The short session of the General Assembly started this week with a few major bills already starting to move through committees. The floor sessions will remain largely uneventful until the committee work is complete and the bills can be referred to the full body.
Our appropriations committees are also reviewing the governor’s budget proposal, but the majority party has already indicated that it has no interest in her plans. As I shared last week, her proposal contains a number of important pieces, particularly when it comes to job creation and education, and I am disappointed there has been no effort to work more closely with her across party lines to make these initiatives law.
I have already joined with some of my colleagues to support plans to boost our economy and to give our schools and universities the support they deserve. I am also working with Democrats and Republicans on legislation to make it more difficult for thieves who steal copper and scrap metal to do so successfully and to make the punishment for those continuing to steal more severe. I am also supporting legislation to prevent false liens from being filed against law enforcement officers and to punish those who abuse the court system.
A summary of some of the bills that are already seeing action this week are below. I hope you will contact me if you have questions about them or if I can be of service in any way.
Victims of North Carolina’s eugenics program would each receive $50,000 in compensation under a bill filed this week. The legislation (HB 947) would make the state the first to compensate people who were forcibly sterilized and lost their ability to have children. The governor’s budget included $10 million for the program. The initiative has bipartisan sponsorship and is expected to be part of this year’s budget.
The state’s only casino could add live-dealer card games under a bill that has passed the Senate. The legislation (SB 582) reflects the contents of a gambling compact between the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Gov. Beverly Perdue. It would allow live-dealer gambling for card games such as poker and blackjack at the tribe’s casino. The state would receive a small share of revenue from the new games. Opponents of the plan say that it will give the state a stronger interest in the profitability of gambling, since it will benefit from it financially. They also worry about an increase in social problems related to gambling. The bill now goes to the House.
Anti-annexation supporters have passed legislation to limit the ability of cities to grow. One bill (HB 925) requires cities to hold a referendum election limited to the registered voters in the area to be annexed. The referendum would need to pass with 50 percent of the vote. The previous law required 60 percent of the voters to reject the proposed annexation. Another piece of legislation (HB 5), stops ongoing annexation in nine municipalities that sued the state over the new annexation laws last year. The bill also puts a 12-year moratorium on attempts to annex the areas in question. Municipalities say the bill is overreaching and an attempt to punish them for supporting the lawsuit.
A judge has blocked a state law that would have prevented members of the North Carolina Association of Educators from having their dues automatically deducted from their paychecks. Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner ruled the teacher’s association would suffer irreparable harm if the law was enforced and said that NCAE is likely to win its ongoing lawsuit. The law was passed January 5 during a hastily called midnight session.
Please feel free to contact me when you have questions or concerns pertaining to Legislative matters.
Room 1111 – Legislative Building
16 W. Jones Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
Please remember that you can listen to each day’s session, committee meetings and press conferences on the General Assembly’s website at www.ncleg.net. Once on the site, select “Audio,” and then make your selection – House Chamber, Senate Chamber, Appropriations Committee Room or Press Conference Room.