Adjournment

With the budget finalized and signed by the Governor last Friday, the General Assembly has turned its attention to adjournment. On Wednesday, the Senate Rules Chairman, Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) introduced Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 721, Adjournment Resolution.

The resolution sets the General Assembly’s adjournment for next Tuesday, September 29 and for the General Assembly to reconvene Monday, April 25, 2016. The resolution passed out of the Senate on Thursday and was sent to the House.

The resolution, as passed by the Senate, would allow legislators to consider appropriations bills, constitutional amendment bills, bills that have crossed over from one chamber to the other, bills and resolutions that implement recommendations from study committees, authorities, and statutory commissions, local bills, election law bills, and for the purpose of overriding a gubernatorial veto, among a variety of other topics, when they reconvene.

The House has referred the resolution to the House Rules Committee. The committee is meeting Monday at 11 am, but the resolution currently does not appear on the committee’s agenda. The House may make modifications to the adjournment date, date the General Assembly reconvenes, or to what bills may be considered during the short session.

Read SJR 721 here.

Medicaid reform bill receives approval from General Assembly

On Tuesday, September 22, the conference committee report for HB 372, Medicaid Transformation and Reorganization, was approved by both the House and Senate. The conference report moves away from the state’s current fee-for-service system to a full-risk capitated system and to a hybrid system that will include both provider-led entities (PLEs) and managed care organizations (MCOs)

The Senate voted 33-15, mostly along party lines, with two Democrats, Sen. Ben Clark (D-Hoke) and Sen. Floyd McKissick, Jr. (D-Durham) joining with the Republicans. One Republican, Sen. Jeff Tarte (R-Mecklenburg), voted against the conference report.

The House voted 65-40, again mostly along party lines. Only one Democrat, Rep. George Graham (D-Lenoir), voted in favor of the conference report. Five Republicans voted against the conference report, one of which was a chair of the conference committee, Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake). Four of Rep. Dollar’s republican colleagues, Rep. Pat Hurley (R-Randolph), Rep. James Langdon, Jr. (R-Johnston), Rep. Michael Speciale (R-Craven), and Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake), joined him in voting no to the conference report.

Governor McCrory signed the legislation into law at a bill signing ceremony on Wednesday, September 23.

Read HB 372 here.

Economic development bill heads to Governor McCrory

This week, the conference report to HB 117, NC Competes Act, was approved by both the House and Senate. The Senate voted unanimously in a bipartisan vote to approve the legislation. The Governor is expected to sign the legislation.

With the finance portion of the state’s budget, HB 97, contingent on HB 117 becoming law, the passage by both House and Senate chambers was necessary before January 1, 2016. The conference report contains changes to the Job Development and Investment Grant (JDIG) and OneNC programs, several changes to the tax code, and a section dealing with tax compliance and fraud prevention. However, HB 117 does not address the sunset of several tax credits including renewables and research and development.

Read HB 117 here.

Historic Rehabilitation and Local Economic Development bill passed by General Assembly

The House passed SB 472, Local Incentives for Historic Rehabilitation, on Tuesday. The Senate passed SB 472 in April of this year, the House did not make any amendments to the Senate’s bill.

Under this legislation, local governments are given more flexibility in determining what projects qualify for local appropriations for economic development purposes. The legislation also extends a local government’s authority to make grants or loans for the rehabilitation of commercial or noncommercial historic structures, whether the structure is publically or privately owned.

SB 472 was presented to the Governor on Thursday.

Read HB 472 here.

County Studies

The House passed SB 391, County Omnibus Legislation, on Thursday. The bill will go to the Senate for a concurrence vote on Monday, September 28. The Senate’s session will convene at 10:30 am on Monday, but will immediately recess without votes, to return for a voting session at 7:00 pm.

The bill reestablishes the State Payment in Lieu of Taxes Study Commission, directs several studies including studying ways to control aquatic noxious weeds in state waters and studying the impact of exempting previously taxable property when acquired by a nonprofit. The legislation also clarifies requirements on local governments for the deposit of public money.

Read HB 391 here.

Bill moves Primary date to March and permits establishment of Affiliated Party Committees

On Thursday the House and Senate approved a conference report moving North Carolina’s Primary date to March 15, 2016. The House narrowly supported the conference report, voting 52-49. The Senate voted to approve the report mostly along party lines, 30-13.

Under the new legislation, candidate filing begins on December 1, 2015 and closes December 21, 2015. Political parties must submit presidential candidate lists by December 16, 2015. Early voting will begin on March 3, 2016 and end March 12, 2016.

The conference report also included a controversial provision that allows for the establishment of affiliated party committees. The legislation permits the leader of each political party of the North Carolina House and Senate to establish a separate affiliated party committee to support the election of candidates of that leader’s political party. The legislation is permissive and does not require the establishment of the affiliated party committees.

The bill was presented to the Governor today.

Read HB 373 here.

Legislation to prohibit the sale of unborn children body parts

The Senate on Wednesday introduced a committee substitute to HB 297, End Marketing/Sale Unborn Children Body Parts, regarding the use and sale of any remains of any unborn child. The legislation requires informed consent for the donation of the remains of unborn children, prohibits the sale of any aborted or miscarried material or remains of an unborn child, and limits the use of state funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs by prohibiting DHHS to use state funds to renew or extend existing contracts or enter into new contracts for teen pregnancy prevention programs with providers that perform abortions.

The legislation passed the Senate, 41-3, with three Democrats voting against the bill. Nine Democrats voted in favor of the legislation, including Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D-Wake), Sen. Angela Bryant (D-Nash), Sen. Ben Clark (D-Hoke), Sen. Don Davis (D-Greene), Sen. Joel Ford (D-Mecklenburg), Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg), Sen. Jane Smith (D-Robeson), Sen. Josh Stein (D-Wake), and Sen. Joyce Waddell (D-Mecklenburg).

The House will hear HB 297 during Monday’s afternoon session.

Read HB 297 here.

Farm Act gets initial approval from House

The House voted 86-13 on Thursday, to give an initial approval to SB 513, North Carolina Farm Act of 2015. The House will have third reading on the bill in its Monday afternoon session. The legislation makes various changes to transportation, environment and other laws in an effort to provide regulatory relief to the agriculture community.

Just hours before taking a vote on second reading, the House removed a controversial deer farming provision that would have transferred the captive cervid program to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

SB 513 is scheduled for a vote on third reading in the House on Monday.

Read SB 513 here.

Regulatory Reform Act conference report to be heard Monday in House

Thursday, Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) announced the conference report for HB 765, Regulatory Reform Act of 2015, will be heard in the House on Monday. Some highlights from the conference report include:

  • Shifting the burden of proof in certain contested cases.
  • Prohibits licensees from serving as investigators and inspectors on occupational licensing board.
  • Exempts small business entities buying or selling entity-owned property.
  • Amends the definition of “employee” under the Workers’ Compensation Act to exclude volunteers and officers of certain nonprofits.
  • Expands the Good Samaritan law Expansion to breaking into or out of railroad cars, motor vehicles, trailers, aircraft, boats or other watercrafts.
  • Directs the Environmental Review Commission to study open and fair competition with respect to materials used in wastewater, stormwater, and other water projects.
  • creates two studies on 1) electronic recycling programs and 2) permitting and recycling programs for utility-scale solar projects.
  • Amends the risk-based remediation statutes.
  • Amends the definition for “prospective developer” under brownfields redevelopments.
  • Makes amendments to isolated wetlands laws.
  • Studies and amends stormwater laws.
  • Creates a study of flood elevations and building height requirements.

Read the conference report for HB 765 here.