NCGA Week in Review

January 5, 2018

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In this week’s NCGA Week in Review, the team at McGuireWoodsConsulting breaks down the top stories in NC politics:

  • House legislators met to discuss proposed Gen-X legislation that may come up next week when the General Assembly convenes for the first time in 2018.
  • 21 laws that were passed in 2017 went into effect on January 1.
  • Four plans to overhaul the state’s judiciary were revealed in a Senate committee on Wednesday.

Next week, legislators will return to Raleigh for the first time of the newyear. Both chambers will gavel in on Wednesday, January 10 and HouseSpeaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) commented that the session will likely lasttwo days and will include consideration of the aforementioned GenXlegislative proposal.

House River Quality Committee Reviews Proposed Legislation

On Thursday, the House Select Committee on River Quality held their fourthmeeting since forming in 2017 to discuss the presence of the chemicalcompound Gen-X in the Cape Fear River.

What was on the table?

At the meeting, legislators considered proposed legislation, which may comeup next Wednesday when legislators return to Raleigh.

Tell Me More

Committee co-chairs Reps. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover), Holly Grange (R-NewHanover), and Frank Iler (R-Brunswick) introduced the draft legislation tothe committee and noted that though the legislation does not meet therequirements of the adjournment resolution to be eligible next week,Speaker Moore has agreed to allow the legislation to be heard.

Titled “Short Term Response to Emerging Contaminants”, the draft legislation would:

  • Require the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to study the state’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting program in order to ensure that the requirements of the program sufficiently protect public health, safety and welfare.
  • Direct the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to consult with the Secretaries’ Science Advisory Board in the development of health goals for contaminants.
  • Direct DEQ to coordinate with and share water quality data with the appropriate environmental regulatory agencies in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
  • Require DEQ to study certain reporting and notice requirements for wastewater discharge.
  • Require the School of Government at the University of NC at Chapel Hill to study the extent to which public and private water utilities may be held civilly liable for distribution of drinking water contaminated by a pollutant.

After a brief discussion, the committee voted unanimously to support thedraft legislation and it will be formally introduced next week.

What to Expect Next

The draft legislation is expected to be introduced next week and committeechairs are hopeful that the bill will be received favorably by bothchambers. Additionally, legislators plan to take further action in the 2018short session, which Rep. Davis noted may include more “controversial”measures.

New Year, New Laws: 21 Laws Go into Effect in NC

The effective date of legislation varies from bill to bill. Some bills goeffective immediately upon the Governor’s signature into law, while otherbills may not go into effect for another six months or a couple of years.The following legislation passed in the 2017 long session, went into effecton January 1, 2018.

Business & Regulatory

HB 252: Building Code Regulatory Reform(Sec. 4(a) & (b)) – Makes changes and clarifications to the statutesthat govern the creation and enforcement of building codes.

SB 16: Business Regulatory Reform Act of 2017(Secs. 1, 4, 14(c)) – Provides further regulatory relief in state laws.Specifically, Section 1 requires state agencies to provide additionalnotice of petitions for rule making, Section 4 allows for optional mealsfor bed and breakfast guests, and Section 14(c) disallows the operation ofany device that a person knows will expose the public to an unsafecondition and sets out the penalties for violating this law.

SB 82: Achieving Business Efficiencies– Makes changes to the employment laws.

SB 131: Regulatory Reform Act of 2016-2017(Sec. 2.7) – The bill makes various changes to state laws and largely wentinto effect upon signature into law, but Section 2.7, which renames andamends the Board of Refrigeration Examiners, went into effect on the first.

SB 578: Veteran-Owned Small Business/Annual Report– Requires the Secretary of State to compile information about the numberof veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses on anannual basis.

SB 628: Various Changes to the Revenue Laws(Secs. 2.1-2.8) – Makes changes to the state’s business tax and sales anduse tax laws. Sections 2.1 through 2.8 make changes and clarifications tosales and use tax laws.


SB 656: Electoral Freedom Act of 2017– Changes the definition of a “political party” by reducing the number ofsignatures required for the formation of a new political party and forunaffiliated candidates to obtain ballot access eligibility, authorizes theestablishment of political parties recognized in a substantial number ofstates in the prior presidential election, changes the timing of filingpetitions, reduces the threshold for a substantial plurality to 30%, andeliminates judicial primaries for the 2018 General Election.

Health Care

HB 243: Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention (STOP) Act(Sec. 6) All providers are now limited to prescribing no more than a 5 daysupply of opioids upon the initial consultation and treatment for acutepain. This limitation is expanded to seven days for post-operative acutepain relief. Upon any subsequent consultation for the same pain, providersmay prescribe any appropriate supply of opioids.

SB 104: Require Criminal BGC/Pharmacist Licensure– Requires criminal background checks for pharmacist licensure applicants.

SB 257: Appropriations Act of 2017– Most of the budget bill went into effect at the beginning of the fiscalyear, July 1, 2017, but effective January 1, Section 11H.20(a) requires theDepartment of Health and Human Services to review information concerningchanges in circumstances that may affect a beneficiary’s eligibility toreceive medical assistance benefits. This review must happen on a quarterlybasis and the information is to be shared with the county departments ofsocial services.


HB 383: NAIC Models/ORSA & Credit for Reinsurance(Sec. 1) – Makes changes to insurance laws on own risk and solvencyassessments and credit for reinsurance and implements the revised modelregulations of the National Association of Insurance Commissionersgoverning recommendations made to consumers regarding the purchase orexchange of annuities.

