By George Reed, Retired Executive Director
Newly Introduced Bills
BUDGET AND TAXES
S 75, Constitutional Amendment – Maximum Income Tax Rate of 5.5%. The Constitution currently sets a maximum rate for income tax at 10%. S 75, which would have to be approved by voters, would lower that maximum to 5.5%. (Currently the flat rate for personal income tax is 5.499%.) The practical impact would be to make it virtually impossible, regardless of the state’s financial circumstances, to raise income taxes over the current level or to return to a graduated tax rate where wealthier taxpayers pay a higher percentage. Future legislatures and governors would have to rely on other taxes and fees or further reduce programs if the 5.5% flat rate was not bringing in adequate revenues.
Introduced by Sens. Tucker (R-Waxhaw), Brock (R-Mocksville), and Tillman (R-Archdale). Referred to Senate Finance and, if favorable, to Senate Rules.
H 133, Elect the State Board of Education, would propose an amendment to the state constitution to provide for the election of the members of the State Board of Education. One member would be elected from each of the state’s congressional districts. (These are the same skillfully gerrymandered districts which last fall produced a delegation of ten Republicans and three Democrats even while the voters were casting only slightly more votes – 53% to 47% — for the Republican candidates.) In addition, the Governor would appoint the Board’s chair, and the Lieutenant Governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction would be voting members. Currently the Board has eleven members appointed by the Governor and subject to confirmation by the General Assembly.
Introduced by Reps. Elmore (R-North Wilkesboro), Conrad (R-Winston-Salem), and Bert Jones (R-Reidsville). Not yet referred to committee.
H 100, Restore Partisan Elections for Superior and District Court. Currently these most local of the state’s judges are elected in nonpartisan elections. H 100 would make these elections partisan, following on earlier changes by the state’s Republican leaders that converted elections for the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals into partisan races.
Introduced by Reps. Burr (R-Albemarle), Saine (R-Lincolnton), Bumgardner (R-Gastonia), and Henson (R-Brevard). Referred to House Elections.
A separate (and less transparently named) bill, S 94, Elections Transparency, would also make the Superior and District Court elections partisan, but would also extend this partisanship to county school boards and municipal elections.
Introduced by Sen. Rabin (R-Anderson Creek). Referred to Senate Rules.
H 105, Constitutional Amendment – Limit Governor and Lt. Gov. to Two Terms. Currently the Constitution provides that no person may serve more than two consecutive terms as Governor or Lieutenant Governor. H 105 would amend the Constitution, subject to approval by the voters, to delete “consecutive”.
Introduced by Rep. Bert Jones (R-Reidsville). Referred to House Judiciary I and, if favorable, to House Elections.
H 134, Pistol Permit/Mental Health Record to Sheriff. Current law requires an applicant for a pistol purchase to disclose to the sheriff “any court orders concerning the mental health or capacity” of the applicant and also to authorize the release of those court records to the sheriff so they could then be used to determine whether the pistol permit should be issued. H 134 would delete this requirement and replace it with a provision giving the sheriff the discretion to request the disclosure (if, of course, the sheriff has knowledge of a relevant court order).
Introduced by Rep. McNeill (R-Asheboro). Not yet referred to committee.
110, DOT/DMV Changes, is not itself a gun-violence bill. But it contains a provision that those who have been adjudicated incompetent or involuntarily committed to an institution for the treatment of an alcohol or substance abuse disorder must have a determination of whether they are competent to operate a motor vehicle.
This bill was introduced a day before H 134 (above) and as Congress was rolling back an Obama-era rule that limited the access of people with mental disabilities to guns. This raises the possibility that a person with a serious mental disability or substance abuse issue could have a harder time getting a driver’s license than a gun.
S 84, Repeal HB2, is identical to H 82. See Raleigh Report for February 15.
Introduced by Sens. Chaudhuri (D-Raleigh), Woodard (D-Durham), and Van Duyn (D-Asheville). Referred to Senate Rules.
H 102/S 85, NC Adopt Equal Rights Amendment, would add NC to the list of states which has ratified the ERA. The question of whether the ERA is still available for ratification is addressed in the bill and would probably have to be resolved in the courts. The NC Council of Churches was a leading advocate for the ERA in the 1970s and 80s.
