HB 834 – Ban the Box would prohibit the state from asking a job applicant about his/her criminal history until that applicant had been selected for an interview. Introduced by Rep. K. Smith (D-Greenville) and referred to House Rules.
HB 839 – Study Community-Based Sentencing Alternatives would create a legislative study committee to consider community-based alternatives for people who have been convicted of nonviolent crimes and who are the primary caretakers of dependent children. Members would be named by the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate and would include members of the minority party and at least two people who have served time for a nonviolent offense while being the primary caretaker of a dependent child. The committee would issue a final report and recommendations in time for the 2021 legislative session. Introduced by Reps. Clemmons (D-Greensboro), Horn (R-Weddington), and Farmer-Butterfield (D-Wilson) and referred to House Rules.
ECONOMIC JUSTICE/WORKERS RIGHTS
HB 831 – NC Fair Wage Act contains the prohibition in HB 46 on paying different wages for the same work based on gender. (See RR, February 26.) It would apply to state and local governments and to private employers with more than five employees. Introduced by Rep. Cunningham (D-Charlotte) and referred to House Rules.
HB 832 – Constitutional Amendment/Up Minimum Wage would put into the constitution a minimum wage starting at $12/hour and being increased every year based on the consumer price index. This would be on the ballot in November 2020. Introduced by Reps. Cunningham, Black (D-Durham), and Meyer (D-Hillsborough) and referred to House Rules.
HB 968 – Local Government/Inflation-Adjusted Minimum Wage would set a minimum wage of $8.80/hour for all employees of local governments. Introduced by Reps. Farmer-Butterfield and K. Smith and referred to House Rules.
HB 541– Change Exclusion for Solar Energy Systems would reduce an existing property tax exclusion for solar energy electric systems from 80% to 60%. The bill would also require counties to use half of the property taxes collected from solar energy systems for the expenses of buildings in public schools and community colleges. Introduced by Reps. Dixon (R-Warsaw) and Bell (R-Goldsboro). Referred to House Rules.
HB 543 – Utilities/Amend REPS Requirements. Current law requires power companies to get a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable energy and energy efficiency. This percentage is currently 10%, and it is scheduled to go up to 12.5% in 2021. HB 543 would cap it at 10% and eliminate the increase to 12.5%. Introduced by Reps. Dixon and Bell. Referred to House Rules.
HB 726 – Repeal Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard wouldn’t content itself with capping the REPS requirement. It would repeal REPS entirely, which would at least theoretically allow North Carolina to generate all its electricity from non-renewable sources. Introduced by Reps. Pittman (R-Concord), Carter (R-Reidsville), Kidwell (R-Chocowinity), and Speciale (R-New Bern). Referred to House Rules.
HB 823 – NC Managing Environmental Waste Act of 2019 would address in the following ways the issue of disposable plastics used to serve food:
- 5% of the state’s Solid Waste Disposal Tax would be returned to cities and counties providing plastics recycling.
- A pilot program would be set up to reduce the use of plastics in five state-operated food service facilities.
- The General Assembly would reduce the use of plastics in its food establishments.
- The Environmental Review Commission would study the issue and make recommendations to the 2020 General Assembly.
- State government entities and local school districts would report annually on their purchase of materials with recycled content and on the materials they have collected for recycling.
Introduced by Reps. Warren (R-Salisbury), McGrady (R-Hendersonville), Harrison (D-Greensboro), and Grange (R-Wilmington). Referred to House Environment, then Finance, then Rules.
HB 927, Ban Certain Polystyrene Products would apply to these products, often called generically by the brand name Styrofoam, that are used in food service. (Think coffee cups, plates, clamshells for take-out food, egg cartons, etc.) Their use in the food service business and in schools (at all levels) would be prohibited, starting in 2021. Introduced by Reps. Hawkins (D-Durham), Everitt (D-Wake Forest), Harrison, and Morey (D-Durham). Referred to House Environment and then to Rules.
HB 892 – NC Green Schools would implement the following in order to make the state’s public schools more environmentally sensitive:
- Schools would use environmentally sensitive cleaning products and biodegradable single-use food service products if they can be purchased without increasing the cleaning costs and food services costs of the school.
- Data would be collected on schools’ energy and water usage, with an eye towards reducing that usage.
Introduced by Reps. Hawkins, Harrison, Autry (D-Charlotte), and Fisher (D-Asheville). Referred to House Appropriations/Education, then to Rules.
GOOD GOVERNMENT/ELECTION LAWS
HB 691 – Online Voter Registration would permit qualified individuals to submit a voter registration request or change of name, address, or party affiliation online. It would also call for there to be a form online which an individual could fill out, print out, and mail in. Introduced by Rep. Alexander (D-Charlotte) and referred to House Elections, then to Rules.
