North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

July 14, 2023

Pardon Our Dust

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North Carolina is now two weeks into the new fiscal year and the General Assembly has not yet passed a state budget. Unlike the federal government, the state government will continue to operate at the previous budget’s spending levels. However, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are eager to pass a budget to provide raises for state employees and teachers, enact programs to address state agency workforce shortages, and implement Medicaid expansion. The impasse is between the Republican leadership in the House and Senate chambers, over the effects of tax revenues from income tax cuts, commercial casinos, medical cannabis, and state reserve funds. Earlier this week, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) told reporters that medical cannabis is likely off the table due to it not having enough support within the House Republican caucus.

Democrats are using the budget impasse to urge Republicans to decouple Medicaid expansion from the budget deal. During a press conference Wednesday, House Democratic Leader Representative Robert Reives (D-Chatham) told reporters, “Because we’re looking at a prolonged standoff, it seems, and try to at least get [Medicaid expansion] done so that we can make sure that folks that need insurance are insured.” Attorney General Josh Stein, who is the Democratic front runner in the 2024 gubernatorial race, joined Reives and other legislative Democrats at their press conference to call for an end to the budget stalemate.

Charter Schools

In the House’s only voting session of the week, HB 219: Charter School Omnibus was sent to Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s desk with a vote of 61-41. Four Democrats joined all Republicans to advance the bill. HB 219 sets out to make numerous changes to the way that charter schools operate in North Carolina. Specifically, the bill would:

  • Remove growth restrictions for charter schools that are performing well
  • Allowing low-performing charter schools to grow greater than 20%
  • Allow charter schools to admit out-of-state students and foreign exchange students
  • Allow counties to appropriate property taxes to help fund charter school capital needs
  • Allow pre-lottery admissions to charter schools for certain preschools with set contracts and children of active-duty members in the military

HB 618: Charter School Review Board, a complementary bill to HB 219, would delegate many of the State Board of Education’s current responsibilities with overseeing charter schools to a new board called the Charter Schools Review Board. This new board, whose members would be appointed by the General Assembly, would be responsible for approving new charter schools and charter school renewals. Currently, the State Board of Education is comprised of a majority of members appointed by Governor Cooper. HB 618 was vetoed by Governor Cooper earlier this month and is likely to be overridden by the legislature. A veto of HB 219 is also likely, however, due to the bipartisan nature of the bill’s final vote, the Republican-controlled legislature will likely have the votes needed to override that veto as well.

Bill Signings and Vetoes

Last week, Democratic Governor Roy Cooper signed into law 22 billsincluding agency requests from the Treasurer’s office, Division of Emergency Management, Department of Environmental Quality, and the Innocence Inquiry Commission. The governor also signed into law:

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Monday, July 17

3:00 PM: House Session
3:00 PM: Senate Session