Magistrate Recusal and Firearms

After the House budget passed at the end of May, House committees kicked back into high gear and House sessions got very interesting—again. Here’s a sample of what we discussed and voted on in June.

SB2, Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies.  Believe it or not this was just one bill that resulted in heated debate and intricate parliamentary maneuvering. After the Senate and House each passed the bill along party lines the Governor vetoed it on May 29. The Senate moved quickly and overrode the veto on June 1. The House played a waiting game until the required 3/5 vote could be assured by the Speaker. On June 11 the use of a well-orchestrated parliamentary move prevented any floor debate and the veto was overridden 69-41, 3 votes over the required 66 votes based on the number of legislators in the Chamber at the time of the vote. The bill became law the same day. Because I do not support allowing state employees to opt out of their job duties after taking an oath to perform their duties without discrimination, I voted to uphold the Governor’s veto.

HB 562, Amend Firearm Laws.  If there was a session award for ‘most miles travelled’ this little bill would win it hands down. It was filed April 2; referred to the Rules Committee April 28; removed from Rules and re-referred to Appropriations April 29; re-referred to Rules May 12; placed on the House calendar June 8; re-referred to Rules June 8; placed on the House calendar for June 16. On June 16, debate on the bill began at last. Nineteen amendments were debated and all but 5 passed. The first 9 were debated on June16 and the bill passed 2nd reading. Just after midnight on June 17 the remaining 10 amendments were debated and the greatly amended bill passed 3rd reading. On June 18 it was referred to Senate Rules! I voted for every amendment that removed harmful language (meddling in the health care provider/patient relationship, removing sheriffs from the pistol permitting process, allowing legislators and legislative staff to carry concealed weapons in the legislative complex) and I voted for every amendment that would improve the bill (adding background checks to private hand gun sales, establishing a lifetime prohibition for getting a handgun for individuals charged with stalking and domestic violence). An amendment failed that would remove language allowing a concealed carry permit holder to keep a gun in their car on public school grounds. The bill was greatly improved by its amendments—but it was still not a good bill and I voted against it.

HB 372, Medicaid Modernization, received favorable reports in both the Health and the Appropriations Committees then passed the full House almost unanimously on June 23. Among other things, this long-awaited bill would establish provider-led organizations to plan for and deliver Medicaid services, transfer the financial risk of Medicaid overruns to the PLEs and create new oversight for the Medicaid program among other improvements. It was sent to the Senate and referred to Ways and Means. Meanwhile, the Senate inserted their preferred Medicaid language into their version of the budget bill.

And speaking of the budget…   

SB 534, 2015 Continuing Budget Authority, passed the House June 29 and the Senate June 30.  It would be impossible not to have heard in the media how far apart the House and Senate budgets are. The continuing resolution (CR) keeps state government running at current spending levels except for raising beginning teacher pay from $33,000 to $35,000 and funding step raises for teachers at steps 0-4 (present in both budgets). Budget reductions present in both budget versions will also be implemented. One of the subjects on which I have received MANY emails is the funding of high school driver’s ed. The House budget restored these funds;  the Senate budget did not. The CR does not speak to driver’s ed funds specifically. It does allocate $100 M to public schools to fully fund changes in average daily membership for 2015-2016. When asked about driver’s ed, the House budget writers responded that schools could use this money to pay for it.

Two bills I sponsored became law in June!

HB 560, Assault Emergency Workers/Hospital Personnel. Extends the penalty for assault to all hospital workers (previously just those working in the ER). Other primary sponsors were Rep. Josh Dobson and Rep. Sarah Stevens.

HB 337, Town of Cary/Release Unneeded Easements. Streamlines administrative processes for development in the Town.  Other primary sponsors were Rep. Nelson Dollar and Rep. Duane Hall.

I continue to hear from hundreds of constituents each month about a variety of issues. Your input is invaluable to me. Please keep it up!