- State Budget
- Boards and Commissions
- Death Penalty
- Election Laws and Voting Rights
- Green Jobs
- Guns in Church
- Non-Public Schools
- Honoring One of the Council’s Heroines
- New Resource: Legislative Toolkit
Short Session Convenes, Could Be Truly Short
The General Assembly has convened for its regular “short session”. This session, which starts in May of even-numbered years, is primarily to tweak the second year of the budget adopted the year before. In addition, certain bills which were introduced last year (mostly ones which passed in one house) can be considered. For a new bill to be introduced this year, it must fit into one of a few specific categories, with most new bills having to do with budgetary matters or coming from a study commission which met during the interim. Finally, pending veto overrides are also thought by the House and Senate leadership to be eligible for consideration.
The General Assembly leadership is committed to having this short session truly be short, and there’s talk of adjourning by early July. In fact, an adjournment resolution was introduced yesterday with a target date of June 19. Of course, these timetables sometimes get extended and, as we learned last year, mini-sessions can be scheduled as another way of extending the session. In terms of responding to issues mentioned in Raleigh Report, though, you should act sooner rather than later and not be anticipating a long “short session”.
The Governor proposed revisions to the budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012-13, which the General Assembly is pretty much ignoring. The House adopted its budget bill (H 950) this week and sent it to the Senate. We will include information on it in the next issue of Raleigh Report. Here are some separate funding bills which have been introduced. Most have little chance of being included in the budget, but they are a reminder of the significant cuts made in the budget last year and of options that still exist to restore the most severe of those cuts. (A free e-mail subscription to Raleigh Report to anyone who can look through this list of bills proposing additional spending and revenue and name the one which has the greatest chance of success.)
H 946, Restore Funding for Teaching Fellows Program
Introducers: Reps. McLawhorn, Lucas, Bell, and Tolson
$3.5 million for FY 2012-13.
H 947/S 800, Eugenics Compensation Program
Introducers: Reps. Womble, Tillis, Parmon, and Stam; Sens. McKissick, Hartsell, and Kinnaird.
H 947 would provide $50,000 to each person living on March 1, 2010, who had been sterilized under the state’s eugenics program. This money would not be considered income for purposes of taxation or eligibility for public assistance.
H 997, Funds to Prevent Infant Mortality
Introducer: Rep. Earle
$870,000 to the March of Dimes, ECU School of Medicine, Healthy Start Foundation, and UNC School of Medicine.
H 998, Funds to Reduce Class Size in K-3
Introducers: Reps. Glazier, M. Alexander, Gill, and Rapp
Almost $93 million.
H 999, Restore LEA Flexibility Adjustment Funding
Introducers: Reps. Glazier, Michaux, Rapp, and McLawhorn
$503 million, to retain or restore an estimated 9,800 teachers, teacher assistants and other positions.
H 1045, Salary Increase for School Employees
Introducers: Reps. Glazier, Rapp, McLawhorn, and Carney
$87 million for raises for teachers and other school employees.
H 1072, Funds MH/DD Services
Introducers: Reps. Gill, Insko, Earle, and Farmer-Butterfield
Increases the 2012-13 allocation by $10 million to purchase additional local inpatient psychiatric beds or bed days and by $2 million to provide crisis services to those with intellectual or developmental disabilities and behavioral health care needs.
H 1083, Funds to Improve Birth Outcomes
Introducer: Rep. Wainwright
$375,000 for the high-risk maternity clinic at the ECU Med School.
H 1092, Restore Funding/Services for Women
Introducer: Rep. Insko
Just over $2 million to Women at Risk, Summit House, Harriet’s House, NC Council for Women, Displaced Homemakers Program, and Rape Crisis Program.
H 1100, Funds for NC Food Banks
Introducer: Rep. Earle
Almost $3.8 million for the state’s six primary food banks.
H 1120, Funds for Medically Underserved Patients
Introducers: Reps. Gill, Insko, Earle, and Farmer-Butterfield
$1.5 million for community health centers and $350,000 for the high-risk maternity clinic at ECU Med School.
H 1151, Restore Funds/Early Child Care and Education Services
Introducers: Reps. Insko, Rapp, McLawhorn, Wilkins
$52.8 million for NC Partnership for Children, NC Pre-K program, NC REACH scholarship funds, and child care subsidy funds for postsecondary education and transportation services.
