HB 781 – Limitations on Use of Solitary Confinementactually contains several items related to prisons:
- Solitary confinement couldn’t be used for inmates with serious mental illness unless there is a threat to the safety of the inmate or others and then for no more than 15 days without an evaluation by a mental health professional.
- The prison system would be required to report to the General Assembly on several factors related to people with mental illness in prisons, including the types of treatment provided to them.
- Recommendations would be required about a program of intensive outpatient services for inmates with mental illness.
- There would be a study of ways to attract and retain staff for all prison positions, not just for those paid in NC are competitive with other states.
Introduced by Reps. Insko (D-Chapel Hill), Harrison (D-Greensboro), Black (D-Durham), and Montgomery (D-Winston-Salem). Referred to Rules.
ECONOMIC JUSTICE/WORKERS RIGHTS
HB 669/SB 130 – State Employees/Paid Parental Leave would allow state employees, including employees at state universities and community colleges, to share their leave time with another employee so that employee can have up to six weeks of paid parental leave time. Note, however, that it is paid leave because of the generosity of fellow employees, not of the employer (i.e., the state). Introduced by Rep. Hawkins (D-Durham) and by Sens. Britt (R-Lumberton), Krawiec (R-Kernersville), and Chaudhuri (D-Raleigh). Referred to House Health, then State and Local Government, then Pensions and Retirement, then Rules. Referred in the Senate to Rules.
HB 710 – Repeal Ban/G.S. 95-98. This repeal of the ban on collective bargaining by state employees is also found in HB 46 (RR, February 26) and in SB 575 (RR, April 11). Introduced by Rep. Hawkins. Referred to House Rules.
HB 805 – Work Breaks/Tips Not Counted/Allow Pay Talk contains three points related to worker issues:
- All employees would have to be given a paid 15-minute work break, and those working shifts of longer than six hours would also have to be given an hour for a meal break.
- Tips would not be counted as wages in figuring compliance with minimum wage laws.
- Employees could not be prohibited from or punished for discussing information about their wages.
Introduced by Reps. Logan (D-Charlotte) and Majeed (D-Charlotte). Referred to House Rules.
HB 830 – Up Minimum Wage/Set Rates/COLA would make three changes in the state’s minimum wage laws:
- Minimum wages would be different for large employers (those with annual sales/business of $500,000 or more) and small employers (those below $500,000).
- The minimum wage for large employers would rise to $12/hour next year. For small employers it would go to $9/hour.
- These minimum wages would rise annually based on increases in the cost of living.
Introduced by Reps. Cunningham (D-Charlotte), Clark (D-Huntersville), Harris (D-Charlotte), and Black. Referred to House Rules
HB 632 – Hydraulic Fracturing/Statewide Ban would prohibit the use of fracking for the production of oil and gas in North Carolina. Introduced by Reps. Queen (D-Waynesville), Russell (D-Boone), and Autry (D-Charlotte). Referred to House Rules.
SB 446 – Electric/Hybrid Vehicle Registration Fees. Current law imposes a $130/year fee on electric vehicles. SB 446 would raise that fee to $230 next year. It would also impose a fee for plug-in hybrid vehicles, not currently covered, of $115. (Hybrids that cannot run entirely on a rechargeable battery would still have no fee.) Finally, it would provide for annual adjustments to these fees going forward. Supporters note that gasoline taxes pay for road construction, and that electric and hybrid vehicles are not contributing adequately to the roads they use. Opponents note that the fees could discourage the expanded use of vehicles that benefit our communities by reducing the emissions contributing to climate change and by lowering the costs, current and future, that climate change causes. Opponents also note that owners of electric vehicles do not go untaxed; they pay sales tax on the purchase of electricity. Introduced by Sens. J. Davis (R-Franklin) and McInnis (R-Rockingham). The bill has been heard by three Senate committees: Rules, Transportation, and Finance. It is now back in Rules.
HB 737 – Study Transformative Strategies for NC would create a House select committee to study legislative changes and financial investments needed to develop a Green New Deal for North Carolina. Members would be named by the Speaker. Among the targeted outcomes:
- “Dramatically expand existing renewable power sources and deploy new production capacity.” There would be a goal of 100% renewable energy.
