NCGA Week in Review

May 26, 2017

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Business steadily increased this week at the legislative building as HouseAppropriations subcommittees worked on their budget proposals. Subcommitteechairs presented their proposed funding allocations to committee members onThursday. Subcommittee budget reports will go before the full HouseAppropriations Committee next Wednesday morning. The House plans to vote onthe full budget next Thursday and Friday. Also, a bill to legalize casinogames at non-profit fundraisers, and a bill to increase penalties forcrimes posted on social media were heard in committee this week, amongother legislative issues.

Budget Proposals Released by Subcommittees

House subcommittee budget proposals were debated and amended by committeemembers before being voted out favorably to the full appropriationscommittee. Next Tuesday, the House Finance Committee will review thefinance portions of the budget, and House Appropriations Committee willdebate the complete version of the House proposed budget on Wednesdaymorning. Copies of the subcommittee budget proposals are available here:

Agriculture and Natural Resources, Money Report

Agriculture and Natural Resources, Special Provisions

Capital, Money Report

Capital, Special Provisions

Education, Money Report

Education, Special Provisions

General Government, Money Report
General Government, Special Provisions

Health and Human Services, Money Report

Health and Human Services, Special Provisions

Information Technology, Money Report

Information Technology, Special Provisions

Justice and Public Safety, Money Report

Justice and Public Safety, Special Provisions

Transportation, Money Report and Special Provisions

Farm Act Moves Through Senate

Sponsored by Sens. Brent Jackson (R-Sampson), Norman Sanderson (R-Pamlico),and Andrew Brock (R-Davie),SB 615: North Carolina Farm Act of 2017would make various changes to the state’s agriculture laws. The bill wouldchange the general statutes to allow agricultural, horticultural and forestland to be valued at present value as it relates to property taxes, exemptcertain farm facilities from odorous emissions requirements, and modifyzoning and land regulations related to whether or not a facility isclassified for agritourism use. The bill also instructs the Agriculture andForestry Awareness Study Commission to study any modifications that shouldbe made to the Handlers Act, which regulates the practices of individualswho handle fruits and vegetables. The bill received a favorable report fromthe Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, and was referred tothe Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Game Nights for Non-Profits

HB 511: Game Nights/ Nonprofit Fund-Raise, sponsored by Reps. Jamie Boles (R-Moore), Marvin Lucas (D-Cumberland),and Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), would allow non-profits to serve alcohol atfundraising events where gambling is taken place. Commonly known as “casinonights,” the events feature casino style games, where participants couldwin prizes or awards. Serving alcohol at these events is currently illegal,however, district attorneys rarely prosecute it. Proponents of the bill saythe legislation would provide clarity and uniformity across the state.Opponents believe this will open the door to loosened gambling regulationsin North Carolina. The bill received a favorable report from the HouseFinance Committee on Tuesday, and was referred to the floor.

Outdoor Advertising

A bipartisan group of House members sponsored legislation to modify NorthCarolina’s outdoor advertising regulations related to the removal of signsand billboards along federal and state highways.HB 581: Revisions to Outdoor Advertising Laws, sponsored by Reps. David Lewis (R-Harnett), Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), KenGoodman (D-Richmond), and Ed Hanes (D-Forsyth) sets nine factors theDepartment of Transportation (DOT) must consider when determining justcompensation for billboards and signs. The owner of the billboard or signwould also be able to recoup relocation and other costs from DOT, whoopposes this bill along with several environmental groups. Proponents ofthe bill say this would provide a fair process for billboard and signowners to recover property and just compensation for their losses.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

Sens. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover), Harry Brown (R-Onslow), and BrentJackson (R-Sampson) sponsored legislation that would modify plaintiffrequirements in asbestos lawsuits.SB 470: Personal Injury Bankruptcy Trust Claimswould require plaintiffs to disclose all bankruptcy trust claims they havemade and to which trusts, in their lawsuits. Proponents of the bill saythis will prevent individuals from receiving more than 100% compensationfor their injuries. Sen. Lee a sponsor of the bill, stated that this billwould preserve bankruptcy trust funds for future victims. Opponents of thelegislation say this would complicate the process for asbestos andmesothelioma victims to receive funds, which could cover damages andmedical bills. The bill received a favorable report from the HouseJudiciary II Committee on Tuesday.

Posting Crimes on Social Media

HB 918: Post Crime on Social Media/Enhanced Sentencereceived a favorable report in House Judiciary II Committee on Tuesday, andwas sent to the House Appropriations Committee for its review. The bill,sponsored by Reps. Garland Pierce (D-Scotland), Joe John (D-Wake), MitchellSetzer (R-Catawba), and John Blust (R-Guilford), would increase the penaltyfor an individual convicted of a violent felony that posts a video orphotograph of the crime on social media. The legislation is in response torecent news stories on violent crimes posted on social media.

Supreme Court and Congressional Districts

The United States Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s ruling on NorthCarolina’s congressional districts on Monday. In a 5-3 decision, theSupreme Court stated that districts one and twelve, both represented byDemocrats, relied too heavily on race when the districts were drawn in2011. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) represents district one, which coversparts of northeastern North Carolina along the Virginia border and DurhamCounty. Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) represents district twelve, which includesparts of Greensboro, Charlotte, and some of the area between the twocities. In response to the lower court’s ruling, state legislative leadersredrew the districts prior to the 2016 election. The state’s currentcongressional delegation is seated to represent those districts, whichfavor Republicans 10 to 3.