NCGA Week in Review

June 8, 2018

Pardon Our Dust

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Business picked up at the legislature this week. The Senate quickly overrode Governor Cooper’s veto of the $23.9 billion state budget, and both chambers considered legislation on regulatory reform, judicial elections, and municipal charter schools. Also, Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and other House leaders sponsored a bill that would add a state constitutional amendment to November’s ballot.

Senate Overrides Governor’s Budget Veto

Governor Cooper announced on Wednesday his veto of the state budget, and the Senate acted quickly to override the Governor on Thursday. The Senate’s vote to override the Governor’s veto of SB 99: Appropriations Act of 2018, the $23.9 billion state budget, passed by a vote of 34 to 13, entirely on party lines. Republicans hold super majorities in both chambers, which allows for them to easily reach the three-fifths threshold to override a gubernatorial veto. The budget now heads back to the House for its consideration.

Regulatory Reform

Legislation that would amend various business regulations received a favorable report from the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee on Thursday. HB 573: Business/Regulatory Changes surfaced as a proposed committee substitute to a House bill that would allow municipalities and counties to petition the superior court to appoint a receiver of vacant and abandoned buildings. The committee substitute adds several new provisions that deal with energy efficiency codes for residential garages, allow cities and counties to hold malt beverage and unfortified wine selections, and modify groundwater-well and landfill rules. The bill heads to the Senate Rules Committee for its review.

Build NC Bond Act

Legislation that would allow the state to borrow up to $3 billion for road construction received a favorable report from the House Finance Committee on Thursday. HB 1010: Build NC Bond Act, sponsored by House Transportation Committee Chairs John Torbett (R-Gaston), Frank Iller (R-Brunswick), Michele Presnell (R-Yancey), and Phil Shepherd (R-Onslow), would allow the State Treasurer to authorize bonds of special indebtedness to finance regional transportation projects. Unlike statewide bonds, the Highway Trust Fund will be used as the repayment source for the bonds, and do not have to be approved by a statewide vote. The bill is currently in the House Rules Committee.

Judicial Election Changes

The House voted not to concur on Senate changes to legislation that would make various changes to judicial elections. Sponsored by Reps. Justin Burr (R-Stanley), Scott Stone (R-Mecklenburg), and Destin Hall (R-Catawba), HB 717: Judicial Elections Changes in its current form would make the following changes: reduce the number of judicial divisions from eight to five; encourage the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court to assign resident superior court judges to their home district for six months out of the year; and alter the schedule for judicial elections in Pender County. Also, the bill would require election ballots to specify the seat sought for Justice or Judge if the seat is currently vacant. A list of House conferees is available here.

Constitutional Amendment

Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), Rules Chairman, David Lewis (R-Harnett) and other House leaders filed legislation on Thursday that would add a state constitutional amendment to the ballot in November. If passed, HB 1092: Const. Amendment – Require Photo ID to Vote. would allow voters in November’s election to decide if the North Carolina Constitution should be amended to require photo identification to vote in North Carolina. The legislation must be approved by three-fifths of the House and Senate before it is added to the ballot.

Read Speaker Moore’s press release here.

Municipal Charter Schools

The House ratified a bill into law that would allow four towns in Mecklenburg County to establish municipal charter schools. HB 514: Permit Municipal Charter School/Certain Towns, sponsored by Rep. Bill Brawley (R-Mecklenburg), will permit the towns of Matthews, Mint Hill, Huntersville, and Cornelius to apply for a charter to operate a charter school. The charter schools would grant preferential enrollment to students domiciled in their municipality. Since the legislation was a local bill, it became law after approval from both chambers of the General Assembly.

Feds Give Final Approval to NC Toll Road

The Federal Highway Administration gave approval to the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the North Carolina Turnpike Authority to start the process of finishing the NC Highway 540 toll road. The $2.2 billion project, known as the Triangle Expressway, will complete the remaining portion of the road that will run across Wake County from NC Highway 55 to US Highway 264. The project has cleared numerous municipal, environmental, and state hurdles along the way. Construction is expected to begin next year.

A Look Ahead to Next Week

Monday, June 11, 2018

1:00 PM Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee
1:30 PM Senate Session Convenes
4:00 PM Senate Rules and Operations Committee
7:00 PM House Session Convenes

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

10:00 AM Senate Judiciary
12:00 PM House Agriculture