By George Reed, Retired Executive Director
Newly Introduced Bills
BUDGET AND TAXES
S 147, Reenact School Sales Tax Holiday. The school sales tax holiday was a three-day weekend shortly before the start of school each August during which sales taxes were not collected on a variety of school-related supplies, including some big-ticket items like computers. The holiday was popular with parents, students, teachers and retailers, but it was repealed effective in mid-2014. S 147 would reinstate it.
Introduced by Sens. Lowe (D-Winston-Salem) and Foushee (D-Hillsborough). Referred to Senate Rules.
CRIMINAL AND JUVENILE JUSTICE
H 204, School-Justice Partnership Training, would require local boards of education to establish school-justice partnerships with local law enforcement agencies with the goal of reducing rates of in-school arrests, expulsions and suspensions. Volunteer school safety resource officers would receive training in juvenile justice issues and cultural competency.
Introduced by Reps. Pierce (D-Wagram) and Quick (D-Greensboro). Referred to House Education (K-12) Comm. and, if favorable, to House Judiciary IV.
S 146, Juvenile Reinvestment Act, would raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 18, something long supported by child advocates in North Carolina, one of two states still automatically moving 16- and 17-year-olds into adult courts and prisons. There would be a few exceptions: If a 16- or 17-year-old allegedly committed a crime that would be a Class A though E felony (the most serious felonies) if committed by an adult, the juvenile would still be automatically transferred to adult court, and if a juvenile in that age bracket allegedly committed what would be a Class F through I felony, the juvenile could be transferred to an adult court, but it would be at the discretion of the juvenile court. S 146 also contains School-Justice Partnerships provisions similar to H 204.
Introduced by Sens. Lowe (D-Winston-Salem) and Ford (D-Charlotte). Referred to Senate Rules.
H 177, Eliminate Second Primaries. Under current law, a candidate in a primary election must receive 40% of the votes cast in order to avoid a possible runoff primary. H 177 would eliminate second primaries entirely. So a first primary could pit six candidates, for example, and it would be at least statistically possible for a candidate with only 20% of the vote to be the winner of the primary and therefore either advance to the general election or win outright if there were no opponent in the general election.
Introduced by Reps. Floyd (D-Fayetteville), Jordan (R-Jefferson), Michaux (D-Durham), and C. Graham (D-Lumberton). Referred to House Elections and, if favorable, to House State and Local Government I.
H 200, Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission, would create a nonpartisan process for redistricting for the state Senate, state House, and the state’s delegation to the US House. It would involve two bodies, in addition to the General Assembly itself. First, a Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission (TRAC) would be established. It would be made up of five members, with the Speaker of the House, President Pro Tem of the Senate, and minority leaders in the House and Senate each naming one member and the fifth elected as chair by the first four. Second, the General Assembly’s Legislative Services Office (LSO), a nonpartisan staff body, would be empowered to draw up districts for presentation to the General Assembly.
Here’s how the process would work: Censuses happen every ten years, in years divisible by ten. Results are available by early in the following year. The LSO would receive those results and draw up plans consistent with requirements in H 200 (see below). When the LSO proposal is received by the House and Senate, the TRAC would schedule at least three public hearings around the state. After those hearings, the TRAC would prepare a summary of what they heard in the hearings, along with their own comments and conclusions. The General Assembly would then vote, up or down only, on that LSO plan. In other words, there would be no substantive amendments. If either house voted down the plan, that house could send an explanation of its concerns to the LSO. The LSO would then prepare a second plan, presumably taking into consideration the reason(s) why one house rejected its first plan. The second plan would be voted on similarly. If it is voted down, the LSO would prepare a third plan. If either house rejected the third plan, then – and only then – could substantive amendments be presented, and the General Assembly would proceed with it as with any other bill.
Standards for a plan include:
- Population is the basis for establishing districts. State districts have to have a population within 5% of the ideal population (i.e., if the state were divided into districts containing exactly equal numbers of people). Congressional districts would have to be within one-tenth of one percent of the ideal.
- As far as possible, city and county boundaries would be followed, with no more counties and cities being divided between districts than necessary. Division of voting districts would also be minimized.
- Districts would be made up of contiguous territory and be as compact as possible. The bill contains specific guidance on what is contiguous and compact.
- No district would be drawn to favor a political party or an incumbent or to augment or dilute “the voting strength of a language or racial minority group.”
- Except where required to meet legal/constitutional standards, no use would be made of demographic information, including political affiliations of voters, or of previous election results.
This nonpartisan redistricting plan, if adopted, would go into effect after the 2020 census.
Primary sponsors are Reps. McGrady (R-Hendersonville), Stevens (R-Mt. Airy), Jordan (R-Jefferson) and Hardister (R-Greensboro). The 35 additional co-sponsors include Democrats and Republicans. Referred to House Rules.
S 136, Restore Partisan Elections/Superior & District Court, is identical to H 100. See RR, February 20.
Introduced by Sens. Tillman (R-Archdale), Randleman (R-Wilkesboro), and Wade (R-Guilford). Referred to Senate Rules.
There’s a spate of bills from legislators who believe it is just too gosh-darned difficult for North Carolinians to buy guns and take those guns with them everywhere. Bills previously covered in Raleigh Report include:
- H 134, eliminating the requirement that an applicant for a pistol permit tell the sheriff, as part of the permitting process, about any court orders concerning the applicant’s mental health. (See RR, February 20.)
