NCGA Week in Review

December 1, 2017

Pardon Our Dust

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This week in NC politics, legislators continued to examine GenX as theymove towards implementing short-term and long-term legislative solutions,while a new Commission under the Governor’s authority met to discuss thestate’s public K-12 education system. Additionally, twenty pieces oflegislation passed by the General Assembly in 2017 went into effect today.

House Committee on River Quality Discusses GenX

Yesterday, the House Select Committee on North Carolina River Quality heldtheir third meeting to discuss the presence of the unregulated chemicalcompound GenX in the Cape Fear River.

First, committee chairs Reps. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover), Holly Grange(R-New Hanover) and Frank Iler (R-Brunswick) updated the committee on theirplans as the committee moves forward, noting that they find it necessary toconsider short-term solutions when the legislature returns to Raleigh inJanuary and long-term regulatory changes and policy solutions in the 2018regular session. Draft legislation may be introduced to the committee attheir next meeting on January 4, there will also be time for public commentat that meeting.

Then the committee heard from Sheila Holman, Department of EnvironmentalQuality (DEQ) Assistant Secretary for Environment whoupdatedthe committee on recent surface water and groundwatermonitoring results, information onair emissionsfrom the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility andenforcement actionsrelated to an unreported chemical spill at the facility.

Governor’s Education Commission Meets

The Governor’s Commission on Access to Sound, Basic Education held theirinaugural meeting yesterday. The 17-member Commission was established byexecutive orderin July to assess the state’s ability to provide all students with a properK-12 education and to recommend what state officials must do to bring thestate in compliance with the state’s constitution.

After an introduction from Gov. Roy Cooper, the new commission discussedtheir hopes moving forward. Members highlighted their priorities, whichincluded:

  • Considering how non-traditional education movements, such as charter schools, have impacted school funding and opportunities for students.
  • Providing wraparound services, such as preventative mental health services, at low-income and rural schools.
  • Improving educational opportunities for preschool students to reduce learning gaps.

The Commission then discussed Leandro v. The State of NC, thelawsuit that precipitated Gov. Cooper’s formation of the Commission. In1994, parents, children and school districts in Hoke, Halifax, Robeson,Vance and Cumberland Counties filed a lawsuit against the state arguingthat schools in these counties received lower than average tax revenues anddid not have enough funds to provide equal education for their students.Ultimately, the NC Supreme Court determined that neither school districtsnor counties have a constitutional right to equal funding, but all childrenin NC have the right to the “opportunity to receive a sound basiceducation.”

The Commission will meet at least quarterly over the next year to assesshow NC can meet the Leandro ruling.

Laws in Effect

Twenty bills passed by the legislature in 2017 go into effect today:

HB 98: Crim. Offense/ Vandalize Fire & Ems Equipment: An act to create the criminal offense of injuring, destroying,vandalizing, or tampering with any of the following: firefightingmachinery, firefighting equipment, an ambulance, a rescue squad emergencymedical services vehicle, or emergency medical services equipment.

HB 125: Threatened Weapon Inc. in First-Deg Rape: An act to add threatened use of a weapon to one of the elements offirst-degree forcible rape and of first-degree forcible sex offense.

HB 128: Prohibit Drone Use Over Prison/ Jail: An act to prohibit the use of an unmanned aircraft system near a localconfinement facility or state or federal correctional facility.

HB 138: Revise Gang Laws: An act to standardize criteria for classification of criminal membership,create a sentencing enhancement for certain crimes perpetrated by gangmembers, and increase the penalties for certain gang-related offenses.

HB 224: Warrant Check of Inmates in Custody: An act to require the court to attempt to identify outstanding warrantsbefore entering an order in a criminal case only in cases in which thedefendant is in custody, as recommended by the North Carolina CourtsCommission.

HB 225: Attempted Robbery is Lesser Included: An act to clarify that attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon is alesser included offense of robbery with a dangerous weapon.

HB 252: Building Code Regulatory Reform: An act to make various changes and clarifications to the statutesgoverning the creation and enforcement of building codes.

