North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

January 6, 2023

Pardon Our Dust

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The General Assembly does not return to session until next Wednesday, making it a mostly quiet week in the legislature. But attention has turned to Washington D.C. for the first week of official business in Congress. Former Republican Congressman Ted Budd was sworn in as North Carolina’s junior United States Senator, joined by current Republican Senator Thom Tillis and Budd’s predecessor Senator Richard Burr. North Carolina’s delegation in the United States House also moved into their new offices this week, but none of the state’s fourteen Congressmembers have yet been sworn in due to a Constitutional requirement that a Speaker of the House be elected first. Since Tuesday, the House has been unable to elect a Speaker due to twenty House Republicans, including North Carolina’s Congressman Dan Bishop, refusing to vote for California Republican Kevin McCarthy.

This week, McGuireWoods Consulting announced that former North Carolina Congressman G. K. Butterfield has joined the firm as a Senior Advisor in its Washington D.C., office. Congressman Butterfield served in Congress since 2004, where he was a former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and senior member of the Democratic Party’s Whip team. View the full press release here to learn more about Congressman Butterfield joining our federal public affairs team.

New Laws

The 2021-2022 legislative session officially concluded at the end of December. It was a long, yet productive session that saw the passage of the first budget since the 2017-2018 biennium. With the new year came new laws that went into effect on January 1st.

Senate Bill 105: Most of the budget passed in 2021 has already gone into effect, but one provision has just gone into effect. Section 8.10 adds provisions to the state’s General Statutes requiring the State Fire Marshall to educate every fire department about the state’s findings on the use of Aqueous Film-Forming Foams, which have been found to contain harmful toxins.

A more controversial provision that went into effect on January 1st was a section modifying the Governor’s emergency powers. The new section changes how the members of the Council of State are consulted for their concurrence on executive orders that create restrictions during an emergency, like those enforced during the coronavirus pandemic. The Governor will now be required to seek concurrence on an emergency order, and publish the names of those who concurred and opposed the order. Additionally, if the council does not agree to continue an emergency order, the Governor cannot issue the same nor a similar order.

Senate Bill 300: In 2021, legislators passed the bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform bill which created protections and training for law enforcement and enacted new provisions overseeing the release of law enforcement body camera footage. Most of the bill’s changes went into effect when the bill was passed, but one section is official as of 2023. The now-enacted section requires the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to conduct background checks for anyone who applies to be a law enforcement officer and provide the information to the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Education and Training Standards Commission. The applicants’ fingerprints will also be submitted to the SBI to be placed in a new state database.

House Bill 83: In 2022, legislators unanimously passed a technical bill making changes to the state’s business tax and revenue laws. The first change that went into effect this year made a slight net worth definition change for foreign businesses to base a foreign entity’s net worth on the value of assets in the United States. Another section that went into effect reduces the tax penalty for failure to pay on time from 10% of the tax to 5%.

Senate Bill 766: The Organized Retail Thefts bill was signed into law last June and increases the penalties for organized retail theft. The section that went into effect this week requires online marketplaces to gather information from high-volume sellers, including bank account numbers, tax identification numbers, and contact information. Sellers will also need to disclose if they received a product from another entity.

New House Democrats

When legislators return to Raleigh next week to start the 2023 legislative long session there will be several new faces around the legislative complex. Among those newly elected lawmakers, the House of Representatives will welcome fifteen new Democratic members. They include:

Ray Jeffers – District 2 (Durham and Person)

Following redistricting earlier this year, this district became Democratic as it added more of Durham County. Incumbent Larry Yarborough (R-Person) ran for re-election but was defeated by Democrat Ray Jeffers. Jeffers is a former Person County Commissioner, where he served for 12 years, including one term as Chairman. When he was first elected, he was sworn in as the youngest county commissioner in North Carolina. Jeffers is the past President of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and was recognized as the Commissioner of the Year by the North Carolina Association of Black County Officials. Jeffers attended Piedmont Community College, and received his degree from North Carolina A&T.

Gloristine Brown – District 8 (Pitt)

Gloristine Brown will succeed Representative Kandie Smith (D-Pitt) who was elected to the Senate this year. Brown is the Mayor of Bethel, a small town in Pitt County. She worked as a nurse at the Pitt County Memorial Hospital and is a member of local boards including the United Way and Pitt Community College. Brown also serves on the North Carolina Association of Community College Board of Trustees.

Ya Liu – District 21 (Wake)

Ya Liu was elected to an open seat in Wake County, drawn due to increasing population in the Cary-area. Liu emigrated to North Carolina from China over a decade ago to pursue higher education. She received a Ph.D. in sociology from North Carolina State University and attained a law degree from North Carolina Central University. Liu owns a small business, and most recently served one term on the Cary City Council.

Tim Longest – District 34 (Wake)

Tim Longest will succeed Representative Jack Nichols (D-Wake) who was appointed to fill the vacancy left by former Representative Grier Martin (D-Wake) who resigned to take a job in the Pentagon. Nichols did not opt to run for the seat. Longest received both a degree in philosophy and a law degree from the University of North Carolina. While in law school in 2018, he served on the North Carolina Law Review, and was inducted into the Order of the Golden Fleece. Longest has spent most of his career working in the judicial branch in North Carolina, most recently serving as law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson. Longest also serves on the North Carolina Baw Association Appellate Rules Committee, and the City of Raleigh Human Relations Commission.

