Moore & Van Allen Law Firm, Attorneys

Newsletters, Alerts & Blogs

{ Banner Image }

North Carolina Legislative Report - February 15, 2013

February 9 - 15, 2013

The NC General Assembly reconvened January 9, 2013, opening the long legislative session. The MVA Public Affairs Legislative Report on North Carolina will be distributed weekly to keep you up to date on the latest legislative issues facing the state while the North Carolina Legislature is in session.

 

On the Floor

Senate

HB 4: UI Fund Solvency and Program Changes

The Senate voted 36-12 Wednesday to give final legislative approval to a bill that remakes North Carolina's unemployment insurance system. The bill now goes to Governor Pat McCrory (R). It has been the subject of fierce debate over the past three weeks. North Carolina built up $2.5 billion in debt to the federal government during the recession paying unemployment claims. The bill seeks to repay that money quickly to avoid a series of federally mandated tax increases on businesses. To do that, it raises state unemployment taxes and cuts benefits for unemployed workers, limiting both the duration of benefits and capping weekly benefits at $350. Read more.

SB 14: Increase Access To Career/Technical Education

High school diplomas would bear endorsements marking students as ready for technical careers, college or both under a bill that the state House passed 110-1 Wednesday night. The bill now goes to Governor Pat McCrory, who has been a supporter of the concept. Read more.

House of Representatives

SB 4: No N.C. Exchange/No Medicaid Expansion

The state House on Thursday sent a bill to the Senate that would block an expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The House Health and Human Services Committee gave approval earlier this week to legislation blocking Medicaid expansion and forcing the federal government to run a health care exchange mandated in the ACA. The House voted 75-42 to give final approval to the bill. The Senate needs to agree to a minor change before sending the bill to Governor Pat McCrory, who has said he plans to sign it. Read more.

HB 8: Eminent Domain

North Carolina governments wouldn't be able to condemn property in order to sell it to a local developer under the bill that passed the House 110-8 Tuesday afternoon. Cities and counties would still be able to take land for streets, public buildings and the like, Representative Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson) said. Also, utility companies would still be able to condemn right of way for electric lines and water pipes. Read more.

 

Committee Meetings

Senate Finance Committee

The Senate Finance Committee approved legislation allowing regulators to move forward with issuing permits for natural gas hydraulic fracturing by 2015.  In addition to the permitting of natural gas wells, the bill creates a sliding tax structure on extracted shale gas designed to encourage drilling.  Other provisions in the bill include, the elimination of two members of the Mining and Energy Commission, prohibition of local taxes on natural gas drilling and authorization for the Governor to join Virginia and South Carolina in a compact to encourage the federal government to open the coast to offshore energy exploration.  The Domestic Energy Jobs act, Senate Bill 76, will next go to the Senate Commerce Committee. Members of the finance group only examined parts of the bill dealing with taxes and fees. Read more.

House Finance Committee

The House Finance Committee met on Wednesday to take up four bills.  Two of the bills sped through committee with very little discussion – House Bill 27 and House Bill 77.  HB 27, Workers’ Comp Fund/Safety Workers Allocation, redirects the proceeds of a portion of the gross premiums tax on property contracts from the General Fund to the Workers’ Comp Fund.  An amendment removed the redirection to the Safety Workers Allocation account because of concerns about the provision’s constitutionality.  HB 77, Board of Law Examiners/Update Expense Law, updated the statutes with respect to expenses for which members of the Board of Law Examiners may be reimbursed.  House Bill 13, State Agency Property Use/Biennial Report, received some discussion but passed easily.  It requires all State agencies to report biennially on the use of the real property.  The provision that received some discussion stated that property that was listed as unused or underutilized would automatically be listed as surplus property after four years. 

The main controversy of the meeting involved House Bill 82, Internal Revenue Code Update.  HB 82 updates the reference date to the Internal Revenue Code that is used in determining or defining many provisions of State tax law.  The effect is to incorporate federal changes into State law.  Each year, the General Assembly makes a decision as to whether to conform to the federal changes.  There was little disagreement about which federal provisions to which the State would conform.  However, an amendment offered by Representative Paul Luebke (D-Durham) regarding the earned income tax credit (EITC) was debated.  At both the federal and State levels, the EITC is a refundable tax credit designed to assist lower-income working people. The State EITC is set to expire after the 2013 tax year.  Representative Luebke offered an amendment to extend the credit through the 2018 tax year. In short, Democrats argued that the expiration of the credit would be a burden on low-income working families and Republicans countered this wasn’t the appropriate vehicle to consider an extension of the credit given the likelihood of tax reform later in the session.  Ultimately the amendment failed along party lines and the bill passed out of committee. Read more.

House Banking Committee

The House Banking Committee met for the first time on Thursday and dealt with some of the typical “house-keeping” items that committees address at the beginning of session.  The Committee heard presentations from the NC Commissioner of Banks and the North Carolina Credit Union Division that gave overviews of the history, budgets, and responsibilities of those agencies.  No bills were heard and no policy issues were addressed.

House Education Committee

The House Education Committee approved three bills Tuesday related to school technology and Internet access. House Bill 44 says it's the General Assembly's intent to move from funding traditional and digital textbooks to funding digital instructional materials only in public schools by 2017. Funding to make that transition would come later. House Bill 23  directs the State Board of Education to develop digital competency standards for teachers by the 2017-18 school year. House Bill 45 gives the state board $100,000 to conduct an inventory of wireless Internet access at each public school and to establish a standard of what wireless activity is sufficient.

There was no vote on Tuesday for the vocational learning proposal, House Bill 51. However, as mentioned above, its companion bill, Senate Bill 14, was sent to the Governor on Thursday.

House Regulatory Reform Committee

The House Regulatory Reform Committee met on Wednesday to discuss rules review in the state’s Administrative Code. House Bill 74, sponsored by Representatives Tom Murry (R-Wake) and Ruth Samuelson (R-Mecklenburg), proposes a review of all rules at least once a decade, at which time they would expire unless the rules were approved by the Rules Review Commission.  Sponsors said that the bill could be changed to focus on just the rules that are causing agencies problems. The proposal targets two Departments, the Department of Health and Human Services whose rules expire at the end of 2016 unless re-adopted, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources whose rules expire at the end of 2017, including the rules adopted by occupational licensing boards that expire at the end of 2018.   The bill was well received by committee Republicans, however some Democrats were concerned that by re-writing rules, the state could do away with rules that are required by the federal government. No votes were taken on the bill and it will remain in committee for now. Read more.

Tax Reform

Tax reform efforts remained on the back burner this week as the Finance Committees addressed other priorities.  Both Finance Committees have already addressed unemployment insurance reform this session.  In addition, House Finance has tackled HB 82 and Senate Finance has dealt with SB 76.  HB 82, Internal Revenue Code Update, was on the House floor for second reading on Thursday.  As happened in the House Finance Committee, floor debate on the bill centered around an amendment offered by Rep. Luebke to extend the sunset on the State EITC.  Eventually, the bill was pulled from the calendar and was rescheduled for Tuesday, February 19. 

SB 10: Government Reorganization and Efficiency Act

  • Reorganizes or eliminates certain state boards and commissions that have not met recently, are duplicative, or are not deemed critical to government operations.
  • Primary Sponsors: Representatives Tom Apodaca (R-Buncombe),  Neal Hunt (R-Wake),  Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick)
  • Recent action: Referred to Commerce and Job Development Committee 2/12/13

SB 44: Workers’ Comp Coverage/Public Records

  • Permits disclosure of certain information pertaining to workers’ compensation coverage by the NC Industrial Commission
  • Primary sponsor: Senator Harry Brown (R-Jones, Onslow
  • Recent action: Referred to Commerce Committee 2/5/13

HB 70: North Carolina Health Plan

  • Provides for the North Carolina Health Plan to cover all state residents with comprehensive health coverage, as an alternate to a Health Benefit Exchange (H16/S4)
  • Primary Sponsor: Representative Marcus Brandon (D-Guilford)
  • Recent action: Referred to Insurance Committee 2/6/13

HB 76: Authorize Special Plates

  • Authorizes the use of special registration license plates
  • Primary sponsor: Representative Bill Brawley (R-Mecklenburg)
  • Recent action: Referred to Rules Committee 2/7/13

 

In the News

AP: Meyer new leader of NC Industrial Commission

Governor Pat McCrory announced that current commissioner Staci Meyer of Wake County has been elevated to chairwoman of the state Industrial Commission.

AP: Govs of Va., NC, SC appeal to Obama’s interior pick to open Atlantic to oil, gas exploration

In a letter to Sally Jewel, the governors asked her to support their quest to “prudently take advantage of abundant off-shore resources.”

AP: NC nonprofit: private school tuition affordable

Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina wants North Carolina to let corporations channel their taxes into private school scholarships and says the schools cost less than people think.

News&Observer: NC DMV gears up to collect county car taxes

This summer, car owners will be required to pay the combined tag and tax bill to get a registration renewal sticker. DMV will collect the combined payment and send the tax share to the respective county.

NCDENR: Record-level attendance at NC State Parks continued in 2012

The N.C Division of Parks and Recreation announced that visitation at North Carolina’s state parks and state recreation areas continued at a record level in 2012, with 14.2 million visits.

News&Observer: Rural Center report calls for McCrory to create manufacturing council

The council would examine the labor needs of the manufacturing sector, identify markets for the products produced here, and identify factors that are keeping North Carolina from being more competitive.

 

Legislative Calendar

Mon, February 18, 2013

6:30 PM

Session Convenes (House)

House

6:30 PM

Session Convenes (Senate)

Senate


Tue, February 19, 2013

8:30 AM

Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation (Joint)

1228/1327 LB

8:30 AM

Appropriations on General Government and Information Technology (Joint)

1425 LB

8:30 AM

Appropriations on Justice and Public Safety (Joint)

415 LOB

8:30 AM

Appropriations on Education/Higher Education (Joint)

421 LOB

8:30 AM

Appropriations on Natural and Economic Resources (Joint)

Nonprofit presentations by Rural Economic Development Center and Biotechnology Center

423 LOB

8:30 AM

Appropriations on Health and Human Services (Joint)

643 LOB

8:30 AM

Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural and Economic Resources (House)

Room 423

10:00 AM

Health and Human Services (House)

Methamphetamine/Offense/Penalties. (H29)
Youth Skin Cancer Prevention Act. (H18)

544 LOB

10:00 AM

Education (House)

643 LOB

11:00 AM

Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources (Senate)

Briefing from Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources

544 LOB

12:00 PM

State and Local Government (Senate)

Charter School/Govt. Unit. (S42)
Cleveland Co. Property Transfer. (S52)
Wallace/Satellite Annexations. (S56)
Onslow Public-Private Partnership. (S75)

1124/1224 LB

12:00 PM

Press Conference/Rep. R. Moore

Press Room LB

12:30 PM

Rep. Hall / Press Conference

Press Room LB

1:00 PM

Insurance (House)

1228/1327 LB

1:00 PM

Rep. Moore/Common Cause Lobby Day

415 LOB

3:30 PM

Judiciary II Subcommittee on Senate Bill 16 (Senate)

Revoke License for Passing Stopped School Bus. (S16)

1124/1224 LB


Wed, February 20, 2013

8:30 AM

Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services (Joint)

643 LOB

8:30 AM

Appropriations on General Government and Information Technology (Joint)

1425 LB

8:30 AM

Appropriations Subcommittee on Education (Joint)

421 LOB

8:30 AM

Appropriations on Natural and Economic Resources (Joint)

Nonprofit presentations by Institute for Regenerative Medicine; Regional Economic Development Commission; and Biofuels Center of NC

423 LOB

8:30 AM

Appropriations on Health and Human Services (Joint)

643 LOB

8:30 AM

Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural and Economic Resources (House)

Room 423

10:00 AM

Judiciary Subcommittee C (House)

Kilah's Law/Increase Child Abuse Penalties. (H75)

415 LOB

10:00 AM

Education/Higher Education (Senate)

Presentation by DPI State Superintendent June Atkinson (or her designee) regarding implementation of SL 2011-273, the Founding Principles Act.

544 LOB

8:30 PM

Appropriations on Education/Higher Education (Joint)

421 LOB


Thu, February 21, 2013

8:30 AM

Appropriations on General Government and Information Technology (Joint)

1425 LB

8:30 AM

Appropriations on Education/Higher Education (Joint)

421 LOB

8:30 AM

Appropriations on Natural and Economic Resources (Joint)

Nonprofit presentations by Community Development Initiative; Grassroots Science Museums; The Support Center

423 LOB

8:30 AM

Appropriations on Health and Human Services (Joint)

643 LOB

8:30 AM

Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural and Economic Resources (House)

Room 423


Tue, February 26, 2013

12:30 PM

Rep. Hall / Press Conference

Press Room LB


Wed, February 27, 2013

9:00 AM

NCTA PRESS CONFERENCE

Press Room LB


Tue, April 09, 2013

11:45 AM

Rep. D. Ross/NC Women United's Press Conference

Press Room LB

###

For more information or to be added to our distribution list, please feel free to contact our North Carolina Legislative team