HB 337: Unmanned Aircraft Systems Law Revisions: An act to make revisions to the laws governing the use of unmannedaircraft systems.

HB 384: Increase Penalties/ Organized Retail Theft: An act to strengthen the organized retail theft laws.

HB 399: Stop Images Taken W/O Consent from Dissemin.: An act to protect person who are photographed, videotaped, or recordedwithout their consent from having his or her image disclosed.

HB 464: Revise Schedule of Controlled Substances: An act revising the schedule of controlled substances to add syntheticfentanyl, designer hallucinogenic, synthetic cannabinoids, systemdepressants, and other substances and making forming changes; and creatingthe task force on sentencing reforms for opioid drug convictions.

HB 469: Regulation of Fully AutonomousVehicles: An act to regulate the operation of fully autonomous motorvehicles on the public highways of this state.

SB 257: Appropriations Act of 2017: An act to make base budget appropriations for current operations of statedepartments, institutions, and agencies, and for other purposes. Sectionsthat went into effect today:

  • Make assaulting a hospital security personnel a Class I felony.
  • Prevent courts from waiving all or part of any court fees or fines without providing notice to the government entities directly affected.

SB 384: Criminal Law Changes: An act to amend the law regarding the use motions for appropriate relief;to clarify the definition of “felony offense” for purposes of the habitualfelon law and to remove the sunset on driver’s license eligibility forpersons convicted of habitual impaired driving; to include breaking andentering with the intent to terrorize as a habitual breaking and enteringstatus offense; to clarify that when a person is charged with an offensewhich requires mandatory fingerprinting, fingerprinting will be ordered bythe court if the offender was not arrested and fingerprinted at the time ofthe offense; to provide that a private citizen’s showing of probable causeto the magistrate shall include sufficient information supported by oath oraffirmation that a crime has occurred and shall issue as a summons unless asubstantial likelihood exists that the defendant will not respond to asummons; and to amend the sheriff’s supplemental pension fund.

SB 445: Expungement Process Modifications: An act to standardize the filing procedures for expungements, toauthorize prosecutors access to certain records of expungement, to allowcertain expunged criminal acts to be considered in calculating prior recordlevels during sentencing for subsequent offenses, and to make othermodifications to the expungement process.

SB 547: Restitution Remission/ Notice and Hearing Req.: An act to require notice and hearing before remission of an orderrestitution.

SB 548: Strengthen Human Trafficking Laws/ Studies: An act strengthening human trafficking laws, authorizing the NorthCarolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy to regulate massage andbodywork therapy establishments, requiring massage and bodywork therapiststo obtain a statewide privilege license, and authorizing the Department ofHealth and Human Services to study ways to identify and protect victims ofhuman trafficking.

SB 582: Budget & Agency Technical Corrections: An act to make technical, clarifying, and other modifications to thecurrent appropriations act of 2017 and to related legislation and to makeagency technical corrections. The portions going into effect today:

  • Provides that the statute of limitations for malicious mischief and petit larceny, and all misdemeanors except malicious misdemeanors, shall be charged within two years.
  • Revises the schedule of controlled substances.

SB 600: Britny’s Law: IPV Homicide: An act to acknowledge and provide for domestic violence homicide in thestatutory scheme for first and second degree homicide.

SB 628: Various Changes to the Revenue Laws: An act to make various changes to the revenue laws. The portion goinginto effect today makes identity theft in tax collection a Class G felony.

To view all legislation by effective date, follow thislink.

A Look Ahead to Next Week

Next week, the following legislative and executive meetings will be held:

Monday, December 4, 2017

9:00 AM House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning andLong Term Funding Solutions

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

9:00 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on General Government

10:00 AM Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

10:00 AM Monthly Meeting of the State Board of Education

11:00 AM Monthly Meeting of the State Board of Transportation

Thursday, December 7, 2017

9:00 AM Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee

9:00 AM Monthly Meeting of the State Board of Education

9:00 AM Monthly Meeting of the State Board of Transportation