NCGA Week in Review

February 9, 2018

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The legislature, which has been in a quiet special session since January,took action on several items in the latter portion of this week. The Senatehas wrapped up their work for the special session, adopting anadjournment resolutionthis afternoon. Work will continue in the House next week, with votesexpected on Tuesday. Earlier this week, the US Supreme Court weighed in onthe state legislative districts drawn by a Special Master, and approved bya lower court, and filing for 2018 elections begins Monday.

Special Session At-A-Glance


After several quiet weeks at the General Assembly, legislators had a busyweek with votes on Wednesday, Thursday and today. Here’s a quick look atwhat they considered:

  • The Senate released their substitute to HB 189: Water Safety Act , initially titled “Short-Term Response to Emerging Contaminants” on Wednesday. The bill was approved by the Senate and now heads back to the House for concurrence.
  • Yesterday, a conference report to HB 90: Changes to Education and Election Laws was released, the report was approved by the Senate today and now heads to the House.
  • Senators approved SJR 684: Confirm Retirement System BOT , which confirmed four of Governor Cooper’s nominations to the Board of Trustees of the NC Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System. One nominee was removed from the bill when he could not appear before the Senate committee, but was later confirmed by a separate bill .
  • The legislature planned to hold a joint session today to consider the Governor’s nominees to the State Board of Education, but could not, as at least one of the nominees has not yet filed their economic interest statement, and the joint session was cancelled.
  • Both chambers honored the NC A&T State University football team on Thursday. The team was undefeated in the 2017 season and won the Historically Black Colleges and Universities championship for the fourth time.

Education & Elections Conference Report Released

On Thursday, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees met jointly toreview the conference report to HB 90. The conferees presented the mainelements of the bill, which was formerly titled “NC Truth in Education.”The Senate voted 37-5 today to approve the report.

What’s in the Conference Report?

  • Require funds from the January 2018 Memorandum of Understanding between Governor Roy Cooper and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) be directed to the school districts located in counties impacted by the ACP.
  • Delay class-size requirements for kindergarten through third grade classrooms by an additional school year, and phase in requirements over a four-year period.
  • Provide $61 million per year to help school districts pay for art, music and physical education teachers.
  • Allow special needs students who are enrolled part time in a public school and part time in a nonpublic school that provides services for students with disabilities to participate in the state’s Personal Education Saving Account program, which was enacted by the legislature in 2017.
  • Add nearly 3,000 slots to NC PreK.
  • Amend a state law that combined the State Board of Elections and State Board of Ethics, which was overturned by the NC Supreme Court last week. The bill seeks to remedy the objections of the Court by revising the nomination process and adding an ninth, unaffiliated member to the Board.

What’s Next?

HB 90 must be approved by the House before heading to the Governor, whowill have 30 days, if the legislature remains in session, or 10 if theyadjourn, to sign or veto the bill, otherwise the bill will go into effectwithout his signature.

Senate Releases GenX Proposal

Shortly after the Housepassedtheir version ofHB 189, which aims to be a first step legislative response to GenX, the Senateannouncedthat they did not support the bill. Then, this week, the bill resurfaced asa “proposed committee substitute” (PCS) in the Senate Committee onAgriculture, Environment and Natural Resources.

How Do the House and Senate Version’s Compare?

The House version of HB 189 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.
  • 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.
  • Provide $1.3 million to DEQ to address permitting backlogs and, purchase a mass spectrometer, and hire scientists to support air and water sampling.

The Senate version of the bill would:

  • Direct DHHS to consult with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the NC Policy Collabratory at the University of Chapel Hill on the Department’s process for the establishment of health goals.
  • Direct DEQ to review its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting program, including examining the existing process for developing standards or limitations for emerging contaminants.
  • Directs the state to use the mass spectrometers available at the University of North Carolina system for air and water sample analysis should the EPA stop providing these services to the state for free.
  • Provides $2.4 million to DEQ for the implementation of the bill, including allowing up to $813,000 to be used to fund time-limited positions and operational support for the collection of water and air quality samples and to address permitting backlogs.

Both versions of the bill would direct DEQ to coordinate with and sharewater quality data with the appropriate environmental regulatory agenciesin Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

What Does That Mean?

In short, the House version of the bill gave authority primarily to DEQ andthe Secretaries Science Advisory Board; the Senate version shifts powerinstead to the University System and the federal government. The Senateproposal also removes a key provision of the House version, which wouldhave given DEQ money to purchase equipment to evaluate water qualitysamples in-house.

