State budget passes with bipartisan input and support

After a series of strong bipartisan votes in the Senate and House, Governor Cooper signed a new $25.9 B budget into law on November 18. The process used to reach this compromise budget was historic. House and Senate Democrats and Republicans–and Governor Cooper–worked on the conference report together over many weeks. As is true of compromise, everyone involved in its creation and passage agreed that no one got everything they wanted. There are areas of the budget that I disagree with, but the harm created by not having a comprehensive budget for a second biennium was simply unpalatable to me. While it’s not feasible to detail the contents of a 627 page bill, these are some top-line reasons I supported the budget:
  • Teacher and state employee salaries increased by 5% over two years
  • Pay for non-certified school personnel increased to $15/hour
  • Child income tax deduction increased to $500 per child
  • Personal income tax lowered to 3.99% over six years
  • State income tax on military pensions eliminated, beginning 2021 tax year
  • Over $6 B invested in infrastructure, including $800 M in school construction
  • Investment of over $1B in broadband expansion
  • Medicaid coverage for new mothers extended for 12 months after delivery

Even with these and other positives, this was not an easy vote. There are short and long-term problems with the budget. It excludes Wake (and 4 other counties) from a new $100 M fund for teacher pay supplements, funds millions in pork projects, and does not expand health insurance coverage for 600,000 working adults–30,000 of whom are veterans.  It limits the Governor’s emergency authority and prohibits the Attorney General from settling lawsuits. The constitutionality of these two provisions will no doubt be challenged in the courts.

The most troubling part of the budget is a gradual phase-out of the corporate income tax beginning in 2025 that could short-change future investments in public education and other priorities by the end of the decade. It’s important to note that these corporate tax cuts won’t begin to go into effect for another four years, giving future legislatures an opportunity to ‘course correct’ if our economy weakens.

Around the district 

This fall I’ve enjoyed getting to know new Apex Town Manager Catherine Crosby and new Apex Police Chief Jason Armstrong over coffee at Common Grounds on Salem Street. They each have a wealth of relevant experience and exude passion for their work.

I’ve also had the chance to work alongside local elected officials and Habitat for Humanity volunteers to frame a new home in Cary; participate in the annual Kiran Walk to support Asian Indian women who suffer from domestic violence; attend the groundbreaking ceremony for a new building at the SV Temple; and travel to Memphis to receive a 2021 Elected Women of Excellence Award from the National Foundation for Women Legislators. Looking ahead to December, I’ll be riding with Rep. Julie von Haefen in the Apex Christmas parade.

I wish you and your family good health and time for reflection on the many blessings we all share. Thank you for your support of our community and for your communications with me.

Yours in service,


New maps ready for feedback

New maps for North Carolina’s 14 Congressional districts and 170 House and Senate districts were released yesterday. Navigate from the NCGA homepage to view submitted maps drawn by legislators, livestreamed committee meetings, and other details. The public can provide feedback at 4 public hearings this coming week.      


Monday, October 25, 2021
3:00 PM

The House Redistricting Committee and the Senate Redistricting and Elections Committees are holding a joint public hearing Monday, October 25, 2021 at 3:00 PM at the NCGA and remotely at UNC Wilmington and Caldwell Community College. Each speaker may speak for up to two (2) minutes. Sign-up is limited to 25 persons per site, in advance via this portal. On-line sign up for each site will close upon the earlier of reaching the maximum or 12:00 pm on Monday, October 25, 2021. Speaker registration here.

Location Details:

· Raleigh: Auditorium, Legislative Building, 16 W Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601

· UNC-Wilmington: Lumina Theater, 615 Hamilton Drive, Wilmington, NC 28403

· Caldwell County: Broyhill Center, 1913 Hickory Blvd, Lenoir, NC 28645

Monday, October 25, 2021
5:30 PM

The House Redistricting Committee and the Senate Redistricting and Elections Committees are holding an on-line joint public hearing Monday, October 25, 2021 at 5:30 PM via WebEx. Each speaker may speak for up to two (2) minutes. Sign-up is limited to 30 persons, in advance via this portal. On-line sign up will close upon the earlier of reaching the maximum or 12:00 pm on Monday, October 25, 2021. A link to join the WebEx meeting will be emailed the day of the meeting. A smartphone, tablet or computer with a microphone are required to be a participant speaker in the event. Speaker registration here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021
3:00 PM

The House Redistricting Committee and the Senate Redistricting and Elections Committees are holding a joint public hearing Tuesday, October 26, 2021 at 3:00 PM at the NCGA and remotely at East Carolina University and Central Piedmont Community College. Each speaker may speak for up to two (2) minutes. Sign-up is limited to 25 persons per site, in advance via this portal. On-line sign up for each site will close upon the earlier of reaching the maximum or 12:00 pm on Tuesday, October 26, 2021. Speaker registration here

Location Details:

· Raleigh: Auditorium, Legislative Building, 16 W Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601

· Pitt County: Auditorium, East Carolina Heart Institute, ECU Health Science Campus, 115 Heart Drive,  Greenville, NC 27834

· Mecklenburg County: Harris Conference Center, 3216 CPCC Harris Campus Drive, Charlotte 28208

Tuesday, October 26, 2021
5:30 PM

The House Redistricting Committee and the Senate Redistricting and Elections Committees are holding an on-line joint public hearing Tuesday, October 26, 2021 at 5:30 PM via WebEx. Each speaker may speak for up to two (2) minutes. Sign-up is limited to 30 persons, in advance via this portal. On-line sign up will close upon the earlier of reaching the maximum or 12:00 pm on Tuesday, October 26, 2021. A link to join the WebEx meeting will be emailed the day of the meeting. A smartphone, tablet or computer with a microphone are required to be a participant speaker in the event. Speaker registration here


The  state budget is still being negotiated by Governor Cooper, Senator Berger and Speaker Moore.  The budget will come as a ‘conference report’ which means there is no opportunity to amend or make additional changes. Conference report votes are referred to as “up or down” votes. Expect a budget-focused newsletter after the budget vote.

I hope you and your families are well and enjoying our beautiful fall weather. 

Yours in service,


Redistricting is underway

Redistricting is front and center while the state budget is being negotiated in a conference committee. 

