May Legislative Update

Click your way through District 41
I’m excited to announce my newly launched constituent website at  Access web pages for Cary, Apex and Morrisville, Wake county government and the NC General Assembly. See a list of bills I have sponsored and co-sponsored this session and click on live links to read those of particular interest to you. There are archived legislative newsletters, photos and a quick link to contact me. Let me know what you think of it!
Senate budget lacks vision, heart 
The Senate passed a budget along party lines in the wee hours of May 12. Here are just a few of the significant differences between Governor Cooper’s recommended budget and the Senate’s budget bill (SB257):
  •  Governor:  $20 million for rural broadband access; Senate:  $250k for the Department of  IT
  •  Governor:  $30 million for infrastructure “ready sites”; Senate:  $0


  •  Governor:  $20 million for NC GROW community college scholarships;Senate:  $0
  •  Governor: 5% teacher pay raise this year and next year; Senate:  Teacher pay raise is    2/3 of Governor’s proposal
  •  Governor:  Every teacher gets a pay raise; Senate:  New and veteran teachers do not get  a raise
  •  Governor:  Eliminates pre-K wait list and provides first new funding for Smart Start in a decade; Senate:  Does half of what Governor’s budget does

Health & Safety

  • Governor: Expanding Medicaid to cover 624,000 more people and inject more than $4 billion into our economy annually, without additional state costs;Senate: $0

Mental Health

  • Governor:  Provides $12 million in mental health funds and $2 million in law enforcement to fight opioid abuse; Senate:  $250k pilot project in Wilmington

The Governor’s recommended budget invests in a better educated, healthier and more prosperous North Carolina, puts $300 M in the Rainy Day Fund and does not raise taxes or fees. The Senate budget further lowers personal and corporate tax rates, reducing future revenue and the state’s ability to fund its priorities.

This is a more detailed side-by-side comparison of the Governor’s recommended budget and the Senate budget:

Remember that the Senate budget is not the final budget. After the House votes on its version of the budget (expected June 2) differences will be negotiated in a conference committee and [if things go smoothly] the conference budget will go to both chambers for a final vote by June 30.
STOP Act passes House with my amendment
The state’s opioid problem affects small and large, rural and urban, poor and affluent communities across the nation. Close to home, Wake county opioid deaths jumped from 35 in 2005 to 62 in 2015 and Wilmington leads the nation in opioid deaths. Community leaders, health care professionals, law enforcement, the Attorney General and the General Assembly are scrambling to address this public health crisis. There is consensus that strategies must be multifaceted and address opioid prescribing and dispensing, addiction treatment and law enforcement. As a nurse practitioner in primary care I see the problem ‘up close and personal’ and have a keen interest in crafting effective solutions.
HB243, Strengthen Opioid Abuse Prevention (STOP) Act passed the House April 10 with no dissenting votes. I successfully ran an amendment that strengthens the bill by requiring all prescribers to execute a pain management agreement when opioid use will exceed 60 days. Such agreements are a best practice that decreases provider over-prescribing, patient abuse of opioids and ‘provider shopping’. Obviously I voted for this bill.
House quickly overrides 4th veto
HB 467, Agriculture & Forestry Nuisance Remedies was vigorously debated in the House on April 10 before going to the Senate where a slightly different version passed. The House subsequently voted to concur with the Senate version and the bill went to the Governor who vetoed it on May 5. Five days later the House voted to override the veto with a vote of 74-40 (72 votes were needed to override). The following day the Senate also passed a veto override. This bill (now Ch. SL 2017-11) limits the financial damages property owners can receive when they sue these businesses for negative impacts on their homes and property. Interest in this bill was driven by current litigation by homeowners living adjacent to commercial hog farms in eastern North Carolina.  I voted against HB467 and against the veto override.
Raise the Age
HB 280, Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act passed the House 104-8 on May 17. This initiative has broad support from the ACLU, the John Locke Foundation, law enforcement, the NC League of Municipalities, religious groups, Chief Justice Mark Martin and many others.
HB280 would:
• raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction to include 16 and 17 year olds, except in the case of A-E felonies
• provide a victim the opportunity to request review of a decision and to file a juvenile petition
• increase the information available on juveniles to law enforcement and for court proceedings
• authorize school-justice partnerships statewide to reduce school based referrals to the juvenile court    system
• require regular juvenile justice training for law enforcement officers
• provide for gang assessments and enhanced sentencing for offenses committed as part of criminal  gang activity

• establish the Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee

I voted for HB280.

Around the district
Since my last newsletter I have met with hospital administrators, Duke University Medical School residents, home builders, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and representatives of NC Sound Economy (coastal fisheries), the Triangle chapter of the Apartment Association of North Carolina, Wake County Retired Teachers, the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center, Well Care Home Health, and the Triangle Down Syndrome Network. I have breakfasted with the Cary Chamber of Commerce, attended Cary’s second annual ‘Fest in the West’ and hosted my first Town Hall meeting (redistricting reform). For the third consecutive year I was the guest speaker at the Cary Chamber’s Business of Women ‘end of Chamber year’ luncheon.
It has been another busy month at the General Assembly and in the district. I appreciate the emails, phone calls and visits. Keep them coming!

Town Hall Meeting May 18

Based on the number of email messages, phone calls and legislative visits I receive, nonpartisan redistricting is the #1 issue on the minds of District 41 residents. On Thursday, May 18 please join me and other Cary, Apex and Morrisville elected officials for a Town Hall Meeting on this hot topic.  Read more