This week at the Legislature, HB2 was repealed and replaced, Senate confirmation of Cabinet secretaries continued, and Legislators filed dozens of bills ahead of filing deadlines.
HB2 “Reset” (HB142(link is external))
Thursday, the General Assembly passed, and the Governor signed, a bill that repeals HB2. The new legislation establishes that the General Assembly regulates access to multiple occupancy restrooms, showers or changing facilities, and prohibits local governments from enacting ordinances regulating private employment practices or public accommodations until December 1, 2020. The bill was the result of a compromise developed between Governor Roy Cooper and Legislative leaders. The vote on the bill did not follow party lines. The Senate passed the bill 32 to 16 (23 Republicans and 9 Democrats voted yes; 10 Republicans and 6 Democrats voted no). In the House, the bill passed 70 to 48 (40 Republicans and 30 Democrats voted yes; 33 Republicans and 15 Democrats voted no). Governor Cooper signed the bill into law Thursday afternoon.
Senate committees are continuing the process of confirming Governor Cooper's Cabinet members. Dr. Mandy Cohen was unanimously recommended for approval as Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services by the Senate Health Care Committee and will now be considered by the Senate Nominations Committee. Michael Regan of the Department of Environmental Quality was scheduled to go before the Senate Agriculture, Natural, and Economic Resources Committee Thursday; due to the HB2 debate, that meeting was postponed.
Tax Cuts (SB325(link is external))
A bill entitled "Billion Dollar Middle Class Tax Cut" passed both the Senate Finance and Senate Rules Committees this week. The proposal would reduce the personal income tax rate from 5.499 % to 5.35 %, reduce the corporate rate from 3% to 2.5% over a two-year period, and increase the standard deduction from $17,500 to $20,000 for a married couple filing jointly, among other provisions. The House has a different bill (HB 356) containing a number of tax changes. We can expect more debate on the issue of further tax changes as the session continues.
UNC Board of Governors
The Senate this week voted to approve six men to serve on the UNC Board of Governors. Former Senator Bob Rucho, former Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer, and NC State University Trustee Randall Ramsey will be serving their first terms on the Board, while William Kotis, Steven Long, and Harry Smith, Jr. were reelected to another term. Earlier in the month, the Senate elected Darrell Allison to fill a vacancy on the Board. The House is expected to elect their six members next week.