How do you weigh in?

The public hearing portion of the redistricting process started September 8 and continues across the state through September 30. You do not have to live in the county where the public hearing is held in order to attend or to speak (comments are limited to 2 minutes and speakers must sign in before the hearing begins). This is the remaining public hearing schedule:

September 15–Durham Technical Community College, 6 pm & Nash Community College, 5 pm

September 16–Alamance Community College, 5 pm & Pitt Community College, 3 pm

September 21–Western Carolina University, 5 pm

September 22–Central Piedmont Community College, 3 pm

September 23–Mitchell Community College, 3 pm

September 28–UNC Pembroke, 4 pm

September 29–UNC Wilmington, 5 pm

September 30–Fayetteville Technical Community College, 6 pm  

You may also submit online comments about the redistricting process and what you want to see in new Congressional and legislative maps here

I encourage you to take this opportunity to make your voice heard. These new maps will affect the outcome of Congressional and legislative elections for the next decade.

The Redistricting Committee will meet at the Legislative Building once maps are completed and introduced in bill form. Like all legislative meetings, it will be open to the public. We have been told by the committee chairs that citizens will be able to sign up to speak about the maps at this meeting. This is particularly important for Wake county residents since there is no public hearing scheduled in Wake county. Learn more about this committee and sign up for committee alerts here

Until next time  

My next newsletter will be published after the conference budget is released and has floor votes in both Chambers.   

As always, if you need assistance from my office you can reach me at 919-733-5602 or
Yours in service,

Spring melts into summer at the General Assembly

May 14 was the ‘crossover deadline’ for House and Senate bills to pass in their chamber, keeping them eligible for action during the remainder of the session. While there are a few exceptions (bills on elections, redistricting, constitutional amendments and appointments), legislators are always acutely aware of this ticking clock, making the final days before ‘crossover’ frenetic and long.

After this milestone, budget negotiations began in earnest. The first step was an agreement between House and Senate leadership on a spending limit: $25.7 B in the first year and $26.6 B in year two (this negotiation took several weeks longer than usual). On June 21 the Senate released its budget, and the second of 2 recorded votes was taken on June 25. The budget bill now goes to the House for consideration. 

Total spending cannot change in the House version of the budget, but funding levels for specific programs surely will. The House is expected to take its 2 budget votes by mid-July. I hope to see a House budget that invests wisely in public education, health care, small business, infrastructure (including high-speed internet; water & sewer projects; K-12, community college and university capital projects) and that includes tax policy to help low and middle income families.        

Here’s what else happened in the 6 weeks since crossover.       

Around the district

Great visit at Horton's Creek Elementary

These 4th graders greeted me on my May 21 visit to Hortons Creek Elementary School. While there I learned a lot about resilience, creativity, and the numerous pivots made by this school community since March 2020. In addition to a walkabout with principal Sandy Chambers and observation of traditional and hybrid classroom teaching, I participated in a group discussion with teachers, PTA representatives, the principal and assistant principal. I heard about the difference between “learning loss” and the more descriptive “unfinished learning” experienced by these students as observed by their teachers and parents. Like all of us, everyone at Hortons Creek looks forward to the return of  ‘normal’, but they are also committed to using what they’ve learned about new efficiencies and the utility of technology. Thanks to 4th grade teacher Laura Abraham for the invitation to return to Hortons Creek, my third visit since the school opened in August 2017.  Go Hawks!  

Along with advocates from Cary and Apex, on June 5 I participated in a walk to spotlight deaths from gun violence. I was joined by Representatives James Roberson, Julie von Haefen, Marcia Morey and Senator Natalie Murdock.  Thanks to Moms Demand Action for organizing the event and to Trophy Brewing & Pizza for providing food and cold beverages.    

Each year the Cary Chamber invites me to speak about state government and public service at the final meeting of Leadership Cary. One of my favorite Chamber events, this is a great opportunity to hear what’s ‘top of mind’ for emerging community leaders. It was also an invigorating way to start my day on June 15.

Visionary is the word that stuck with me throughout the June 26 groundbreaking for Phase 2 of the Downtown Cary Park. After 2 tenacious decades of Council leadership, from land acquisition to funding innovative design, this destination park will open in summer 2023.   

Meanwhile, down on Jones Street

Several of my bills made ‘crossover’ and await action in the Senate

HB 93, ensures patients are offered education about the availability and use of opioid antagonist drugs when they are given a prescription for opioids.   

HB 96, increases access to health care by allowing pharmacists to administer a greater variety of injectable drugs. There are 20 NC counties without a single primary care provider, but each of our counties has at least one pharmacy.  

HB 178, requires patient access to accurate prescription drug benefit cost information. 

HB 322, a local bill that allows Cary to stop collecting local ABC license fees. The idea for this bill to assist local businesses came from the town.       

HB 524, guarantees access to oral chemotherapy treatment during a pandemic (when oral therapy is an appropriate treatment option). 

Two of my bills soon to be law 

HB 272, lowers the state’s acceptable blood lead level, protecting more children from impaired brain development and other adverse health impacts of childhood lead exposure. It went to Governor Cooper on June 23.

HB 629, clarifies a portion of the STOP Act, a 2017 law to decrease opioid addiction and overdose deaths. It went to Governor Cooper on June 23. 

Organ donation made easier 

As cosponsor of the House companion to SB 135, Improve Anatomical Gift Donation Process, I was  present as Governor Cooper signed the bill into law June 14. I’ve been a registered organ/tissue donor since 21 and a bone marrow donor since my 30’s. My cousin’s life was forever changed by a kidney transplant from a living donor 5 years ago. As a legislator and as a nurse practitioner, it is my hope this law will increase the number of individuals receiving life-saving and life-changing transplants.      

Delayed census impacts municipal elections 

Although the 2020 census count is complete, county and city level results won’t be available until fall due to pandemic delays. In about 10% of North Carolina’s 500 municipalities, local odd-year elections include district representatives elected by voters who live in the same district.  Whether elected by district or at-large, districts must be drawn containing an equal number of individuals  (plus/minus 5% is the constitutionally allowable variation).

