July 21, 2015



Legislative Update: Some bills moving
forward, others stuck in committees

By SANDY SEMANS

Bills continued to be pushed through the legislative mill last week, while committees met to begin budget discussions. Leaders in the General Assembly have expressed a desire to finish crafting a compromise budget for consideration before the end of next week.

In the meantime, other bills are being moved forward, while hundreds still are stuck in various committees, apparently destined to become “bills that were” instead of passed laws.

Governor Pat McCrory signed House Bill 255, Reform Building Code Enforcement, into law, thus, local building inspectors will perform fewer inspections and local governments will have less control over things such as lot coverage. The new law also mandates that all fees collected in relation to construction must be used solely to support the inspections department.

Senate Bill 566, Disposition of Minimal Property Tax Refunds, is now in the House Judiciary IV Committee. If signed into law, the proposed legislation would allow local governments to not mail back refunds of less than $15 for overpayment of property taxes. The refunds would be released only to taxpayers who appear in person at the tax office and request the funds. Refunds not collected would be applied to the taxpayer's next property tax bill.

HB 847, titled Parental Rights and Medical Treatment of Minors, if signed into law, would eliminate reports of parental abuse or neglect related to medical treatment if such treatment is prescribed by a licensed healthcare worker. The bill also contains a provision for parental rights that reads: “The liberty of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, and care of his or her child is a fundamental right. Neither the State nor any agency or locality of the State shall infringe on a parent's fundamental rights to the care, custody, and control of his or her child without demonstrating a compelling State interest and use of the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling State interest. This shall not be construed to apply to a parent's action or decision that would end life. Nothing in this section shall be construed to create any additional rights or impose any additional obligations than otherwise exist under federal and State law."

HB 765, Regulatory Reform, passed the House, was changed in the Senate and is now back in House in the House Environment Committee. The bill aims to weaken regulatory control over environmental issues and has drawn fire from environmental groups, as well as local governments. The bill contains a laundry list of topics from manufactured housing, to confidentiality of internal environmental audits conducted by businesses.

HB 201, Act to Amend the Process by Which the City Councils Receive Citizen Input in Zoning Ordinance Amendments, is now awaiting the governor's signature. If it becomes law, the bill will eliminate public hearings for city councils to receive comments on proposed zoning changes. Instead, comments will be accepted only in writing by the clerk to the board who will forward them to board members. If it is a quasi-judicial hearing, only the names and addresses of the commenters will be provided to the board.

HB 584, Act to Clarify That a Legislator or Public Servant May Reference Their Public Position in a Letter of Reference, adds the following acceptable circumstances in which they may reference their public position: “A letter of character reference for any of the following: a. A student seeking admittance to a school or institution of higher education. b. An individual seeking an academic scholarship. c. An individual seeking leniency upon sentencing by the courts, or other matters related to probation or parole. (8) A response to the inquiry of a potential employer as to the qualifications and character of an individual seeking employment."


(Sandy 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
Legislative Update:  It was raining bills all week

Legislative Update: Occupancy tax provision is out of dredging bill
Legislative Update: Lawmakers take aim at N.C. Constitution
Legislative Update: More taxes and Constitutional amendments proposed
Legislative Update: Lawmakers racing the clock to get bills moved
Legislative Update: Rushing to meet the 'crossover' deadline
Legislative Update:  A week of committee work in Raleigh
Legislative update: New taxes for fishermen and new purpose for occupancy taxes 
Legislative Update:  Bill aims at opportunities for Oregon Inlet Lifesaving Station
Legislative Update: Two days, two vetoes
Legislative Update:  Sales tax redistribution bill gets more traction
Legislative update:  Sales tax redistribution is back, will still hurt Dare
Legislative Update: Senate passes its version of state budget
Legislative Update: Budget conference committee faces challenges

Legislative Update: Hurry up and wait time in Raleigh
Legislative Update: Open government laws are a mixed bag

comments powered by Disqus