H 1156, Save Lives/Fund Tobacco Prevention Programs
Introducers: Reps. Weiss, Insko, M. Alexander, and Glazier
$17.3 million for the state’s programs to improve health by reducing tobacco use.
H 1160, Infant Mortality Prevention /Funds
Introducers: Reps. McLawhorn and E. Warren
$375,000 for the high-risk maternity clinic at ECU.
H 1166, Temporarily Raise Income Tax on Millionaires
Introducer: Rep. Luebke
This bill would add a new tax bracket for those with income of more than $1 million (for married couples filing jointly, with lower thresholds for individuals). Income over $1 million would be taxed at a rate of 8.5%. The new rate would apply only to 2012 and 2013.
H 1171, Extend Sunset for EITC
Introducers: Reps. Weiss, Luebke, and Ross
Would extend the state Earned Income Tax Credit beyond its scheduled expiration on January 1, 2013. This credit provides a bit of relief to low-income workers.
H 1186, Restore Budget Cuts/Add Temporary Sales Tax
Introducers: Reps. Faison and Hall
Would add a temporary sales tax of an additional 0.7% (i.e., 70¢ per $100 of spending). The funds would be dedicated to restoring personnel positions eliminated last year in the public schools, UNC, community colleges, and other state government positions; to reduce cuts to Medicaid and Health Choice; and to provide additional funding to the Highway Patrol and to the Savings Reserve Account (the “Rainy Day” fund).
S 851, Boards & Commissions Efficiency Act of 2012
Introducers: Sens. Brown, Rouzer, and Soucek
In the name of efficiency, S 851 would eliminate several Board and Commissions related to areas of Council interest and would reduce membership in several others. These Boards and Commissions are made up primarily of volunteers who give their expertise to the state.
Those which would be eliminated:
- Governor’s Advisory Council on Aging
- NC Child Fatality Task Force
- NC Courts Commission
- Governor’s Crime Commission
- Committee on Dropout Prevention
- NC Farmworkers Council
- Justus-Warren Health Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force
- NC Housing Partnership
- Interagency Coordinating Council of Children from Birth to Five with Disabilities and Their Families. (A bill to shorten this Council’s name would make sense.)
- NC Sustainable Communities Task Force
- NC Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council.
The following are declared to have completed their work and would be shut down:
- Legislative Task Force on Childhood Obesity
- More at Four Pre-K Task Force
- Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change.
(Evidently childhood obesity, access to early childhood programs, and global climate change have all been fixed.)
The following would have their memberships reduced in size:
- Coastal Resources Advisory Council
- Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
- Council on Developmental Disabilities
- NC Financial Literacy Council
- NC Council on the Holocaust
- NC Human Relations Commission, and the Governor would no longer name the chair.
- Minority Health Advisory Council
- NC Child Care Commission
- NC Coastal Resources Commission, and the Governor would no longer name the chair.
- Domestic Violence Commission
- Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services
- Board of Directors of the NC Partnership for Children, and the Governor would no longer name the chair.
- Commission for Public Health
- Board of Trustees of the Center for Public Television.
- Social Services Commission
- NC Institute of Medicine
- NC Council for Women
- Environmental Management Commission
And then there’s a peculiar provision prohibiting the Board of Funeral Service from issuing or renewing any license to a person who has been convicted of a sexual offense against a minor. It doesn’t seem to fit a bill on efficient government. Maybe it’s designed as a poison pill for legislators who might be opposed to eliminating some of these boards and commissions. You can just imagine this fall’s TV commercials: “Sen. Reed voted to let sex offenders work in funeral homes.”
Two separate bills would preserve the Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council. H 1094 (introducers: Reps. Bradley and Dixon) would rename it the Local Food Advisory Council, “sustainable” being a four-letter word in some circles these days. H 1098 (introducers: Reps. Sanderson and LaRoque) would continue both the work and the name.
H 1008, No Televisions on Death Row
Introducers: House Rules Committee
After one Death Row inmate wrote his local newspaper to say how cushy his life was there on Death Row, the entire House Rules Committee decided that televisions should no longer be available for those on Death Row.
