CRIMINAL JUSTICE/PRISON REFORM
HB 460/SB 545 – Fair Chance Hiring would require state agencies to reduce barriers to hiring people with a criminal history. Specific provisions include:
- Prohibits asking an applicant about criminal history unless the applicant is getting a conditional job offer.
- If a background check shows a criminal record, requires giving the applicant a chance to provide information about mitigating circumstances and efforts toward rehabilitation.
- Sets out seven factors that can be considered in deciding whether to offer the job. These include gravity of the offense, age of the person at the time of the crime and the time since it was committed, whether the state job would give opportunity for a similar offense to occur, whether the job involves direct responsibility for care of people susceptible to abuse, and information related to rehabilitation.
Introduced by Reps. Grange (R-Wilmington), Hardister (R-Whitsett), and R. Turner (R-Olin) and by Sen. J. Davis (R-Franklin). Referred in the House to Judiciary and then to Rules. Referred in the Senate to Rules.
HB 463 – Education/Job Readiness in Prisons and Jails would improve access to community colleges and the UNC System and to financial aid for people who are in NC prisons and jails. Introduced by Reps. Rogers (R-Rutherfordton), Brody (R-Monroe), Hardister, and John (D-Raleigh). Referred to House Education/Community Colleges, then to Education/Universities, then to Appropriations/Education, then to Appropriations, then to Rules.
HB 442 – State Government Maternity-Paternity Leave would call for a study of maternity and paternity leave benefits for state government employees, including a comparison to relevant trends in the private sector. Introduced by Rep. K. Smith (D-Greenville) and referred to House Health, then State and Local Government, then Rules.
SB 456/HB 549 – Matching Funds for Affordable Housing would appropriate $2.5 million for the next two years to be used as matching grants to nonprofits which are building affordable housing. Introduced by Sen. Blue (D-Raleigh) and by Reps. Beasley (D-Charlotte) and Hardister. Referred to Senate Rules. Not yet referred in the House.
HB 329, Exempt Electric Vehicle Charging States from Public Utilities Regulations. Under current law, EV station owners are permitted to charge drivers based only on the length of time they are charging. Under HB 329, they would be able to charge based on the amount of electricity actually used. Introduced by Reps. Szoka (R-Fayetteville), Arp (R-Monroe), Hanig (R-Powells Point) and Warren (R-Salisbury). HB 329 has been passed by the House and sent to the Senate, where it is in Rules.
HB 330 – Efficient Government Buildings and Savings Act would require a 40% reduction in energy use and a 30% reduction in water use in state-owned buildings. Introduced by Reps. Szoka, Arp, Ross (R-Burlington), and Humphrey (R-LaGrange). It has been passed by the House and sent to the Senate, where it is in Rules.
HB 479 – Study Solar Facility Decommissions would require a study of the decommissioning of large-scale solar projects, including whether any of the materials are hazardous and whether large-scale solar panels can be recycled. Introduced by Rep. Dixon (R-Warsaw) and referred to House Environment and then to Rules.
SB 377 – Military Base Protection Act would prohibit wind farms in much of northeastern NC where the bill says they would impede military flight training. However, wind farms there are already subject to a review process by the Department of Defense, and it’s not clear why North Carolina needs to impose more stringent limits to protect military bases than the Department of Defense does. Introduced by Sens. Brown (R-Jacksonville), Sanderson (R-Arapahoe), and Newton (R-Mt. Pleasant). Referred to Senate Commerce and Insurance and then to Rules.
GOOD GOVERNMENT/ELECTIONS LAWS
HB 510 – Reenact Nonpartisan Judicial Elections/Fund would return all judicial elections, from Supreme Court justices to District Court judges, to nonpartisan races. Candidates could get on the ballot either by paying a filing fee equal to 1% of the salary for the position being sought or submitting a petition signed by 8,000 registered voters if running for Supreme Court or Court of Appeals seats or by 5% of the registered voters in the area in which Superior or District Court judges will be elected. HB 510 would also reestablish public funding for Supreme Court and Court of Appeals seats. Candidates who choose to participate would have to show public support and accept fund-raising and spending limits. In addition to the base amount of funding available to participating candidates, a limited amount of additional funding would be given to participating candidates being outspent by a nonparticipating opponent or by groups independent of candidates. The money for this public funding would come primarily from taxpayers who choose to contribute and from a $50 surcharge on bar membership fees. Introduced by Reps. John and Morey (D-Durham) and referred to House Rules.
HB 454 – Allow ERPOs to Save Lives and Prevent Suicides creates a process by which a family or household member or a law enforcement officer who believes someone who has a gun is a danger to him/herself or others can go to court for an Extreme Risk Protection Order requiring that person to surrender their guns for up to a year. Introduced by Reps. Morey, Clark (D-Huntersville), Harrison (D-Greensboro), and Martin (D-Raleigh). Referred to House Judiciary and then to Rules.
HB 456 – Permit Required for Assault Weapon and Long Gun. Current law requires a permit or license only for pistols. Introduced by Reps. Clark, Morey, and Harrison. Referred to House Judiciary and then to Rules.
HB 498 – NC Constitutional Carry Act would, in its own words “protect a person’s right to carry a concealed handgun without a permit [and] to purchase a handgun without a pistol purchase permit.” The result would be that anybody 18 years old or older could, without any training or any background check, carry concealed loaded handguns. The bill doesn’t make clear which constitution gives these rights that are being protected. Introduced by Reps. Kidwell (R-Chocowinity), Speciale (R-New Bern), and Hanig. Referred to House Judiciary and then to Rules.
