By George Reed, Retired Executive Director
The North Carolina General Assembly re-convened for its 2018 “short session” on Wednesday, May 16. Under terms of last year’s adjournment resolution, the General Assembly can take up only a limited selection of bills, including:
- bills related to the 2018-19 budget,
- bills passed by one house before last year’s cross-over deadline and not defeated in the other house,
- veto overrides,
- bills from study commissions,
- amendments to the state constitution,
- election law bills,
- redistricting bills and responses to other court challenges to previous legislation, and
- bills related to impeachment of state officials.
To be considered, most other bills would have to be authorized by a two-thirds vote in both houses, an almost insurmountable hurdle.
Among the newly introduced bills:
GUNS AND GUN VIOLENCE
H 976/S 734 – Extreme Risk Protection Orders
Introduced by Reps. Morey (D-Durham), Harrison (D-Greensboro), G. Martin (D-Raleigh), and Willingham (D-Rocky Mount), and Sens. McKissick (D-Durham), Chaudhuri (D-Raleigh), and J. Jackson (D-Charlotte)
Referred to House Rules and Senate Rules (Bills are sometimes sent to Rules committees to hold them until they can be sent to another committee. But Rules committees are also where “snowball” bills – ones whose chance of passage is like that of a snowball’s chance in the Hot Place – are sent to die.)
H 976/S 734 would create a so-called “red flag” law. It would provide a court procedure whereby a family or household member or law enforcement could quickly obtain a temporary order restricting someone’s access to guns if the person poses a significant danger to themselves or others through the possession of guns. The bill also creates a longer process for restricting that person’s access to guns for up to a year, and that restriction can be renewed.
S 737 – Safer Schools, Healthier Kids Act
Introduced by Sens. Chaudhuri, McKissick, and J. Jackson
Referred to Senate Rules
In addition to the “red flag” provisions of S 734, this bill would add the following protections for schools and students:
- Require a permit, issued by a sheriff and including a criminal background check, for the purchase of an assault weapon or long gun
- Prohibit possession of long guns by those under the age of 18 and of assault weapons by those under the age of 21.
- Prohibit the sale or possession of bump stocks or trigger cranks, which enable guns to be fired rapidly.
- Appropriate approximately $2 million for an anonymous tip line through the Center for Safer Schools.
- Appropriate $65 million to public schools, the UNC System, and community colleges to improve school safety. Uses would include capital improvements to make schools more secure, purchase of equipment to provide increased monitoring, improvement to security alarms and notification systems, and training of personnel.
- Appropriate $40 million to hire more nurses, counselors, school psychologists, and social workers. The long-term goal stated in the bill is to have one psychologist per 700 students, one nurse per 750 students, one counselor per 250 students, and one social worker per 400 students.
- Appropriate $7 million for additional school resource officers.
S 739 – Lottery School Safety Grants
Introduced by Sen. Randleman (R-Wilkesboro)
Referred to Senate Rules
S 739 would appropriate $70 million from lottery revenues for school safety grants of up to $750,000 each to local school boards.
H 952/S 716 – Lottery – Joint Legislative Oversight Committee Recommendations
Introduced by Rep. Saine (R-Lincolnton) and Sen. Tillman (R-Archdale)
Referred to House Appropriations and Senate Rules
H 952/S 716 would allow the state lottery to double advertising expenses from 1% to 2% of the lottery’s total revenues.
S 726 – Go Big for Early Childhood
Introduced by Sens. J. Jackson, Foushee (D-Hillsborough), and Waddell (D-Charlotte)
Referred to Senate Rules
S 726 would increase state funding to the NC Pre-Kindergarten program by $20+ million and to the NC Partnership for Children program by $20 million per year in each of the next five years. It would also provide a refundable tax credit for early childhood education professionals, the amount to be based on years of service and levels of professional educational achievement.
S 725/H 952 – Allow Durham Public Schools to Provide Housing
Introduced by Sens. Woodard (D-Durham) and McKissick and Reps. Black (D-Durham), Morey, Michaux (D-Durham), and Meyer (D-Hillsborough).
Referred to Senate Rules and House Committee on State and Local Government II
S 725/H 952 would permit the Durham Public Schools Board of Education to provide affordable rental housing for teachers and other employees of Durham Public Schools.
S 713 – Reenact School Sales Tax Holiday
Introduced by Sen. Foushee
Referred to House Rules
S 713 would reinstate the sales tax holiday on school supplies, a three-day period in August during which sales tax was not collected on specified school supplies, including big-ticket items like computers. It was repealed in 2013.
H 964 – National/State Mottos License Plate
Introduced by Reps. Bert Jones (R-Reidsville), Shepard (R-Jacksonville), Arp (R-Monroe), and Torbert (R-Stanley)
Referred to House Transportation
H 964 would create a third NC license plate option, which, instead of the words “First in Flight” or “First in Freedom,” would have the national motto (“In God We Trust”) and the state motto (“To Be Rather Than to Seem”) on it. Note that the state’s motto is actually in Latin – “Esse quam videri” – but H 964 specifies that the new plate would use the English. This would not be one of the specialized plates for which drivers pay a surcharge. Drivers would be able to choose “First in Flight,” “First in Freedom,” or the mottos as their standard plate.
There is already an option of getting a specialized plate that says “In God We Trust.” It carries a $30 surcharge, and money is distributed to the “N.C. National Guard Soldiers and Airmen Assistance Fund of The Minuteman Partnership to help provide assistance to the families of North Carolina National Guardsmen who have been activated and deployed in federal service.” Because offering a mottos plate without the surcharge might reduce the money going to this Assistance Fund, H 964 also contains the possibility of an appropriation from the Highway Fund to make up the difference.
H 965 – National and State Mottos in Schools Act
Introduced by Reps. Bert Jones, Johnson (R-Kannapolis), Arp, and Shepard
Referred to House Education K-12
H 965 would require the display in at least one prominent location in each public and charter school in the state the national and state mottos (again, the bill specifies the English version, not Latin, of the state motto). In addition, teachers and administrators could read or post “excerpts or portions of writings, documents, and records that reflect the history of the United States” including, unsurprisingly, the national motto. H 965 also includes a $100,000 appropriation to be used to buy “supplies for students to create displays” or to purchase “mounted plaques”.
Click here for commentary on H 965 by Jennifer Copeland, Executive Director of the NC Council of Churches.
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