By George Reed, Retired Executive Director
Newly Introduced Bills
H 171, Change Exclusion for Solar Energy Systems. Current law provides an 80% exclusion from property taxation for the value of a solar electric system, defined as “all equipment used directly and exclusively for the conversion of solar energy to electricity.” H 171 would reduce that tax exclusion to 60%.
Introduced by Reps. Dixon (R-Warsaw), J. Bell (R-Goldsboro), Brenden Jones (R-Tabor City), and McElraft (R-Emerald Isle). Referred to House Energy and Public Utilities and, if favorable, to Finance.
H 174, Concealed Carry/Church School Property. Under current law, you can’t carry a weapon, whether concealed or carried openly, on school property. H 174 would lighten up on that apparently onerous provision as it applies to church schools that are also places of worship. It would permit carrying concealed weapons on property that is both a church school and a church during times outside the operating hours of the school. So the fact that a church and a school share the same property would not prevent someone from bringing a concealed handgun to worship on Sunday morning and doing so legally.
Introduced by Rep. R. Turner (R-Olin). Referred to House Judiciary I.
H 62, Woman’s Right to Know Addition, would require doctors and other health professionals to inform a woman getting a medical abortion about the option of discontinuing that procedure and would make relevant information available on the state’s Health and Human Services website. Medical abortions are typically done by administering, over a period of time, two drugs. H 62 would require 1) that the woman be told prior to getting the first drug that she could discontinue the procedure before taking the second drug and have the first drug’s effects reversed, and 2) that the woman be provided “medical proof . . . that fetal death has occurred” before being given the second drug. For more information, including details about medical abortions and concerns being expressed by doctors, see this report from NC Policy Watch.
Introduced by Reps. Pittman (R-Concord), Stevens (R-Mt. Airy), Boswell (R-Kill Devil Hills), and Speciale (R-New Bern). Referred to House Health and, if favorable, then to House Judiciary IV.
H 163, Enact Right to Life at Conception Act, would state that human beings exist from “the moment of fertilization or cloning, or any other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being” and that “the right to life is vested” in them from that point. However the bill states that this does not do any of the following:
- Require prosecution of a woman for the death of her unborn child
- Prohibit in vitro fertilization
- “Prohibit the use of birth control or another means of prohibiting human fertilization.”
Introduced by Rep. Boswell (R-Kill Devil Hills). Referred to House Health and, if favorable, to House Judiciary I.
H 152, Hate Crime/Increase Scope and Penalty, would extend criminal laws regarding hate crimes as follows:
- Add gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability to existing laws regarding hate crimes.
- Specify that a hate crime can be based on a person’s perceived identity as part of a protected group of people, not just actual identity. So, for example, if a dark-skinned woman wearing a head scarf is attacked by someone who thinks she is a Muslim, the attacker doesn’t get off the hook for it being a hate crime just because the woman turns out to be a Baptist.
- Increase some of the punishments for hate crimes.
Introduced by Reps. R. Moore (D-Charlotte), Gill (D-Raleigh), Harrison (D-Greensboro), and Meyer (D-Hillsborough). Referred to House Judiciary III.
H 161, Divestment from Companies that Boycott Israel, would prohibit the state, including the state’s retirement system, from investing in companies determined to be engaging in a boycott of Israel. The bill would also prohibit the state from contracting with any such companies although, in a fascinating example of “we all have our price,” the state could continue to do business with a boycotting company if that company offers a price at least 20% less than the lowest price offered by non-boycotting companies.
Introduced by Reps. Ross (R-Burlington), Szoka (R-Fayetteville), Hardister (R-Greensboro), and W. Richardson (D-Fayetteville). Referred to House Pensions and Retirement.
H 165, Citizens Review Boards Established, authorizes counties and cities to use citizen review boards to investigate allegations of police misconduct. It would also require counties and cities which set up neighborhood crime watch programs to provide training (which is apparently not currently required) and that training would include education about discriminatory profiling.
Introduced by Reps. R. Moore (D-Charlotte) and Quick (D-Greensboro). Referred to House State and Local Government.
H 186, Repeal HB2, State Nondiscrimination Policies, is supposed to be a “compromise” repeal bill. It is not a clean repeal. In addition to the repeal, H 186 would:
- Preempt local governments from regulating access to bathrooms and other facilities, “except as provided by an act of the General Assembly,” and only the General Assembly can regulate access to facilities “except where owned or under the direct control of a city.”
