News: CJ Exclusives

NCGA Preview: Week of May 16

Senate still focused on budget, while House tackles annexation and tort reform

While the state Senate continues to pick apart the House version of the budget seeking additional savings, the House will vote on a historic annexation reform bill, tort reform, and a measure that would begin the implementation of federal health care reform in the state.

Annexation reform

The House is set to take a final vote tonight on House Bill 845, the Annexation Reform Act of 2011. The bill received more than 100 votes in its second reading in the House Thursday and is expected to pass a final reading on Monday. The bill should face minimal opposition in the Senate, which has a veto-proof Republican majority and is the only chamber to pass the Involuntary Annexation Moratorium bill.

If passed, the Annexation Reform Act would give property owners facing annexation a voice for the first time in 50 years. They could veto a proposed annexation by getting 60 percent of the annexed property owners to sign a protest petition. The bill also would require cities to provide water and sewer service to annexed property owners at no cost to the property owner, a cost that may deter cities from annexing in the first place. 

Tort reform

House Bill 542, Tort Reform for Citizens and Businesses, passed out of committee this week and will be up for a vote on the House floor Wednesday. The bill would make it more difficult to sue pharmaceutical and other companies for injuries.

Health care exchange

House Bill 115 the North Carolina Health Benefit Exchange, is scheduled for a vote on the House floor Tuesday. The bill directs the state to take its first step in implementing the federal health reform law.

Major legislation

House Bill 845, Annexation Reform Act of 2011, Rep. Stephen LaRoque, R-Lenoir

House Bill 542, Tort Reform for Citizens and Businesses, Rep. Jonathan Rhyne, R-Lincoln

House Bill 115, North Carolina Health Benefit Exchange, Rep. Jerry Dockham, R-Davidson

Senate Bill 709, Energy Jobs Act, Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg

House Bill 483, DNA Samples/Additional Felonies, Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanly

Key committee meetings

A list of the regularly scheduled House Committee meetings can be found here.

House Bill 503, Nutrition Standards/All Food Sold at School is up for its first committee hearing in the House Education Committee Tuesday at 10 a.m. The bill would require all food sold at school — including food sold by students for fundraisers — to meet dietary guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

• The Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Committee will discuss the fate of the Global TransPark on Tuesday at noon.

• The House Judiciary Subcommitte A will hear House Bill 145, Phoebe’s Law, Wednesday at 10 a.m. The bill, introduced by Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, would establish electronic speed traps — equipped with speed detectors and cameras — in school zones and highway work zones. Speeding violations would result in a $250 fine. The money would be used to fund driver education programs.

• The Senate Health Care Committee will consider House Joint Resolution 647, which would establish a Diabetes Task Force charged with finding legislative strategies for reducing diabetes in the state.

Sara Burrows is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.