“Crossover” - the date by which a bill must pass out of the chamber in which it originated to remain eligible for the 2015-16 session - expired on Thursday. Throughout the week, lawmakers cumulatively passed more than 200 bills through their originating chamber in an attempt to meet the deadline. A few bills that seemed to be advancing were killed either in committee or on the floor. Others were kept alive by a procedural move to add an appropriation component to the bill, thereby exempting it from crossover. There are ways lawmakers can resurrect language that did not make the crossover deadline as well as introduce new provisions. These include amending bills that have crossed over, or replacing the language entirely into the budget. Veteran House member Rep. Cleveland (R-Onslow) was quoted after the House adjourned Thursday morning saying, “Nothing is dead. I believe the Rules allow anything.”
The House was again the busier of the two chambers, holding sessions late into the night all week. The House finally adjourned at 2:30AM, Thursday morning, when they concluded their business for the week. The Senate, on the other hand, had a relatively relaxed week when all things are considered. When lawmakers return next week, the House will begin the budget process. The Senate is expected to begin working on an economic development, tax and incentive package. Reconciling the differences on these two major issues may continue the session into August. Adding to the anticipated extension of the session is the attempt by both bodies to try to reform the healthcare system.
Below are some of the notable bills that crossed over.
H135 - Modernize Physical Therapy Practice.
H364 - Clarify Laws on Exec. Orders and Appointments.
H528 - Establish Chiropractor Co-Pay Parity.
H532 - Malt Bvg Tech Changes/Sell Cider in Growlers. (Beer and liquor changes fail, cidery bill advances – Citizen-Times)
H640 - Outdoor Heritage Act. (NC House votes to allow Sunday hunting – N&O)
H661 - Teacher Recruitment and Scholarships.
H713 - Body & Dash Cam Recording/Public Access.
H739 - Repeal Business License Fees.
H925 - Require Hospitals to Offer Influenza Vaccine.
S343 - Student Assault on Teacher/Felony Offense.
S419 - Limit Revolving Door Employment.
S480 - Uniform Political Activity/Employees.
S676 - Autism Health Insurance Coverage.
S694 - Employee Misclassification Reform. (Bill to block cheating employers advances in NC Senate – N&O)
Several bills that were thought to be on track to meet the crossover deadline were defeated before they could make it out of the chamber. House Bill 726, sponsored by Rep. Conrad (R-Forsyth), which would have prevented school boards from suing county commissions over education funding, failed on the House floor Tuesday in a vote of 52-66. House Bill 142, sponsored by Rep. Torbett (R-Gaston), which would have repealed the requirement for motorcyclists over the age of 21 to wear helmets, failed in the House Rules Committee late Wednesday evening.
A bill sponsored by Speaker Pro-Tem Rep. Stam (R-Wake), House Bill 92, which would establish a nonpartisan redistricting commission, also was among the bills that failed to meet crossover. The bill had received bipartisan sponsorship from a majority of the House, 63 members in total, yet it never moved after it was introduced. Similar legislation passed the House in the 2013-14 session, but was buried in the Senate and this bill likely would have suffered the same fate.
A number of controversial or unfinished bills that likely would not have passed were kept alive by adding a fiscal impact. Lawmakers who failed in an attempt last week to repeal the state’s renewable energy portfolio standards (REPS) did not give up. Rep. Millis (R-Pender) and Majority Leader Rep. Hager (R-Rutherford) resurrected the previously defeated language by inserting similar language into a committee substitute for House Bill 760, the Regulatory Reform Act of 2015. H760 which is not subject to crossover, due to the addition of an appropriation, passed its second reading with a compromise amendment offered by Rep. Hager and Rep. Jeter (R-Mecklenburg). The amendment placed a permanent cap of 6% on the REPS requirement, effectively cutting it in half of the scheduled cap as opposed to repealing it entirely.
House Bill 562, the controversial Second Amendment Affirmation Act sponsored by Rep. Schaffer (R-Mecklenburg) caused a divide in the House Republican Caucus. The bill loosens a number of laws pertaining to firearms including background checks. The bill would also prevent doctors treating mentally ill patients or patients in the emergency room from inquiring about the patient’s ownership or possession of a firearm. The House Rules Committee Wednesday added a $20,000 appropriation so that the bill could remain eligible for further review. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the full House Appropriations Committee next Tuesday.
Legislation in the news:
The Ones That Didn’t Make It – Politics NC
General Assembly again debates local government powers – Citizen-Times
Local lawmakers push reforms to homeowners insurance – Lumina News
In Other News
- WRAL has unveiled a new campaign finance feature on their website. Beginning Monday, anytime a lawmaker is mentioned in an article a simple click of their name will redirect readers to a list of some of that lawmaker’s top campaign contributors. Read more here.
- A Portrait of former NC Supreme Court Chief Justice, and Nexsen Pruet Senior Counsel I. Beverly Lake was unveiled on Tuesday, to hang in the Courtroom of the NC Supreme Court. Read more from an Administrative Office of the Courts press release here.
- Secretary Don van der Vaart of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) penned an op-ed in the Charlotte Observer praising the work DENR has done in helping sustain the environment. You can read the op-ed here.
- Governor McCrory has nominated Department of Revenue Secretary Lyons Gray to serve on the North Carolina Public Utilities Commission. Pending approval from lawmakers, Sec. Gray will resign from his post at the Department upon confirmation.
- Lawmakers confirmed the appointment of B.W. Collier to serve as the Director of the State Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday. Collier will serve an eight year term as the Bureau’s Director.