The NC General Assembly has been off to what many consider a slow-start this year. In the second week of the long session, 17 bills were filed this week. While the committee schedule has been minimal, legislators have been busy with private meetings and bill drafting. More action is expected in the coming weeks as more legislation is filed and committee work begins.
HB 39: Amend Appointments/ UNC Bd of Governors: Sponsored by Reps. David Lewis (R-Harnett), John Fraley (R-Iredell), Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe) and Darren Jackson (D-Wake), HB 39 would reduce the number of members on the UNC Board of Governors from 32 to 24 over a three year course. The Board, which oversees the UNC System, is currently comprised of 16 non-voting student members and 16 members appointed by the General Assembly. As written, the bill would not remove any members from the Board before their terms expire. Instead it limits appointments made in 2017 and 2019, so more members will rotate off the Board than are appointed. The bill has not received a committee referral yet, but it is likely to move quickly because lawmakers are obligated to make appointments to the Board in the coming month.
HB 35: Protect North Carolina Workers Act: Sponsored by Reps. George Cleveland (R-Onslow), Chris Millis (R-Pender), Debra Conrad (R-Forsyth) and Destin Hall (R-Caldwell), HB 35 would modify the state’s E-Verify laws to require that any person, business or other organization that employs five or more employees must participate in the federal E-Verify program. Current law requires the use of E-Verify for businesses that employ 25 or more employees. The bill would repeal an exemption for temporary employees while adding exemptions for farm workers, independent contractors and individuals who provide sporadic domestic services, such as cleaning services, in a private home. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Commerce and Job Development.
Governor’s Cabinet Confirmations
Under law passed in the fourth special session of 2016, each of the Governor’s cabinet picks are subject to confirmation of the Senate. The Senate Select Committee on Nominations, chaired by Sens. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) and Tommy Tucker (R-Union), held their inaugural meeting on Tuesday to discuss the procedure that will be used to confirm Governor Roy Cooper’s cabinet appointments.
Standing committees are scheduled to review the nominations by subject matter and then make a recommendation to the Select Committee on Nominations, and then a vote will be made for each confirmation on the Senate floor. The committee schedule is as follows:
- On February 8, the appointment of former Rep. Larry Hall to lead the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs will be reviewed by the Senate Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs.
- The appointment of Machelle Sanders to the Department of Administration will be reviewed by the Senate Committee on State and Local Government on February 14. The committee is chaired by Sens. John Alexander (R-Wake), Ronald Rabin (R-Harnett) and Jeff Tarte (R-Mecklenburg).
- Former Rep. Susi Hamilton, who has been appointed Secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, will be reviewed by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources on February 16. Sens. Bill Cook (R-Beaufort), Norman Sanderson (R-Pamlico) and Andy Wells (R-Catawba) chair the committee.
- Eric Hooks, who has been appointed to lead the Department of Public Safety, will be reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Sens. Tamara Barringer(R-Wake), Warren Daniel (R-Burke) and Shirley Randleman (R-Wilkes), on February 21.
- The Senate Committee on Commerce and Insurance will review the appointment of Tony Copeland to lead the Department of Commerce on February 21. Sens. Rick Gunn (R-Alamance), Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland) and Trudy Wade (R-Guilford) chair the committee.
- Jim Trogdon’s appointment to lead the Department of Transportation will be reviewed on March 1 by the Senate Transportation Committee, which is chaired by Sens. Jim Davis (R-Macon) and Tom McInnis (R-Richmond).
- Michael Regan’s appointment to the Department of Environmental Quality will be reviewed by the Senate committee on Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources on March 8. Sens. Bill Cook (R-Beaufort), Norman Sanderson (R-Pamlico) and Andy Wells (R-Catawba) chair the committee.
- On March 16, the Senate Health Care Committee, which is led by Sens. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) and Louis Pate (R-Wayne), will review the appointment of Dr. Mandy Cohen to the Department of Health and Human Services.
According to Sens. Rabon and Tucker, the confirmation process will focus on the candidate’s qualifications, ability to follow the law and possible conflicts of interest. When asked, Sen. Rabon clarified that confirmation of choices is likely. The Governor has not yet announced his picks to lead the Department of Revenue or the Department of Information Technology.
SB 25: Repeal HB 2: After the failed attempt to repeal HB 2 last year, SB 25 is the first bill filed to address the controversial “bathroom bill.” Filed by Sens. Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg), Angela Bryant (D-Nash) and Floyd McKissick (D-Durham), SB 25 would repeal the bill in its entirety and without any further stipulations. Republican leadership has indicated that some compromises, such as a six-month cooling off period may be necessary to pass changes to the bill. SB 25 has been referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.
HB 36: Enact Enhanced Access to Eye Care Act: If passed, HB 36 would expand the practice of optometry to include surgery and would specify that 18 procedures, including LASIK, do not constitute the practice of optometry. The bill, which is sponsored by Reps. Justin Burr (R-Stanly), Jeff Collins (R-Nash), Josh Dobson (R-McDowell) and Julia Howard (R-Davie), has been referred to the House Committee on Health.
Justice & Public Safety
HB 37: Protect Law Enforcement Officers: Reps. Chris Malone (R-Wake), Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), Debra Conrad (R-Forsyth) and Darren Jackson (D-Wake) filed a bill yesterday that would protect municipal law enforcement officers who report unlawful government activity from retaliation. The bill has not received a committee referral yet.
HB 27: Clarify Expiration of Vehicle Registration: Would amend current law to clarify that the registration of a vehicle renewed by a new registration plate is valid through midnight on February 15 each year. The bill, which is sponsored by freshmen Reps. Mike Clampitt (R-Swain), Holly Grange (R-New Hanover), Larry Strickland (R-Johnston) and Donna White (R-Johnston), has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation.
HB 28: DOT/ Access of Motorcyclists: Sponsored by Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston), HB 28 would prohibit the Department of Transportation from restricting the access of motorcyclists to highways, bridges, tunnels and other transportation facilities. The bill is scheduled to be reviewed by the House Committee on Transportation at their meeting next Tuesday.
SB 21: DL Restoration/ DWI Treatment Court: Sponsored by Sens. Jim Davis (R-Macon) and Terry Van Duyn (D-Buncombe), SB 21 would allow the Division of Motor Vehicles to restore driver’s licenses to individuals who have had their license revoked due to impaired driving so long as the person has completed a drug treatment or DWI treatment court program and all vehicles registered to the driver must be equipped with a functioning ignition interlock system. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.