Legislators worked with the NC League of Municipalities and other stakeholders to devise a solution to that works for most affected municipalities. The final bipartisan product, SB 722, went to Governor Cooper on June 16.        

Cary’s twist

Four of 7 Cary Town Council members are District representatives elected only by District voters. Recognizing early on that census numbers would be delayed and wishing to avoid negative impacts of a delayed election, last fall the Town hired a private demographer to get an accurate population number. With this data, town staff drew new districts using redistricting criteria used in the past. Based on months of work, Cary is prepared to hold its October election as scheduled rather than delay it to Spring 2022 (the gist of SB 722). Representative Allison Dahle (a vice-chair of the Election Law & Campaign Finance Reform committee) and I are working with legislative leadership and Town staff on a legislative fix that allows Cary to hold its election on schedule.    

Shout-Out to Morrisville 

First awarded in 1949 by the National Civic League, the All-American City Award recognizes communities that leverage civic engagement, collaboration, innovation and inclusiveness to address local issues. Congratulations to the citizens, Council and staff of Morrisville for recently being named a 2021 All-American City!  

Thanks for staying in touch

I welcome your input and feedback. Reach me at or 919-733-5602. My Legislative Assistant Suzanne Smith can assist you and can also connect you to other state government agencies as needed. Wake County has many COVID-19 vaccine resources available, so if you need information about how to get a shot, please give us a call. Stay safe out there.

Yours in service,



Long session should live up to its name

It’s hard to believe we’ve rounded the corner on the first 2 months of the 2021 legislative session.  Things got off to a flying start with the appropriation of additional federal COVID relief funds.

COVID response  

We passed a $2.24 billion COVID relief bill in February and second $1.7 B bill in March; both were quickly signed into law. A third appropriations bill will be filed in a few weeks following Congress’ recent passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. North Carolina is projected to receive $5-7 billion and, unlike previous federal aid packages, ARP includes funds sent directly to cities and towns to help with their pandemic recovery efforts.

Spotlight on health care 

As a nurse practitioner in family practice for 29 years, access to health care remains one of  my top priorities. So far this session I’ve filed bills to place a school nurse in every public school, allow pharmacists to give injectable long-acting drugs, improve state standards for lead screening in children, and increase access to care provided by advanced practice registered nurses. I’m a cosponsor of bills to modernize the practice of audiology, increase transparency of prescription drug costs, help children with autism, increase access to telehealth, add telepsychiatry sites in counties without psychiatrists, and add North Carolina to the occupational therapy interstate compact.       

There is much work to be done to increase access to health insurance, thereby increasing access to care. To evaluate our options, Governor Cooper appointed a large group of stakeholders representing business, economic development, non-profits, health care and government to serve on the Council on Health Care Coverage.  Facilitated by the Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy, the group had 4 half-day meetings in December and January and produced guiding principles to use as we consider how to close the insurance coverage gap for the 600,000+ uninsured in our state. I was honored be a Council member and I remain committed to this goal. 

First pitch in state budget ball game 

Traditionally, North Carolina passes a two year budget in odd-numbered years.  Halfway through the cycle (in the even numbered year), we amend it as needed based on actual revenue and expenditures, plus a consensus revenue forecast. 

The two year process started last week with the release of Governor Cooper’s recommended budget.  The Senate will consider his budget in drafting its budget bill, and then send it to the House after passage.  Typically the 2 Chambers do not agree on all aspects of the spending plan and the budget bill goes to a conference committee. Once this bicameral group agrees on a ‘conference report’, it returns to each Chamber for a vote, and then goes to the Governor for his approval (or not). 

Governor Cooper’s budget is an excellent start to the process.  Here are some highlights: 

  • Investing in schools and teachers

K-12 teacher raises of 10% on average over the biennium and ensuring that all non-certified school personnel receive a minimum salary of $15/hour, on par with other state employees.  In addition to pay raises, teachers, principals and all public school employees receive a $2,000 bonus before June 30 and a $1,000 bonus in the next two fiscal years (total of $4,000).  These employees were left out of previous bonuses for state employees.

More than $78 million in early education and child development so that more children can attend Pre-K, receive high-quality child care, and access early intervention services.  $80 million to help school districts hire more nurses, counselors, psychologists, and social workers to support students’ physical and mental health.

More about the Governor’s plan for stronger schools. 

  • Supporting state employees
  1. Pay raises for most state employees of 2.5% in each year of the two-year budget for a total 5% raise.
  2. Pay raises for university and state-funded local community college employees of 5% in the first year and 2.5% in the second year for a total of 7.5%. These employees were left out of previous year pay raises.
  3. $2,000 bonus for university and state-funded community college local community college employees before June 30th and $1,000 bonus in each of the next two fiscal years. These employees were left out of previous year bonuses.
  4. A 2% recurring COLA increase in 2021/22 and 2% bonus payments in 2021/22 and 2022/23 for retired state employees. This is the largest increase for retirees in over a decade.

More details HERE.

  • Rebuilding critical infrastructure  

Cash capital investments totaling over $1.1 billion, including $675 million for UNC System projects, $360 for state agency projects, and $100 million toward energy efficiency improvements.

North Carolina’s strong balance sheet presents a generational opportunity to address critical long-term infrastructure needs. Taking advantage of our low debt and historically low interest rates, the proposed budget recommends a $4.7 billion General Obligation Bond be placed on the November 2021 ballot to include funding for: 

  1. $2.5 billion for public schools to address $8+ billion in documented capital needs.
  2. $783 million for the UNC System, including $295 million for health and safety projects.
  3. $500 million for the Community College System.
  4. $430 million for health and safety projects across state government.
  5. $460 million for parks, the NC Zoo, museums, and historic sites.
  • Ensuring a strong economic recovery

$45.4 million in economic investments, including support for the One NC Small Business Fund and Carolina Small Business Fund. Investments in small businesses and funding to prepare rural and economically distressed communities for an innovation-based economy. Funding to address the disproportionate economic impact of COVID-19 on communities of color through increased support for minority-owned businesses.

