It was raining bills all week
By SANDY SEMANS
a week of what for many was an overwhelming amount of introduced
legislation – some welcomed, some not so much - one bill, even if not
signed into law, provided a brief history lesson.
Senate Bill 583
is an attempt to gain state recognition of Juneteenth Observance Day in
North Carolina. According to the resolution, June 19, 1865, is
considered the date when the last slaves were notified by Gen. Gordon
Granger upon his arrival in Galveston, Tex., that slavery had ended.
That was almost two and one-half years after President Abraham Lincoln
signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Former slaves in Texas began to
observe June 19 as the anniversary of their emancipation, and coined
the term "Juneteenth." It is the oldest nationally celebrated
commemoration of the end of slavery and is also known as
Juneteenth National Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, Emancipation
Celebration, Freedom Day, Jun-Jun and Juneteenth Independence Day. At
least 43 states now recognize it as a state holiday.
The resolution seeks to honor history, but many other bills filed seek to change the future.
months to go before the General Assembly is expected to adjourn,
Thursday, March 26, was the last day that public bills and resolutions
could be filed in the Senate and thus it rained bills all week – 312 in
the Senate, of which 199 were filed on the deadline day. In fewer than
two months, members of that chamber have submitted a total of 711
pieces of proposed legislation
In the House, representatives
have until April 8 before the deadline for public bills and resolutions
pops up in that chamber. The deadline for finance and appropriation
bills is April 15. The House offerings of proposed legislation on
Thursday was a paltry 22 with a total of 60 for the week.
Through the close of the week, members of the combined chambers have filed 1,098 bills in two months.
bills were being filed, other action was beginning to move
earlier-filed bills through the legislative process. On Thursday, the
Senate took action on 482 bills including many previously filed. The
House seemed to move at a snail's pace with just 143 actions.
Senate Bill 369,
if passed into law, would change the method used to distribute sales
tax revenues that come back to local government. The bill proposes a
three-year phase-in to a per capita sales tax system distribution to
replace the current formula which portions out the sales tax based 75
percent on point of sale and 25 percent based on population. The
new plan would increase the amount that some rural counties would
receive, while reducing revenues flowing to more prosperous areas. Of
all the counties that would see decreased revenues, Dare County would
take the largest hit – 59.2 percent reduction in sales tax revenues.
Countywide, the potential lost sales tax revenues for the county and
the towns will total approximately $16.7 million. The loss to the
county’s budget equals about $11.5 million.
if it becomes law, instructs the N.C. Board of Transportation to issue
a request for information (RFI) for the privatization of the North
Carolina Ferry System. The Board of Transportation would report to the
Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee and the Fiscal
Research Division no later than Feb. 1, 2016, on the results of the RFI
and whether it is more cost-effective to privatize the ferry system.
proposes to make into law a provision that would allow the Department
of Transportation (DOT) to issue annual passes to individual passengers
that entitle the passengers to priority when boarding a ferry passenger
vessel. The bill also stipulates that DOT shall charge an annual fee
of $150 for each pass and that no one be allowed priority
boarding with out paying the fee.
introduced by Sen. Bill Cook, R-District 1, if passed into law, would
eliminate tolls on ferries and appropriate $5 million per year from the
Highway Fund to the Ferry Capital Improvement Account.
seeks to help isolated schools. If passed into law, the State Board of
Education is to allot additional classroom teachers to schools
containing grades K-12 when consolidation is not feasible due to the
geographic isolation of the school and the school meets at least one
of the following criteria for geographic isolation: the school is
located in a local school administrative unit in which the average
daily membership is less than 1.5 per square mile; or school is located
in a local school administrative unit for a county containing
more than 150,000 acres of National Forest owned by the federal
government and managed by the United States Forest Service. The State
Board shall allot one classroom teacher per grade level in addition to
the regular teacher allotment formula. In addition, $1,527,006 is to be
appropriated for the 2015-2016 fiscal year and an equal amount for the
2016-2017 fiscal year.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT BILLS
House Bill 201
which makes significant changes to the process for amending zoning and
removes a citizen's right to petition against changes. Instead, the
proposed law would allow comments to be submitted to the board before
the vote is taken. The bill has passed the House and is now in the
Senate. Rep. Paul Tine, U-District 6, voted for the measure.
proposes statutes regulating the sale and use of fireworks. It also
mandates that fireworks retailers obtain a permit from the
municipalities or counties where the retail sales will take place. It
would allow public use of fireworks by the public during particular
times but limits locations at which fireworks may be set off.
if it becomes law, prohibits local governments from creating ordinances
or rules that regulate the use and sale of firearms. According to the
bill, the regulation of “firearms is an issue of general, statewide
concern, and that the entire field of regulation of firearms is
preempted from regulation by local governments except as provided by
this section... The General Assembly further declares that the lawful
design, marketing, manufacture, distribution, sale, or transfer of
firearms or ammunition to the public is not an unreasonably dangerous
activity and does not constitute a nuisance per se and furthermore,
that it is the unlawful use of firearms and ammunition, rather than
their lawful design, marketing, manufacture, distribution, sale, or
transfer that is the proximate cause of injuries arising from their
a study bill, seeks a study by the Legislative Research Committee about
local governments having lobbyists. The study report would be due in
the 2016 session and would include the following: the current practices
of local governments designating employees of the local government as
liaison personnel and of contracting with outside lobbyists to
lobby; terms of such contracts with outside lobbyists to lobby;
whether the statutes governing registration of individuals to lobby
mandate a need for a local government to have a registered lobbyist or
liaison personnel; data or additional information from the Secretary of
State's office regarding registration and reporting that the commission
deems relevant; and any other relevant information.
if signed into law, would authorize local governments to appropriated
money for historic rehabilitation and standardize the requirements for
appropriating funds for local economic development.
also a bill requesting additional studies would, if passed into law,
re-establish the State Payment in Lieu of Taxes Study Commission;
direct the Environmental Review Commission to study issues related to
statewide approaches to control invasive aquatic noxious weeds in the
state's waters; direct the revenue laws committee to study issues
relating to the financial impacts on local governments of exempting
previously taxable properties from the property tax base when acquired
by nonprofits; and clarifying the authority of counties to establish
residential recyclable materials collection programs.
In an attempt to restore the right of municipalities to impose a business privilege license, HB 362
would allow municipalities to require businesses to register on an
annual basis. The registration information would be used by the city
only for the purpose of creating a contact database for police and fire
departments, the provision of city services, and the enforcement of
city ordinances. A registration fee of up to $50 could be imposed
and the resulting revenues would be dedicated to maintaining the
introduced by Rep. Bob Steinburg, R-District 1, if it becomes law,
would add Currituck County to an existing statute that allows Brunswick
and Dare counties to remove abandoned vessels from navigable waters.
SB 500 aims
to create a new state authority – The North Carolina Infrastructure
Development Authority – to encourage and enable public-private
partnerships. According to the bill, because of the rapid growth of the
state and limited fiscal resources to provide the needed public
services, facilities, and infrastructure to accommodate that growth,
there is a need for new and creative ways to finance, build, and
maintain transportation and other public infrastructure.
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
Legislative Update: Lawmakers keeping busy in Raleigh