Lawmakers keeping busy in Raleigh
By SANDY SEMANS
Things were hopping on Jones Street this week with bills aimed at everything from minimum wage to sex.
recent State Ethics Commission opinion declared that sex between
a legislator and lobbyist isn’t a conflict of interest because it has
no value, and legislators filed a bill the week, apparently to clarify
The bi-partisan legislation, House Bill 252, is an
attempt to set the record straight. If passed into law, it will require
a person to recuse himself or herself from legislative, executive, or
official action if there is financial benefit for the official or
lobbyist; if the covered person is married to a lobbyist; or the
covered person has a current dating relationship or current sexual
relationship with the lobbyist or liaison personnel.
officials have been watching for a bill that would redistribute the
local sale tax revenues that are depended upon to help fund local
budgets. That bill has not yet been filed, but if it is and becomes
law, it has the potential to remove $10.8 million from Dare County’s
coffers, as well as varying amounts from the municipalities’ budgets.
Many of the bills filed this week were ones that mirrored bills already filed in the other chamber.
Senate Bill 399,
if passed into law, would require most employers to allow employees to
accrue sick time to use for medical emergencies, domestic violence and
stalking for themselves and for caring for their immediate families.
The bill also would allow employers to require documentation from a
health care worker or other appropriate person stating that it is
necessary for the person to be excused from work.
would loosen up building inspections and do away with requiring
building permits for some projects costing less than $10,000. It also,
if passed, would mandate that all fees collected for the activities of
the inspections office shall be used for to support the activities of
the inspection department and for no other purpose.
House Bill 278,
if passed, would increase the amount of sales of small breweries from
$25,000 to $100,000 before the brewery would have to use a wholesale
distributor for sales.
takes aim at redistricting from the top for the Congressional districts
all the way down to the local districts for county elections. If passed
into law, no county commissioner, city council, or local board of
education district may be drawn to encompass a population that is more
than five percent greater than the ideal population or more than five
percent less than the ideal population. The “ideal population” for
districts is the jurisdiction-wide population divided by the number of
seats on the board.
a bi-partisan bill of which Rep. Paul Tine is one of the primary
sponsors, seeks to strengthen the oyster industry by studying oyster
aquaculture, expanding oyster sanctuaries and stiffening penalties for
taking oysters from sanctuaries. It also, if passed, would change the
name of the Senator Jean Preston Marine Shellfish Sanctuary to Senator
Jean Preston Oyster Sanctuary Network. The late Preston was a
legislator from Carteret County who was a frequent champion of
commercial fishing and water quality issues.
Realtors may be facing higher licensing fees if SB 294
becomes law. The bill proposes that the application for license fee for
a real estate broker be increased from $30 to $100 unless the
commission sets the cost higher through rulemaking. In the case of the
latter, a $200 cap is imposed. And the fee may not increase by more
than $10 during a 12-month period. The license renewal fee would rise
from $30 to $45 unless the commission sets the cost higher, not to
if it becomes law, defines what “practicing law” means and when it is
prohibited by law. The bill also gives investigative authority to the
North Carolina State Bar in suspected cases of practicing law without a
defines what is an at-risk dog, dangerous dog and vicious dog and by
whom they may be owned and under what conditions. It also would, if it
becomes law, mandate that local boards be set up to review
circumstances and determine if a dog should be subjected to one of the
labels and the restrictions carried with each. Owners disagreeing with
the board’s opinion could appeal it to a Superior Court judge.
sponsored by Sen. Bill Cook, R-District 1, would remove all authority
of the North Carolina State Bar over those serving as judges and,
instead, make the Judicial Standards Commission the lone regulator.
Standards Commission ensures that judges comply with the Judicial Code
of Conduct for that office. Judges found to have violated the Judicial
Code of Conduct can face a range of penalties ranging from warnings to
removal from the bench.
North Carolina State Bar oversees the
conduct of all attorneys as prescribed by the Rules of Professional
Conduct. Attorneys found guilty of not obeying the Rules of
Professional Conduct can be penalized a number of ways, including loss
of the right to practice law.
The bill was filed two days after
the State Bar filed a complaint against Superior Court Judge Jerry
Tillett, who accepted a public reprimand from the Judicial Standards
Commission two years ago for the same issues.
Semans is a retired newspaper editor and reporter who now works as a
free-lance writer. She lives in Stumpy Point. Her update on the
goings-on in this session of the General Assembly will appear weekly in
The Island Free Press, usually on Friday.)
PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED 2015 LEGISLATIVE UPDATES
First bill filed would prohibit condemning property for economic development
Legislative Update: And they are off -- sort of
Legislative Update: The gold rush in Raleigh is underway
Legislative Update Most Bills Moving At Snails Pace But One Achieves Warp Speed
Legislative Update: Humor unleashed in the General Assembly
Legislative Update: Lawmakers made hay while the sun was shining
Legislative Update: Bill on dredging causes local turmoil
Legislative Update: 156 new bills filed this week