More details about the Governor’s plan for a more prosperous economy

  • Increasing access to quality health care

Access to health care for more than 600,000 working North Carolinians, keeping rural hospitals open and strong, reducing the number of uninsured veterans, fighting the opioid epidemic, and injecting over $5 billion in direct state investments by expanding Medicaid.  The American Rescue Plan provides an additional $1.7 billion in federal funds to support Medicaid expansion, which could be used to cover the state’s 10% cost share for up to six years. After that time the cost share would come from hospital assessments and taxes paid by prepaid health plans (aka Medicaid managed care plans). Expanding Medicaid does not require the use of state revenue or raising taxes.

  • Investing in a clean, healthy environment  

Over $100 million in expanded access to clean energy technologies, clean energy economic development and building a clean energy workforce pipeline.  $10 million for clean energy economic development and $4.5 million in clean energy grants for homegrown start-ups and small businesses.

Over $300 million in environmental stewardship, increasing access to parks, and enhancing the state’s resiliency to future floods. Nearly $8 million for emerging compounds mitigation.

More about the plan to increase economic development in clean energy. 

  • Increasing safety and equity  

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to shine a light on long-standing inequities. The proposed budget  advances equity in our health care, economic, criminal justice and education systems through strategic investments to:

  1. Recruit and retain a diverse educator workforce.
  2. Ensure access to a sound, basic education for all students.
  3. Emphasize equity in government decision making.
  4. Support minority-owned businesses.
  5. Prioritize fairness in the criminal justice system.

Details on this and the Governor’s full budget plan

Around the district  

At the request of local governments in the district, I’ve filed a bill to amend the Apex Town charter and a bill to allow Cary to stop issuing and collecting fees for local ABC permits.     

Until next time 

My legislative colleagues agree that the pace thus far feels more like June than March. With looming bill drafting and bill filing deadlines, we will soon be even busier. Because the census was delayed, we don’t anticipate getting updated population numbers until fall. This means that redistricting, legally required after each census, cannot be completed until much later than usual. The effect of this delay on 2021 municipal elections and filing for 2022 legislative and Congressional races isn’t yet known, but it will require the General Assembly to be back in session in the fall (in a typical odd year we adjourn in July).  

I hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and getting vaccinated as the vaccine supply increases and more groups are eligible to receive it. Thank you for the continued opportunity to represent District 41 and to serve all North Carolina citizens. Please let me hear from you about issues you care about at or 919-733-5602. 

Yours in service,




The Interim

in-ter-im (noun). The intervening time. In this case, the weeks between the September adjournment of the 2019-2020 session and the first meeting of a newly-elected legislature on January 13.

The legislature may be out of session, but I’m still busy answering email messages and calls from constituents, talking with graduate students enrolled in their first policy course, and having virtual meetings with stakeholder groups to discuss bill ideas for the 2021 long session. Read more

Short Session Update

The legislative short session kicked off on April 28, a date specified when the long session adjourned on January 14. When we adjourned in January there was every reason to anticipate a typical short session: budget wrangling, passage of a few remaining bills, and adjournment with plenty of time to campaign for the November election.

But in the intervening 15 weeks, the world dramatically changed with the discovery of a novel coronavirus in a single Chinese province. Its global spread was rapid, soon reaching the definition of a pandemic. The first US case was diagnosed in Washington state in late January; NC documented its first case in early March. The usual routines of schools, businesses and families have since been incredibly disrupted. Unemployment is at a new high. The need for online learning has laid bare the geographic and socioeconomic divide in the availability of broadband internet. Serious health disparities for people of color and those without access to health insurance  (acknowledged as longstanding problems in our state before COVID-19) are the cause of higher rates of infection and death for these populations. Fifty years after the civil rights movement, our country is facing protest marches, rioting in many cities, and widespread public outcry for criminal justice reform after the latest episode of extreme force used by police officers against people of color, particularly black men.   

These are the conditions in which the General Assembly has engaged in a short session like no other.   

With health experts urging statewide actions to ‘flatten the curve’ of new COVID-19 cases and the resultant ‘stay at home’ executive order (now a ‘safer at home’ executive order), the House made history when the short session gavelled in, using Zoom to convene committee meetings and live-streaming floor sessions on YouTube with proxy voting allowed by new House rules. In addition to protecting public health, an upside to this new world order is that citizens can easily tune in to committee meetings that previously required travel to Raleigh. House and Senate floor sessions can be viewed rather than just heard (although audio-only is still available). Access to each day’s legislative calendar; committee links with meeting times, agendas and documents; and video and audio links for each Chamber are available here

April 28-May 2 was devoted to unanimously passing two COVID-19 response bills which Govenor Cooper quickly signed into law. Session Law 2020-3 sets education, economic support, health and state operations policies. Session Law 2020-4 appropriates $1.4 B of the state’s federal CARES Act funds. Read the specifics on the NCGA webpage under Session Laws.         

Some of the most noteworthy bills passed in recent days include:

The Second Chance Act (SB 562)
After 13 months of legislative inaction, the Second Chance Act passed the NC House unanimously on June 10 after passing the NC Senate unanimously in 2019. The Second Chance Act is an important step in improving expunctions in North Carolina. Expunctions help people who committed crimes a long time ago  clear their records and improve their opportunities for jobs and housing.  Some of the improvements include:
*Provides automatic record clearing for charges dismissed or disposed of as “not guilty.”
*Allows expunctions for people whose convictions are treated as juvenile offenses under the Raise the Age law. 
*Expands eligibility for expunctions for people who have been convicted of multiple nonviolent misdemeanors.

Read more about the bill in this article

The ‘gym’ bill (HB 594)

HB 594 as originally written pertained to HOA bylaws when it passed the House in 2019. It was sitting dormant in a Senate committee when an Alamance county senator decided to strip the original language and use the bill as a vehicle to reopen gyms and fitness facilities. Stripping bills is a common occurrence in the short session since to be eligible for action most bills must have passed one Chamber in the long session. The ‘new’ bill contained rigorous requirements for screening and distancing of employees and participants, for equipment cleaning after each use and for thorough daily facility cleaning, among other stipulations. As a nurse practitioner I understand and value the physical and mental benefits of regular exercise and wellness activities. In addition, many health & fitness facilities are small women-owned businesses. I looked forward to voting for this bill and supporting the health & fitness industry and these small business owners. 