Justice & Public Safety

SB 384: Criminal Law Changes(Sec. 6) – The bill makes various changes to the state’s criminal laws, andSection 6 amends the Sheriffs’ Supplemental Pension Fund.

Legal Procedure

SB 567: Reform/Correct/Wills and Trusts(Secs. 1, 3, 5) – Provides for the judicial reformation of wills to correctmistakes and the judicial modification of wills to achieve the testator’stax objectives.

SB 569: Uniform Power of Attorney Act– Establishes the “Uniform Power of Attorney Act” for North Carolina.

State Government

HB 183: Retirement Administration Changes of 2017(Secs. 3, 9) – Makes clarifying and administrative changes to the state’sretirement system laws.

SB 582: Budget & Agency Technical Corrections(Secs. 1.3, 4.6, 8.7) – Makes changes to the 2017 budget and makes agencytechnical corrections.


HB 21: Driver Instruction/Law Enforcement Stops– Requires the driver education curriculum to include instruction on lawenforcement procedures during traffic stops.

HB 84: DL/Deaf or Hard of Hearing Designation– Directs the DMV to develop a designation for driver licenses that may begranted upon request to a person who is deaf or hard of hearing.

HB 275: No Stormwater Fees on Taxiways or Runways– Exempts airports from paying a stormwater utility fee levied on runwaysand taxiways.

SB 257: Appropriations Act of 2017(Secs. 31.3, 34.21, 34.32) – Other parts of the budget bill that went intoeffect on January 1 includes Section 31.3(d), which requires the Departmentof Administration to take into account additional costs of the maintenanceand operation of the agencies’ motor fleets, Section 34.21, which changesthe allowable use of proceeds of aviation gasoline and jet fuel taxes bylimiting it to general aviation airports for time-sensitive aviationcapital improvement projects for economic development purposes, and Section34.32, which authorizes the DMV to charge fees to any person that requestsan administrative hearing.

SB 413: Clarify Motor Vehicle Dealer Laws(Sec. 5) – Clarifies motor vehicle dealers and manufacturers licensinglaws. Specifically, Section 5 prohibits dealers from charging shop andother service-related fees unless a notice of fees is posted in aconspicuous place of the service area of the dealership. The total amountof fees must also be detailed on the repair order or invoice.

Senate Committee Takes on Judicial Reform

In an effort led by Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly), the House began to look atreform to the state judiciary during the 2017 long session and sentHB 717: Judicial Redistricting & Investment Actto the Senate in October. Since then, the Senate Select Committee onJudicial Reform and Redistricting has held four meetings, including onethis Wednesday.

What Happened?

Four reformplansthat would give lawmakers a role in judicial appointment were presented tothe committee, all of which would require a constitutional amendment to beapproved by voters to become law. Additionally, the committee voted to askHouse Speaker Moore and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger(R-Rockingham) to create a joint committee to find consensus on judicialredistricting and selection.

What do the Plans Look Like

While no draft legislation was introduced, the committee considered fourplans for judicial reform: the blue federal appointment style plan, theorange Missouri style plan, the red South Carolina and Virginia model plan,and the purple balanced judicial selection plan. Because each of theseplans would shift the state’s judiciary from an elected model to anappointment model, a change to the state’s constitution would be required.Constitutional referendums require approval from 3/5 of both the House andSenate and a majority vote from NC voters.

Anything else?

Yes, on Thursday, Speaker Moore and Sen. Berger appointed members to a newJoint Select Committee on Judicial Reform and Redistricting, which will bechaired by Reps. Burr and David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Sens. Warren Daniel(R-Burke) and Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick).

The committee members from the House side are: Reps. Hugh Blackwell(R-Burke), John Blust (R-Guilford), Ted Davis, Holly Grange, Destin Hall(R-Caldwell), Duane Hall (D-Wake), Darren Jackson (D-Wake), Joe John(D-Wake), Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe), Robert Reives (D-Lee), Billy Richardson(D-Franklin), David Rogers (R-Rutherford) and Sarah Stevens (R-Surry).

And on the Senate side: Sens. Dan Blue (D-Wake), Jay Chaudhuri (D-Wake),Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson), Joel Ford (D-Mecklenburg), Ralph Hise(R-Mitchell), Floyd McKissick (D-Durham), Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland),Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus), Shirley Randleman (R-Wilkes), Norman Sanderson(R-Pamlico) and Terry Van Duyn (D-Buncombe).

Yesterday, Speaker Moorerespondedto the Senate’s proposals, saying that it is too early to know whether theHouse will back the Senate’s move to an appointment style process, but thatjudicial reforms need to be wrapped up before judicial filing begins onJune 18.

What to Expect

In short, with different approaches proposed by the House and Senate, andthe potential for a constitutional amendment, judicial reform is poised tobe a major topic of debate in the 2018 legislative year.

A Look Ahead to Next Week

Here’s a look at the week ahead:

Monday, January 8, 2018

1:00 PM House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning andLong Term Funding Solutions

3:00 PM Legislative Research Committee on Access to Health Care in RuralNorth Carolina

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

10:00 AM Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee

1:00 PM Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy

1:00 PM Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

12:00 PM House and Senate Sessions Convene

Thursday, January 11, 2018

9:00 AM Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee

1:00 PM Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global EngagementOversight Committee