Following the passage of the Senate budget proposal last week, the Senate had a fairly light calendar this week. The House continued to work while House budget writers draft their own budget proposal. The House budget, which is expected to be unveiled at the end of next week, with votes coming the week after Memorial Day, is typically a more moderate spending plan than the Senate version. The House Appropriations Subcommittees will likely “review” the Senate’s spending proposal in public next week ahead of working on their own proposal. It is also anticipated that the House version will have far fewer policy provisions.
On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee heard a PCS for Senate Bill 628, entitled Various Changes to Revenue Laws, for discussion only. The bill, which is largely technical, makes a number of changes regarding business tax, sales and use tax, tax collection and enforcement, administrative changes, and property tax. A link to the summary of the PCS can be found here.
After a lengthy debate, surprisingly so, since more than half of the members of the House sponsored the bill, they passed House Bill 280 104-8. The bill, entitled the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act or “Raise the Age” bill, is primarily sponsored by Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson). It would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to be charged as juveniles for non-violent crimes rather than as adults, and would take effect in 2019. In April, New York passed a two-year phase in to raise the age of juveniles, leaving North Carolina as the only State that has not raised the age of juveniles to 18. The bill now awaits action in the Senate where a similar proposal, delayed an additional year, was put in their budget proposal.
The House Energy & Public Utilities Committee passed House Bill 310, entitled Wireless Communications Infrastructure Siting, sponsored by Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln). The bill addresses the permitting of “small cell” technology, which is the wireless infrastructure that is being deployed by providers for “5G” wireless communication. The bill establishes permitting rules for the colocation of small cell technologies.
The House Education Committee approved a measure that would ask 2018 general election voters to support a $1.9 Billion bond measure to support new school construction. House Bill 866, entitled Public School Building Bond Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Linda Johnson (R-Cabarrus), now awaits action in the House Finance Committee.
The House Regulatory Reform Committee voted down a measure put forward by Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) entitled Fantasy Sports Regulation. House Bill 279, which required an operator to register with the Secretary of State and restrict the games to players 18 and older, failed 4-7. The bill would have defined “fantasy sports contests” and clarified that they are not considered gambling.
WUNC has a podcast reviewing the week which you can listen to here.
In Other News
North Carolina’s junior U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R) collapsed during a race in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. Tillis was rushed to the hospital soon after which he posted a video of himself noting that his fall was due to becoming overheated. He was spotted in the well of the U.S. Senate that afternoon.
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal to overturn a lower court ruling against a voter ID law and other election matters in North Carolina. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and Attorney General Josh Stein (D) recently requested to drop the appeal of the law passed in 2016 under former Gov. Pat McCrory (R). At a public event, Gov. Cooper recently said that he expects lawmakers to pass new legislation.
The Office of the State Auditor released a scathing audit of Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions, the largest of several regional LME/MCO’s that manage behavioral health Medicaid patients for the State.
Audit: Managed care organization misspent Medicaid money – WRAL Mental Health Agency Audit Finds Funds Spent on Cars, Travel, Parties – All Legal – NC Health News $1.2 million pay for government employees came without required state approval, says NC audit – N&O
Two breweries in Charlotte, NoDa and Olde Meck have filed a lawsuit against the State after an unsuccessful attempt to legislate raising the self-distribution cap. The suit claims that the cap on how much beer a brewery can self-distribute before using a third-party distributor is unconstitutional. They are also challenging the constitutionality of the franchise laws regarding distribution contracts.