Raleigh Report – March 7, 2011

Governor Vetoes Attack on Health Care Reform

Governor Bev Perdue on Saturday vetoed H 2, the misnamed “Protect Health Care Freedom” bill. (It should be called the “Freedom to be Uninsured and Unable to Get Health Care” bill.) The bill was an attack on federal health care reform and purported to remove North Carolinians from the mandated purchase of health insurance, which is the basis of federal reform which will move millions of uninsured Americans into the ranks of the insured. If you’ve never seen a veto take place, and most of us in North Carolina never have, go to http://www.governor.state.nc.us/eTownhall/Blog/post/2011/03/05/Gov-Perdue-vetoes-House-Bill-2.aspx.

The NC Council of Churches supports federal health care reform and the many benefits it is already providing and will continue to provide to Americans. We oppose efforts to weaken or repeal it, and we are grateful to Gov. Perdue for this veto.

What can you do? It’s always good to say “thank you” to elected officials who do what we have encouraged them to do. Gov. Perdue is already receiving criticism from those who somehow find benefit in opposing the benefits Americans are already receiving from reform. Please take a moment to thank her for her courageous veto. You can contact her at:

  • By phone: 919-733-4240
  • By mail: 20301 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-0301
  • By e-mail: governor.office@nc.gov.

It is not clear at the point if the legislative leaders who pushed H 2 through the General Assembly will try to override the Governor’s veto, but it would be wise for those of us who support health care reform to be in touch NOW with our senators and representatives who voted against H 2 and ask them to oppose any effort to override the veto. A list of those who voted against H2 in the House can be found here: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/voteHistory/RollCallVoteTranscriptP.pl?sSession=2011&sChamber=H&RCS=7 .

The Senate vote is here: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/voteHistory/RollCallVoteTranscript.pl?sSession=2011&sChamber=S&RCS=19.

Remember that a vote AGAINST H 2 was a vote in support of the benefits of federal health care reform.

If you have time to make only one contact, make it to your Representative. The House would vote first on a veto override, and the bill’s supporters will have to win over at least two representatives who voted against it.

New Bills

EDUCATION

H 131, Funds/One School Superintendent per County
Introducers: Reps. Lucas & Parmo
Status: House Education Comm.

North Carolina still has counties with city school systems that are separate from the county schools. H 131 would require city school systems to use non-state money to pay their superintendent.

S 166, No Adult Left Behind
Introducer: Sen. Hartsell
Status: Senate Education/Higher Ed Comm.

S 166 would set a goal of increasing the percentage of North Carolinians who earn associate, other two-year, or baccalaureate degrees to 40%. The bill appropriates $5 million per year to implement this initiative.

S 169, Study Innovations/Incentives in Education
Introducer: Sen. Hartsell
Status: Senate Education/Higher Ed Comm.

S 169 would create a commission to study the feasibility of giving $1,000 incentive payments to all students in public schools who achieve specific goals and benchmarks regarding academic performance, discipline, attendance, character and parental involvement.

ELECTIONS AND CAMPAIGN FINANCE

H 125, Optional Vote Centers for Second Primary
Introducers: Reps. Sager, Jordan, Stevens, & Shepard
Status: House Elections Comm

Second primaries are expensive, especially given that turnout is usually abysmally low. H 125 would enable counties to save money by deciding to have fewer polling places open for a second primary. A county could have as few as two polling places, plus the county Board of Elections office. While the need to save county money is real, the concern about H 125 is that it could be used to disenfranchise voters. For example, it doesn’t take much imagination to see that two voting precincts could be located in ways that would make it very difficult for low-income people to get to the polls to vote.

H 158, Limit Legislators to Four Consecutive Terms
Introducers: Reps. Rhyne and Killian
Status: House Rules Comm.

H 158 proposes a change in the NC Constitution that would limit Representatives and Senators to four consecutive terms.  This limitation does not apply to terms of office that began before 2011.

S 140, Leadership Limits/Gubernatorial Team Ticket
Introducers: Sens. Apodaca, Brunstetter, and Tucker
Status: Senate Rules Comm.

This bill proposes a constitutional amendment limiting terms for Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore of the Senate to three consecutive two-year terms.  Also, S 140 proposes a constitutional amendment making each candidate for Governor form a team with a candidate for Lieutenant Governor and run together on a single ticket for the general election.

ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY

H 135, Efficient and Affordable Energy Rates Bill
Introducer: Rep. Keever, Parfitt & R. Moore
Status: House Public Utilities Comm.