H 948, Repeal Literacy Test
Introducer: Rep. K. Alexander
The state Constitution still contains a provision requiring persons registering to vote to be able to “read and write any section of the [state] Constitution in English.” While the federal Voting Rights Act long ago struck down this provision because it was used to prevent African Americans from voting, H 948 would actually take this section out of the Constitution. If approved by the General Assembly, it would have to be approved by the voters this November.
H 1201/S 937, Citizens United Response
Introducers: Reps. Insko, Rapp, Harrison, and Keever; Sen. Kinnaird
H 1201/S 937 would request Congress to propose a constitutional amendment reversing the US Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case which opened the door for corporate spending on political campaigns.
H 1139, Promote Renewable Jobs|
Introducers: Reps. Weiss, Harrison, Luebke, and McGrady
H 1139 would provide a tax credit of 25% to anyone who constructs or expands a commercial facility to make components for plug-in electric vehicles.
S 582, Authorize Indian Gaming/Revenue
The Senate, on the first day of the short session, passed this bill out of committee and adopted it on second and third readings. It was almost as if they had planned it ahead of time. The bill would allow live table games, gambling machines, raffles, and video games in casinos located on Cherokee land in western NC. The bill says that its intent is to improve classroom education and sets up the Indian Gaming Education Revenue Fund. But the bill itself is silent about how money gets into that Fund or exactly how much money the state will make from expanded casino gambling. Yesterday the House passed S 582 on second reading on a bi-partisan vote of 66-49, and the bill is scheduled for a vote on third reading on Tuesday.
S 924, Handgun on Educational Property/Limited Exception
Introducer: Sen. Goolsby
Here’s a proposed law that you may not have realized we need. Current law prohibits taking a concealed handgun onto school property. But S 924 would suspend that prohibition for school property that is also the location of a church “during the regularly scheduled hours of worship” for the church.
H 1187, NC Toxic-Free Kids Act|
Introducers: Reps. Harrison, Glazier, McGrady, and Fisher
H 1187 would reduce the harmful health impacts of toxic chemicals in children’s products. It would prohibit the manufacture and sale of kids’ products containing three specific toxics and would create a process for designating others as high-priority concerns.
H 1104, Scholarship Funding Corporate Tax Credit
Introducers: Reps. Stam, Brisson, Hager, and Brandon
H 1104 would give a corporate tax credit (income tax, excise tax, or insurance gross premium tax) to corporations which support scholarships for students in private schools. To qualify, the scholarship must benefit students living in a
household with income not exceeding 225% of the federal poverty level. (Currently the poverty guideline for a family of four is $23.050.) And scholarships can be no larger than $4,000 per student per year.
H 1146, Make Disabled Child Education Tax Credit Refundable
Introducers: Reps. Stam, Randleman, Jones, and Jordan
Under a law passed by the General Assembly last year, parents of children with a disability can get a tax credit for their tuition costs of having the child in a private school (or in a public school in a neighboring county, where they have to pay tuition). When passed, the tax credit was nonrefundable, so it would have been of little value to people not paying much income tax. H 1146 would make the tax credit refundable, meaning that a parent who had more tax credit that tax owed would get a check for the difference. The credit provides up to $3,000 per semester.
H 608, Honor B Holt, was adopted by the House. The resolution mentions B’s many years of service to the Episcopal Church and that she had receive the Faith Active in Public Life Award from the NC Council of Churches. She was a member of the Council’s Board at the time of her passing. We are grateful for her life and for all that she did for and with the NC Council of Churches.
New Resource Available to Legislative Advocates
A Legislative Advocacy Toolkit is now available on the Council’s website. Click here to check it out. It’s a perfect companion piece to Raleigh Report, providing a wealth of information for people of faith who want to be effective as grass-roots lobbyists, especially with the state’s General Assembly. Information includes how to register and vote, how to get information on a bill, how to contact your legislators (and how to find out who they are), and more.
Megan Loughlin Nerz, the Council’s Volunteer for Legislative Advocacy, has created this excellent resource based on her years of experience as an advocate, including her time with the Franciscan Coalition for Justice and Peace in Raleigh.
How to Subscribe to this newsletter
If you are receiving a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe, send an e-mail to: RaleighReport@nccouncilofchurches.org