North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

December 3, 2021

Pardon Our Dust

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The North Carolina General Assembly adjourned this week, to return in earlyJanuary, unless redistricting lawsuits or potential veto overrides bringlegislators back to Raleigh early. Two Democratic legislators, Rep. Brian Turnerand Rep. Susan Fisher, both of Buncombe County, announced their retirement fromthe legislator. Fisher is a senior member of the caucus, having served 9complete terms as of this session. This week, North Carolina was also paid avisit by Vice President Kamala Harris and Transportation Secretary PeteButtigieg, who visited Charlotte to promote the newly passed infrastructurebill. 

Following the Thanksgiving holiday, COVID cases have yet again increased. Asof this morning, in the state of North Carolina, there were 3,720 confirmedcases of the coronavirus, 1,202 individuals hospitalized, and sadly, 18,825confirmed deaths. 73% of the total adult population has been vaccinated.

As we all continue to feel the effects of the global pandemic and adjust to anew normal, we want to highlight a few ways our clients across North Carolinahave worked to support residents and make this time a little easier for thosethroughout the state. Read more about what our clients are doing to help by clickinghere.

For more information on COVID-19 in North Carolina, clickhere to visit the Department of Health and Human Services website, and besure to stay up to date on the latest federal guidelines issued by the Centersfor Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by clickinghere.

Cohen Retiring

A face familiar to many North Carolinians after appearing on televisionnearly every day during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, North CarolinaDepartment of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen,announced this week that she is stepping down from the job. Governor Roy Cooper(D) will name Kody Kinsley, who currently serves as chief deputy secretary ofthe department, as the new department head. Kinsley will begin on January 1.

When fielding questions from reporters Tuesday, Cohen did not say where shewould be going next, only saying she was looking forward to spending some timewith her children. When asked if she would be running for the US Senate, as somerumors had speculated, Cohen said she had “no plans” to run for any office. Lastyear, Cohen’s name was floated by national media outlets as a possible Bidenadministration appointee.

She leaves with strong bipartisan admiration. Senate leader Phil Berger(R-Rockingham) released a statement saying Cohen’s “leadership throughout hertenure at the DHHS has helped our state navigate turbulent times.” SenateDemocratic leader Dan Blue (D-Wake) tweeted that Cohen “led our state throughunprecedented challenges, and we are better off for it.”

End of Session Bills

The General Assembly worked into the night on Monday passing a slew of bills.Here’s an overview of some that passed and were presented to the Governor:

Senate Bill 473: Enhance Local Gov’t Transparency

State Auditor Beth Wood (D) was at the legislative building this week to urgelegislators to support Senate Bill 473, a Republican-backed bill that wouldrequire local governments across the state to garnish wages from a city councilmember’s compensation to collect money owed for unpaid city or county services.The bill also creates a new felony offense for certain public officers and cityemployees who financially benefit from their position. The felony provisionwould extend to prohibit public officials from participating in a contract withany nonprofit with which the official is associated, except for towns withpopulations smaller than 15,000 people. The bill stems from a recent audit ofthe City of Rocky Mount by Wood, which reportedly found a councilman’s utilitybills being waived and taken off the books by the City.

The bill passed mostly along party lines and was presented to the Governor onWednesday.

House Bill 110: Landlord Submission of HOPE Application

Both the federal and state government enacted eviction moratoriums during thecoronavirus pandemic, but both ended earlier this year. As a result, landlordshave been tasked with the burden of recovering past-due rent or face theprospect of evicting tenants. At the onset of the pandemic, the NC Office ofRecovery and Resiliency (NCORR) created the NC HOPE program to utilize federalfunds to provide rent and utility bill assistance to tenants who have beenfinancially impacted by the pandemic. The program sends payment directly to alandlord or utility for past due rent, but it requires a tenant to first apply.House Bill 110 is in response to landlords requesting the ability to submit anapplication on behalf of a tenant, provided the tenant meets all the federalrequirements of the program.

The bill passed with bipartisan support and was presented to the Governor onTuesday.

House Bill 220: Choice of Energy

To prevent municipalities in North Carolina from replicating a practice ofsome California towns who are restricting newly built homes from using naturalgas, the General Assembly passed House Bill 220. The bill would prevent localgovernments from adopting ordinances that ban the connection or reconnection ofenergy services including natural gas and propane. In the Senate, an amendmentfailed that would have included solar power as an applicable energy service.

The second section of the bill addresses the public disclosure of detailedplans and drawings of public buildings and critical infrastructure and restrictsthe availability of this information to the public. This loosely results fromthe Colonial Pipeline hack earlier this year, and the desire of the legislatureto strengthen resiliency to a possible attack on critical infrastructure. Thebill passed mostly along party lines and was presented to the Governor onTuesday.

House Bill 294: Sale of Salvaged Vehicles

Currently, vehicles with salvaged titles can only be sold in the statethrough auctions. House Bill 294 would authorize a motor vehicle dealer to sella used vehicle that has been issued a salvage certificate of title, withoutinspections, if the dealer has no knowledge of vehicle alterations or repairsand discloses to the purchaser that the vehicle was not inspected by the dealer.

The bill passed the House unanimously, but only one Democrat voted for thebill in the Senate. It was presented to the Governor on Wednesday.


Even before the redistricting process concluded in North Carolina, lawsuitswere filed challenging the maps and the overall process as illegal for partisanand racial reasons. To date, four lawsuits have been filed. On Tuesday, aSuperior Court panel heard the first suit, which was brought by the state NAACP,Common Cause, and several voters in late October. The suit alleged that theRepublican legislature refused to consider data such as Black voting-agepopulation percentages in a region or to evaluate the presence of raciallypolarized voting in the state when drawing maps. After the hearing Tuesday,Superior Court Judge Graham Shirley denied the requested injunction which wouldhave forced lawmakers to start the entire redistricting process over. Dismissingthe lawsuit as moot, Shirley also stressed that his ruling should not apply tosubsequent suits challenging the actual maps themselves. “Nothing I have said,nor should this order be construed as any opinion of the court on theconstitutionality or validity of the maps that have been passed,” said Shirley

At least two more suits challenging the maps as partisan and racialgerrymanders will be heard by Superior Court panels on Friday, December 3.Candidate filing is currently set to begin on Monday, December 6. 

Legislative Meetings

There will be no legislative meetings next week.