NCGA Week in Review

May 4, 2018

Pardon Our Dust

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The legislature was particularly busy this week as interim committees worked to approve their legislative reports and recommendations ahead of the May 16 opening day of the 2018 short session. Numerous pieces of draft legislation came out of multiple committees, including new proposed regulations regarding transportation funding, education, occupational licensing, and school safety. Those drafts are expected to be filed early on in the short session.

Disaster Relief Questions Linger

The House Select Committee on Disaster Relief met again Monday to hear from the Director of the Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Division of Emergency Management, Mike Sprayberry. The committee members also heard personal testimony from Chairman Representative John Bell (R-Goldsboro) about the experience of many residents of eastern NC.

Chairman Recounts Hometown Devastation

Chairman Rep. John Bell, who hails from the eastern NC town of Goldsboro, NC, recounted the experience of many eastern NC residents for the committee members. He expressed how urgent the problem still is for many residents who have been forced out of their homes for over a year and a half and are now facing expulsion from their FEMA trailers. He told the committee about an additional financial problem facing his constituents involving conflicting information given to home and business owners regarding reimbursements for repairs. Chairman Bell told the committee that the process lacks a sense of urgency.

Division of Emergency Management Director Faces Questions

Director Sprayberry came before the committee to provide an update on Hurricane Matthew recovery. He went through the numbers of the impact of the hurricane on the state, including 31 fatalities, $4.8 billion in damage, 100,000 homes impacted, 4,000 refugees, 660 roads closed, and 815,000 power outages. He informed the committee there is already $632 million on the ground going to various recovery initiatives.

Members questioned the apparent inefficiency of the recovery program and wanted to know why South Carolina, which received Hurricane Matthew recovery money at the same time as NC, is so far ahead of NC in the recovery process. It was expressed by Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Hendersonville), and echoed by other committee members, that the disaster relief process needs to be streamlined and improved for the inevitable next time NC faces a natural disaster of such magnitude.

Transportation Funding Committee Talks Legislative Proposals

The House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation and Long Term Funding Solutions reconvened Monday to vote on numerous legislative proposals. They also heard from Dr. Rebecca Tippett, Director of Carolina Demography at the Carolina Population Center, and from Secretary Jim Trogdon of the NC Department of Transportation (DOT).

Demographic Change

Dr. Tippett filled the committee in on population trends for NC which will have a dramatic impact on the state’s transportation infrastructure. If population growth continues as expected, she predicts NC will have a population of 12.3 million by the year 2035. Most of the growth the state has seen since 2010 has been in the more urban areas and most of the decrease in population has been in rural areas all across the state.

She attributed some of the population changes to the decline in the “big three” industries: tobacco, textiles, and furniture manufacturing. Increasing urbanization is in part due to occupational shifts from those old industries to NC’s new industries: information technology, food production, finance, and biotechnology. She told the committee that these demographic changes may have us looking at a driverless future sooner than we may think.

Build NC Legislative Proposal

Staff presented to the committee the Build NC Bond Act, which, if passed, will authorize the State Treasurer to issue Build NC Bonds. These bonds are a type of special indebtedness in which the proceeds shall be used only for Division Need Projects and Regional Impact Projects in accordance with the Strategic Transportation Investments (STI) law.

The Act provides that  approximately 50% of the proceeds from an issuance of Build NC Bonds may be used for Division Need Projects and the remainder of the proceeds may be used for Regional Impact Projects. No proceeds may be used for Statewide Strategic Mobility Projects. DOT may not use the Build NC proceeds for non-highway projects or tolling projects. The Act directs the total amount of special indebtedness resulting from the sale of Build NC Bonds not to exceed $3 billion.

The legislative proposal was voted on and approved by the full committee. A summary of the bill draft can be read here.

Transportation Secretary Promotes Build NC

Sec. Trogdon came before the committee to throw his support behind the Build NC Act. He said DOT is changing how they work and their delivery process. DOT has accelerated 350 projects, added 144 new projects, and works to deliver around $2.6 billion in projects each year. He emphasized that delivering projects on time and early can have a great impact on NC. He told members that roads delivered on time are safer, make getting to work faster, and provide employment for more people. 

Despite many successes in recent years, Sec. Trogdon said DOT is still playing catch up. He said his agency needs to have every tool available for timely project delivery, which is becoming more critical by the day as the state grows rapidly. Although it is impossible to predict the impacts of this impending population surge, the Build NC Act is the tool he said will help DOT keep their promise to NC.

