Pardon Our Dust
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Several legislative oversight committees met this week as the interimcontinues and legislators consider the issues they may tackle in theupcoming short session. Meanwhile, legislative leaders sparred with a threejudge federal panel over legislative redistricting and whether or not aspecial master should be hired to redraw the some of the state’slegislative districts.
Legislative Oversight Committees Meet
Economic Development & Global Engagement
Yesterday, the Joint Legislative Economic Development & GlobalEngagement Committee held their first meeting of the interim.
First, the committee received an update from Commerce SecretaryTonyCopeland. Secretary Copeland spoke on the urban rural divide, which he saidhas been exacerbated by changes in the agricultural industry and said thatwhile the state is making progress, job growth is slowing.
The committee then received a presentation from the Economic DevelopmentPartnership of NC (EDPNC), a public-private partnership that serves as NC’sstatewide economic development organization. Chief Executive OfficerChristopher Chung provided anoverviewof EDPNC’s mission, strategies, structure, performance measures and theirgoals for 2017.
Finally, Napoleon Wallace, Deputy Secretary for Rural Economic Developmentand Workforce Solutions, provided the committee with anupdateon the work of the Division of Rural Economic Development to attractinvestments to rural NC, including specific successful projects.
Education Finance Reform
The Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance reform held theirfirst meeting on Wednesday. The committee, which is chaired by Rep. CraigHorn (R-Union) and Sen. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover), discussed how statefunds are allocated to the state’s public school system annually.
The committee first received areportfrom the Program Evaluation Division (PED) of the General Assembly. In hispresentation, Principal Program Evaluator Sean Hamel identified twelve findings acrosstwo sections: allotment-specific issues and system-level issues. NC is oneof seven states that funds schools based on an allotment formula, whichSen. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph) called outdated and complicated.
Chief Financial Officer for the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) AdamLevinson then responded to the PED study saying that the state’s system isdue for a review and that DPI will be a partner to the General Assemblythrough this process.
Legislative Redistricting Case Continues
The debate over legislative redistricting continued in federal court thisweek as Republican legislative leaders, defendants in Covington vs. The State of North Carolina, filed anobjectionto the three-judge panelsorder to appoint aspecial master. They argued that appointing a special master impedes the legislature’sredistricting authority and that the legislature should have anotheropportunity to redraw the maps instead.
The judicial panelrejectedthis request on Wednesday, announcing that they will go through with theirplans to hire Dr. Nathaniel Persily as a special master. The order directsDr. Persily, a law professor at Stanford University, to redraw HouseDistricts 21, which includes portions of Duplin, Sampson and WayneCounties, 36, 37,40 and 41 In Wake County, 57 in Guilford County and 105 inMecklenburg, as well as Senate Districts 21, which includes portions ofCumberland County as well as Hoke County and 28 in Guilford County. TheCourt believes that House Districts 21 and 57, and Senate Districts 21 and28 fail to remedy the unconstitutional use of race found in the state’s2011 maps. Additionally, the panel has concerns that the legislatureunnecessarily redrew House Districts 36,37, 40, 41 and 105. The orderoutlines the criteria that can be considered when redrawing the districts,and states that only those districts, and adjoining districts, may beredrawn.
Amy Auth, a spokeswoman for House and Senate redistricting chairmen Sen.Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) and Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett)responded to the order, stating that Dr. Persily has “clear conflicts of interest”and that they are reviewing their legal options.
A Look Ahead to Next Week
Next week, the following legislative meetings will be held:
Monday, November 3, 2017
11:00 AM Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning and LongTerm Funding Solutions
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
9:00 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on General Government
10:00 AM Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee