NCGA Week in Review

February 10, 2017

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Business has picked up at the legislative building this week as committeeshave begun to meet and consider legislation. This week, 43 bills were filedin the House, and 35 in the Senate. Although only a handful of bills havebeen heard in committees, several have met to brief new members on thepolicies and procedures of their respective bodies.

Economic Development

Members of the House and Senate have sponsoredSB 65/ HB 68: BRIGHT Futures Actthis week. The bill aims to further economic development in rural areas byimplementing infrastructure to support broadband, retail online services,grid power, health care, and training initiatives (BRIGHT). Sponsored bySen. Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland) and Reps. John Szoka (R-Cumberland),Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), Susan Martin (R-Wilson), and Brenden Jones(R-Columbus), the legislation creates a grant and loan program for localgovernments, which will be offered by the Rural Infrastructure Authority.The loans will be directed toward physical infrastructure as well asdigital infrastructure, such as broadband, computing and communicationscomponents. The legislation provides funds for work force developmentprograms, and creates the “No Adult Left Behind” Initiative, which willevaluate adult education and job training in rural areas. The bill alsostarts the North Carolina Board of Science, Technology, and Innovation.


HB 13: Class Size Requirement Changesreceived a favorable report from the House Appropriations Committee, andhas been sent to the floor. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Chuck McGrady(R-Henderson), Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes), Chris Malone (R-Wake) and KevinCorbin (R-Macon), is an attempt to correct the issues regarding class sizerequirements that were passed in the previous session. Under thislegislation, schools would be able to return to the previous flexibilityoffered for the teacher student allotment ratio, which is +/-3 over thecurrent allotment of one teacher per 18 students.

HB 39: Amend Appointments/UNC Board of Governorspassed the House on Wednesday, 108-4, and has been sent to the Senate.Sponsored by Reps. David Lewis (R-Harnett), John Fraley (R-Iredell),Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe) and Darren Jackson (D-Wake), the bill woulddecrease the number of members appointed to the UNC Board of Governors bythe General Assembly for a two year term from 16 to 12. This wouldultimately reduce the size of the board from 32 to 24 members. Proponentsof the legislation believe a smaller board will bring in more focused anddedicated members. Concerns were raised, however, that a smaller boardcould limit the representation of the system’s historically black collegesand universities and smaller institutions.


HB 56: Amend Environmental Lawswas referred to the House Committee on Environment on Wednesday. Thelegislation, sponsored by Reps. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) and LarryYarborough (R-Person), would implement additional emergency procedures forintermediate and high hazard dams. The bill would require the owners ofdams that have been classified as “intermediate” or “high hazard” to submitan emergency action plan to the Department of Environmental Quality within90 days of receiving its classification. The plan must include potentialemergency conditions and security risks should the damn fail, and adescription of a plan of action, warning and evacuation in an emergencysituation. The emergency action plan will also include a map of the areathat could be damaged by potential dam failure.


Members of the House of Representatives filed a bill on Wednesday toprovide tax relief to small business owners.HB 61: Small Business Income Tax Relief, sponsored by Reps. Kyle Hall (R-Stokes), Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), BrendenJones (R-Columbus), and Beverly Boswell (R-Dare), the bill would cap smallbusiness income tax at $50,000. For a couple filing married file jointly,the income tax would not exceed $100,000. The bill defines a “smallbusiness” as a business whose receipts are not greater than $1,000,000annually.

Reps. Bill Brawley (R-Mecklenburg), John Szoka (R-Cumberland), and JasonSaine (R-Lincoln) filedHB 59: Revenue Laws Technical Changeson Wednesday, and the bill has been referred to the committee on Finance.The bill implements several tax provisions, and makes changes to thefranchise tax on foreign and domestic corporations. The legislation alsomakes adjustments to sales taxes for motorsports teams, and implementsexcise tax changes.

House Finance Committee staff gave a presentation on Tuesday. Thepresentation covered general fund sources, and changes to state tax policythat have been implemented in previous legislative sessions. A link to thepresentation can be foundhere.

General Government

A three judge panel issued a hold late Tuesday night on a law that gave theSenate power to confirm or deny appointments to the Governor’s cabinet. Thepanel will meet on Friday to determine whether to continue the hold onSenate confirmation hearings for a longer period of time. The judges haltedthe confirmation process that was set to start on Wednesday morning with ahearing for former House minority leader, Rep. Larry Hall (D-Durham), whohas been appointed to lead the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.The trial forCooper v. Berger is planned for March.

Reps. Bert Jones (R-Rockingham), Chris Millis (R-Pender), Dennis Riddell(R-Alamance), and Mitchell Setzer (R-Catawba) filed a bill on Tuesday tocall for a convention to amend the United States constitution. Legislativeleaders are working with a national organization, Convention of States,which would like to propose amendments to the constitution that wouldrestrict federal spending and jurisdiction, and introduce term limits formembers of Congress. Sens. Norman Sanderson (R-Pamlico), Ralph Hise(R-Mitchell), and Tommy Tucker (R-Union) have proposed companionlegislation in the Senate,HB 44/ SJR 36: Convention of the States. Senators Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth), and RonaldRabin (R-Harnett) have filedSJR 40: Constitutional Amend.Convention/Countermendregarding the rules, operations and procedures of the convention and theselection of delegates. The same senators have also filedSJR 41: Amendment Convention Procedures,which outlines the application process for the convention. Reps. JeffreyElmore (R-Wilkes), Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe), and Darren Jackson (D-Wake)have sponsored an opposition bill,HJR 52: Rescind Calls for a Constitutional Convention, which would rescind the application for a constitutional convention.

Legislation was filed in the House on Wednesday that would move allmunicipal elections to even-numbered years.HB 64: Municipal Elections to Even-Numbered Yearswas sponsored by Reps. Harry Warren (R-Rowan), Debra Conrad (R-Forsyth),Bert Jones (R-Rockingham), and Jeff Collins (R-Nash). If signed into law,the change would go into effect in 2022.

Health Care

HB 57: Enact Physical Therapy Licensure Compactwas filed on Tuesday. Sponsored by Reps. John Szoka (R-Cumberland), GrierMartin (D-Wake) and Holly Grange (R-New Hanover), the legislation is aneffort to reform the licensure for physical therapists. The bill wouldcreate a compact that would allow for mutual recognition of physicaltherapist licenses in multiple states. The bill would benefit individualsin the practice of physical therapy who relocate frequently between states,especially spouses of active duty military members.

UNC School of Global Public Health gave a presentation to the House HealthCommittee on Wednesday. The presentation covered a broad array of topicsrelated to chronic disease, current health trends in North Carolina, andsubstance abuse. Faculty members also answered questions regarding theexpansion of Medicaid, particularly related to cost, quality of care, andpotential health benefits. Gov. Cooper attempted to expand Medicaid earlylast month, which was temporarily blocked by a federal judge.


Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston), chairman of the HouseTransportation Committee, filedHB 81: STI/Regional & Division Weightingon Thursday. The bill would implement recommended changes to the statetransportation investment strategy formula. The recommendations come fromthe House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning and LongTerm Funding Solutions. The adjustments to the formula will impact thefunding of regional impact and division need projects.