This week in NC politics, legislators continued to examine GenX as they move towards implementing short-term and long-term legislative solutions, while a new Commission under the Governor’s authority met to discuss the state’s public K-12 education system. Additionally, twenty pieces of legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2017 went into effect today.
House Committee on River Quality Discusses GenX
Yesterday, the House Select Committee on North Carolina River Quality held their third meeting to discuss the presence of the unregulated chemical compound GenX in the Cape Fear River.
First, committee chairs Reps. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover), Holly Grange (R-New Hanover) and Frank Iler (R-Brunswick) updated the committee on their plans as the committee moves forward, noting that they find it necessary to consider short-term solutions when the legislature returns to Raleigh in January and long-term regulatory changes and policy solutions in the 2018 regular session. Draft legislation may be introduced to the committee at their next meeting on January 4, there will also be time for public comment at that meeting.
Then the committee heard from Sheila Holman, Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Assistant Secretary for Environment who updated the committee on recent surface water and groundwater monitoring results, information on air emissions from the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility and enforcement actions related to an unreported chemical spill at the facility.
Governor’s Education Commission Meets
The Governor’s Commission on Access to Sound, Basic Education held their inaugural meeting yesterday. The 17-member Commission was established by executive order in July to assess the state’s ability to provide all students with a proper K-12 education and to recommend what state officials must do to bring the state in compliance with the state’s constitution.
After an introduction from Gov. Roy Cooper, the new commission discussed their hopes moving forward. Members highlighted their priorities, which included:
- Considering how non-traditional education movements, such as charter schools, have impacted school funding and opportunities for students.
- Providing wraparound services, such as preventative mental health services, at low-income and rural schools.
- Improving educational opportunities for preschool students to reduce learning gaps.
The Commission then discussed Leandro v. The State of NC, the lawsuit that precipitated Gov. Cooper’s formation of the Commission. In 1994, parents, children and school districts in Hoke, Halifax, Robeson, Vance and Cumberland Counties filed a lawsuit against the state arguing that schools in these counties received lower than average tax revenues and did not have enough funds to provide equal education for their students. Ultimately, the NC Supreme Court determined that neither school districts nor counties have a constitutional right to equal funding, but all children in NC have the right to the “opportunity to receive a sound basic education.”
The Commission will meet at least quarterly over the next year to assess how NC can meet the Leandro ruling.
Laws in Effect
Twenty bills passed by the legislature in 2017 go into effect today:
HB 98: Crim. Offense/ Vandalize Fire & Ems Equipment: An act to create the criminal offense of injuring, destroying, vandalizing, or tampering with any of the following: firefighting machinery, firefighting equipment, an ambulance, a rescue squad emergency medical services vehicle, or emergency medical services equipment.
HB 125: Threatened Weapon Inc. in First-Deg Rape: An act to add threatened use of a weapon to one of the elements of first-degree forcible rape and of first-degree forcible sex offense.
HB 128: Prohibit Drone Use Over Prison/ Jail: An act to prohibit the use of an unmanned aircraft system near a local confinement facility or state or federal correctional facility.
HB 138: Revise Gang Laws: An act to standardize criteria for classification of criminal membership, create a sentencing enhancement for certain crimes perpetrated by gang members, and increase the penalties for certain gang-related offenses.
HB 224: Warrant Check of Inmates in Custody: An act to require the court to attempt to identify outstanding warrants before entering an order in a criminal case only in cases in which the defendant is in custody, as recommended by the North Carolina Courts Commission.
HB 225: Attempted Robbery is Lesser Included: An act to clarify that attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon is a lesser included offense of robbery with a dangerous weapon.
HB 252: Building Code Regulatory Reform: An act to make various changes and clarifications to the statutes governing the creation and enforcement of building codes.
HB 337: Unmanned Aircraft Systems Law Revisions: An act to make revisions to the laws governing the use of unmanned aircraft systems.
HB 384: Increase Penalties/ Organized Retail Theft: An act to strengthen the organized retail theft laws.
HB 399: Stop Images Taken W/O Consent from Dissemin.: An act to protect person who are photographed, videotaped, or recorded without their consent from having his or her image disclosed.
HB 464: Revise Schedule of Controlled Substances: An act revising the schedule of controlled substances to add synthetic fentanyl, designer hallucinogenic, synthetic cannabinoids, system depressants, and other substances and making forming changes; and creating the task force on sentencing reforms for opioid drug convictions.
SB 257: Appropriations Act of 2017: An act to make base budget appropriations for current operations of state departments, institutions, and agencies, and for other purposes. Sections that went into effect today:
- Make assaulting a hospital security personnel a Class I felony.
- Prevent courts from waiving all or part of any court fees or fines without providing notice to the government entities directly affected.
SB 384: Criminal Law Changes: An act to amend the law regarding the use motions for appropriate relief; to clarify the definition of “felony offense” for purposes of the habitual felon law and to remove the sunset on driver’s license eligibility for persons convicted of habitual impaired driving; to include breaking and entering with the intent to terrorize as a habitual breaking and entering status offense; to clarify that when a person is charged with an offense which requires mandatory fingerprinting, fingerprinting will be ordered by the court if the offender was not arrested and fingerprinted at the time of the offense; to provide that a private citizen’s showing of probable cause to the magistrate shall include sufficient information supported by oath or affirmation that a crime has occurred and shall issue as a summons unless a substantial likelihood exists that the defendant will not respond to a summons; and to amend the sheriff’s supplemental pension fund.
SB 445: Expungement Process Modifications: An act to standardize the filing procedures for expungements, to authorize prosecutors access to certain records of expungement, to allow certain expunged criminal acts to be considered in calculating prior record levels during sentencing for subsequent offenses, and to make other modifications to the expungement process.
SB 547: Restitution Remission/ Notice and Hearing Req.: An act to require notice and hearing before remission of an order restitution.
SB 548: Strengthen Human Trafficking Laws/ Studies: An act strengthening human trafficking laws, authorizing the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy to regulate massage and bodywork therapy establishments, requiring massage and bodywork therapists to obtain a statewide privilege license, and authorizing the Department of Health and Human Services to study ways to identify and protect victims of human trafficking.
SB 582: Budget & Agency Technical Corrections: An act to make technical, clarifying, and other modifications to the current appropriations act of 2017 and to related legislation and to make agency technical corrections. The portions going into effect today:
- Provides that the statute of limitations for malicious mischief and petit larceny, and all misdemeanors except malicious misdemeanors, shall be charged within two years.
- Revises the schedule of controlled substances.
SB 600: Britny’s Law: IPV Homicide: An act to acknowledge and provide for domestic violence homicide in the statutory scheme for first and second degree homicide.
SB 628: Various Changes to the Revenue Laws: An act to make various changes to the revenue laws. The portion going into effect today makes identity theft in tax collection a Class G felony.
To view all legislation by effective date, follow this link.
A Look Ahead to Next Week
Next week, the following legislative and executive meetings will be held:
Monday, December 4, 2017
9:00 AM House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning and Long Term Funding Solutions
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
9:00 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on General Government
10:00 AM Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
10:00 AM Monthly Meeting of the State Board of Education
11:00 AM Monthly Meeting of the State Board of Transportation
Thursday, December 7, 2017
9:00 AM Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee
9:00 AM Monthly Meeting of the State Board of Education
9:00 AM Monthly Meeting of the State Board of Transportation