Unfortunately, the same senator bill sponsor decided at the last minute to add verbatim the language of the recently vetoed bar bill–and new language that I could not support because I am a health care provider with a background in public health. The new language stripped the governor of his executive authority to close newly reopened bars if COVID-19 trends make it advisable to do so. It also stripped the Secretary of DHHS of her authority to close a business that threatens public health through its business practices (declaring it an ‘imminent health hazard’).

The new language required that the governor’s decision to close bars and a DHHS decision to declare a business an imminent threat would be ultimately decided by a vote of the 9 member Council of State.  The Council of State are politicians elected statewide, including the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Agriculture, the Secretary of State and the State Auditor.  They are all elected to do important jobs, but none involve issues of public health. Stripping away the power of the governor’s public health team would limit their ability to respond to illegal mass gatherings and to respond to changing COVID-19 conditions.

The new bill never received a House committee hearing; no amendments or changes were allowed on the floor.  I was very disappointed to have to vote against it. The bill passed 69 to 50 and now heads to Governor Cooper for his signature or veto.

Elections Bill Offers Safe Options for Voting (HB 1169)

With health officials expecting the coronavirus to keep many people away from the polls this year, it was important for the legislature to act quickly to make sure that county boards of elections are prepared for more absentee ballot requests. While the bill was not perfect, it safely expands access to voting while making this year’s election more secure.
HB 1169 will make these changes for the 2020 election: 
  • One witness instead of two for completed absentee ballots
  • Flexibility in the filling of positions for precinct officials
  • Allowing completed absentee ballot request forms to be emailed or faxed to county board of elections
  • Providing an additional two weeks for county boards to approve requests for absentee ballots
  • Requiring the State Board of Elections to create an online portal for submission of requests for absentee ballots by September 1, 2020

Other news  

New Task Force to Address Racial Inequity in the State Criminal Justice System

Governor Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 145 on June 10, forming the North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice. The task force will recommend solutions to stop discriminatory law enforcement and criminal justice practices, and hold public safety officers accountable.

Led by Attorney General Josh Stein and North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice Anita Earls, the task force will convene a wide range of stakeholders including: community policing advocates, state and local law enforcement agencies, justice-involved individuals, representatives of the judicial branch, individuals from marginalized populations and more.

The task force will develop and help implement policy solutions to address systemic racial bias in criminal justice and submit legislative and municipal recommendations on or before December 1, 2020.

The Order also creates a Center for the Prevention of Law Enforcement Use of Deadly Force within the State Bureau of Investigation to track statistics and improve training related to the use of force.

Also last week, Secretary of the Department of Public Safety Erik Hooks directed law enforcement agencies under the purview of Department of Public Safety to ensure each division has a ‘duty to intervene’ policy in place. He also directed that divisions conduct policy reviews on use of force, deescalation techniques, arrest procedures, cultural sensitivity training and internal investigation processes. Executive Order No. 145 directs cabinet agencies and encourages non-cabinet state agencies with sworn law enforcement officers to do the same.

Read the full Order and FAQ.

Communities of color are disproportionately affected at each stage of the criminal justice system. National data is sobering: 

  • Black adults are 5.9 times more likely to be incarcerated than white adults;
  • Hispanic adults are 3.1 times more likely to be incarcerated than white adults;
  • Black drivers are approximately twice as likely as white drivers to be pulled over by law enforcement for a traffic stop;
  • Black defendants are more likely to be jailed before trial than white defendants;
  • The murders of white people are more likely to be solved than the murders of black people;
  • When black men and white men are convicted of the same crime, black men receive a prison sentence that is 20 percent longer;
  • Black women are imprisoned at twice the rate of white women; and
  • Black men are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than are white men; black women are 1.4 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than are white women.

Individuals interested in serving on the task force can visit the Governor’s website to apply.

DHHS Shares Health Guidance to Re-Open Public Schools  

State education and health leaders have announced the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit (K-12) health guidance for resuming in-person instruction in NC public schools. The toolkit provides a baseline for health practices to be followed to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 as North Carolina resumes classroom instruction.

Re-opening plans will be determined by the status of COVID-19. Schools may reopen according to three scenarios – Plan A: Minimal Social Distancing, Plan B: Moderate Social Distancing, or Plan C: Remote Learning Only.

Governor Cooper and health officials have warned that people must continue to take COVID-19 precautions to ensure schools can resume in-person instruction.

The Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit (K-12) was developed using the most current CDC guidance for schools and includes requirements and recommendations for eight areas: Social Distancing and Minimizing Exposure; Cloth Face Coverings; Protecting Vulnerable Populations; Cleaning and Hygiene; Monitoring for Symptoms; Handling Suspected, Presumptive or Confirmed Positive Cases of COVID-19; Communication and Combating Misinformation; Water and Ventilation Systems; Transportation; and Coping and Resilience.

For example, the Toolkit requires students and others to be screened for illness before entering school and requires floor markings to help maintain social distance. It also includes sample screening symptom checklists in English and Spanish, a flow chart protocol for handling suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, and a checklist of infection control supplies schools may need. The Toolkit will be updated as new health guidance is released by the CDC and additional resources are made available.

Questions regarding the Toolkit in English or Spanish can be directed to

Toll Free Numbers for COVID-19 Questions 

  • Text COVIDNC to 898211 to get state coronavirus alerts. 
  • Call 1-888-600-1685 to connect families in need of childcare options.
  • There is a Hope Line at 1-866-578-4673 for older adults experiencing isolation due to social distancing.
  • The Small Business Administration Customer Service Center can be reached at 1-800-659-2955. A helpful FAQ for small businesses is here.

And finally

The short session continues. The state expects a significant shortfall when revenue figures are reported after the (new) July 15 income tax filing deadline. A proposed two year budget bill that passed in spring 2019 was vetoed by Governor Cooper (the House passed a veto override in September; the Senate never took an override vote). Because of this, the state has been operating under the FY 2018-2019 budget with some spending increases as the result of small targeted appropriations bills. It is likely in the coming weeks that a series of mini-budget bills will be filed instead of a single comprehensive budget bill. Just like many of you, the legislature is figuring out how to conduct business under new and uncertain conditions. 

