North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

February 11, 2022

Pardon Our Dust

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Legislators were back in Raleigh this week although no bills were voted on in either chamber. Next week, lawmakers will return to the capitol to draw remedial district maps following the state Supreme Court’s decision last week to block the maps passed in November. Several Joint Legislative Oversight Committees will also hold their first meetings next week.

While the omicron variant resulted in a significant spike in coronavirus cases statewide, at one point reaching over 40,000 active cases, the numbers have sharply begun to decline. As of this morning, in the state of North Carolina, there were 8,725 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. There are 3,686 individuals hospitalized, and sadly, 21,580 confirmed deaths. 75% of the total adult population has been vaccinated with at least two shots. 

As we all continue to feel the effects of the global pandemic and adjust to a new normal, we want to highlight a few ways our clients across North Carolina have worked to support residents and make this time a little easier for those throughout the state. Read more about what our clients are doing to help by clicking here.

For more information on COVID-19 in North Carolina, click here to visit the Department of Health and Human Services website, and be sure to stay up to date on the latest federal guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by clicking here.

Redistricting Update

Late last Friday, the North Carolina Supreme Court blocked the Congressional and legislative district maps drawn by the NC General Assembly from taking effect, and ordered the legislature to redraw the maps by February 18. Agreeing with the petitioners, the justices struck the maps down, arguing in their opinion that the maps minimized the influence of Democratic voters. “To comply with the limitations contained in the North Carolina Constitution which are applicable to redistricting plans, the General Assembly must not diminish or dilute any individual’s vote on the basis of partisan affiliation,” Justice Hudson wrote in the majority opinion.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court issued a directive that reestablishes the candidate filing period set to begin on February 24 and run through March 4. The primary date of May 17 was left unchanged. The Court also affirmed that they will appoint a Special Master to assist the trial court in reviewing the newly proposed maps passed by the General Assembly. The Court’s directive requires the legislature to evaluate and demonstrate the partisan fairness of their maps using tools like an efficiency gap analysis. The Court will approve the new maps by February 23, or reject the maps and adopt a separate compliant set of maps.

There has been speculation that the Republican-led General Assembly may appeal the ruling to the US Supreme Court. While that option has not been dismissed by leaders in either chamber, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) stated on Monday that legislators would indeed submit maps to the court. Because of the limited time frame, the maps will be drawn through compromise with the Democratic caucuses in each chamber.

Special Committees Meet

In 2020 and 2021, billions of federal dollars were appropriated by the General Assembly to fund schools, both at the state level through the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), and at the local level. In December, legislators established joint oversight committees to hear voluntary testimony from agency officials who oversee the distribution and oversight of those dollars. Additionally, a House Select Committee on An Education System for North Carolina’s Future was established to study issues related to the standard course of study and submit recommendations on their findings to the full House. This week, both the Joint Government Operations Subcommittee on the Use and Distribution of COVID Funding, and the House Select Committee met to hear testimony about the state’s educational system. Much of the two meetings served as an opportunity for legislators to learn more about the agency’s bureaucratic decisions and processes.

During the House select committee, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt (R) gave a presentation on what her department is doing to address learning loss and increase accountability. Many legislators questioned the effectiveness of what DPI is doing right now to prepare students for entering the workforce. Truitt suggested the state look at collaborative efforts with private partners to create new after school programs like robotics or technical skills. She also suggested policies to give parents more of a role to cut down on chronic absenteeism. Truitt and committee members also praised the Read to Achieve legislation passed last year, arguing that the state failed when it stopped teaching kids how to be able to fully read and write.

While no substantive changes came out of the committee meeting, Truitt did indicate that work is being done using federal dollars to launch a Career Accelerator program this summer. The program will be available to all middle and high school students, and to many charter school students, to give students a hands-on way to explore career availability and coach them on how to think about the possible opportunities that align with their individual interests.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Tuesday, February 15

10:00AM: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services
2:00PM: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Medicaid and NC Health Choice

Wednesday, February 16

1:00PM: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Capital Improvements

Friday, February 18

10:00AM: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Access to Healthcare and Medicaid Expansion