A number of legislative committees and executive boards met this week to discuss issues including: innovations in education, changing technology and infrastructure needs in transportation and judicial redistricting.

Executive Branch Boards Meet

Board of Education

The State Board of Education held their monthly meeting this Wednesday and Thursday to review a number of policy changes and updates. During the two-day meeting, the Board:

  • Voted to update state textbook policies to expand the definition of “technology-based programs” to expand the state’s emphasis on digital materials, such as subscription and web based materials.
  • Approved applications for four new Cooperative Innovative High Schools.
  • Approved a report on Innovative School District.

To view all documents from the meeting, follow this link.

Board of Transportation

The NC Board of Transportation held meetings this Wednesday and Thursday to hear presentations and updates, including:

  • Updates on NC REAL ID.
  • A financial update from Chief Financial Officer David Tyeryar.
  • A presentation on program delivery from the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT).

To view all documents from the meeting, click here.

Legislative Oversight Committees Meet

Education Oversight

The Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee met on Tuesday.

First, Interim Vice President of University & P-12 Partnerships Sean Bulson provided the committee with an update on laboratory schools, a partnership between the UNC general administration and public elementary through high schools across the state, established by the legislature in 2016. Presently, two schools are in operation: East Carolina University Laboratory School in Greenville, which serves students in grades two through four, and Catamount School in Jackson County, which is operated by Western Carolina University and serves students in grades six through eight. Three additional schools will open next year, and four the following year.

Then, Teaching Fellows Program Director Sara Ulm presented on the new Teaching Fellows Program, which was established by the 2017 budget bill. The program will provide prospective teachers with forgivable loans beginning in the 2018-19 school year. Ulm informed the committee that the application for the loan program is now live and noted the education preparation programs that were selected to work with the program: Elon University, UNC Charlotte, UNC Chapel Hill, NC State University and Meredith College.

Finally, NC Community College System President Jennifer Haygood presented to the committee on the system’s strategic plan. Haygood noted significant aspects that contributed to how the strategic plan was developed, including population growth in urban areas, workforce changes and greater demand for technology in training.

Judicial Redistricting & Reform

On Wednesday, the Senate Select Committee on Judicial Reform and Redistricting held their second meeting to receive presentations on judicial selection methods.

First, Senior Counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice Alicia Bannon presented to the committee on judicial selection methods across the country. NC is one of seven states that utilize a partisan election system. The Center advocated for an appointment system and listed a number of best practice recommendations for doing so.

Then, professors at the UNC School of Law, Martin Brinkley and John Orth, presented to the committee in the history of judicial selection in NC.

To review all documents from Wednesday’s committee, click here.

Strategic Transportation Planning

On Monday, the House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning and Long Term Funding Solutions and the Department of Transportation held a joint transportation technology event, where legislators and the public had the opportunity to see new technology, including electric and autonomous vehicles in action. Following the event, the committee heard presentations on automated and connected vehicles.

First, Transportation Group Director with HNTB Paul Steinman presented to the committee on how changing consumer demands and increasingly high-tech vehicles will change how people utilize transportation. According to Steinman, transportation is becoming increasingly automated, connected, shared and electrified.

Then, the committee heard a presentation from Vice President of Research and Development for Southwest Research Institute Steven Dellenback on how the military uses automated and connected vehicles. According to Dellenback, the military faces unique challenges when utilizing automated vehicles, including rural and unpaved roads and different technology in the military theater, including lack of GPS mapping for security.

The committee then received a presentation on the future of ridesharing in an automated world from Uber Autonomous Vehicles Head of Policy Justin Erlich. Erlich emphasized how ridesharing companies like Uber are working to be leaders in transportation technology. Uber is currently partnering with Volvo to test autonomous vehicles, which they plan on employing in self-driving fleets.

To view all documents from the committee, follow this link.

Transportation Oversight

Yesterday, the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight held their second meeting of the interim to hear a number of presentations and updates from staff at NCDOT.

First, Strategic Transportation Investment Program (STIP) manager Van Argabright addressed the committee with a review of the STIP for 2018 through 2027, which was adopted the State Board of Transportation in August. The STIP will fund 1,389 total projects, including 344 non-highway projects.

Then, Director of Facilities Management Sterling Baker presented the Department’s Condition Overview & Life Cycle Analysis of NCDOT Ferry Division Assets report, which was prepared by an independent engineering firm earlier this year. The report recommends retrofitting NCDOT’s 24 ferry ramps, at an average cost of $1.2 million per ramp.

Division of Highways Director of Field Support Greg Perfetti followed with an update on NCDOT’s bridge program. Perfetti’s presentation reviewed current bridge funding models, current bridge conditions and challenges to progress, including the growing number of bridges needed repair or replacement.

Finally, Engineer with Atkins Engineering, Mark Boggs presented a proposed toll project development policy to the committee. According to his presentation, NCDOT hopes to put forward a new vision for examining the use of toll-funded financing options which would:

  • Respond to regional tolling initiatives.
  • Address project acceptance challenges.
  • Define a process for project development and review.
  • Increase accountability.

The proposed policy, which needs to be approved by the Board of Transportation before going into effect, involves a 4-step project identification process.

To review all materials from Thursday’s meeting, follow this link.

A Look Ahead to Next Week

Next week, the following legislative and executive meetings will be held:

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

8:30 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services

1:00 PM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

9:00 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services, Subcommittee on Aging

10:00 AM Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform

1:00 PM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Capital Improvements

1:00 PM Environmental Review Commission

2:00 PM House Select Committee on Implementation of Building Code Reform

Thursday, December 14, 2017

9:00 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Information Technology

9:00 AM Joint Legislative Emergency Management Oversight Committee

10:30 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety, Subcommittee on ABC Permitting & Enforcement

1:00 PM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety

2:00 PM Social Services Regional Supervision and Collaboration Working Group

Friday, December 15, 2017

10:00 AM Joint Legislative Elections Oversight Committee