By George Reed, Retired Executive Director
Newly Introduced Bills
BUDGET AND TAXES
H 540, Teachers & State Employees Pay Raise, would give annual raises of $2,400 to teachers and other state employees making less than $100,000/year. The bill would appropriate more than $700 million for the first year of these raises.
Introduced by Reps. Malone (R-Wake Forest), Jordan (R-Jefferson), J. Bell (R-Goldsboro), and Hardister (R-Greensboro). Referred to House Appropriations.
CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
S 594/H 608, Family/Child Protection & Accountability Act, would require the state to develop a plan to divide the state into no more than 30 regional social services departments and would create a process for “reforming” the child welfare system. A Child Well-Bring Transformation Council would be created and would focus initially on the child protective services system.
Introduced by Sens. Barringer (R-Wake County), Harrington (R-Gastonia), and Tucker (R-Waxhaw) and by Reps. Stevens (R-Mt. Airy), Lewis (R-Dunn), Dollar (R-Cary), and Jordan (R-Jefferson). Referred to Senate Health Care and, if favorable, to Appropriations and to Rules and to the House Homelessness and, if favorable, to Appropriations.
CRIMINAL AND JUVENILE JUSTICE
Two new bills which would raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 18 have been introduced in the Senate. S 549, Juvenile Reinvestment Act, would limit the change to misdemeanors, with 16- and 17-year-olds accused of felonies continuing to go automatically to adult court. S 564, Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, identical to H 280, would extend the change to all but the most serious felonies. Both would require juvenile justice training for law enforcement officers and would establish the Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee.
S 549 introduced by Sens. Randleman (R-Wilkesboro), Britt (R-Lumberton), and Daniel (R-Morganton) and referred to Senate Rules. S 564 introduced by Sen. Barringer (R-Wake County) and referred to Senate Rules.
H 604, Repeal Death Penalty, would provide that no crime could be punishable by death and would convert all current death sentences to life imprisonment without parole.
Introduced by Reps. Meyer (D-Hillsborough), Michaux (D-Durham), Holley (D-Raleigh), and Black (D-Durham). Referred to House Rules.
H 527/S 507, Restore/Preserve Campus Free Speech, would direct the Board of Governors of the UNC system to adopt a policy on free expression that includes, at least, nine policy positions which are written into the bill, including that “it is not the proper role of constituent institutions to shield individuals from speech protected by the First Amendment,” “the campuses . . . are open to any speaker whom students, student groups, or members of the faculty have invited,” and “constituent institutions shall strive to remain neutral, as an institution, on public policy controversies of the day.” The Board of Governors would create the Committee on Free Expression, made up of members of the Board, to report on how the institutions are doing at supporting free expression and maintaining institutional neutrality.
Introduced by Reps. Millis (R-Hampstead) and Jordan (R-Jefferson) and by Sens. Bishop (R-Mecklenburg) and Davis (R-Denver). Referred to House Education/Universities and, if favorable, to Judiciary I, and, in the Senate, to Rules.
H 570, K-12 Academic Freedom, would require the State Board of Education to develop policy encouraging respect for “the ideological, political, religious, or nonreligious viewpoints held by all persons in the classroom.” A student should not be discriminated against or mocked for these viewpoints, nor should a teacher take them into consideration when grading the student.
Introduced by Reps. Speciale (R-New Bern), Pittman (R-Concord), Ford (R-China Grove), and Boswell (R-Kill Devil Hills). Referred to House Education/K-12 and, if favorable, to State and Local Govt II.
H 556, Office of Early Childhood Education, would create this new office located in, but acting independently of, the Department of Public Instruction. Its task would be to work with relevant agencies to have a coordinated system of early care, education, and child development services for children from birth to age eight. The office’s chief academic officer would be appointed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Introduced by Reps. Horn (R-Weddington), Hurley (R-Asheboro), Lucas (D-Spring Lake), and L. Bell (D-Clinton). Referred to House Education/K-12.
S 586, Require U.S. Civics Test in High School, would require students to pass a civics test that is identical to the civics portion of the naturalization test taken by applicants for citizenship.
Introduced by Sens. Ballard (R-Boone), Tillman (R-Archdale), and Brock (R-Mocksville). Referred to Senate Rules.
S 627, Minority Colleges Advisory Board, would create the Historically Minority Colleges and Universities Advisory Board within the General Administration of the UNC System. It would study ways to increase the rates of enrollment, retention, and graduation for the historically minority UNC institutions and would report findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by March 2018.
Introduced by Sens. D. Davis (D-Greenville), Bryant (D-Rocky Mount), and Robinson (D-Greensboro). Referred to Senate Rules.
S 554, Fair Redistricting, would create the Joint Legislative Study Committee on Fair Redistricting, made up of legislators and public members. Its task would be to provide guidance to the General Assembly in its 2020 redistricting so that the districts are “drawn fairly.” S 554 calls specifically for attention to the state’s history of racial gerrymandering. Its report would be made by the middle of 2018.