HB 893 – Allow Early Voting/Last Saturday/Flexibility would restore one-stop early voting on the Saturday before an election and would give county boards of elections flexibility in hours of operation for early voting sites. Introduced by Reps. Hawkins, Russell (D-Boone), and Meyer. Referred to House Elections, then to Rules.
HB 944 – Protect the Integrity of NC Elections Act would address the potential for abuse or manipulation of the absentee ballot process by 1) requiring county boards of elections to record the names of people delivering written request forms for absentee ballots and 2) making it a misdemeanor for someone to pay for or receive payment for a completed request for an absentee ballot. Introduced by Reps. Ball (D-Raleigh), Lewis (R-Dunn), Warren, and Dahle (D-Raleigh) and referred to House Elections, then to Rules.
HB 842 – Register Assault Weapon and Report Lost Firearm would require anyone owning an assault weapon to register it with the local sheriff, and the sheriff would be required to do a background check on that person. In addition, anyone whose firearm is lost or stolen would be required to report the loss or theft to local law enforcement or the SBI within 48 hours. Introduced by Reps. Martin (D-Raleigh), Morey, Clark (D-Huntersville), and Harrison and referred to House Rules.
HB 912 – School Safety Changes for Nonpublic Schools would encourage or permit, but not require, the following of private schools, including church schools:
- Develop a risk management plan related to school violence.
- Hold a school-wide lockdown exercise at least once a year.
- Permit an employee or volunteer to bring a handgun on school property.
- Allow a person with a concealed handgun permit to bring that gun to church services held on property that is also used for a school, so long as students are not in class at the time.
Introduced by Rep. Bell and referred to House Education/K-12, then to Judiciary, then to Rules.
HB 829 – Safer Roads and Communities Act of 2019 would allow the issuance of specially designed restricted driver’s licenses to immigrants with limited or no legal status. An applicant would have to take an orientation course and meet other requirements for a driver’s license, including proof of financial responsibility. The restricted license would be good only for driving and could not be used to show eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits. It would be valid for up to two years and could be renewed. Introduced by Reps. Harrison, Fisher, Meyer, and Morey and referred to House Rules.
HB 854 – Protect STATE Health Care Act would prohibit insurance companies from excluding coverage to someone based on preexisting conditions. In addition, rates could not vary based on age by a factor of more than three to one. Introduced by Reps. Insko (D-Chapel Hill), Meyer, Cunningham, and Black and referred to House Rules.
HB 890 – Restore Master’s Pay for Certain Teachers is identical to SB 28. See RR, February 12. Introduced by Reps. Hawkins, Clemmons, Gill, and von Haefen (D-Apex). Referred to Appropriations/Education, then to Rules.
HB 895 – Opportunity Gap Task Force. “Opportunity gap” is defined as “the significant disparity in the academic performance and postsecondary readiness of students between any of the following subgroups: races, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, genders, English-language proficiencies, and urban, rural, or suburban domiciles.” The task force would be made up of legislators, including those from the minority party, specified education leaders, and specified advocates for education. The bill lists issues to be addressed and stakeholders to be asked for input. The task force would make its report and propose legislation before the 2021 session of the General Assembly. Introduced by Reps. Blackwell (R-Valdese), Brockman (D-High Point), Horn, and Meyer. Referred to Education/K-12, then to Rules.
The North Carolina Council of Churches is supporting the NCAE’s Day of Action, the teachers’ rally and march taking place this Wednesday, May 1. It’s not just for teachers and other educators but also for anyone who is supportive of our public schools. Raleigh Report members are encouraged to take part. If you can’t be in Raleigh, consider taking a moment on Wednesday to contact your state senator and state representative to voice your support for our public schools and for students, teachers, other educators, and all who work in our schools. For more information, including times and locations for specific parts of the day, visit the NCAE’s website. Note that there is a registration form on which you can sign up as a “Community Supporter” of the schools.
Common Cause’s Lobby Day to call on the General Assembly to end gerrymandering is Tuesday, May 7. Joining this lobby day will be members of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, who will be on hand to share their experience making independent, nonpartisan redistricting work in their state. Click here to register. The event is from 9:00 until 4:00 at the NC Museum of History, 5 East Edenton Street, Raleigh. A somewhat detailed agenda is available by clicking here. As with the teachers’ march, if you can’t be in Raleigh on May 7, considering contacting your legislators that day to voice your support for nonpartisan redistricting.
Crossover Day is coming soon! This year it’s Thursday, May 9. Crossover Day is when all non-money bills (i.e. not appropriations and not taxes/fees) must have been passed by one house and received by the other house. Otherwise a bill is dead for the rest of this session. What that means for advocates is that this is not a time to put off making contacts on bills of concern to you, for it will be too late on many bills after May 9.