- H 174, extending concealed carry to churches which share property with schools. (See RR, February 28.)
- H 145, eliminating a constitutional provision not entirely friendly to concealed carry. (See RR, February 28.)
In addition, there are the following:
H 69, Constitutional Carry Act, would eliminate the requirement that people carrying a concealed weapon obtain a concealed carry permit. Under current law, a gun owner must apply to the local sheriff for a concealed carry permit. Among other requirements, the applicant must have “successfully completed an approved firearms safety and training course which involves the actual firing of handguns and instruction in the laws of this State governing the carrying of a concealed handgun and the use of deadly force.” In addition, there’s a list of 14 items for which a sheriff must turn down an applicant. These include such things as being a convicted felon, being a fugitive from justice, being addicted to alcohol or an illegal drug, and having been convicted of a misdemeanor involving domestic violence. Eliminating the permit requirement would eliminate the required training course and would remove a sheriff’s ability to deny the permit to someone who shouldn’t be allowed legally to carry a concealed handgun. H 69 would make it “unlawful” to carry a concealed weapon if any of those 14 items applies, but that is significantly different from a permit process involving a sheriff and requiring a denial to those not qualified. H 69 would also drop the legal age for concealed carry from 21 to 18. (For info on concealed carry bills from NC Policy Watch, click here.)
Introduced by Reps. Pittman (R-Concord), Speciale (R-New Bern), Boswell (R-Kill Devil Hills), and Adams (R-Hickory). Referred to House Judiciary I and, if favorable, to House Finance.
H 201, NC Constitutional Carry Act, contains the provisions of H 69, eliminating the requirement of having a concealed carry permit. In addition, it would repeal the current requirement that someone have a permit in order to purchase a pistol. These permits are issued by sheriffs, who have to run a background check and may deny a request for several of the 14 reasons mentioned in H 69. A permit is currently required for any pistol purchase, including at gun shows and online. Over 20% of all gun purchases are by private sales, and North Carolina is one of 19 states currently requiring background checks on all sales.
Introduced by Rep. Millis (R-Hampstead). Referred to House Judiciary I and, if favorable, to House Finance.
H 251, Allow Concealed Carry on UNC and Community College Campuses, would allow anyone with a concealed carry permit or exempt from having a concealed carry permit to carry a loaded, concealed handgun on the campuses of public universities and community colleges. If H 69, H 201, and H 251 were to pass, it would presumably mean that almost everyone on a campus could legally be carrying a concealed, loaded handgun that they had bought without a background check and without any training in gun safety.
Introduced by Reps. K. Hall (R-King), Burr (R-Albemarle), Presnell (R-Burnsville), and Destin Hall (R-Lenoir). Not yet referred.
Several bills have been introduced that are intended to crack down on undocumented immigrants and communities that want to be neighborly to them. These include:
H 63, Citizens Protection Act of 2017, another misleadingly titled bill, includes strengthening laws regarding fake IDs, making it harder for undocumented aliens (sic) to obtain pretrial release for a variety of criminal charges, limiting the ways that immigration status can be documented, and requiring punishment of local governments said to be violating the state prohibition on being sanctuary cities or counties. Specifically, the punishment would be for the state to withhold tax revenues related to telecommunications, natural gas, and beer and wine which are supposed to be returned to local governments.
Introduced by Reps. Warren (R-Salisbury), Collins (R-Rocky Mount), Jordan (R-Jefferson), and Adams (R-Hickory). Referred to House Judiciary II and, if favorable, to Appropriations.
S 145, Government Immigration Compliance, contains several items found in other bills. It begins with legislative “findings”:
- that the legislature has “supreme power and complete discretion over the appropriation of State funds,”
- that that power “can be used to create additional incentives for cities, counties, and law enforcement agencies to comply with duty enacted laws,” and
- that setting out these incentives (and punishments) in a bill such as S 145 would give local governments “a measure of predictability that can be useful to those entities in planning and carrying out their functions and duties.”
With local governments now duly informed of where they stand, S 145 proceeds to the specifics, including:
- Eliminating the use of local ID documents by law enforcement officer even “when they are the only documents . . . available to the law enforcement officer at the time.”
- Creating “incentives” for local governments to comply with immigration laws regarding sanctuary and identity documents. (They really are dis-incentives – punishments – for noncompliance.) Local governments can be accused of noncompliance by individuals, even anonymous individuals, as long as they act with a “good-faith belief” that there is noncompliance. (The bill is silent as to how you would determine whether an accusation was in good faith if it was filed by an anonymous accuser). “Incentives” would include withholding of revenues mentioned in H 63, above, as well as revenues from the scrap tire disposal tax and, most significantly, state appropriations for aid to local governments regarding transportation (streets, etc.).
- Holding local governments legally liable for damages if they adopt sanctuary ordinances and an “unauthorized alien commits a crime against a person or property” within that city or county. So, for example, if my city adopts a sanctuary ordinance and then an undocumented immigrant breaks into my home, shoots me in the leg, and steals my stuff, I could sue the city for my losses and injuries.
- Creating incentives for UNC schools not to adopt sanctuary status or interfere with the enforcement of federal immigration laws.
- Requiring the state to designate some law enforcement officers to perform federal immigration law enforcement functions under the 287(g) program.
Introduced by Sen. Sanderson (R-Arapahoe). Referred to Senate Rules.
How to Get Involved
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