What’s the Status of HB 189?

The bill passed the Senate today with a vote of 27-13 and now heads back tothe House for a vote of concurrence. If the House votes not to concur onthe changes, a conference committee will be created, but if they approve ofthe changes, it will head to the Governor.

Interim Committee Tackle a Number of Issues

Before the special session ramped up, a number of legislative oversight andinterim committees held meetings.

Education Oversight Committee Hears Presentations on AdvancingStudent Achievement

The Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee met on Tuesday to hearpresentations from programs that aim to increase student achievement.First, President and CEO of Schools that Lead Diesel Wallacespoketo the committee about the organizations principal and teacher developmentinitiatives. The committee also received apresentationfrom ENC STEM Co-Director Dale Hammer. ENC STEM provides STEM learningopportunities to students in give counties in eastern NC. Hammer emphasizedthe long term successes of its program, which receives state funds,including greater success in college programs.

Energy Policy Committee Discusses Alternative Energy Sources

On Tuesday, the Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy met toreceive a number ofpresentations, including presentation on alternative energy sources. Executive Directorof the National Hydropower Association Linda Church Cioccioverviewedthe potential for hydropower in NC, as well as some challenges the industryfaces and recommendations to support hydro-electric growth. The committeealso received apresentationfrom Utilization Forester for the Department of Agriculture and ConsumerServices NC Forest Service Clay Altizer on the potential market for timberand wood pellets as energy sources.

House Committee Discusses Alternate Funding Models forTransportation Infrastructure

The House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning and LongTerm Funding Solutions met on Tuesday to discuss potential funding modelsfor alternative transportation infrastructure. The committee received anumber ofpresentations, including anoverviewof future transportation revenue options from Reason Foundation VicePresident of Policy Adrian Moore. Moore focused on the implementation ofmileage based user fees as a potential replacement for the gas tax. Astransportation becomes more autonomous, electrified and shared, gas taxrevenue will decline, which the current US system relies heavily on thefund transportation infrastructure.

General Government Oversight Committee

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on General Government met onTuesday to receive a number ofpresentationson state government operations. First, Department of Military and VeteransAffairs Secretary Larry Hallpresentedthe committee his Department’s recommendations to the General Assemblybased on a report that directed DMVA to study potential methods fordocumenting, collecting, and analyzing the outcomes for individual militaryveterans and their families in NC. Sec. Hall was followed by NC MilitaryAffairs Commission member Colonel Frank Bottoroff, whopresentedthe Commission’s annual report for 2017.

Joint Committee Receives Overview of Intellectual and DevelopmentalDisabilities in NC

The Legislative Research Commission on Intellectual and DevelopmentalDisabilities (IDD) held their first meeting on Tuesday, where they receivedseveralpresentationsoverviewing the IDD population in NC. The committee is charged to study andrecommend changing in policy regarding the quality and availability ofevidence-based services to support individuals with ISS in retainingemployment.

Supreme Court Weighs in on Redistricting

On Tuesday, the US Supreme Court issued apartial stayto block a portion of the legislative redistricting plansdrawnby a lower federal court and Special Master, while the justices considerwhether to hear an appeal of the case.

What Does That Mean?

While most of the House map and the entirety of the Senate map stand, andwill be used in the 2018 elections, the justices blocked the redrawndistricts in the House plans for Wake and Mecklenburg counties. This meansthat the districts drawn by the legislature for those counties will standin 2018. Filing for the 2018 elections begins on Monday.

A Look Ahead to Next Week

Monday, February 12, 2018

10:00 AM Legislative Research Committee to Study Rates and Transfers/Public Enterprises

1:00 PM Joint Legislative Committee on Health and Human Services,Subcommittee on Aging

1:00 PM Joint Legislative Committee on Health and Human Services,Subcommittee on Graduate Medical Education

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

9:00 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services

10:00 AM Child Fatality Task Force, Unintentional Death PreventionCommittee

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

1:00 PM Environmental Review Commission

Thursday, February 15, 2018

9:00 AM Joint Legislative Emergency Management Oversight Committee

10:00 AM Legislative Research Committee on Private Process Servers

10:00 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on the North Carolina StateLottery

1:00 PM House Select Committee on Implementation of Building CodeRegulatory Reform

1:00 PM Legislative Research Committee on Access to Healthcare in RuralNorth Carolina

1:00 PM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety