News: Quick Takes

NCGA roundup: class-size flexibility, rainy-day fund get committee nod

RALEIGH — Not long after members of the House Appropriations Committee gave their approval to two bills, lawmakers left town for the weekend.

One of the bills getting a thumbs-up from the committee was House Bill 13, which would give local schools systems more flexibility in primary grades class sizes. The other bill, House Bill 7, would strengthen the state’s rainy day fund.

to The rainy day fund bill would require 15 percent of the estimated growth in revenues be transferred to the rainy day fund until the balance in the fund hits a target. That bill is scheduled for a floor vote on Tuesday.

Lawmakers will return to the state capital on Monday, with the House convening at 3 p.m. and the Senate convening at 4 p.m. No bills are on either chamber’s calendar for the afternoon.

Members of the two chambers’ Appropriations Committees will meet jointly at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday to receive a report on anticipated revenues. Earlier in the week, state legislative and fiscal analysts estimated that the state would end up with $552 million more in anticipated revenues when the state’s fiscal year ends on June 30.

Meanwhile, legislators continued filing new bills. They include:

• A bill pushing for more broadband infrastructure, called the BRIGHT Futures Act, in mostly rural markets (House Bill 68), introduced by Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate (Senate Bill 65) by Sen. Wesley Meredith, R-Cumberland.

• A bill allowing U.S. citizens 18 years old or older to carry concealed handguns unless otherwise provided by law (H.B. 69), introduced by Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus.

• A bill increasing legislators’ subsistence and travel expense rates to those matching federal agencies (H.B. 71), introduced by Rep. Pat Hurley, R-Randolph.

• A bill making it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while a live animal is in the driver’s lap (H.B. 73), introduced by Rep. Garland Pierce, D-Scotland.

• A bill adopting the bobcat as the state cat (H.B. 74), introduced by Rep. Bobbie Richardson, D-Franklin.

• A bill increasing monthly benefits from the N.C. Firefighters and Rescue Workers’ Pension Fund (H.B. 76), introduced by Rep. Kyle Hall, R-Stokes.

• A bill repealing last year’s House Bill 2 (H.B. 78), introduced by Rep. Cecil Brockman, D-Guilford. It would also add a person’s marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military or veteran status, and genetic information to the list of protected status under the state’s anti-discrimination law. Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford filed a similar bill (H.B. 82).

• A bill protecting timberland owners from unlawful cutting (H.B. 80), introduced by Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston. The bill aims to make sure companies cutting timber make sure where the property line exists before they cut.

• A bill modifying the DOT’s strategic transportation investment formula, giving more weight to local authorities (H.B. 81), introduced by Torbett.

• A bill requiring special provisions in the state budget bill to include the name of the legislator requesting the provision (H.B. 83), introduced by Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange.

• A bill requiring the DMV to include a “hearing impairment” designation on a driver’s license if the motorist requests it (H.B. 84), introduced by Insko.

• A bill requiring the state’s Veterans’ Affairs Commission to adopt a comprehensive strategic plan to enhance benefits for veterans and their dependents (S.B. 62), introduced by Sen. Don Davis, D-Greene.

• A bill requiring the state’s Military Affairs Commission to adopt a comprehensive strategic plan to enhance the state’s military installations and their missions (S.B. 63), introduced by Davis.

• A bill establishing November as Veterans’ History Awareness Month in North Carolina (S.B. 64), introduced by Davis.

• A bill allowing motorists older than 21 to operate a motorcycle without a helmet if they meet certain conditions, including having at least $10,000 in medical insurance benefits for head injuries if they have a crash (S.B. 66), introduced by Meredith.

• A bill allowing students serving as a legislative or governor’s page not to be considered absent on the student’s permanent record (S.B. 68), introduced by Davis.