The Legislature took a break this week from public budget discussions and addressed other issues such as reconstituting the Coal Ash Panel, resolving disputes involving the North Carolina/South Carolina border, increasing the standard deduction for lower-income taxpayers, reducing tuition for certain UNC schools, and improving screening of teachers. In addition, they heard from the Department of Health and Human Services about changes in Medicaid.

Coal Ash Panel (S71 (link is external))

On Wednesday, the House voted to approve a plan that would reconstitute the Coal Ash Commission. The Commission would be charged with the responsibility of overseeing the cleanup of unlined coal pits across the state. The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled in January of this year that the Legislature’s creation of this Commission was unconstitutional. The bill passed the House this week and is now in a conference committee to work out differences between the chambers. It is uncertain on whether the Governor will allow it to become law.

NC/SC Border Dispute (S575 (link is external))

After nearly 20 years of discussion, the General Assembly appears ready to resolve at border dispute with South Carolina. The Senate this week approved a plan to shift the state line in several areas near Charlotte. The plan would affect 19 residential properties with 16 from South Carolina now being in North Carolina and 3 in North Carolina being shifted to South Carolina. An additional 54 homes and commercial buildings will sit on the border with the residents in these facilities able to choose their state of residency. The bill will now go to the House for consideration.

Standard Deduction (S818 (link is external))

The Senate this week unanimously passed legislation increasing the standard deduction for lower income taxpayers. The "Middle Class Tax Relief Act" would increase the deduction for most taxpayers by about $1,000 with the Senate version’s cost estimated at $145 million for FY 2017. The House included an increase in the deduction in its version of the budget bill with a slower timeframe for implementation. The two chambers will now seek to resolve the differences in the two versions.

Teacher Screening (S867 (link is external))

Two Senate committees have passed a bill that would require all school boards to obtain national criminal background checks for all applicants for teaching licenses, applicants for other school jobs from custodian to principal, and of teachers seeking to have licenses renewed. School boards could pay for the criminal history checks or they could pass the cost on to applicants.

UNC Tuition Reductions (S873 (link is external))

A bill that would establish a $500 tuition for in-state students at five UNC schools —Elizabeth City State, Fayetteville State, Winston-Salem State, UNC Pembroke and Western Carolina University— passed through two Senate committees this week. Proponents of the bill are hopeful that this significant lowering of tuition will spark enrollment increases. Others are concerned that there is no guarantee the state will compensate these universities for lost revenue in future years.

Merging Medicaid Waiver Programs

The Department of Health and Human Services is considering a plan to merge two Medicaid waiver programs, CAP-C and CAP-DA, for efficiency. CAP-C Medicaid program provides financial assistance to families of children with disabilities and CAP-DA does the same for families of adults with disabilities.

Legislators return to Raleigh after Memorial Day with attention focused on the Senate’s budget proposal, which will likely surface the week of May 30.

House Bills Filed this Week:

Senate Bills Filed this Week: