NCGA Week in Review

January 26, 2018

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While interim committees continued to meet this week, the legislatureremains in session, though no votes were held in either the House orSenate. This week in interim committees, legislators discussed topicsincluding safety in K-12 schools and college campuses, prison security,agency rule making and judicial reform. Legislators have been in a specialsession since January 10, however, no votes have been taken whileredistricting suits play out in the courts. Votes are expected in earlyFebruary.

Courts Weigh in on Redistricting, Elections

There are a handful of ongoing legal cases on NC’s political maps andelections in process. Here is where those cases currently stand:

Congressional Redistricting & Partisan Gerrymandering

Last week, the US Supreme Courtdelayeda lower-court order that would have required legislators to redraw thestate’s congressional maps this week while two similar cases are consideredby the Supreme Court. The delay remains in place while the case isappealed.

Judicial Elections & 2018 Primaries

Yesterday,argumentswere heard by US District Court Judge Catherine Eagles on a request torestore NC’s 2018 judicial primaries, which were cancelled by a law passedin 2017.

Legislative Redistricting & Special Master’s Maps

Last Friday, a panel of federal judgesorderedlawmakers to use the maps drawn by a special master in this year’slegislative elections, filing for which is set to begin on February 12.Lawyers for the GOPfileda request with the US Supreme Court to block that decision earlier thisweek. Until a ruling is made, likely in early February, lawmaking willremain at a standstill.

Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee Reviews Rules ReviewProposal

Yesterday, the House Select Committee on Administrative Procedure Oversightmet to discuss portions ofHB 162: Amend Administrative Procedure Lawsthat were added by the Senate during the long session.

Tell Me More

The bill would enact a number of changes to administrative procedure,including requiring the General Assembly to approve of most administrativerules. In June, the House voted not to concur with the changes made in theSenate. During the meeting, members had a chance to discuss the bill withSen. Andy Wells (R-Catawba), who sponsored the changes made in the Senate.Members, including Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) supported the conceptsbehind the bill, such as increasing accountability and reducing regulatoryburdens on businesses, but had concerns with the complexities thelegislation may cause and the number of rules that may require legislativeapproval as a result. HB 162 is eligible for consideration in the shortsession or potentially in any special sessions leading up to that.

Emergency Management Committee Discusses Safety in Schools

On Thursday, the Joint Legislative Emergency Management Oversight Committeereceived presentations on measures to increase safety at K-12 schools andon community college campuses.

Tell Me More

The committee received updates both the NC Community College System and theDepartment of Public Instruction (NCDPI) on efforts, to increase schoolsafety on their respective campuses. NCDPI Chief Financial Officer BenMatthewsreportedon efforts including increased training and a requirement for all localboards of education to have a school risk management plan. NC CommunityCollege System Vice President and Chief Financial Officer ElizabethGrovensteinnotedthat authority over law enforcement at community colleges rests in thehands of local boards of trustees.

Judicial Redistricting Committee Releases New Maps

On Monday, the Joint Legislative Committee on Judicial Redistricting &Reform held their second meeting on Monday where members where presented aredistrictingproposalsimilar toHB 717: Judicial Redistricting & Investment Act, which was passed by the House in October.

What’s Next?

Democrats havecriticizedthe maps and questioned how districts were determined. Rep. Justin Burr(R-Stanly) noted that only population size was considered when drawing theproposed districts. The next step for the proposal would be considerationby the Senate, however, redistricting cases in the courts have largelyslowedmomentum on this proposal.

Justice & Public Safety Committee Reviews Prison Safety

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safetyreceived anupdateon prison security and reform from Department of Public Safety (DPS)Secretary Erik Hooks at their meeting yesterday.

Tell Me More

The Department has taken a number of actions following two incidentsinvolving violence against prison staff in the last year. FollowingSecretary Hooks’ opening remarks, DPS Chief Deputy Secretary ofProfessional Standards Policy & Planning Pamela Cashwellhighlightedefforts to enhance security policies, reduce contraband in prisonfacilities, improve training and increase hiring and retention. TheSecretary would like to establish a Prison Reform Advisory Board to makefurther recommendations, and he requested that the General Assembly addresssafety and security needs and concerns regarding hiring and retention.

Program Evaluation Committee Receives Reports, Draft Legislation toCome

The Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee held theirfirst meeting of the interim on Monday to receive four reports from theProgram Evaluation Division (PED). Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union) informed thecommittee that they will be moving at a faster pace this year to draft andrecommend proposed legislation that may be introduced in the short sessionbased on the reports they receive.

What did the reports say?

PED brieflypresentedthe four reports to the committee and their recommendations:

  • How to increase lottery proceeds for education. The report found that NC’s lottery performance is above average and revenue could be increased through efforts including authorizing video lottery terminals and expanding the retailer network.
  • Meeting current standards for school nurses may cost up to $79 million annually. PED made recommendations including updating the school nurse staffing standard and requesting a Medicaid state plan amendment to authorize Medicaid reimbursement for services for students with certain disability plans.
  • PED recommended eliminating litigation costs in local education funding dispute resolution. The report found that opportunities exist to replace litigation with a default funding mechanism.
  • PED recommends improving Ferry Division efficiency by reducing off-season crossings, adjusting fares and using partnerships.

A Look Ahead to Next Week

Monday, January 29, 2018

2:00 PM House Select Committee on Disaster Relief

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

1:00 PM Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

10:00 AM Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform

Thursday, February 1, 21018

9:00 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Information Technology