- Extend the protections of anti-discrimination laws to additional categories, but not to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Permit a city to adopt an ordinance expanding the protected classes within the city, including access to bathrooms and other facilities owned by or under the direct control of the city. But, to do so, the city must give 30 days’ public notice before its governing board votes, and the ordinance would not go into effect until 90 days after the vote. During that period, an override referendum would be called if an override petition were signed by the number of people equal to 10% of the total vote in the most recent local election (when voter turnout is notoriously low).
- Enhance punishments for various sexual offenses committed in bathrooms and other facilities.
Introduced by Reps. McGrady (R-Hendersonville), Lucas (D-Spring Lake), Goodman (D-Rockingham), and Davis (R-Wilmington). Referred to House Rules.
STATE CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES
H 145, Repeal Constitutional Regulation of Concealed Weapons. One section of the state constitution reads “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; and, as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they shall not be maintained, and the military shall be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power. Nothing herein shall justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons, or prevent the General Assembly from enacting penal statutes against that practice.” Note that the section does not require the state to regulate the carrying of concealed weapons; it only permits it and makes clear that the right to keep and bear arms does not justify carrying concealed weapons. But even that is too much for some legislators. H 145 would amend the constitution, subject to approval by voters, to delete the “Nothing herein” sentence.
Primary sponsors are Reps. Speciale (R-New Bern), Pittman (R-Concord), and Adams (R-Hickory); there are seven additional sponsors, all Republicans. Referred to House Rules.
H 146, Citizen’s Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution. One section of the state constitution reads “Every citizen of this State owes paramount allegiance to the Constitution and government of the United States, and no law or ordinance of the State in contravention or subversion thereof can have any binding force.” H 146 would delete “and government,” thereby making the allegiance of our state’s citizens to the U.S. Constitution only, but not to the government created by and directed by that Constitution.
Primary sponsors are Rep. Speciale (R-New Bern), Cleveland (R-Jacksonville), Pittman (R-Concord), and Presnell (R-Burnsville); there are three additional sponsors, all Republicans. Referred to House Rules.
H 147, Amend NC Constitution—Remove Secession. One section of the state constitution reads “This State shall ever remain a member of the American Union; the people thereof are part of the American nation; there is no right on the part of this State to secede; and all attempts, from whatever source or upon whatever pretext, to dissolve this Union or to sever this Nation, shall be resisted with the whole power of the State.” As hard as it may be to believe, H 147 would, if approved by the voters, repeal this section entirely.
Primary sponsors are Reps. Speciale (R-New Bern), Cleveland (R-Jacksonville), and Pittman (R-Concord), with three additional Republicans signed on as sponsors. Referred to House Rules.
H 148, Amend NC Constitution—Literacy Requirement. One section of the state constitution reads “Every person presenting himself for registration shall be able to read and write any section of the Constitution in the English language.” This literacy requirement was outlawed by federal legislation and US Supreme Court cases in the 1960s and 1970. H 148 would, subject to the voters, officially delete it from the state constitution.
Primary sponsors are Reps. Speciale (R-New Bern), Pittman (R-Concord), Steinburg (R-Edenton), and W. Richardson (D-Fayetteville). There are seven additional sponsors, four Republicans and three Democrats. Referred to House Rules.
H 182, Leadership Term Limits, would apply term limits to the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate. Those limits would be for four “consecutive General Assemblies.” (This language would currently mean a maximum of eight years, but if H 193, below, passed and was approved by the voters, it would become 16 years.)
Introduced by Reps. Warren (R-Salisbury), Hardister (R-Greensboro), and Blust (R-Greensboro). Referred to House Judiciary I and, if favorable, to House Rules.
H 193, Legislative Four-Year Terms, would amend the constitution, subject to approval by voters, to change terms of office for both the state Senate and state House from two years to four and to limit legislators to a maximum of four terms in each body. This would start with elections in 2022 and then every four years afterwards, so this would put General Assembly elections in the even-numbered years when the presidential and gubernatorial elections were not on the ballot.
Introduced by Reps. Warren (R-Salisbury), Hardister (R-Greensboro), and Yarborough (R-Roxboro) and referred to House Elections and, if favorable, to House Judiciary I.
Updates on Bills from Previous Raleigh Reports
H 6, Education Finance Reform Task Force, has been passed by the House and sent to the Senate, where it is in the Rules Comm.
H 100, Restore Partisan Elections for Superior and District Courts, has been passed by the House and sent to the Senate, where it is in the Rules Comm.