NCGA Week in Review

June 4, 2018

Pardon Our Dust

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The budget process continued last week as House lawmakers gave preliminary approval late Thursday to a $23.9 billion spending plan for next year. Both chambers considered legislation impacting a number of issues including judicial elections, building code reform, opioid laws, and more.

Budget Bill Passes House

After hours of debate on Senate Bill 99 on the House floor last week, the House passed the budget with a vote of 66-44 early Friday morning. The votes for the budget were split mostly along party lines. The Senate voted to approve the budget Thursday morning, 36-14. The budget was a conference report and for the first time no one could offer amendments. Governor Cooper now has ten days from the date it was passed to decide whether to sign it, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature.

Budget Highlights:

  • Every full-time state employee will make at least $15 an hour, which equates to $31,200 a year. Every state employee will receive at least a 2 percent raise, and some employees like prison workers and Highway Patrol troopers will get bigger raises.
  • An additional $60 million will be set aside for Hurricane Matthew recovery, in addition to the billions of state and federal money already appropriated to help eastern North Carolina rebound from the 2016 storm.
  • Updates will be made to the Internal Revenue code, including the decoupling adjustments from the federal tax code.
  • Changes will also be made to the education savings account, allowing parents to receive scholarships in the form of a debit card or an electronic account. The funds will load into the account at the beginning of the fiscal year.
  • The average salary increase for teachers was raised from 6.2 percent to 6.5 percent.
  • The length of the virtual charter school pilot program will be doubled to eight years, extending the program until the 2022-2023 school year instead of ending in 2019 as originally planned.

Change to Building Code Regulatory Reform in House

House Bill 948, sponsored by Rep. Mark Brody (R-Union), was discussed in House Regulatory Reform and House Finance last week. The bill, if passed, would make various changes to the building inspection procedure for cities and counties and to the inspector licensing requirements. These changes include:

  • Clarifying that cities and counties accept authorized inspections by licensed architects or engineers, or persons they supervise, of building components or elements designed by a licensed architect or engineer.
  • Authorizing the North Carolina Code Officials Qualification Board (Q Board) to establish a marketplace pool of qualified Code-enforcement officials available statewide for code enforcement duties.
  • Requiring the Insurance Commissioner to assign marketplace pool inspectors to conduct building inspections when a local inspection department cannot conduct an inspection within two business days of a permit holder’s inspection request and authorizing the Commissioner to fix and collect fees for these inspections.
  • Authorizing cities and counties to enter into mutual aid contracts specifically for North Carolina State Building Code enforcement and administration.
  • Requiring that building framing inspection reports finding 20 or more violations be submitted to the Department of Insurance.
  • Authorizing the Q Board to grant a three year provisional certificate to Code-enforcement officials who are certified and in good standing either in another State or by the International Code Council.
  • Defining inspector misconduct to include requiring installation of appliances and equipment in a method or manner not required by the State Building Code and contrary to the manufacturer’s instructions

The bill received a favorable report from both committees and was placed on the House calendar for this week.

Elections Bill

Senate Bill 486, an election omnibus bill that includes election security measures and other provisions, was debated last week. The bill, introduced by Sen. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph), has become a contentious topic as election reform and voting security ramp up. Since there were no judicial primaries this year, multiple candidates from the same party may be running in the same race this November. Democrats proposed several amendments that would have moved judicial races to a higher position on the ballet. Currently, the bill places the judicial races after the legislative and local partisan races. House Rules Chair Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) opposed the amendment saying, “I don’t think it particularly will affect the level of participation for the judges.”

A Look Ahead to Next Week

Monday, June 4, 2018
4:00 PM Senate Select Committee on Elections
7:00 PM Senate Session Convenes

Tuesday, June 5, 2018
10:00 AM Senate Judiciary
10:00 AM House Education – K-12
11:00 AM House Transportation

Wednesday, June, 2018
1:00 PM House Judiciary II
1:00 PM House Judiciary III