News: CJ Exclusives

Lawmakers return to Raleigh, immediately get to work

CJ file photo
CJ file photo

Lawmakers began filing bills, assigned committee members, and remembered a former state representative as the N.C. General Assembly returned to the state capital after a two-week break.

Democratic leaders laid out an agenda they hope the Republican majority might consider.

Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake, and Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, the minority leaders in their respective chambers, repeated calls for repealing the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, better known as House Bill 2.

“Every Republican member I talk to, I recommend this as the first order of business,” Jackson said in a news conference Wednesday.

Democratic lawmakers proposed better pay for teachers and principals, reinstating the state Earned Income Tax Credit, and supporting Gov. Roy Cooper’s call to expand Medicaid.

“Don’t tell me what you value,” Blue said. “Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value,”

Sen. Dan Bishop, R-Mecklenburg, used a moment of personal privilege during a brief Senate session to memorialize the late former Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, who died Monday after a battle with cancer. Funeral services for Samuelson are Friday.

Wednesday saw House members file a proposed amendment to the N.C. Constitution placing in protections for property owners against eminent domain abuse.

Lawmakers also filed more than two dozen bills Wednesday, including bills recommended by oversight committees, study committees or task forces that met over the interim. These include:

• Setting up a task force to study a new public school formula (H.B. 6 and S.B. 9), introduced by Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, and Sen. Valerie Foushee, D-Orange.

• A bill modifying a litany of Department of Transportation and Division of Motor Vehicles laws (S.B. 3), introduced by Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick.

• Requiring the state auditor to perform follow-up audits on underperforming state agencies (H.B. 17), introduced by Rep. Ted Davis, R-New Hanover.

• Requiring state agencies to use electronic procurement procedures (H.B. 18), also introduced by Davis.

• Making clarifying and administrative changes to the state’s unemployment insurance plan (S.B. 7), introduced by Sen. Andy Wells, R-Catawba.

• Strengthening the state’s rainy day fund (H.B. 7), introduced by Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake.

Other bills filed on Wednesday include:

• A bill to ease the occupational licensing burdens on military families (S.B. 8), also introduced by Wells.

• A bill to extend the homestead property tax exemption to disabled veterans and surviving spouses of fallen first responders (H.B. 2) also introduced by Dollar.

• A bill to require driver’s education to include instruction on law enforcement procedures during traffic stops (H.B. 21), introduced by Rep. Ken Goodman, D-Richmond.

• A bill to regulate pesticide application in restaurants to protect food from contamination (S.B. 11), introduced by Sen. Cathy Dunn, R-Davidson.

•A bill to appropriate $250,000 to build public facilities at the N.C. Veterans Memorial Pavilion in Broadway (S.B. 12), introduced by Sen. Ronald Rabin, R-Harnett.

Lawmakers have a light schedule Thursday. Both chambers have scheduled sessions at 10 a.m. Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, announced there would be no votes taken on Thursday in that chamber. No items are on the House agenda Thursday.

Blue said during the Democratic press conference that he anticipated procedures for Senate confirmation of Cooper’s Cabinet members to come out on Thursday.