- Reduce/eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in various parts of NC life.Promote the use of zero-emission vehicles.
- Promote jobs in green energy and make green technology a “major export” of the state.
Introduced by Reps. Logan (D-Charlotte), Autry, Hawkins, and Insko. Referred to House Rules.
HB 768 – Clean Energy Goal for State Property by 2050 would set a goal of all state buildings using 100% renewable energy and 100% of state vehicles being zero-emission. Introduced by Reps. Autry, Hawkins, and Harrison and referred to House Rules.
HB 779 – Hog Lagoon Sunset actually has three parts related to animals raised on farms in NC:
- The use of hog lagoons and sprayfields would be phased out by 2027.
- Minimum standards for humane treatment of cows, poultry and swine would be established.
- There would be a study of potential reporting of antibiotics used in livestock.
Introduced by Reps. Harrison and Butler (D-Wilmington). Referred to House Rules.
GOOD GOVERNMENT/ELECTION LAWS
HB 646 – ID Approval/Flex Muni One-Stop has provisions regarding student IDs from state universities and community colleges and staff IDs from state and local governments which are very similar to those in HB 397. (See RR, March 25.) The goal is to make the requirements for these IDs fit the ways in which these public entities issue IDs and to make the changes in time for their use in 2020 elections. In addition, it would give flexibility in the number of hours of early voting. Introduced by Reps. Lewis (R-Dunn), Hawkins, Hardister (R-Whitsett), and Russell. It has passed the House and is in the Senate Rules Committee.
HB 648 – NC FAIR State & Congressional Districts Act is a bipartisan bill to create an independent redistricting commission which, working with a Special Master (an outside expert), would recommend legislative and congressional districts every 10 years. Composition of the commission and standards to be followed are similar to those in HB 69. (See RR, February 26.) Legislators would vote on the plans recommended by the commission and could propose amendments to that plan or their own plan. Introduced by Reps. Warren (R-Salisbury), Hanig (R-Powells Point), Martin (D-Raleigh), and Beasley (D-Charlotte). Referred to House Redistricting, then to Elections, then to Rules.
HB 700 – Digital Campaign Finance Disclosure Changes would extend current laws regarding campaign advertising to cover digital communications, including social networks, advertising networks, and search engines. The digital ads themselves would have to disclose who had paid for them, just as current ads contain a “Paid for by __________” statement. Introduced by Reps. Grange (R-Wilmington), Harrison, Lewis (R-Dunn), and Hawkins. Referred to House Elections and then to Rules.
HB 743 — Require Prepaid Envelope/Absentee Ballots. North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District is preparing for the spectacle of having a do-over of its 2018 election because of irregularities involving absentee ballots so egregious that even the candidate who received the most votes last November agreed that there should be a new election. A significant problem was with absentee ballots which voters gave to someone who was supposed to return them to the Board of Elections but who may or may not have done so. HB 743 would put in place the simple solution of sending postage-paid envelopes along with absentee ballots and printing on the envelopes the already-existing legal requirement that ballots can be returned in person only by the voter, a near relative or a verifiable legal guardian. Introduced by Reps. Gailliard (D-Rocky Mount) and Insko. Referred to House Elections and then Rules.
HB 815 – Firearm in Unattended Vehicle/Safely Store would prohibit leaving a gun in a vehicle unless the vehicle is locked and the gun is either protected with a trigger lock or in a locked container. Introduced by Reps. Morey (D-Durham), Clark, Harrison, and Martin. Referred to House Rules
HB 655 – NC Health Care for Working Families would create a program to provide health coverage to people 1) who are not currently eligible for Medicaid in NC, 2) whose income is 133% or less of the federal poverty level (FPL), 3) who are not eligible for Medicare, and 4) who are between the ages of 19 and 64. Participants would pay an annual premium of 2% of their income, with exceptions (including for those below 50% of FPL). In addition recipients would be expected to be working, again with exceptions (including those caring for a child or a parent with a disability and those with medical conditions that preclude employment). Funding would come from the federal government (expected to contribute 90% of the programs costs), from the participants’ premiums, and from other sources if necessary, including assessments on hospitals. While advocates for Medicaid expansion acknowledge that HB 655 would increase the number of people having health insurance, they are concerned that the requirement of premiums from people between 50% and 100% FPL and the work reporting requirement would result in far fewer people benefiting than would be the case under provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act. Introduced by Reps. Lambeth (R-Winston-Salem), Murphy (R-Greenville), Dobson (R-Nebo), and White (R-Clayton). Referred to House Health, then to Insurance, then to Rules.
