NCGA Week in Review

December 10, 2018

Pardon Our Dust

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Due to weather in Raleigh, the General Assembly has cancelled all committee meetings and will hold skeletal sessions (non-voting) this evening.

The General Assembly worked throughout the week holding committees, session, and taking up potential legislation. House and Senate Leaders are hoping to conclude their work for the year by the end of this week, barring any vetoes from the Governor. If any of the bills are vetoed, the legislature will have to come back again before the end of the year to override the vetoes, as a new biennium starts in 2019.

Voter ID

Lawmakers passed language for the voter ID constitutional amendment  requested by voters on Election Day. Senate Bill 824: Implementation of Voter ID Const. Amendment passed the House 67-40 and the Senate 25-7 after hours of debate. Lawmakers amended the bill to include a provision requiring a photocopy of a photo ID to accompany mailed-in absentee ballots.

Some Democratic lawmakers called for a delay in the implementation of the bill until after any special election is complete. Voter ID goes into effect January 2019, meaning municipal election primaries will require a valid form of ID to vote. The bill may be implemented sooner than that due if the election controversy in the 9th District congressional race leads to a special election in 2019.

Debate centered around the accessibility of IDs, educating voters about the bill, and the implementation timeline. The state will provide free voter IDs for eligible citizens. Democrats argued that the law still prevents the poor, the elderly, and minorities from voting. One House Republican lawmaker offered an amendment to eliminate student IDs from the list of acceptable IDs citing that they were easy to replicate and waving a fake college ID that he got off the internet on the House floor. The amendment ultimately failed.  

The state elections board is charged with approving university student IDs, government employee IDs, and making sure they comply with the new law. The deadline for that is March 15 and has to be approved by April 1. The rules for absentee ballot IDs have to be approved by July 1.

Highlights on Senate Bill 824:

  • Implements the constitutional requirement that voters offering to vote in person present photographic identification before voting.
  • Requires county boards of elections to issue free voter photo identification cards to registered voters upon request.
  • Requires the State Board to adopt rules for voters to include identification in the request for an absentee ballot by mail, or to comply with an affidavit requirement or include the required identification in with the voters’ returned ballots.
  • Creates a new Class I felony for counterfeiting, selling, lending to, or knowingly permitting the unauthorized use of a form of photo identification for the purpose of voting.
  • Allows the chair of each political party to designate up to 100 additional at-large observers who may attend any voting place in the State.

Retirement Bill

Senate Bill 117: Forfeit. Retmt/Anti-Spiking/Serv. Purch/TC was taken up in House Committee on Pensions and Retirement last week. The bill had been sitting in committees since June. The bill as written would end three of the seven benefit payment options to state employees including teachersThe bill received support from the State Employees Association citing that the bill moves their pension plan towards the future.

Also included in the bill is a requirement that judges who get impeached must forfeit their retirement, changes to the rules of retirement forfeitures for state workers convicted of job-related felonies, and provision that would combat “pension spiking” by agencies. 

A few members of the committee were concerned that the changes were unconstitutional as they would take benefit options away from employees who have already invested in the system. The bill cleared the committee and has now been sent to the Committee on Rules and Operation of the Senate.

Technical Corrections

The House approved 10 amendments Thursday to Senate Bill 469: Technical Corrections. As the bill title indicates, most of it was technical in nature, but it did add $700,000 to Cedar Point, NC for hurricane relief. Democratic Leader Darren Jackson (D-Wake) argued that the money sent to the town could have been used to re-build the state’s savings account. Instead the money will be used for the slated revitalization of downtowns in Carteret County that were affected by Hurricane Florence.

The House PCS (Proposed Committee Substitute) turned the bill into a broad technical corrections bill. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Repeals required annual service report that must be filed with the Secretary of State by cable service franchises.
  • Expands eligibility for the principal bonus program’s “double bonus” to include principals who supervised a school with a grade of D or F in the 2016-2017 school year.
  • Prohibits cities from collecting certain application and technical consulting fees they otherwise would be able to collect from entities that provide telecommunications services for the collocation of certain small wireless facilities.
  • Reallocates grant-in-aid funds provided in the Budget Bill from the Town of Cedar Point to Carteret County to enable completion of the intended projects.

The bill cleared the House with a vote of 56-32 and has been placed on the Senate calendar for December 10. The Senate will either have to concur or go to conference committee.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

10:00 a.m.      
Social Services Regional Supervision and Collaboration Working Group
Conference Call

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

10:00 a.m.      
Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Capital Improvements
423 LOB

10:00 a.m.      
Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission
544 LOB

1:00 p.m.        
Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, Subcommittee on Atlantic Coast Pipeline
643 LOB

Thursday, December 13, 2018

10:00 a.m.      
Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Capital Improvements
423 LOB