2015 Sunshine Award

I am one of 24 legislators to win the 2015 Sunshine Award from Democracy North Carolina, in recognition of filing complete, accurate and timely campaign finance reports. In the announcing the award recipients, Bob Hall, Democracy North Carolina’s Executive Director, said,

“…we commend legislators across the ideological spectrum who respect the public’s right to know how money flows during elections.”

Budget waiting game

We are less than two weeks away from our Aug 14 continuing resolution deadline. The 114 House and Senate budget conferees have yet to meet, but chief budget writers from both Chambers have been meeting behind closed doors. On August 5th the Senate agreed to remove Medicaid reform, sales tax redistribution and economic development from the budget bill and deliberate these issues in separate bills.

Because we do not yet have an approved budget, thousands of teachers’ assistants don’t know whether they’ll have jobs when school starts; hundreds of thousands of UNC system students don’t know exactly what their fall tuition bills will be; and state government job seekers don’t know whether their employment package will include retiree benefits.

I’m hopeful that we will soon receive a compromise budget bill for debate.

The fine print

Tucked into the Senate’s budget was a provision that would dramatically change the way sales tax revenue is distributed. The plan would reverse the current revenue split—a majority goes to the county where sales tax is collected and the remainder goes to counties based on population—and allocate the bulk of sales tax revenue to rural counties.

This proposed plan has been criticized by members of both parties as well as the Governor. The Senate claims that their plan would better support rural economies. I agree that North Carolina should be doing a better job of supporting our rural communities, but divesting in our urban economic centers seems like a poor tradeoff that will do more harm than good.

If the Senate’s plan is approved, Wake county is estimated to take a revenue hit of $27 million over the next three years. As you can imagine, urban counties are against this proposal because it will require a dramatic increase in property taxes to recoup the needed revenue.

Health bills

Like you, I’m interested in the health of individuals, families and communities. Here’s a status report on some health-related bills that I sponsored/cosponsored:HB 250—Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act.  Passed Health; sent to Rules June 23.

HB 482—Employee Misclassification Reform. Received a favorable report in Appropriations on Aug 5 and should now go to full House for a vote.

HB 560—Assault Emergency Workers/Hospital Personnel. Signed by the Governor in June.

HB 701—School Nurses/LRC Study. Filed April 15; sent to Rules Committee. This issue will hopefully be included in an omnibus study bill.

HB 450—Appropriate Funds for Tobacco Use Prevention. Filed April 2; sent to Appropriations

HB 723—Telehealth Fairness Act. Filed April 15; sent to Insurance

Keep an eye on us

I continue to receive lots of constituent email. I remain grateful that you are following what is happening (and not happening) in the legislature. Please continue to take the time to let me know about issues you care about.