March is the mid-point of a 3 month NCGA marathon to get policy ideas fleshed out, bills drafted and sponsors lined up—all before a self-imposed legislative clock runs out.
Most bills fit into 5 categories—local bills (affecting 13 or fewer counties); statewide public bills that raise or spend money (one category) and those that do not (a separate category); bills with recommendations from study commissions; and bills with recommendations from state agencies. Each category has a different bill drafting and bill filing deadline spanning the weeks between early February and late April. What begins as a bill filing stroll transitions to a jog and ends as a breathless sprint as each of these deadlines approaches, closely followed by the equivalent of the final buzzer—the May crossover deadline when a bill must pass in at least one Chamber to continue its journey toward becoming law. Some bills are exempt from the crossover deadline by virtue of the subject matter or the inclusion of fees, but most must pass this hurdle or lose eligibility for consideration during the session.
There is actually a method to this kind of madness.
With 35 bill drafting staff and 120 House members (each with the potential to file an unlimited number of local bills plus 15 public, study or agency bills), these deadlines are intended to make staff workload manageable. In the 2017-18 long session more than 1200 House bills were filed. With a little more than a week remaining before this year’s final bill filing deadline, only 736 House bills had been filed. A full court press is underway to make the final filing deadline. You do the math.
What follows is a sample of the bills I’ve sponsored and cosponsored this session by 3 important categories (I’m a primary sponsor for bills in bold). Clicking on the bill name will take you to a page exclusively about that bill. From this page you can click on a link to read the bill in its entirety or—for a quick overview of what the bill establishes in new law and/or changes in current law—click on the Bill Digest or Bill Summaries links. Other information you’ll find on the page: bill filing date, sponsors and cosponsors, committee assignments, progress from committee to committee, the dates and results of floor votes, and (by clicking the vote count) which Representatives voted for and against the bill. Note: Most bills have not yet made it to a floor vote. Because of a new House rule this session, all bills have a final hearing by the Rules Committee before going to the floor.
HB 56, Arts Education
HB 79, Community College & High School Adjustment
HB 124, Smart Start Funds
HB 194, Community College & High School Calendars
HB 248, Restore Longevity for Teachers
HB 297, Psychology Interjdtl. Compact (PSYPACT)
HB 359, $15/hour for Noncertified School Employees
HB 457, Restore Masters Pay
HB 522, After School Robotics Grants
HB 524, Additional Funds for School Nurses
FYI, I cosponsor all bills that give local school boards calendar flexibility.
Health and Safety
HB 5, Close the Medicaid Coverage Gap
HB 75, School Mental Health Screening Study
HB 114, Prepaid Health Plan Tax
HB 133, Veterans Health Care Pilot
HB 184, Study State Health Plan Design
HB 185, The SAVE Act
HB 269, Carolina Caregivers Act
HB 388, Immunizing Pharmacists
HB 393, Modernize Sexual Assault Laws
HB 480, NC Cancer Treatment Fairness
HB 555, Modernize Telemedicine Policies
HB 725, Strengthen Youth Tobacco Prevention/Funds
HB 329, Exempt EV Stations
HB 363, Craft Beer Distribution & Modernization Act
HB 387, Electric Co-op Rural Broadband
HB 399, Historic Preservation
HB 431, FIBERNC
HB 479, Study Solar Facility Decommissioning
HB 487, Short Term Workforce Training Funds
HB 549, Matching Funds for Affordable Housing
HB 569, One NC
Other happenings inside the legislature
Along with Representative Stephen Ross (R-Alamance) and Senators Floyd McKissick (D-Durham) and Ted Alexander (R-Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln) I co-chair a new Municipal Caucus supported by the NC League of Municipalities (NCLM). By engaging other House and Senate members with local government experience, our goal is to keep issues affecting municipalities top-of-mind, speaking out against legislation harmful to local governments while promoting bills that assist local elected officials and town staff meet their responsibilities without interference. Following our first meeting Rep. Ross and I filed HB 557, Municipal Omnibus Bill. Representative Ross is the former mayor of Burlington, Senator McKissick served on the Durham City Council and Senator Alexander is the former mayor of Shelby. If you’re a regular reader of this newsletter you likely already know that I served 7 years on the Cary Town Council, the last three years as Mayor Pro Tem.
Senator John Alexander and I co-chair the 16 member Wake county legislative delegation (11 House members, 5 Senators). Since February the delegation has met with Wake county commissioners; Wake county school board members and Superintendent Dr. Cathy Moore; Wake county mayors; representatives of Alliance Behavioral Health (provider of mental health services for Wake county residents receiving Medicaid); Raleigh citizens concerned about a 2015 zoning law change; and the new president of Wake Technical Community College Dr. Scott Ralls.
Around the district
Coming up, a return to Alston Ridge Elementary School to speak to Mrs. Pride’s 3rd grade class about state government and how laws are made; accompanying Apex Meals on Wheels volunteers; and touring the American Airlines call center in Cary. Photos will be included in a future newsletter.
Please stay in touch and give me the benefit of your feedback and input. Call 919-733-5602 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in service,