H 135 would call for the creation of tiered electricity rates for all customers in order to encourage energy conservation and efficiency. These tiered rates would “invert” the usual idea of buying in quantity and paying lower per-unit prices. Instead, those using larger amounts of electricity would pay a higher price per kilowatt hour. The goal for residential customers would be a reduction in energy use of 40% to 60% over the next 10 years. The bill would also create a fund to provide loans to customers who are investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Money for the fund would come from a 5% tax on energy-inefficient products, ones which do not meet federal Energy Star standards.

H 222/S 194, Electric Vehicle Incentives
Introducers: Reps. Lewis & Gibson; Sens. Apodaca & Meredith
Status: House Transportation and Senate Commerce Comms.

H 222/S 194 would allow plug-in electric vehicles to be in high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes and would exempt them from emissions testing.

S 181, No LUST Cleanup under Certain Circumstances
Introducer: Sen. East
Status: Senate Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources Comm.

S 181 eliminates the requirement that leaking underground storage tanks (LUSTs) for petroleum be cleaned up if a public water system is available to those affected by the leak and no surface waters are located within 1,000 feet.

FAMILIES AND CHILDREN

H 223, Healthy Families and Workplaces/Paid Sick Days
Introducer: Rep. Adams
Status: House Commerce Comm.

Many employees in North Carolina do not get paid sick leave days from their employers. If they get sick, or a child gets sick, they either take unpaid leave or they go to work sick, or send a child to school sick. H 223 would require employers to provide paid sick leave to many of their employees. Sick leave would accrue at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. It could be used for the illness of the employee or his/her immediate family members or to deal with the “psychological, physical, or legal effects . . . of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.” Employers could require a note from a doctor for more than three consecutive days of absence. Employees of small businesses (10 employees or fewer) could accrue up to 32 hours of sick leave, and others could accrue up to 56 hours. Accrued sick leave, up to these limits, could be carried over from one year to the next. Nothing in the new law would prevent employers from having more generous sick leave policies.

FARMS AND FARMWORKERS

H 65, NC Farmers Freedom Protection Act
Introducer: Rep. Bradley
Status: House Agriculture Comm.

Under H 65, all foodstuffs produced in North Carolina and solely for consumption in North Carolina would be exempt from federal regulation. It specifically exempts all “producers, the means of production, and the produce.” These products must be clearly designated to stay within the state and would be subject only to state regulation. This would apply to food safety regulations and raises several questions:

  • While farmers might like the “freedom” from federal regulations, would there be adequate NC regulations to replace them?
  • Would consumers exercise their “freedom” to avoid all NC farm produce should there be an outbreak of e. coli or other food-borne disease related to one “Made in NC” product?
  • While small farmers might be able to confine the sale of their produce to NC consumers, could large farmers separate their in-state produce from that which would be sold out of state?

H 162, Exempt Small Ag Processing from Permit Requirement
Introducers: Reps. Langdon, Dixon, McCormick, and Spear
Status: House Agriculture

Owners processing their own agricultural products would not be required to have a permit for a wastewater management system. In order to qualify under H 162, they must produce less than 1000 gallons of wastewater a day, the wastewater must be discharged by land application and not into surface water, and the discharge of wastewater must not result in any violations of surface or groundwater standards.

GAMBLING

H 226, Prohibit Sweepstakes Devices
Introducer: Rep. Rapp, Sanderson, Glazier & Stam
Status: House Commerce

H 226 would prohibit the use of all electronic devices in all sweepstakes games. Violators (those running sweepstakes, not those playing) would be guilty of a misdemeanor or up to a Class G felony (a less serious felony) depending on the number of violations and the number of sweepstakes machines they have.

H 228, Video Lottery Entertainment
Introducer: Rep. Owens
Status: House Commerce Comm.

H 228 would permit video lottery in North Carolina under the authority of the Lottery Commission, setting up licensing fees and taxing income from the machines at a rate of at least 46% of total annual revenues. That money would go to the state lottery and be distributed the same way as lottery proceeds. No more than 8% of total revenues could go to administrative expenses of the Commission. “Video lottery games” are broadly defined as “[e]lectronically simulated games of chance.”

GUNS AND OTHER WEAPONS

H 184, Concealed Carry Permit/Elected Officials
Introducer: Rep. LaRoque
Status: House Judiciary Subcommittee A

H 184 allows anyone elected to public office in North Carolina and with a concealed weapons permit to openly carry a handgun and a pocketknife on their person anywhere in the state, including the Capitol building, except where federal law prohibits.

H 227, Purchase of Firearms in Other States
Introducers: Reps. Hollo, Gillespie & Hilton
Status: House Judiciary Subcommittee A

H 227 would allow North Carolinians to buy guns in other states if the purchaser passes the background check required in the state of purchase and a check of the National Instant Background Check System.

S 34, The Castle Doctrine
Introducers: Sens. Brock, D. Berger, and Harrington
Status: Passed by the Senate, now in the House Judiciary Comm.

S 34, as amended by Senate Judiciary II, would greatly expand the circumstances under which someone could use deadly force (i.e., shoot to kill). Current law authorizes residents to use deadly force (and not limited to guns) on home intruders if the occupant reasonably understands the intruder to be intent upon either causing severe bodily harm or committing a felony.  S 34 would authorize the use of deadly force on anyone who has “unlawfully and forcefully” entered a residence, business, or vehicle, and there would be presumptions 1) that the intruder intends to commit an unlawful act using force or violence and 2) that the occupant (the one using deadly force) feared death or serious harm. This would be true even if the intruder had no weapon and even if the occupant could retreat from the confrontation. In addition, anyone could use deadly force and has no duty to retreat in “any place he or she has the lawful right to be” if the person “reasonably believes” that the use of deadly force would prevent death or serious injury to him/herself or anybody else. (There are two other Castle bills in the General Assembly. H 52 was initially identical to S 34 before amendments to S 34 made it more extreme. H 74 was more extreme to start with. S 34 seems to be the bill that Castle advocates are moving.)

S 141, Concealed Carry/DA, Ass’t DA, Investigator
Introducer: Sens. Apodaca and Meredith
Status: Senate Judiciary II

S 141 makes it possible for district attorneys, assistant district attorneys, and investigators employed by the office of a district attorney to carry a handgun on their person as long as they have a concealed weapons permit or have completed a law enforcement training program.  This would be legal anywhere in the state except where prohibited by federal law.

HEALTH AND HEALTH CARE

H 154, Reform Medical Malpractice Evidentiary Rules
Introducer: Rep. Faison
Status: House Judiciary

H 154 would allow plaintiffs in civil lawsuits to present evidence about a defendant’s liability insurance. In spite of the bill’s title, it adds this provision to the state’s statutes about evidence generally, and nothing would seem to limit its applicability to medical malpractice suits.

H 155, Medical Malpractice Insurance Coverage
Introducer: Rep. Faison
Status: Committee on Insurance

H 155 directs North Carolina’s Commissioner of Insurance to establish a statewide classification of rates for liability insurance for physicians.  The physicians are to be grouped into a large pool, and their rates could not be determined by which field of medicine they practice. Since specialties such as surgery and OB/GYN generate more and higher claims than those in general practice or internal medicine, this bill would seem to benefit those specialties with high rates at the expense of the others.

H 218, Legislative Task Force on Childhood Obesity
Introducer: Rep. Insko, L. Brown, Johnson & Weiss
Status: House Rules Comm.

H 218 would create a 12-member task force to study childhood obesity and make recommendations to encourage healthy eating and more physical activity. The task force would submit its report to the 2012 legislative session.

IMMIGRATION

H 198, Alien Attendance Lapses/Reporting Required
Introducer: Rep. Torbett
Status: House Education

H 198 would require the UNC system, community colleges, and private colleges and universities to report “immediately” (though the bill’s short title says “periodically”) to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency any “alien student” with an “attendance lapse.” An “alien student” is one lawfully admitted to the US as a student. Absences of 10 or more class days consecutively would have to be reported.

S 113, GED Classes & Tests Offered in English Only
Introducer: Sen. Allran
Status: Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate

S 113 would prohibit community colleges from offering GED classes and tests in any language other than English.

S 179, Failure to Carry or Complete Alien Registration Documents
Introducer: Sen. East
Status: Senate Rules

S 179 would make it a misdemeanor to fail to carry immigration documents required by the federal government. The bill has a section on nondiscrimination which says that law enforcement won’t use “race, color or national origin” in enforcing this law, but it’s hard to believe that race, color, or national origin won’t affect enforcement. Will I, a light-skinned Anglo, be stopped and asked to produce immigration documents? And if I say, “I’m an American citizen, and I don’t carry my birth certificate or passport with me,” will that suffice? Would that suffice for someone who has darker skin and speaks with a Spanish accent?

STATE BUDGET

H 188, Taxpayer Bill of Rights
Introducers: Reps. Blust, Killian, Holloway, and Dollar
Status: House Judiciary Comm.

H 188, commonly called TABOR, would propose a constitutional amendment which, if approved by voters, would restrict growth in the state’s budget to a factor determined by combining the nation’s inflation rate and the state’s population growth. Any larger spending would require a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly and would be allowed only for nonrecurring expenses and only for a 12-month period.

Colorado adopted TABOR in 1992, and their experience should be a cautionary tale for other states. Their results were so devastating that Colorado voted to suspend TABOR for five years, starting in 2006.  For a detailed report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, click here. The report includes these points:

  • Colorado’s average per-pupil K-12 funding fell from $379 below the national average in 1992 to $809 below the national average in 2001. Colorado’s per-pupil funding in 2006 fell even further to $988 below the national average.
  • College and university funding as a share of personal income declined from 35th in the nation in 1992 to 48th in 2004; Colorado maintained that ranking in 2008.
  • Colorado plummeted from 24th to 50th in the nation in the share of children receiving their full vaccinations. Only by investing additional funds in immunization programs was Colorado able to improve its ranking to 43rd in 2004 and to 23rd in 2008.

S 109, Spending Cuts for the Current Fiscal Year
Introducers: Sens. Stevens, Brunstetter, and Hunt|
Status: Sent to the House

S 109 is the General Assembly’s response to Gov. Perdue’s veto of S 13, the Balanced Budget Act of 2011 (which she vetoed because it specified that she would have to use unspent industry recruitment funds to balance the budget). The bill now requires the governor to put aside money to help with the expected budget gap for the 2011-2012 fiscal year by making expenditure cuts and transferring money from non-General Fund accounts (which are not specified) to the General Fund by June 30, 2011 – to the very specific tune of $537,740,799.

S 117 – Eliminate EITC Refundability Provision
Introducer: Sen. Clary
Status: Senate Finance

S 117 is virtually identical to H 93 (see RR, Feb. 18).

MISCELLANEOUS

S 95, Fair Housing Act Amendment
Introducer: Sen. Kinnaird
Status: Senate Commerce Comm.

S 95 would make it illegal for anyone in a real estate transaction to discriminate against anyone receiving housing assistance because someone in the household is over the age of 62 or has a disability.  This covers everything in real estate from land development to decisions surrounding leasing apartments.

S 96, Prohibit Request to Disclose Expulsion
Introducers: Sens. Kinniard and McKissick
Status: Senate Judiciary II

S 96 would make it illegal for any employer, educational institution, or state or local government agency to require information about any criminal record that has been expunged.

S 106, Defense of Marriage
Introducers: Sens. Forrester, Tillman, and Soucek
Status: Senate Rules Comm.

S 106 proposes a constitutional amendment that would add the following language to the state constitution: “Marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”

S 108, Civil Litigation Reform Act of 2011
Introducer: Sen. Rouzer
Status: Committee on Judiciary I

S 108 would establish a general rule in civil suits that the plaintiff would have to pay the defendant’s attorney costs if the plaintiff loses. This would clearly deter potential plaintiffs from filing suit, and the bill does not create a corresponding general rule that defendants would pay plaintiffs’ attorney costs.

S 121, Eligibility Requirements/Public Assistance
Introducer: Sen. Rouzer
Status: Senate Rules Comm.

S 121 would require a drug test in order to receive assistance from the state.  If the test is failed, the person tested is required to undergo drug abuse treatment, and they will be screened additionally after they become eligible to receive state aid.

Upcoming Events

Community Voices discussion of photo IDs for voting, tomorrow evening, Tuesday, March 8, 5:30 – 7:00, at Temple Beth Or, 5315 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh. Panel members include Damon Circosta, Sarah Preston, Bill Wilson, and George Reed. Sponsored by the NC Social Justice Project.

The People of Color/HKonJ Justice and Unity Legislative Day is this Wednesday, March 9 at 9:00 a.m. Meet in the Legislative Auditorium of the General Assembly Building. For additional information, contact NCACDC at 919-831-9710.

Children’s Lobby Day will be on Tuesday, March 15, starting at 9:00, with a press conference at 11:30. Sponsored by the Covenant with NC’s Children, Action for Children, the Pediatrics Society, and others. For more info, contact Mandy Ableidinger – mandy@ncchild.org or 919-834-6623 ext 233

Rob Thompson – rob@nccovenant.org or 919-649-2449

The Council’s 2011 Legislative Seminar on Tuesday, April 5, from 9:00 until 3:30 in Raleigh. For more information or to register, click here.

Rose Gurkin, Program Associate for Administration Rose Gurkin, Program Associate for Administration

Leave a Comment

*

Anonymous comments or comments that target individuals will not be posted (please include your first and last name). All comments must be on topic and respectful. Comments will not be posted until they have been reviewed by a moderator. Comments do not reflect the positions of the NC Council of Churches.

×

2014 Affordable Care Act Bulletin Insert Available Here