By George Reed, Retired Executive Director
[For more information on bills, including committee referrals and re-referrals, texts of bills, procedural histories, and recorded votes, go to the General Assembly website www.ncleg.net.]
Newly Introduced Bills
Three companion bills would impact food served in schools. H 891, Free Breakfast and Lunch in K-12 Public Schools, would provide funds ($200 million per year) to make free breakfast and free lunch available to all public school students who request it. It would also create a fund to which taxpayers could contribute through a check-off on their tax returns. Introduced by Reps. Brockman (D-High Point), Quick (D-High Point), Autry (D-Charlotte), and Holley (D-Raleigh). H 892, Free Lunch for Some Students/Stop Lunch Shame, would allocate $5 million to provide free lunches for all students eligible for reduced-price lunches. It would also prohibit 1) public identification of students who can’t pay for a meal, 2) programs to make students do chores to pay for their meals, and 3) communicating directly with students (instead of parents) about meal debts. Introduced by Reps. Brockman, Harrison (D-Greensboro), Quick, and Terry (D-Winston-Salem). H 893, Healthy Foods for Our Schools, would allocate $10 million to implement nutrition standards in prekindergarten and elementary schools. Introduced by Reps. Brockman, Ager (D-Fairview), Black (D-Durham), and Beasley (D-Charlotte).
HEALTH AND HEALTH CARE
H 886, Excise Tax Increases for Substance Abuse, would increase taxes on tobacco products, vapor products, and beer, with the increases going to substance abuse programs and services. These increased taxes would sunset after only two years.
Introduced by Rep. C. Graham (D-Lumberton).
H 887, Health Insurance State Mandates Study/Funds, would create a Joint Legislative Committee to study “all health insurance mandated coverage requirements imposed by the State.” This would include the cost to employers, individuals, and insurers of these state-mandated coverages and whether each mandated coverage “remains necessary or . . . could be removed.” It would make a final report, including recommended legislation, to the 2019 General Assembly.
Introduced by Reps. Blackwell (R-Valdese), Lambeth (R-Winston-Salem), Collins (R-Rocky Mount), and Hardister (R-Greensboro).
H 916, North Carolina Health Plan, would declare the intent of the General Assembly to have a comprehensive health care plan for all North Carolinians by 2019. The Departments of Insurance and of Health and Human Services would be charged with studying the issues and proposing how the Health Plan would work.
Introduced by Reps. Brockman (D-High Point) and Insko (D-Chapel Hill).
H 910, Human Trafficking: Resistance and Rescue, would create a pilot program to educate students in grades 6, 8, and 10 about human trafficking, to create a pilot program to train law enforcement to identify signs of human trafficking, and to provide shelter beds and mental health services to victims. It would allocate almost $20 million for the pilot programs and direct services.
Introduced by Reps. Brawley (R-Matthews), Malone (R-Wake Forest), Dollar (R-Cary), and Davis (R-Wilmington).
H 789, End of Life Option Act. H 789 would set up a process by which someone who is terminally ill could get and take a drug that would hasten that person’s death. The option would be available to an adult with the capacity to make medical decisions and who, in the judgment of at least two doctors, has an incurable and irreversible disease that will result in death within six months. The bill spells out responsibilities of the person’s doctor, of the “consulting” doctor, and of an “attending witness” (someone selected by the person to be present if or when s/he takes the drug).
Introduced by Reps. Harrison (D-Greensboro), Fisher (D-Asheville), and Meyer (D-Hillsborough).
Current Status of Introduced Bills
H 13, Class Size Requirement Changes. This bill was passed unanimously by the House in February, but the Senate had delayed action on it, claiming that it didn’t know whether state appropriations for schools were being spent as intended. With county school systems having to adopt budgets for next year and retain or release teachers, the Senate proposed what it sees as a compromise. Under it, the class-size reductions scheduled to go into effect for the 2017-18 school year will be postponed a year. In addition, school systems would be required to report twice a year on the following: the duties of each teacher, the source of funds to pay for each teacher, the number of students assigned to each class, the number of “program enhancement” (i.e., the arts, physical education and health, and foreign languages) teachers per school, the source of their funding, and the average class size for each grade from kindergarten through third grade. If a local superintendent is determined by the State Board of Education to have “willfully failed to comply” with these and other reporting requirements, the state would stop sending money to pay the superintendent’s salary. A proposed amendment stating the General Assembly’s intention to provide funds for the enhancement teachers starting in 2018-19 was defeated in the Senate. This Senate version has now been passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Cooper.