Introduced by Sens. Bryant (D-Rocky Mount), McKissick (D-Durham), and Robinson (D-Greensboro). Referred to Senate Rules.
S 587, Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public Act, would prohibit putting candidates for President or Vice President on North Carolina’s ballot unless the candidates had made public their federal income tax returns for the five years prior to the election.
Introduced by Sen. Chaudhuri (D-Raleigh). Referred to Senate Rules.
H 574, Wind Energy/Consistency with Military, would bring the state’s Department of Military and Veteran Affairs into the permitting process for construction or expansion of wind farms. DMVA would evaluate the impact on air navigation routes, air traffic control areas, military training routes, and radar installations and issue a letter to proceed if it found no significant adverse impact. The bill also deletes from current law a prohibition on wind farms that significantly impact the views from state or national parks or other places of “high recreational value.”
Introduced by Reps. Grange (R-Wilmington), Szoka (R-Fayetteville), and Watford (R-Thomasville). Referred to House Energy and, if favorable, to Homeland Security.
S 503, Paperless Pistol Permit, would repeal North Carolina’s current system of requiring handgun purchasers to get a permit from their local sheriff, who have been required to conduct a background check and keep a file on the request. This system would be replaced by a requirement that gun dealers conduct a federally required background check online and notify the sheriff, who would keep an electronic file. The sheriffs would no longer be issuing permits, which removes a degree of local input into permitting decisions.
Introduced by Sens. Tarte (R-Cornelius), Brock (R-Mocksville), and Britt (R-Lumberton). Referred to Senate Rules.
HEALTH AND HEALTH CARE
H 563/S 588, Whole Woman’s Health Act. Last year, in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case, the US Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a Texas law that put restrictions on abortion providers, saying that a state can’t create burdens for women seeking an abortion that are not accompanied by medical benefits that justify the burdens. H 563/S 588 seek to bring North Carolina law into compliance with that decision. The bills would make unenforceable any state law or regulation which, after consideration of burdens and benefits, “does not confer legitimate health benefits.” Burdens on access would be shown if the law: “1) Forces abortion providers to cease providing abortions, 2) Increases the time a woman must wait to have an abortion, 3) Requires a meaningful increase in the distance a woman must travel to access care, 4) Requires medically unnecessary visits to a health care facility or clinic, 5) Requires a health care provider to perform a medical service that the provider would not otherwise perform, 6) Increases the risk to a woman’s health, 7) Causes a meaningful increase in the cost of a procedure, 8) Serves no purpose other than to stigmatize patients and abortion providers, [or] 9) serves no purpose or effect other than to decrease or eliminate access to abortion.” Benefits would be shown if the law: “1) Expands women’s access to medically accurate, comprehensive, and unbiased health care services; [or] 2) Increases patient safety, according to evidence-based research.”
In addition, H 563/S 588 would repeal North Carolina’s “Woman’s Right to Know Act,” which requires a woman seeking an abortion be given a list of information designed to discourage her from proceeding, and a prohibition on sex-selective abortions, which lacks any requirement that physicians inquire about whether the sex of the fetus is a factor in the woman getting the abortion.
Introduced by Reps. Fisher (D-Asheville), Cunningham (D-Charlotte), Meyer (D-Hillsborough), and B. Richardson (D-Louisburg) and by Sens. Chaudhuri (D-Raleigh), Van Duyn (D-Asheville), and Bryant (D-Rocky Mount). Referred to House Rules and Senate Rules.
H 575, Require Information about Abortion Pill Reversal, would require the state Department of Health and Human Services to prepare written materials about the possibility of reversing the process of a medical abortion after the first drug has been administered. Doctors would be required to present this information to a patient after she had received the first drug, and the patient would have to certify in writing that she had had an opportunity to review it. (H 575 is similar in intent to H 62. See RR for February 27.)
Introduced by Reps. McElraft (R-Emerald Isle), Hurley (R-Asheboro), R. Turner (R-Olin), and Presnell (R-Burnsville). Referred to House Health and, if favorable, to Judiciary I.
H 603/S 637, Small Farms to Healthier Schools Initiative, would appropriate $300,000+ in each year of the biennium for a pilot program that encourages school nutrition programs to source their food from local farmers.
Introduced by Rep. Garrison (D-Henderson) and by Sen. Bryant (D-Rocky Mount). Referred to House Appropriations and to Senate Rules.
S 527, Require Physical Education, would require all students in grades K-5 to be in at least three, supervised, one-hour physical education classes each week and all students in grades 6-12 to take one one-credit PE course each year.
Introduced by Sen. Rabin (R-Anderson Creek). Referred to Senate Rules.
S 546, Accuracy/Medicaid Eligibility Determinations, transfers the administration of Medicaid from the county departments of social services to the state Department of Health and Human Services, but with the provision that Medicaid eligibility may be delegated back to the DSS’s. DHHS is directed to establish accuracy and quality assurance standards, with which county DSS’s must comply. DHHS would temporarily take over Medicaid eligibility administration for any county failing to comply.