HB 725 – Strengthen Youth Tobacco Prevention/Funds would create a Tobacco Use Prevention Fund with money from the tobacco settlement and use it for prevention programs targeting young people and emphasizing new tobacco products such as e-cigarettes. Introduced by Reps. Adcock (D-Cary), Lambeth, Martin, and White. Referred to House Appropriations/Health and Human Services, then to Rules.
SB 649 – SAVE Our Benefits Act is similar to HB 484, Verification of Immigrant Status–SAVE. (See RR, April 5.) Introduced by Sens. Sanderson (R-Arapahoe) and Hise (R-Spruce Pine). Referred to Senate Rules.
HB 859 – Classroom Supplies to Teachers is identical to SB 580. (See RR, April 11.) Introduced by Reps. Saine (R-Lincolnton) and Elmore (R-North Wilkesboro). Referred to House Education/K-12, then Appropriations/Education, then Rules.
HB 602/SB 359 – Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act defines “born alive” as “with respect to a member of the species homo sapiens, the complete expulsion or extraction from his or her mother of that member, at any stage of development, who after such expulsion or extraction breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut, and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion.” It then requires health care professionals to care for a baby born alive through abortion just like any other child born alive at the same gestational age, including immediate admission to a hospital. Failure to do so would be a Class D felony and could result in a fine up to $250,000. Sponsors of HB 602 were Reps. McElraft (R-Emerald Isle), Conrad (R-Winston-Salem), Stevens (R-Mt. Airy), and Hurley (R-Asheboro). Sponsors of SB 539 were Sens. Krawiec, Hise, and Harrington (R-Gastonia). SB 359 has been passed by both the Senate and House in just over a week and gone to the Governor, who vetoed it. In both the House and Senate, there were fewer votes for the bill than would be necessary to override the veto. But both houses had enough absent members that, if they were all present and all voted to override, there would be the required 3/5 vote in both houses.
HB 603/SB 547 – Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would prohibit the abortion of a fetus capable of feeling pain unless necessary to prevent a serious health risk for the mother. The bill establishes that a fetus that is 20 weeks old is capable of feeling pain. The bill sets up requirements for determining that age, acceptable methods of terminating a fetus thought to be capable of feeling pain, and reporting requirements for doctors. The bill also sets up (but does not fund) the NC Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act Litigation Defense Fund to be available to the Attorney General to defend this law. Introduced by Reps. McElraft, Hurley, Conrad, and Stevens and by Sens. Krawiec, Ballard (R-Blowing Rock), and Sawyer (R-Mooresville). Referred in the House to Health and then to Rules and in the Senate to Rules.
HB 627 – NC Response/Extreme Abortion-on-Demand Policy takes the highly unusual step of criticizing legislation adopted by another state legislature: the Reproductive Health Act (labeled in the bill as a “barbaric abortion/infanticide law”), which has been passed by the New York legislature and signed by the governor. Introduced by Reps. McElraft, Howard (R-Mocksville), Grange and Stevens. Referred to House Rules.
HB 740 – Ending NC’s Involvement in Torture would create criminal offenses in NC of torture and enforced disappearance. The state would be prohibited from contracting with vendors or giving money to a non-state entity if the vendor or non-state entity has an officer, director or owner who has been convicted of torture or enforced disappearance. In addition, airports would be required to develop policy prohibiting the use of the airport for activities that violate this law, and the state would be prohibited from giving loans or grants to any airport that doesn’t have such a policy. Introduced by Reps. Insko, Harrison, and Meyer (D-Hillsborough). Referred to House Rules.
For earlier coverage in Raleigh Report, click here.