NCGA Week in Review

April 13, 2017

Pardon Our Dust

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Although the legislature adjourned for its spring break on Tuesday, it didnot slow down the pace of action. 194 bills were filed in the House thisweek. The House bill filing deadline for non-finance bills was on Tuesday.The Senate’s bill filing deadline was last week. Also, a group of HouseRepublicans filed a bill to increase Medicaid coverage, the Senateconfirmed three more agency secretaries, and the House and Senate conferredon legislation to gradually reduce the Court of Appeals. The legislaturereturns from its spring break on Wednesday, April 19th.

Governor’s Agency Confirmations

Three of Governor Cooper’s cabinet nominees were unanimously confirmed bythe Senate this week to lead their respective state agencies:

  • Michael Regan, Department of Environmental Quality
  • Tony Copeland, Department of Commerce
  • Susi Hamilton, Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

Governor Cooper also released his last two cabinet nominees to lead theirrespective state agencies:

  • Ron Penny, Department of Revenue
  • Eric Boyette, Department of Information Technology

Eight of the ten cabinet secretaries have been confirmed under the newconfirmation process established by the Senate. Governor Cooper challengedthe constitutionality of the confirmation process, which was implemented bythe legislature in a special session in December. A three-judge panel ruledagainst Cooper in late March, which allowed the confirmation process tocontinue.

Athletics Conference Boycott Bill Filed

A group of House Republicans filed legislation on Monday that wouldwithdraw UNC System schools from intercollegiate athletic conferences ifthe conference boycotts the State of North Carolina.HB 728: UNC Institutions/Conference Boycotts, sponsored by Reps. Bert Jones (R-Rockingham), Chris Millis (R-Pender),Mark Brody (R-Union), and Jeff Collins (R-Nash), would also prohibit theuniversities from rewarding media contracts to the boycotting conference.The legislation is in response to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s boycottof North Carolina after the enactment of House Bill 2.

Competing Economic Development Proposals

House and Senate leaders proposed competing legislation to modify economicdevelopment incentives programs.HB 795: Economic Development Incentives Modifications was sponsored by Reps. Susan Martin (R-Wilson), John Szoka (R-Cumberland),Stephen Ross (R-Alamance), and John Fraley (R-Iredell).SB 660: Economic Development Incentives Modifications was sponsored by Sens. Harry Brown (R-Onslow), Danny Earl Britt(R-Robeson), and Michael Lee (R-New Hanover). Although there are manysimilarities, both proposals make various changes to the state’s economicdevelopment tier system and one of its grant program, JDIG. Both arecentral to the debate between urban and rural economic success in NorthCarolina.

Review the differences and similarities between the proposalshere.

Governor’s Veto Stamp Expected to Return

Governor Cooper is expected to veto two bills that were sent to his deskthis week.

The House and Senate concurred on legislation that would merge the StateBoard of Elections and the State Ethics Commission. The General Assemblypassed similar legislation in December, which was struck down by athree-judge panel in March. Legislative leaders say this bill would addressthe concerns of the judges in the previous court case.SB 68: Bipartisan Bd of Elections and Ethics Enforce would create an eight member board, four members from each party. TheGovernor would appoint members from a lists of nominees from both majorparties. Republicans would chair the committee in presidential electionyears, and Democrats would chair in mid-term elections. The bill also wouldlower the vote threshold to five, and would enforce state lobbying laws,which is currently under the authority of the Secretary of State.

The legislature approvedHB 239: Reduce Court of Appeals to 12 Judges this week. Sponsored by Reps. Justin Burr (R-Stanly), David Lewis(R-Harnett), and Sarah Stevens (R-Surry), the bill would gradually reducethe Court of Appeals from 15 to 12 judges through retirements orresignations. It would also facilitate certain cases to bypass the Court ofAppeals, and be sent directly to the Supreme Court. Proponents argue thisis an effort to save the taxpayers money because the Court of Appeals hashad a lighter workload in recent years. Opponents say this is an attempt toprohibit Governor Cooper from appointing judges to the court. GovernorCooper said he will veto the bill.

Medicaid Expansion

Last Thursday, four Republicans filedHB 662: Carolina Cares, which would provide health care coverage to North Carolina adults betweenthe ages of 19 and 64 not currently eligible under the Medicaid programeligibility criteria, and not entitled to enroll in Medicare Parts A or B.Participants must also have a modified adjusted gross income does notexceed 133% of the federal poverty level.

Under the proposed Carolina Cares program, which is based off of theMedicaid expansion program in Indiana, qualifying adults would pay monthlypremiums equal to 2% of their household income with some exceptions.Participants would also have to be working or seeking employment in orderto be eligible. Exemptions are included for adults caring for a dependentminor or a disabled adult child or parent, persons in active treatment forsubstance abuse, or individuals determined to be medically frail. TheDepartment of Health & Human Services would be required to establishpreventative care and wellness activities for the program, includingphysicals, screenings for mammograms and colonoscopies, and weightmanagement programs.

Of the bill’s four primary sponsors, Reps. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth), GregMurphy (R-Pitt), Josh Dobson (R-McDowell) and Donna White (R-Johnston),three are House Health Committee chairs (Lambeth, Murphy, Dobson). Earlierthis week, Speaker of the House Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) stated that he isopen to considering their proposal.