I will send another update when the short session adjourns. In the meantime, I hope that you and your loved ones remain healthy. Reach me at or call Suzanne Smith in my legislative office at 919-733-5602 if we can assist you in any way. Thank you for staying in touch with me and for allowing me to represent the people of District 41. 


Caring for others, and for ourselves

Dear friends,

I hope that you are well, practicing the recommended social distance of 6 feet, getting outside for fresh air and sunshine, and staying in touch with family and friends by phone and virtually. I hope that you have not been personally affected by COVID-19. You haven’t heard from me until now because for the last 3 1/2 weeks, I have been on the front lines of the clinical response to this pandemic.

Most of you know that I’m a nurse practitioner in family practice at SAS Institute in Cary, NC. Our practice, like all other primary care providers, must be available for our patients who have symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, but also to treat other acute illnesses like flu and strep throat, monitor chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension, give immunizations to children and adults, and manage other aspects of our patients’ health.

Because COVID-19 has been fast-moving, guidance to health care providers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) and Wake County Health & Human Services has slightly changed almost daily. Like other providers, our practice closely monitors health authorities’ recommendations for patient screening, testing and self-quarantine as well as best practices for protecting health care workers who care for and test them. My full time professional job has been more than full time since early March. I’ve thought of you many times, especially over the last month.

Since January

The legislature has been out of session since January 14 with plans to return on April 28 for the short session. Whether and how we will convene is still to be determined. In February I virtually attended 2 DHHS legislative oversight committee meetings and visited Janet Pride’s 4th grade class at Alston Ridge Elementary School to talk about how laws are made at the state level. It is very refreshing to answer thoughtful questions from 10-year-olds.

When COVID-19 entered the US, everyone’s time and attention shifted, including mine. Since early March I’ve participated in several calls a week conducted specifically to update legislators and answer our questions. These calls are led by Dr. Mandy Cohen, DHHS Secretary along with the leaders of NC Public Safety and Emergency Operations. Governor Cooper is also often on these calls. Also I have been appointed by Speaker Moore to the House Select Committee on COVID-19. Citizen input is welcomed; send comments and concerns here. Comments are shared with committee members weekly. Our first virtual meeting was held last week and we meet again on April 2 at 10:00.  Listen to our meetings by clicking 1228 LB.

Information you can depend on 

Like you, I want information about COVID-19 from experts and individuals on the front lines. Hard decisions have been made to protect our citizens and lessen the chances that our hospitals will be overwhelmed by a surge of acutely ill COVID-19 patients. Statistics change daily. Links included in this issue are for reliable sources you can access when you want and need information.

  • On March 27 Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 121, a statewide Stay at Home Order beginning Monday, March 30 at 5 p.m. until April 29, 2020. The Executive Order directs people to stay at home except to visit essential businesses, to exercise outdoors or to help a family member. The order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to physically stay at least six feet apart from others. Find the list of ‘essential businesses’ and other details in this press release and related FAQs.
  • Governor Cooper’s website has a list of actions he’s taken to address COVID-19 and its economic impacts (these are listed in reverse chronological order). It includes Executive Orders that closed schools (initially until March 30, then extended to May 15), banned sit-down service at restaurants and bars, extended the tax deadline to July 15 and waived rules for unemployment benefits.
  • The COVID-19 Case Count lists cases in the state and by county, as well as the number of hospitalizations and deaths; it is updated by 11 a.m. daily. COVID-19 Response in North Carolina has links to resources and information for businesses & employers; child care; colleges, universities and schools; long term care facilities; health care providers; and workers who have lost their jobs, among others.
  • For information about COVID-19 across the US and general information about symptoms, when to contact your health care provider and what you can do to safeguard your health and the health of your loved ones, I recommend the CDC.

Coping with our current ‘new normal’ 

While we’re staying at home except for permitted activities (receiving health care, picking up prescriptions, providing care to family members, shopping for food, outdoor exercise), it’s important to feel connected to others and to maintain good mental health. In addition to reading good books and streaming your favorite TV shows and movies, here are some online options for keeping anxiety and boredom at bay (list courtesy of Mike Stunson; some editorializing by me).

Exercise. Planet Fitness offers live workout videos daily on Facebook. Gold’s Gym has more than 600 free audio and video workouts until the end of May. Your own fitness center may also offer virtual workouts, yoga or meditation sessions.

Enjoy nature. You can use Google Earth to visit any national park online. Glacier National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are just some of the options.

Check out some animals. If you can’t see wildlife from your deck or window, the San Diego Zoo and Monterrey Bay Aquarium are showing live feeds of many of their exhibits.

Watch classic sports games. The NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB have opened their libraries so fans can watch games from years past.

Tour museums. Soak in some culture. Google’s Arts and Culture website offers tours of museums around the world, including the Tokyo National Museum and the Guggenheim. Virtual tours are also available of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Listen to music. More culture. The Metropolitan Opera streams a different encore presentation each night.

Learn to Cook. Better Homes & Gardens and the BBC have online videos featuring cooking tips.

Take a college course. Many course from Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Columbia are now available free. In January I took the popular Yale course, “The Science of Well-Being” taught by Professor Laurie Santos. Little did I know how helpful it would be in less than 2 months! If interested, enroll here. 

A final word

Many of our fellow citizens have lost jobs and businesses because of closures required to slow the spread of COVID-19. This is a good time to help them by contributing to your favorite local non-profit. Two particularly on my radar right now are the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina and the NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund.

I would not be a good nurse or legislator if I didn’t end this newsletter with advice you’ve likely memorized by now:  wash your hands frequently with soap and water; cough and sneeze into your elbow; stay away from others if you feel sick; keep your distance from those who seem ill and from those seem healthy (6 foot rule) and call your health care provider if you have classic COVID-19 symptoms of fever with cough or shortness of breath.

To preserve COVID-19 testing supplies for the very ill and for at-risk front line health care workers, individuals with mild symptoms do not need to be tested. According to the CDC they can assume they have COVID-19 (since we know there is community spread) and are instructed to self-isolate for 7 days + 3 days following their last day of fever.