H 239, Reduce Court of Appeals to 12 Judges. The General Assembly has overridden the Governor’s veto.
S 68, Bipartisan Board of Elections and Ethics. The General Assembly has overridden the Governor’s veto.
S 257, Appropriations Act of 2017. A proposed committee substitute for the state budget was announced at a news conference yesterday, May 9, with the actual bill being made available for the first time via an online posting last night. The bill is being considered in Senate appropriations committees today, and the Senate leadership plans to have floor votes tomorrow and Friday. Published reports note that the budget includes cuts in personal and corporate income taxes while providing modest raises for educators and other state employees. Click here to see the bill itself and here to see the committee report, which shows a line-by-line breakout of the budget.
With the passage of Crossover Day, a good number of bills which have been covered in Raleigh Report would seem to be dead for this legislative session. Under crossover rules adopted by the House and Senate, most non-money bills (i.e., containing neither appropriations nor taxes or fees) must have passed one house and crossed over to the other house by the deadline. The General Assembly staff has released a list of non-revenue, non-appropriations bills which have crossed over and are still alive for consideration this session.
As the staff notes, in addition to money bills, other categories of bills exempt from crossover include redistricting and, for the Senate, amendments to the state constitution. And, of course, there are procedural methods to resurrect a seemingly dead bill. One of the most popular of those methods is to add an appropriation to such a bill and — voila! — it has become a money bill.
With these caveats in place, what follows is a list of bills previously covered in Raleigh Report which are on the legislative list of bills that successfully made the crossover deadline and remain alive. But, keep in mind, if you don’t see a bill you’ve been following, that it could already include an appropriation, fee or tax, and therefore remain viable.
- H 6 (=S 9), Education Finance Reform Task Force
- H 21, Driver Instruction/Law Enforcement Stops
- H 35, Protect North Carolina Workers Act. This bill, which would require more employers to use the federal E-Verify program, has been amended to make it apply to all who employ 15 or more people. Current law has the number at 25. H 35, as introduced, would have lowered it to five.
- H 105, Constitutional Amendment-Limit Governor and Lt. Gov. to Two Terms
- H 113, Private Action Local Compliance/Immigration Laws
- H 134, Pistol Permit/Mental Health Record to Sheriff
- H 148, Amend NC Constitution-Literacy Requirement
- H 161, Divestment from Companies That Boycott Israel
- H 174, Conceal Carry/Church School Property
- H 240, GA Appoint for District Court Vacancies
- H 241, Special Superior Court Judgeship Appointed by General Assembly
- H 285, Suicide Prevention/Awareness School Personnel
- H 306, E-Verify – All Government Contracts
- H 319, Study Solar Facility Decommissioning Requirements
- H 320, Study Electronics Recycling
- H 321, Study Solid Waste Disposal Tax
- H 322, School Performance Grades
- H 335, Vacancies/NC Superior Court
- H 409, State Agencies/Adjust Hiring Practices
- H 458, School Annual Report Card
- H 496, Fair and Nonpartisan Ballot Placement
- H 527 (=S 507), Restore/Preserve Campus Free Speech
- H 556, Study Early Childhood Education. It was amended to create the Task Force on Early Childhood Education to study the issue, rather than actually setting up a new office as the original bill would have done. The Task Force would bring its final report to the 2019 General Assembly.
- H 559 (=S 624), Outdoor Heritage Enhanced
- H 591, Study/LEO Interaction with Disabled Drivers
- H 704, Divide School Systems/Study Committee
- H 819 (=S 632), Protect NC Right to Work Constitutional Amendment
- S 36 (=H 44), Convention of the States
- S 75, Constitutional Amendment – Maximum Income Tax Rate of 5.5%
- S 145, Government Immigration Compliance
- S 325, Billion Dollar Middle Class Tax Cut
- S 531 (=H 305), School Boards Can’t Sue Counties
- S 655, Change Date When Primary Elections Held
- S 656, Electoral Freedom Act of 2017