Introduced by Reps. Cunningham (D-Charlotte), Fisher (D-Asheville), Terry (D-Winston-Salem), and Ager (D-Fairview) and by Sens. McKissick (D-Durham), Bryant (D-Rocky Mount), and Van Duyn (D-Asheville). Referred to House Rules and Senate Rules.
H 107/S 93, Common Sense Compromise to Repeal HB 2, is the proposal from Gov. Cooper. (See RR for February 15.) Specifically it would:
- Repeal HB2.
- Provide for enhanced punishments for those committing specified sexual felonies in a restroom, locker room, changing room or shower room. The enhanced punishment would be a six-month extension of what the sentence would otherwise have been.
- Require local governments to give 30-days’ notice to the General Assembly and to the public before adopting any nondiscrimination ordinance stronger than what is provided by state law.
Introduced by Rep. Jackson (D-Raleigh) and Sens. Blue (D-Raleigh) and Van Duyn (D-Asheville). Referred to House Rules and Senate Rules.
H 99, The Antidiscrimination Act of 2017, would define “discriminatory profiling” as “the practice of subjecting a person to investigation, detention, or arrest based on the person’s real or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity, instead of based on the person’s behavior or on information identifying the person as having engaged in criminal activity.” Law enforcement officers would be prohibited from engaging in such profiling. H 99 would also require homicide statistics to include identifying characteristics of the victim and the perpetrators. Additionally, it would add to the information which must be gathered about the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers, specifically requiring information about characteristics of race/ethnicity, age, gender identity and sex of the victims and the law enforcement officers.
Introduced by Reps. R. Moore (D-Charlotte), Alexander (D-Charlotte), Brockman (D-High Point), and Quick (D-Greensboro). Referred to House Judiciary III and, if favorable, to House State and Local Government II and, if favorable, to House Rules.
H 113, Private Action Local Compliance on Immigration Laws, would permit a suit to be brought by an individual who thinks his/her city or county is violating the state’s law regarding sanctuary communities or is recognizing an immigration document not authorized by the General Assembly. Among the possible non-authorized documents is the one issued by FaithAction and widely recognized in Guilford County. The current law is already of two minds. Section 15A-311(a) says that an identity document issued by an organization not expressly authorized by the General Assembly is not acceptable. But then Section 15A-311(c) says that the documents mentioned as not OK “may be used by a law enforcement officer to assist in determining the identity or residency of a person when they are the only documents providing an indication of identity or residency available to the law enforcement office at the time.” H 113 would also allow a $10,000 per day fine for local governments or law enforcement agencies which ignore an order based on this bill.
Introduced by Reps. Cleveland (R-Jacksonville), Conrad (R-Winston-Salem), Millis (R-Hampstead), and Speciale (R-New Bern). Referred to House Judiciary I and, if favorable, to House State and Local Government.
AND NOW TO ONE OF THE TRULY WEIGHTIER MATTERS BEFORE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
H 96, Adopt State Fried Chicken Festival, would name “the Fayetteville Fried Chicken Festival as the official fried chicken festival of the State of North Carolina.” Never mind that Fayetteville hasn’t yet had its first FFCF. The bill was referred initially to the State and Local Government Comm. and, if favorable, then to the House Health Comm. But then the referral to Health was stricken (making it the stricken chicken bill?) and the bill was referred to the Rules Committee. Evidently House leadership didn’t want the Health Committee messing with a bill about fried chicken. (Late breaking news: even a chicken festival bill with bi-partisan sponsorship is not devoid of controversy. It turns out that Rose Hill has a poultry festival that goes back to the 1960s and that features a huge skillet and fried chicken, so festival planners in Fayetteville and Rose Hill are now working on their own bipartite agreement.)
Updates on Bills from Previous Raleigh Reports
H 7, Strengthen Savings Reserve, has been passed by the House and is in the Senate, where it is in the Senate Rules Comm.
H 13, Class Size Requirement Changes, has been passed by the House and is in the Senate, where it is not yet referred to a committee.