By taking care of yourselves and ‘staying at home’, you are also taking care of others. Be well.

Yours in service,


The Four Seasons

The 2019 long session kicked off on a cold day in January. The majority’s budget was crafted in the warmth of spring and vetoed in the heat of summer. Fall’s beauty has taken a back seat to brief floor sessions with a paucity of votes, many ‘no vote’ sessions, a few hastily called committee meetings, stripped bills with titles that in no way reflect their contents, and several nonsensical recesses of varying lengths. Like a plane without tower clearance to land, the legislature remains in a holding pattern, waiting for Speaker Moore, Senator Berger and Governor Cooper to negotiate a compromise budget.

In a controversial floor vote on September 11 (whose negative aftershocks continue to ripple through the Chamber), the House overrode Governor Cooper’s budget veto and all eyes turned to the Senate. After 6 weeks of failed attempts to flip a single Democrat to get the 30 votes needed, the Senate finally put the veto override vote on their October 28 calendar—and promptly removed it when all 50 Senators showed up. At this writing, the high stakes game of ‘cat and mouse’ continues.

Unlike the federal government where a budget impasse results in a partial government shutdown, North Carolina law requires our government to operate on the previous fiscal year’s budget until a new version is passed. The current stalemate has led to a unique work-around: passage of “mini-budget” bills to bridge funding gaps between last year’s budget and the vetoed budget. These have included salary increases for law enforcement and other state employees, as well as additional DEQ and DOT funding for disaster relief and recovery. Spending levels for these purposes were never in contention and unsurprisingly these bills passed with strong bipartisan support and then signed by the governor.

However, some controversial mini-budget bills were vigorously debated, passed with split votes and subsequently vetoed by the governor. These include bills for UNC system and community college pay (increases much lower than in the governor’s proposed budget); salaries for teachers and support staff (3.8% for teachers, 1% for support staff, no COLA for state retirees); lowering the franchise tax (revenue loss of $1 billion over 5 years); and information technology ($20 million to a private college for a new cybersecurity program although cybersecurity programs currently exist at several UNC system schools).

Teachers who’ve written to me did not support the raises in the mini-budget bill (3.9% compared to the 5% state employees received and the 8.5% proposed by the governor). Teachers have told me they want a salary plan that recognizes the significant contributions of all teachers, new and experienced, rather than one that targets a single group (i.e., new or mid-career teachers). They want to keep  critical support staff in the classroom. They also seek reinstatement of increased pay for Master’s education and national certification.

As this newsletter arrives in your inbox the legislature is returning after a 12 day adjournment. This pre-Thanksgiving session is for the purpose of redrawing Congressional maps as a gerrymandering lawsuit advances through the court system. Although the legislature should have adjourned in early July, and instead has remained in session throughout the summer and fall, we are also due to return once again on January 14, 2020 to continue the long session (the short session begins in mid-May). All pretense of a part time legislature has evaporated.

Important bills passed during a marathon long session

After a landmark partisan gerrymandering decision handed down by NC courts in late summer, many state House and Senate districts had to be redrawn (Wake county districts had already been redrawn in 2017).

This was the most open and transparent process for redistricting that North Carolina has ever undertaken. Computer-generated base maps were used to determine the initial shapes of the new districts and were drawn without partisan, demographic, or past election outcome data (court requirements). All map drawing and requests for information were done in sight of the public via live-stream. The datasets were made available to anyone who wanted to upload them to a GIS system and analyze the maps independently. Perhaps most importantly, when considering amendments that would avoid ‘double-bunking’ incumbent legislators into one district, the redistricting committees accepted only limited changes, turning back attempts from both parties to create more comfortable partisan districts.

Even with all these measures, the process was fundamentally biased and skewed. At the end of the day, legislators were gathered around the mapping computer trying desperately to ensure that they would not have to run against one another.

Legislators should not be in the business of picking our own voters. I remain convinced that we must implement independent redistricting in North Carolina. I hope you will join and support me in advocating for a new Independent Redistricting Commission.

Sexual assault
On September 19 Governor Cooper signed HB 29 “Standing Up for Rape Victims Act” into law. It provides $6 million over the next two years to collect and outsource testing of over half the current rape kit backlog, including almost all of the kits considered eligible to be uploaded to a national database for comparison against known criminals. It requires every law enforcement organization in NC to participate in a new rape kit tracking system. This is a big step in North Carolina, recognizing that every victim who undergoes the process of having a rape kit collected after the trauma of rape deserves to know that NC will do everything possible to deliver justice and protect others from future assaults.

On November 7 Governor Cooper signed S 199, “Child Sex Abuse/Strengthen Laws”. The new law tightens sexual assault laws (making it unlawful to have sex after revocation of consent and also with someone incapacitated by drugs or alcohol) and increases by a decade the time victims of child sex abuse can seek prosecution of their abusers (from age 18 to age 28).

I was proud to cosponsor the corresponding House bills and to vote for the final Senate versions.

Juvenile justice
One of the successful mini-budget bills described earlier funds additional needs of the judicial system after the passage of Raise the Age legislation, allowing 16- and 17-year-old offenders to be prosecuted as juveniles instead of adults. Sixteen new assistant district attorneys and 97 juvenile court counselor positions are now funded. Of the 16 new ADA positions, 10 are in counties with the most need. I supported this funding and voted for the Raise the Age bill last year.

Around the district

In addition to floor sessions, committee meetings and caucuses, I’ve made time for the following:


June. I was the keynote speaker for the North Carolina launch of HepConnect, a new 6-state initiative to increase education, testing and treatment of hepatitis C, the most common cause of liver failure/transplantation. The combination of education outreach, harm reduction programs, increased screening, and new curative therapies can reduce the incidence and spread of hepatitis C and the need for transplantation. *Later in the month I joined Rep. Graig Meyer and Rep. Holly Grange to speak to health IT business owners and employees at the Digital Health Happy Hour.