H 499 – Omnibus Gun Changes is a collection of changes by those who think there are just too darn many regulations on guns and gun owners. Among the low points in this lengthy bill are:
- The requirement of having a permit to carry a concealed handgun would be eliminated. The permit would still be available for those who want one and would be required in certain circumstances, but most gun owners would not need it. This also removes the requirements of training and a background check
- The requirement of having a license issued by a sheriff in order to purchase a pistol would also be eliminated.
- Faculty or staff of schools from kindergarten through college could bring handguns onto campus if certain conditions are met, including having a concealed carry permit. They would be called “volunteer school faculty guardians.”
- Legislators and legislative employees could carry concealed handguns in legislative buildings. Rules may be adopted (but it’s not required) banning handguns, open or concealed, in the visitors’ gallery of the Legislative Building.
Introduced by Reps. Speciale, Kidwell, Hardister, and Brody. Referred to House Judiciary, then Finance, then Rules.
HB 508 – Firearm Safe Storage Awareness Initiative would create a two-year statewide campaign to education people about the importance of safe storage of guns and to facilitate the distribution of gun locks. Introduced by Reps. McNeill (R-Asheboro), White (R-Clayton), C. Smith (R-Hampstead), and Sauls (R-Sanford). Referred to House Health, then to Appropriations/Health and Human Services, then to Appropriations, then to Rules.
SB 387 – Medicaid Work and Community Engagement states the intent of the General Assembly “to implement work and community engagement as a contingency to participation in the NC Medicaid program for non-elderly, nonpregnant, adult Medicaid beneficiaries who are eligible for Medicaid on a basis other than disability.” The Department of Health and Human Services would be tasked with developing details and seeking required approvals from the federal government. Introduced by Sens. Hise (R-Spruce Pine), Bishop (R-Charlotte), and Krawiec (R-Kernersville). Referred to Senate Rules.
HB 514/SB 455 – Equality for All. Current law prohibits discrimination in various parts of society but with differing lists of who is protected. HB 514/SB 455 would provide general uniformity and broader protection by prohibiting discrimination based on “race, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, sex, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military or veteran status, or genetic information.” The prohibition would apply to housing, employment, public accommodations, credit, insurance, education, and jury service. The employment discrimination law would apply to all employers who “regularly employ” anyone; current law applies only to those with 15 or more employees. Introduced by Reps. Harrison, Fisher, Butler (D-Wilmington), and Alexander (D-Charlotte) and by Sens. Waddell (D-Charlotte), Searcy (D-Fuquay-Varina), and Woodard (D-Durham). Referred to House Rules and Senate Rules.
HB 515/SB 464 – Full Repeal of HB 2 would remove the law prohibiting state and local government agencies from regulating access to bathrooms, showers, and changing facilities “except n accordance with an act of the General Assembly.” It also repeals the limitation on local governments having their own ordinances regarding employment practices or public accommodations. Introduced by Reps. Meyer (D-Hillsborough), Morey, Beasley, and John and by Sens. Van Duyn (D-Buncombe County), Foushee (D-Hillsborough), and Mohammed (D-Charlotte). Referred to House Rules and to Senate Rules.
HB 516/SB 426 – Mental Health Protection Act would prohibit licensed/certified professionals (fee-based practicing pastoral counselors, clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists) from engaging in conversion therapy with those under 18 or adults with a disability. Conversion therapy is defined as efforts to change an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The bills contain more than three pages of whereas clauses, laying out the research showing that conversion therapy is both ineffective and harmful. Introduced by Reps. Fisher, Autry (D-Charlotte), Brockman (D-High Point), and Dahle and by Sens. Chaudhuri (D-Raleigh), Van Duyn, and Marcus (D-Davidson). Referred to House Health, then Judiciary, then Rules, and to Senate Rules.
HB 452 — Memorandum of 287(g) Agreements would require the state’s Secretary of Public Safety to sign an agreement for North Carolina law enforcement officers to participate in the enforcement of federal immigration laws, detentions, and removals. Introduced by Reps. Henson (R-Brevard), Setzer (R-Catawba), and K. Hall (R-King) and referred to House Judiciary, then State and Local Government, then Rules.
HB 484 – Verification of Immigration Status – SAVE would require all state agencies and licensing boards to verify immigration status of all applicants for public benefits using SAVE, a web-based program of the federal Department of Homeland Security. Introduced by Reps. Cleveland (R-Jacksonville), Hurley (R-Asheboro), Yarborough (R-Roxboro), and Presnell (R-Burnsville) and referred to House Judiciary, then State and Local Government, then Rules.
HB 457 – Restore Master’s Pay for Certain Teachers is similar to SB 28. (See RR, February 12.) Introduced by Reps. Horn (R-Weddington), Ball (D-Raleigh), Johnson (R-Kannapolis), and Brockman. Referred to House Education/K-12, then to Appropriations/Education, then to Appropriations, then to Rules.
NC Interfaith Power & Light, a program of the NC Council of Churches, is co-sponsoring with the Sierra Club an Advocacy Day at the General Assembly. It will be on April 9 from 9:00 until 3:00, gathering initially at the Museum of History, 5 E. Edenton Street, in Raleigh. If you can’t be in Raleigh on Tuesday, consider calling or emailing your legislators. Tell them that you are aware of Advocacy Day and are supportive of legislation that protects the environment. You could also use the opportunity to tell them of your support for or opposition to specific environmental bills you’ve seen covered in Raleigh Report. For more information, to get a flyer, or to register, click here.