Introduced by Sens. Hise (R-Spruce Pine), B. Jackson (R-Autryville), and Tucker (R-Waxhaw). Referred to Senate Rules.
S 581, Establish Mandatory Dementia Care Training. See H 456, in RR, April 10.
Introduced by Sen. Woodard (D-Durham). Referred to Senate Rules.
S 548, Strengthen Human Trafficking Laws/Studies, would increase the punishment for human trafficking crimes, with stronger penalties if the victim is a minor. In addition, public awareness signs, including national hotline information, would be created and posted in a host of specific locations, including adult establishments, ABC permittees, hospital emergency rooms, rest areas and welcome stations, and Joblink centers. Also, local school boards and charter schools would be required to provide training to teachers and other school personnel about sexual abuse and sex trafficking of minors.
Introduced by Sens. Randleman (R-Randleman), Daniel (R-Morganton), and Brock (R-Mocksville). Referred to Senate Rules.
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
H 591, Study/Law Enforcement Interaction with Disabled Drivers, would call for a study of training that could be given to law enforcement officers to help them identify, during a traffic stop, whether a person has a hearing disability, developmental disability, traumatic brain injury or mental illness, any of which is affecting that person’s ability to comply with the officer’s orders.
Introduced by Rep. C. Graham (D-Lumberton). Referred to House State and Local Govt.
H 544/S 556, Healthy Families & Workplaces/Paid Sick Days, would provide mandatory paid sick leave for workers in NC. The basic provisions are the same as those found in the sick leave section of H 238/S 174. See RR, March 13.
Introduced by Reps. Fisher (D-Asheville), Farmer-Butterfield (D-Wilson), Cunningham (D-Charlotte), and Insko (D-Chapel Hill) and by Sens. Bryant (D-Rocky Mount), Robinson (D-Greensboro), and Foushee (D-Hillsborough). H 544 referred to House Health and, if favorable, to Commerce and then to Appropriations. S 556 to Senate Rules.
S 516, State Employees/Paid Parental Leave, would allow state employees, including those at state universities and community colleges, to share voluntarily their leave time with another employee at the time of the birth of a baby or adoption of a child.
Introduced by Sens. Chaudhuri (D-Raleigh), Britt (R-Lumberton), and Krawiec (R-Kernersville). Referred to Senate Rules.
S 537, North Carolina Equal Pay Act. Similar to H 334 and the equal pay provisions in H 238/S 174. See RR for March 13 and March 20.
Introduced by Sens. McKissick (D-Durham), Van Duyn (D-Asheville), and Bryant (D-Rocky Mount). Referred to Senate Rules.
S 632/H 819, Protect NC Right to Work Constitutional Amendment, would write the state’s right-to-work position into the state’s constitution if approved by voters in the general election of 2018. It would state “the right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor organization.”
Introduced by Sens. B. Jackson (R-Autryville), Daniel (R-Morganton), and Edwards (R-Hendersonville) and by Reps. Burr (R- Albemarle), Dixon (R-Warsaw), Presnell (R-Burnsville), and Millis (R-Hampstead). Referred to Senate Rules and to House Judiciary I and, if favorable, to House Rules.
S 525, Study Legislative Term Limits, would create a 10-member joint legislative study committee comprised of two senators, two representatives, and six members of the public. It would consider a variety of questions regarding legislative term limits and report back to the General Assembly.
Introduced by Sen. Rabin (R-Anderson Creek). Referred to Senate Rules.
H 559/S 624, Outdoor Heritage Enhanced. This curiously named bill would expand hunting with guns on Sundays. The bills would eliminate current Sunday prohibitions on hunting between 9:30 and 12:30, on all hunting of migratory birds, and on all hunting in a county with more than 700,000 people. Left in place would be the Sunday ban on using a gun to kill deer that have been chased by dogs and the prohibition between 9:30 and 12:30 on hunting within 500 yards of a place of worship or a residence.
Introduced by Reps. Millis (R-Hampstead) and J. Bell (R-Goldsboro) and by Sens. Alexander (R-Raleigh), McInnis (R-Rockingham), and Britt (R-Lumberton). Referred to House Wildlife Resources and Senate Rules.
S 668/H 562, Enhanced Penalty for Second Degree Trespass, would increase the severity of the misdemeanor if the trespass was in a multi-occupancy bathroom, shower, or changing facility.
Introduced by Sens. Britt (R-Lumberton), Daniel (R-Morganton), and Ballard (R-Boone) and by Reps. Brenden Jones (R-Tabor City) and Grange (R-Wilmington). Referred to Senate Rules and House Judiciary I.
Current Status of Introduced Bills
H 239, Reduce Court of Appeals to 12 Judges, has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Comm. and, if favorable, to Rules.
H 458, School Annual Report Card, has passed the House and is now in Senate Rules.