July. I met with home health representatives about increasing Medicaid rates for in-home nurses and personal care aides. I have perspective as a legislator as well as a former public health nurse who made home health visits in inner city and rural Wake County. *I participated in a well-attended Wake County delegation ‘listening tour’ at American Legion Post 67 in Cary. *I was a panelist at the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Health Care Forum. *The energy and sense of community was inspiring when I participated in the ribbon cutting for Alston Ridge Middle School. Principal Rick Williams was tapped to lead this new western Wake county school after many years as principal of Davis Drive Middle School.

August. As always, I enjoyed the annual Indian Independence Day events held at the Hindu Society of North Carolina in Morrisville. *It was a thrill to be present during Governor Cooper’s announcement that Xerox will open its next Center of Excellence in Cary, bringing 600 jobs and investing $18.4 million in Wake County.

September. Along with other state and local leaders, I attended the first sustainability event sponsored by the Cary Chamber and held at MetLife in Cary.

October. At the RLGH Against Gun Violence rally I provided a working context on this public health emergency from my experience as a legislator, nurse practitioner and former Wake County public health nurse.

November. Along with Cary Council members, county commissioners and library officials, Rep. Allison Dahle and Rep. Julie von Haefen, I cut the ribbon for the official opening of the Cary Regional Library. Hundreds of Cary citizens turned out for this long-anticipated facility overlooking the Cary Downtown Park. Groundbreaking for the final phase of the park is planned for spring 2020.


I value and enjoy my connections with local elected leaders. Understanding their priorities, knowing their views on pending legislation and hearing details about the additional tools they need to meet the needs of their citizens helps inform my votes. I make it a point to give municipal leaders a ‘heads up’ about bills that will impact local government in general or their town in particular.

Over the summer I had lunch with Morrisville council members and staff, met with Lana Hygh, assistant to the Cary town manager, and had many issue-specific communications with council members from Apex, Cary and Morrisville. I receive a lot of email from parents with school board questions and my go-to Wake county school board members are Lindsay Mahaffey and Bill Fletcher who represent schools and students in western Wake County. Our county commissioners are always a call or email away, very accessible and eager to help. Governing is a team sport.

Business Focus

I belong to the Apex, Cary and Morrisville Chambers of Commerce as one way to stay abreast of the interests and needs of businesses and business owners in the district. I attend monthly Cary Chamber ‘eye-opener’ breakfast meetings and in July was moderator for the Morrisville Chamber’s health care issues forum. In August I attended the annual Cary Chamber leadership dinner (I’m the senior member of the western Wake delegation). At the Cary Chamber’s annual September banquet I was honored to introduce keynote speaker NC Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland. These Chambers are energetic organizations that make our communities great places to live, work, play and own a business.

Paying it forward

As a legislator and nurse practitioner, I get frequent invitations to speak with graduate students, leadership program participants, and other groups interested in the intersection of policy and politics. Since January I’ve talked with health policy students at Case Western, Wake Forest, Duke and UNC-Chapel, as well as at the NC Nurses Association Leadership Academy, during the government session of Leadership North Carolina Class XXVII, and at the NC Nurses Association annual convention in Winston Salem.


Each session I have the opportunity to sponsor 5 local high school students as House Pages for one week. Pages attend floor sessions and committee meetings, distribute meeting materials to legislators and generally learn a lot about how the legislature actually works. This session I had the privilege of sponsoring:

John D’Ambrosio, Panther Creek
Caroline DeMaayer, Green Hope
Juhi Dighe, Panther Creek
Tarun Karthikeyan, Panther Creek
Tiffanie Lee, Green Hope

If you know a rising high school junior or senior living in District 41 and interested in serving as a House Page, application information is typically available at in January each year. They may also contact my legislative office at 919-733-5602 or Once my allotted slots are filled (this happens quickly) I refer students to other legislators who may still have availability.

I also had the pleasure of working with two legislative interns this session, Tyler Ross and Samantha Saunders. These energetic students worked in my office for several weeks as part of their undergraduate college experience. I was fortunate to share these interns with my seatmate in the House, Rep. Brian Turner of Asheville.

Leadership opportunities

Along with two senators and another House member I co-chair the new bipartisan municipal caucus for legislators who served in town/city government before election to the General Assembly. Caucus goals are to improve understanding of municipal issues among legislators without municipal government experience, increase understanding of how local government works, and pass legislation that improves the ability of local governments to meet their responsibilities. Our inaugural legislation is HB 557, Municipal Omnibus Bill. Among other things, it would streamline budgetary timelines, clarify right-of-way ownership for improved EMS response, and increase opportunities to use Parks and Recreation Trust Funds by local governments in Tier I and Tier 2 counties. After favorable reports in 3 committees, it passed the House unanimously on June 26 and was referred to the Senate Rules committee where it remains.

I’m completing my second year as the governor’s House appointee to the State Health Coordinating Council (SHCC). The SHCC works with a phenomenal DHHS staff to study changing regional needs for acute care beds, operating rooms, technology (like fixed and mobile MRI), behavioral health beds, dialysis stations, home health and hospice; evaluate ‘certificate of need’ applications to expand the number/availability of these services; and annually update the state medical facilities plan (SMFP). This year I’ve attended 3 full SHCC meetings, 2 acute care subcommittee meetings, and a public hearing on the proposed SMFP. It is an honor to serve on this group of 25 knowledgeable and committed individuals.

Coming up

On Thursday, December 12 at 6:30 pm I will swear in Mayor Harold Weinbrecht for his 4th term and Council member Lori Bush for her 3rd term on the Cary Town Council. I had the great pleasure of serving with Harold and Lori before my election to the House. Cary is fortunate to have visionary leaders who serve with integrity.

Rep. Cynthia Ball, Rep. Joe John and I plan a community forum at the Morrisville Town Hall in January. The format will be brief remarks by us with the majority of the time devoted to questions from and discussion with attendees. Stay tuned for an announcement of date, time and other specifics.

Thank you…

…for the opportunity to serve as your representative in the House. I appreciate and benefit from constituent feedback. You may contact me at or 919-733-5602

Yours in service,


March Madness Isn’t Just About Basketball

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 

Economic Development

HB 329, Exempt EV Stations
HB 363, Craft Beer Distribution & Modernization Act
HB 387, Electric Co-op Rural Broadband
HB 399, Historic Preservation
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

Yours in service,