Pardon Our Dust
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This week, the Senate passed their budgetproposal, which now heads to the House. While the legislature’s resources wereprimarily focused on the budget process, the House saw some action, holdinga few committees on Wednesday and Thursday, and passing a handful of bills.Additionally, the legislature voted to override the Governor’s fourth veto.
Senate Passes Proposed Budget
The Senate has passed their version of the budget,SB 257: Appropriations Act of 2017, with a vote count of 32-15 along party lines around 3:00am on Friday,after considering 13 amendments on the floor on Thursday and Friday. For acomprehensive review of the Senate’s proposal, clickhere.
Here’s a look at some of the amendments approved by the Senate:
- An amendment set forth by Sen. Ralph Hise aims to protect patients in emergent situations from being bill for out-of-network-benefits.
- Sen. Louis Pate moved to provide additional funds to provide naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, to the NC Harm Reduction Coalition and law enforcement agencies.
- Sen. Rick Gunn sponsored an amendment extending funds to the International Recruitment Coordination Office into the 2017-18 fiscal year.
- An amendment sponsored by Sen. David Curtis would grant flexibility to local education agencies to purchase textbooks and digital materials from vendors of their choosing.
- Sen. Shirley Randleman moved to clarify the jurisdiction of ABC and ALE law enforcement officers to grant them the authority to enforce criminal laws under certain circumstances.
- An amendment sponsored by Sen. Brent Jackson eliminates funding for some projects, including funds for food deserts, operational funds for state parks, and Eastern NC STEM to increase funding for opioid treatment pilot projects.
When the senators returned to the chamber shortly after midnight, theDemocratic caucus ran a number of amendments to implement programs proposedby Gov. Cooper, none of which were adopted. To review the differencesbetween the Governor and the Senate’s proposals, follow thislink.
The budget is now in the House where Senior Appropriations Chairman Rep.Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) noted that the House is on track to begin committeework on SB 257 the week after next, and vote on the budget during the weekof Memorial Day.
What Happened in the House?
Though the Senate’s budget proposal was the focus of the week, there wassome action in the House.
Justice & Public Safety
Both chambers are considering legislation to “raise the age” of juvenilejurisdiction to include 16 and 17 year olds. This week, two Housecommittees gave approval toHB 280: Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, sponsored by Reps. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson), David Lewis (R-Harnett),Duane Hall (D-Wake) and Susan Martin (R-Wilson). In introducing the bill,Rep. McGrady noted that the bill was before the committee to aid innegotiations with the Senate, whose plan differs slightly from the House.HB 280 would shift all misdemeanor and non-violent felony cases to juvenilecourts by 2019, while the Senateproposal, which is included in their budget, would raise the age only formisdemeanors and would not go into effect until 2020. It is likely thatthese difference will be worked out by the chambers after the House passestheir version of the budget later this month.
The House voted 112-1 on Thursday to passSB 53: Law Enforcement Authority/ Custody of Child, which will now goes to the Governor. The bill, sponsored by Sen. JimDavis (R-Macon), would authorize law enforcement officers to obtain custodyof a child if a court determines that the child is in danger.
The House Committee on Regulatory Reform discussed, but did not vote on,HB 590: Interior Design Profession Acton Wednesday. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Dennis Riddell (R-Alamance), PatMcElraft (R-Carteret), Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) and Susan Martin (R-Wilson),would allow interior designers to voluntarily register with the state ifthey had passed a national exam and proven continued education. Registereddesigners would then be allowed to submit their own plans for permittingpurposes, which currently can only be done by an engineer or architect. Thebill sponsors indicated that HB 590 will come before the committee incoming weeks for a vote.
The House voted 113-0 on Thursday in favor ofSB 24: Allow Restaurants to Use Outdoor Grills. The bill, sponsored by Sens. Tom McInnis (R-Rockingham), Jeff Tarte(R-Mecklenburg) and Jim Davis (R-Macon), would allow restaurants to use anoutdoor grill to prepare foods. This would allow smaller restaurants, whooften cannot afford the fire safety equipment required to operate an indoorgrill, an alternate means to prepare food. The bill has been sent back tothe Senate, who must approve of changes made by the House, before it issent to the Governor.
The House and Senate voted to override Gov. Cooper’s veto ofHB 467: Agriculture and Forestry Nuisance Remedies. On Wednesday afternoon, the House voted 74-42 to override the veto andthe Senate voted 30-18 the next day. The bill goes into effect immediately.
President Trump Appoints Gov. Cooper to Opioid & Addiction Panel
President Donald Trump hasappointedGov. Cooper to a panel on the growing opioid epidemic. Upon accepting thenomination Gov. Cooper noted, “we agree that opioid abuse, not only inNorth Carolina, but across the country, is a significant problem.” Thepanel will be chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
National Report on Transportation Examines North Carolina
Areportreleased on Thursday by TRIP, a national transportation research group,“Keeping North Carolina Mobile: Progress and Challenges in Providing anEfficient, Safe and Well-Maintained Transportation System,” examines NC’stransportation infrastructure and funding. While the report finds that NCis ahead of most states, NC will only be able to fund 17% of necessaryprojects in the next decade under current plans. The state is experiencingsignificant population growth, 26% since 2000, which demands additionalinfrastructure to ease congestion. Additionally, the report found that 44%of urban and major roads in the state are in poor condition. The reportconcludes that the modest increases in transportation funding areinsufficient to maintain and improve the state’s transportationinfrastructure.