WAKE DEMS WEEKLY UPDATE, Vol. 1, No. 3
April 29, 2017
MADE CROSSOVER — YOU CAN’T TELL THE PLAYERS WITHOUT A SCORECARD
It was a busy week at the General Assembly. The following are just a few examples of the controversial bills that passed at least one chamber by Thursday’s crossover deadline, meaning they are still alive to be passed by the other chamber later in this session. However, even a few bills that appear to have died could end up as amendments or proposed committee substitutes to previously passed bills (see the infamous “Motorcycle Vagina” bill in 2013), or as appropriations bills filed later.
A full and official list of all the bills that made crossover will be available on the General Assembly website soon.
- We covered Session Law 2017-9 (HB 13) in last week’s edition. It slows the class size requirements in K-3 to a phase-in over two years. Skeptical senators, led by Chad Barefoot (R-Wake), added a detailed reporting plan with the stiff penalty for noncompliance being the withholding of state funds for a superintendent’s salary. The House concurred nearly unanimously with the amended Senate version of the bill, and Gov. Cooper quickly signed it into law Thursday, but had this to say: “While this legislation addresses immediate concerns, the failure of legislative Republicans to properly fund our schools has risked the jobs of educators and jeopardized our children’s future. It’s imperative that we quit kicking the can down the road.”
- Returning to a bill we highlighted in our first Weekly Update: Could resegregation be the goal of HB 704 — Divide School Systems/Study Committee, a bill to study how to break up large school districts into smaller ones? Rep. Chris Malone (R-Wake) is a primary bill sponsor. While it made crossover, the study itself would have to be included in the omnibus Studies Bill that comes out every session, and it would have to be funded.
- Wake County municipalities stand to lose at least $1.2 million and up to $4 million a year in sales tax revenue if SB 126 — Change the LOST Adjustment Factor passes the House without amendment. This bill changes how state local option sales tax revenue is distributed to local governments. All of Wake County’s senators of both parties voted against it except Barefoot, but it still passed, 34-15.
- The House voted to allow drivers to mow down protestors exercising free speech without penalty, as long as drivers show “due care.” HB 330 — Qualified Immunity for Auto Accident passed largely along party lines.
- The House took action against so-called “sanctuary cities,” voting to allow citizens to sue their local government if they think the government isn't in compliance with state immigration law. Cities and counties would be charged $10,000 per day if a court finds them out of compliance. HB 113 — Private Action Local Compliance/Immigration Laws passed largely along party lines.
- The Senate passed SJR 36, a resolution to apply to hold the second ever Constitutional Convention, like the one the U.S. had in 1787, in order to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Primary bill sponsor Sen. Norm Sanderson (R-Carteret) says, “It’s the duty of the state to stand as the last line of defense from an overreaching federal government.” If this sounds vaguely familiar, the NC ordinance to secede from the Union reads, “[T]he State of North Carolina is in full possession and exercise of all those rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State.” No Democrats voted Aye.
- SB 486 — Uniform Voting Hours Act would require that if one precinct in an election gets extended voting hours, then all precincts should be extended, regardless of whether those precincts had voting problems that should require extended hours. The Durham delegation balked at this overreaction to one voting machine breaking down in Durham in the last election. Sen. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham) said, “This is just political intimidation.” Passed by a party line vote of 34-15.
- GOP lawmakers would be remiss if they did not take a swipe at state employees and teachers. Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) passed SB 375 to eliminate elective payroll dues deduction for members of NCAE, SEANC, and a state troopers’ organization, claiming that this is not a proper role for state government.
- HB 239 — Reduce Court of Appeals to 12 Judges. Veto overridden 4/26/2017. But on Monday, before the veto vote took place, Republican Court of Appeals Judge Doug McCullough, whose seat was slated to be eliminated by this bill upon his forced retirement, chose to resign early and let Gov. Cooper choose his replacement. Cooper tabbed John Arrowood. McCullough said, “I did not want my legacy to be the elimination of a seat and the impairment of a court that I have served on."
- SB 68 — Bipartisan Bd of Elections and Ethics Enforce. Veto overridden 4/25/2017. This was Republicans' second attempt to merge the Board of Elections and Ethics Commission and to take away Gov. Cooper's powers to appoint the majority of Board of Elections members. The first was overturned by the courts, and after his second veto was overridden, Gov. Cooper sued once more. Late Friday afternoon, a three-judge panel issued a temporary injunction blocking the law from taking effect.