NCGA Week in Review

March 24, 2017

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The pace continues to rapidly increase at the legislature as the House andSenate successfully overrode Gov. Cooper’s veto of a partisan judicialelections bill, and the House filed 77 bills this week, with the Senatefiling another 72 bills. The House released its version of a regulatoryreform bill this week that would reduce regulations on businesses,individuals, and local government, and the Senate filed its tax reform billon Tuesday.

Autocycle Helmets

A bill passed the House on Thursday that would remove the helmetrequirement when riding an autocycle that is not fully enclosed.HB 214: Autocycles/No Helmet Required, sponsored by Rep. Michael Speciale (R-Craven), passed the House by a voteof 76-41. The bill defines an autocycle as a three wheeled vehicle that issimilar to a motorcycle, but is operated by a steering wheel. Proponents ofthe legislation argue that the vehicle is more similar to a car than amotorcycle, and wearing a helmet restricts the vision of the driver.Opponents are concerned about potential safety hazards related to removingthe helmet requirement.

Brian Garlock Act

Sens. Jeff Tarte (R-Mecklenburg), Michael Lee (R-New Hanover), and DeannaBallard (R-Watauga) filedSB 364: Brian Garlock Acton Thursday. The legislation would outlaw the use of a cell phone or anyother electronic device while driving, unless it is done through ahands-free device. The crime would be punishable as class 2 misdemeanor anda $200 fine. The bill is named after a Charlotte teenager who passed awayin a car wreck while using his cell phone in 2008.

Cooper’s Veto Overridden

The General Assembly overrode Gov. Cooper’s veto ofHB 100: Restore Partisan Elections/Sup. & Dist. Courtthis week, which will return partisan elections to district and superiorcourt. Races. The House voted to override Gov. Cooper’s veto on Wednesdayby a vote of 74-44, and the Senate followed suit on Thursday by a vote of32-15. Superior and district court elections have been non-partisan since1996 and 2001, respectively.

Regulatory Reform

The House Regulatory Reform Committee met on Wednesday to introduce aproposed committee substitute toSB 131: Regulatory Reform Act of 2016-17. The Senate version passed its chamber by a vote of 38 to 11 last week.The legislation is a revival of a proposed regulatory reform bill thatpassed the House and Senate last session. However, the two chambers failedto reach a compromise between their deregulation bills before the end ofthe short session. The bill eliminates or consolidates various reportingand permitting requirements in various industries such agriculture,environmental and natural resources, and state and local government.

Key differences in the House regulatory reform bill:

  • Repeals a provision that encourages local boards of education to administer additional testing
  • Removes certain motor vehicles emissions inspections
  • Eliminates part of the coastal area management act
  • Exempts landscaping material from storm water management requirements
  • Removes the licensing requirement from the practice of horshoeing
  • Modify stream mitigation requirements for intermittent streams
  • Instruct DEQ to study riparian buffer requirements for intermittent streams
  • Amend private drinking water well permitting requirements
  • Removes the print requirement for the state agency public records. Public records requirement can be satisfied by publishing online

Several committee members raised concerns about a new provision in theHouse version that would amend the sediment criteria regarding sand in thecape shoal. The General Assembly has used regulatory reform to reducegovernment regulations on businesses, individuals, and local governments,and has been an ongoing topic at the legislature in previous years.

Student Athletes

Reps. Harry Warren (R-Rowan), Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth), Greg Murphy(R-Pitt), and David Rogers (R-Rutherford) sponsored legislation that isaimed at increasing health and safety measures for school sports.HB 116: Student Safety in Athleticswould require every head coach or athletic director to maintain CPRcertification, and direct local boards of education to create heat strokeprevention measures. The legislation also mandates the State Board ofEducation to create database of major illnesses, injuries and concussionsthat transpire during school athletics, which will be maintained by theDepartment of Public Instruction.

Companion legislation was filed in the House and Senate this week thatwould create a legislative commission to study issues related to collegeathletes.HB 463/SB 335:Study/Fair Treatment of College Athleteswould establish a commission that would be chaired by the LieutenantGovernor, and composed of six Representatives and six Senators.Representation would be proportional to the partisan representation in bothbodies. The commission would study employment and health issues related tostudy athletes such as unionization, health insurance, sports andnon-sports injuries, academic opportunities and full-tuition scholarships.Sens. Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), Warren Daniel (R-Burke), and Jeff Tarte(R-Mecklenburg) sponsored the Senate version, and Reps. Jeff Collins(R-Nash), Bert Jones (R-Rockingham), David Rogers (R-Rutherford), and ChrisMillis (R-Pender) sponsored its companion in the House.

Wind Energy Moratorium

House and Senate leaders filed companion bills on Thursday that would placea temporary moratorium on permits for the creation and construction of windenergy facilities, commonly known as wind farms.HB 465/SB331: Military Operations Protection Act of 2017would also direct the General Assembly to study the impact of wind energyfacilities on military operations. Reps. John Bell (R-Wayne), Jimmy Dixon(R-Duplin), and George Cleveland (R-Onslow) sponsored the bill in theHouse, and Sens. Harry Brown (R-Onslow), Norman Sanderson (R-Pamlico), andLouis Pate (R-Wayne) sponsored its companion in the Senate. The legislationis in response to concerns over the interference of wind energy facilitieswith military exercises.

Tax Reform

Originally reported on last weekafter the Senate leadership held a press conference,SB: 325 Billion Dollar Middle Class Tax Cutwas filed by the Finance chairs, Sens. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph), AndrewBrock (R-Davie), and Tommy Tucker (R-Union) on Tuesday. The bill, whichalso has the support of 17 Republican co-sponsors, is divided into threeparts: personal income tax changes, business tax changes, and market-basedsourcing.

If passed, effective January 1, 2018, SB 325 would:

  • Reduce the personal income tax rate from 5.499% to 5.35%.
  • Increase the standard deduction to $20,000 (currently $17,500) if married, filing jointly; $15,000 (currently $14,000) for head of household; $10,000 (currently $8,750) for single; and $10,000 (currently $8,750) if married, filing separately.
  • Expand the child deduction for people eligible for the federal child tax credit. Deduction ranges from $0 to $2,500.
  • Reduce the income tax rate for C Corporations from 3% to 2.75% beginning 2018, and to 2.5% in 2019.
  • Adopt market-based sourcing for multistate income tax apportionment.
  • Create a new general statute on market based sourcing for banks.