HB 46 – Economic Security Act of 2019
HB 46 is a collection of issues long of concern to workers and worker advocates. Specific provisions would:
- Increase the minimum wage to $15/hour over the next five years.
- Prohibit employers from paying less to one gender than to the other for the same work. Pay differences could be based on a list of other factors (e.g. seniority, ability, restrictions on lifting heavy objects) if those factors were used in good faith.
- Require paid sick leave and family medical leave. Leave time could be used for the employee to deal with his/her own health or that of an immediate family member or to deal with the psychological, physical or legal effects of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
- Phase out the inclusion of tips in determining whether tipped workers are being paid a minimum wage.
- Enact “Ban the Box” laws that would prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their criminal record until the employer was ready to make a conditional offer to hire.
- Repeal collective bargaining restrictions for public employees.
- Restore the state Earned Income Tax Credit (at the rate of 5% of the federal EITC) and the state tax credits for child care.
Introduced by Reps. Fisher (D-Asheville) and Harrison (D-Greensboro). Indicative of the long road ahead of HB 46, it was assigned sequentially to the following six committees: Commerce, Judiciary, Regulatory Reform, Finance, Pensions and Retirement, and Rules.
SB 50 – Reinstate Earned Income Tax Credit
Substantially identical to the EITC provision in HB 46. Introduced by Sens. Foushee (D-Hillsborough) and Mohammed (D-Charlotte). Referred to Senate Rules.
HB 146 – Living Wage by 2024
Similar to the living wage provision in HB 46, this bill would raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024. Introduced by Reps. Farmer-Butterfield (D-Wilson) and K. Smith (D-Greenville). Not yet referred.
SB 60 – Restore Educational Sales Tax Holiday
For several years, the state provided three days in August, just before the start of the school year, when no sales tax was collected on a variety of school-related purchases. This “tax holiday” was repealed in 2013. SB 60 would re-instate it. Introduced by Reps. Mohammed, Foushee, and Lowe (D-Winston-Salem). Referred to Senate Rules.
HB 69 – Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission
HB 69, a bill with bipartisan sponsorship, would create a commission to recommend redistricting. It would be made up of 11 members: four Democrats, four Republicans, and three who are not affiliated with either major party. For the Commission to reach agreement on new districts, there would have to be at least eight votes, including two from each of the three categories of party affiliation. The bill states standards to be followed and prohibits redistricting to favor a political party or incumbent or to impact the voting strength of a language or racial minority. The Commission would also be prohibited from using political affiliations of voters, previous election results, or the location of incumbents’ residences in drawing district maps. The Commission’s recommended redistricting would go to the General Assembly, which could accept or reject it, but not amend it. If rejected, the Commission would prepare a second set of recommended maps. Again, the GA could only accept or reject, not amend. If the second set is rejected, the Commission would recommend a third set, and the GA could adopt amendments in order to gain passage by both houses. Introduced by Reps. Reives (D-Goldston), McGrady (R-Hendersonvile), Hardister (R-Whitsett), and B. Turner (D-Asheville). Referred to House Redistricting and then to Rules.
HB 140 – The FAIR Act
The Fairness and Integrity in Redistricting (FAIR) Act, also introduced with bi-partisan support, would amend the state Constitution to establish nonpartisan redistricting criteria. If the amendments pass, HB 140 would also establish a procedure utilizing the General Assembly’s Legislative Services Office (LSO) to prepare redistricting maps on which the General Assembly would vote. The first proposed maps from the LSO would not be subject to amendment by the House or Senate. If this first proposal is voted down, the LSO would prepare a second set of maps, and these would be subject to amendment by the House and Senate. Provision is made for a Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission, whose functions are limited to answering specific requests for guidance from the LSO, conducting public hearings on the LSO’s proposals, and reporting back to the General Assembly on those hearings. Introduced by Reps. McGrady, Reives, Stevens (R-Mt. Airy), and Hardister. Not yet referred.
OTHER GOOD GOVERNMENT ISSUES
SB 75 – Restore Court of Appeals Membership
The 2015-16 General Assembly passed legislation, effective in 2017, that would have reduced membership on the Court of Appeals from 15 to 12 by abolishing seats which became vacant before the end of a judge’s term. SB 75 would reverse that decision. Introduced by Sens. Hise (R-Spruce Pine), Daniel (R-Morganton), and Bishop (R-Charlotte). Referred to Senate Rules.
SB 104 – National Popular Vote Interstate Compact
SB 104 would add NC to the list of states participating in this interstate compact, the purpose of which is to elect presidents based on the popular vote. Under terms on the compact, participating states would agree to send electors to the Electoral College who would vote for the candidate who won the national popular vote, even if that candidate had not carried the state. The Compact will not go into effect unless and until states that have signed on represent a majority of the Electoral College. Introduced by Sens. Nickel (D-Cary), Chaudhuri (D-Raleigh), and Waddell (D-Charlotte). Not yet referred.
HB 63 – Protect North Carolina Workers Act
HB 63 would extend the required use of the federal E-verify program to determine the legal status of immigrant workers. Specifically, it would lower from 25 to five the number of employees which trigger the requirement that an employer participate in E-verify, and it would remove the exclusion of temporary workers. At the same time, it would exclude farm workers and occasional domestic workers. Introduced by Reps. Cleveland (R-Jacksonville), Conrad (R-Winston-Salem), D. Hall ((R-Lenoir), and Speciale (R-New Bern). Referred to House Agriculture, Commerce, Judiciary, and Rules.
HB 65 – Marriage Amendment Reaffirmation Act
HB 65 begins with 20 “whereas” clauses in which the bill’s authors try to explain why the state of North Carolina should be exempt from the decision of the United States Supreme Court regarding same-gender marriages. It then declares that decision “null and void and unenforceable” in NC and proclaims that North Carolina will enforce the marriage amendment (limiting marriage to one man and one woman) in its state constitution. Introduced by Reps. Pittman (R-Concord), Brody (R-Monroe), and Kidwall (R-Chocowinity). Referred to House Rules.
HB 53/SB 52 – A Second Chance for Life
These identical bills would require physicians performing drug-induced abortions to tell women of the possibility of reversing the effects after the first dose of medication is administered. Introduced by Reps. McElraft (R-Emerald Isle), White (R-Clayton), R. Turner (R-Olin), and Presnell (R-Burnsville) and by Sens. Krawiec (R-Kernersville), Sawyer (R-Mooresville), and Ballard (R-Blowing Rock). Referred to House Health, Judiciary, and Rules and to Senate Rules.
HB 54/SB 51 – Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment
These identical bills would prohibit what the bills define as “dismemberment abortions” unless necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the mother. Introduced by Reps. Conrad, Johnson (R-Kannapolis), Hurley (R-Asheboro), and Barnes (R-Spring Hope) and by Sens. Krawiec, Ballard, and Sawyer. Referred to House Health, Judiciary, and Rules, and to Senate Rules.
Tomorrow, February 27, from 8:30 am to 4 pm, the Council is co-hosting a Medicaid Expansion Advocacy Day with other organizations which are part of the Health Action NC Coalition. The keynote speaker will be Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services. There also will be a panel discussion featuring healthcare providers and individuals directly affected by the coverage gap. Additionally, there will be a short advocacy training on best practices when meeting with your representatives. Click here for more information. If you can’t be in Raleigh, you can still help by taking time on Wednesday to call your senator and representative to encourage them to support Medicaid expansion. If you don’t yet know who represents you, click here and enter your address. For information on expansion bills which have been introduced, click here for the February 12 Raleigh Report.