Additional Legislative Proposals

Members voted to approve their committee report which contained eight additional legislative proposals.

  1. Airport Prop. Purchase/Min. Criteria/NCEPA
  2. DOT Property Sales Proceeds/Highway Fund
  3. Unanticipated Bridge/Road Closure/Waive Bids
  4. Replacement ROW for Utility Relocations
  5. DOT Highway Division/SHRA Exemption
  6. DOT/Project Delivery Method Pilot Project
  7. Clarify Oversight Authority/Auto Appraisers
  8. DMV/Motor Coach Study

These bills will be filed in the upcoming short session.

Education Proposals

The Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee met briefly Tuesday, voting to approve their legislative report, which included a handful of legislative recommendations:

  1. An act to extend the virtual charter school pilot program for four more years.
  2. An act to direct the section chief of the licensure section of the Department of Public Instruction to establish a cross-training program for employees of the section to improve timely processing of educator licensure applications.
  3. An act to study medical education and medical residency programs.
  4. An act to clarify and make permanent the reporting requirement on cursive writing and multiplication tables.

Emergency Management Proposals

The Joint Legislative Emergency Management Oversight Committee voted Thursday to approve their committee report, which contains four legislative proposals. Sen. Ron Rabin explained the four pieces of proposed legislation:

  1. An act to require training and certification of police telecommunications.
  2. An act to require charter schools, regional schools, UNC Laboratory schools, and nonpublic schools accepting students receiving opportunity scholarship grants and to encourage other nonpublic schools to develop a school risk management plan, hold school safety exercises, and provide school safety information to local law enforcement and the Division of Emergency Management.
  3. An act to encourage local law enforcement agencies to operate programs that education citizens regarding law enforcement operations, to recognize the danger signs of potentially violent activities, and to provide training to citizens who want to provide volunteer services to local law enforcement agencies.
  4. An act to amend the NC Emergency Management Act to clarify that prevention is within the scope of the Act.

Proposed Occupational Licensing Change

The Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight (APO) Committee’s Occupational Licensing Boards Oversight Reporting Working Group presented their findings to the full APO committee Tuesday. After meeting three times, the Working Group was able to make several recommendations for the committee’s consideration:

  1. Specify occupational licensing boards that will be required to report annually for state oversight pursuant to NCGS 93B-1.
  2. Standardize annual financial reporting by requiring all boards to begin reporting for FY 2019-2020 based upon an annual financial audit conducted by a CPA in accordance with Generally Accepted Governmental Auditing Standards.
  3. Authorize regulation of financial reporting by Office of State Controller.
  4. Require all boards to use standard state fiscal year of July 1- June 30.
  5. In order to allow prompt retrieval of board reports and to compare board financial data and identify key statistical indicators, create a legislative website beginning with FY 2019-2020 reports.

The committee’s draft legislation can be read here.

School Safety Subcommittee Makes Recommendations

The House Select Committee on School Safety Student Physical Safety and Security Working Group met Wednesday to make their legislative recommendations:

  1. Bill Draft: Expand Use/School Risk Management Plans  – An act to require charter schools, regional schools, and UNC laboratory schools and to encourage nonpublic schools to develop a school risk management plan, hold school safety exercises, and provide school safety information to local law enforcement and the Division of Emergency Management.
  2. Bill Draft: SROs defined/training standards – An act to define school safety resource officer and require training standards for those officers.
  3. Bill Draft: Increase funding for SRO Grant – An act to appropriate additional grant funds for SROs.
  4. Bill Draft: School Building Vulnerability Assessments – An act directing the Center for Safer Schools to develop a facility vulnerability assessment tool and directing local school administrative units to complete a facility vulnerability assessment for each school building annually.
  5. Bill Draft: SRO Rpt by LBEs to Center for Safer Schools – An act directing each local board of education to annually report to the Center for Safer Schools information about SROs and directing the Center for Safer Schools to annually report the information to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee.

Legislative drafts will be sent to the full House Select Committee on School Safety for consideration.

A Look Ahead to Next Week

Wednesday, May 09, 2018
9:30 AM Revenue Laws Study Committee

Thursday, May 10, 2018
9:00 AM House Select Committee on School Safety