Maria Cervania – District 41 (Wake)

Maria Cervania will succeed Representative Gale Adcock (D-Wake) who was elected to the Senate this year. Cervania is originally from California, and graduates from the University of California at Berkely with a degree in integrated biology and physical education. While in school, she also taught anatomy and physical education in Oakland. She moved to North Carolina nearly 20 years ago and has worked in various roles in public health and epidemiology. In 2020, Cervania was elected to the Wake County Commissioners and became the first Asian American/Pacific Islander elected to the board. She was also the first Filipino elected to office in North Carolina.

Charles Smith – District 44 (Cumberland)

Charles Smith will succeed Representative Billy Richardson (D-Cumberland), who has served in the legislature since the early 1990’s. Smith is an attorney in Fayetteville with The Charleston Group. Prior to transitioning to private practice, Smith worked as a prosecutor in Cumberland County, primarily handling domestic violence and child abuse cases. While in that role, he served on the Cumberland County Domestic Violence Task Force.

Frances Jackson – District 45 (Cumberland)

Frances Jackson will succeed Representative John Szoka (R-Cumberland) who opted to not run for re-election to the House this year. Jackson is a full-time middle school social studies teacher, and a community planner for the Cumberland County Metropolitan Planning Organization. She has worked with the North Carolina Department of Transportation to manage federal transit grants. She also serves on the Hope Mills Zoning Commission, and the Cumberland County Alcohol and Beverage Control Board. Jackson holds a degree in business and economics from North Carolina A&T, a master’s degree in political science from Fayetteville State University, and a Ph.D. in public policy from Walden University.

Renée Price – District 50 (Orange)

Renée Price will succeed Representative Graig Meyer (D-Orange) who was elected to the Senate this year. Price was born in Rochester, New York, and earned a degree in urban affairs from Tufts University. She also received a master’s in regional planning from Cornell University. She worked in New York, specializing in inner-city neighborhood revitalization, land-use planning and historic preservation. She also helped initiate the first low-income and affordable housing trust fund for New York State. Price moved to North Carolina in 1990 and remained involved in community activities dealing with the arts and sustainable agriculture. In 2012, Price was elected to the Orange County Commissioners, where she served until being elected to the House. She also served as President of the North Carolina Association of Black County Officials.

Sarah Crawford – District 66 (Wake)

Sarah Crawford currently serves in the Senate, representing northern Wake County, but opted to not run for the seat that was redrawn during redistricting, and instead chose to run for the House. Crawford received a degree from North Carolina State University and has remained involved in her community. She serves as chief executive officer of the Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities, and previously served as national director at Single Stop.

Kanika Brown – District 71 (Forsyth)

Kanika Brown will succeed Representative Evelyn Terry (D-Forsyth) who decided to retire and not seek re-election. Brown is a graduate of Forsyth Technical Community College and serves as a rehabilitation worker in Winston Salem. She is also a substitute teacher in Forsyth County, in addition to overseeing a pet food pantry and organizing with HIV/AIDS awareness groups.

Diamond Staton-Williams – District 73 (Cabarrus)

Diamon Staton-Williams was elected to an open seat created due to population rising in Cabarrus County, a suburb of the City of Charlotte. Staton-Williams is a Registered Nurse, employed as director of ambulatory care management for Carolinas Healthcare System. She attended Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing and receiving her BSN from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She also received her master’s in healthcare administration from Pfeiffer University. Staton-Williams has served two terms on the Harrisburg Town Council, where she became the first African American female elected to the board. She also created the town’s first youth council, and she was a founding member of the Black Political Caucus of Cabarrus County.

Laura Budd – District 103 (Mecklenburg)

Laura Budd will succeed Representative Rachel Hunt (D-Mecklenburg) who was elected to the Senate this year. She received a degree in history and political science from Ohio University and attained a law degree from Wake Forest Law School in 2002. Budd is currently the managing partner of Weaver and Budd Law, in Charlotte, representing companies and businesses in construction litigation. Budd also serves as a member of the board of directors for the Mecklenburg County Bar Association, and as president of the Matthews Athletic Recreation Association.

Tricia Cotham – District 112 (Mecklenburg)

Tricia Cotham is returning to the House of Representatives after first serving ten years from 2007 to 2017. She ran for Congress in 2016 but lost the primary to incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Alma Adams. Prior to becoming involved in politics, Cotham was a classroom teacher, and was named Teacher of the Year for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. She also worked as an assistant principal at East Mecklenburg High School. During her first couple years in the House, she served as co-chair of the subcommittee on K-12 education. Cotham’s mother, Pat Cotham, is currently a member of the Mecklenburg County Commissioners.

Eric Ager – District 114 (Buncombe)

Eric Ager will succeed his father, Representative John Ager (D-Buncombe), who opted to retire and not seek re-election this year. Ager attended the United States Naval Academy and is a Retired Navy Commander who served as a pilot and Foreign Area Officer as an expert in political-military operations. After serving 25 years in the Navy, Ager returned to Buncombe County to work as Operations Consultant for his family’s working farm, Hickory Nut Gap Farm.

Lindsey Prather – District 115 (Buncombe)

Lindsey Prather will succeed Representative Brian Turner (D-Buncombe) who opted to not seek re-election this year. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Asheville as a recipient of the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Scholarship with a degree in social studies with teaching licenses in social studies and special equation. Prather taught for six years in Buncombe County Schools before enrolling in Western Carolina University’s master’s in public affairs program. She then became Assistant Director of Admission at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Prather has been actively involved in her local community, especially with voter education and registration, having organized voter registration drives and candidate forums.

For a complete breakdown of North Carolina’s state House election results in 2022, click here.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Wednesday, January 11

12:00PM: House Session
12:00PM: Senate Session