Legislative roundup for week of Feb. 18-21
Local lawmakers introduced more bills this week, and there was also a N.C. Senate vote on funding for school construction.
Senate Bill 5: Building North Carolina’s Future — This bill, sponsored by Senate majority leader Harry Brown (R-Onslow), who also represents Jones county, was filed at the beginning of the legislative session in January. It proposes funding school construction in N.C. by a pay-as-you-go plan. It proposes using the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund, established in the 2017 budget, to hold funds for school construction and improvement. The fund currently receives 4 percent of total state revenues. SB5 would increase that amount to 4.5 percent and provide approximately $2 billion in funding for schools over the next nine years. A similar amount would also be available for state universities and community colleges.
The NC Senate voted on SB5 Wednesday. Here is how local senators voted:
Sen. Jim Perry (R-Lenoir)- Aye
Sen. Don Davis (D-Greene) - Aye
Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow) - Aye
SB5 passed the Senate with a vote of 33-14.
N.C. House leaders have voiced support for an alternate plan to call for a bond to fund school construction, so it remains to be seen if the Senate bill will be able to pass the House.
Read the text of the bill here: https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/Senate/PDF/S5v2.pdf
Senate Bill 86: Small Business Healthcare Act — Sen. Perry co-sponsored this bill that would allow small businesses and sole proprietors to join together in group health plans, allowing them to gain the same benefits as large company health plans. The bill has been referred to the Commerce and Insurance Committee. If that committee rules favorably on it, it will then go to the Healthcare Committee.
Read the text of the bill here: https://webservices.ncleg.net/ViewBillDocument/2019/388/0/DRS45039-MR-35
House Bills 94 and 142: School Calendar Flexibility/Lenoir County, School Calendar Flexibility/Pitt County — N.C. Rep. Chris Humphrey (R-Lenoir) introduced two bills to allow for local control of the school calendar in Lenoir and Pitt counties. Each bill would allow for the local boards of education in each county to have complete control over the school calendar, allowing for flexibility in the event of future natural disasters such as Hurricane Florence.
House Bill 144: Hands Free N.C. — Rep. Humphrey co-sponsored this bill, which was filed Thursday. The bill would make it illegal to have a phone in your hand while operating a motor vehicle, to watch video or perform a video call while driving, or to text while driving. The bill extends the definition of texting to include most actions involving a smartphone other than answering a phone call. Violations would bring a $100 fine for the first offense, a $150 fine and insurance points for the second offense in a three-year period, and a $200 fine and insurance points for any subsequent offenses.
Read the bill here: https://webservices.ncleg.net/ViewBillDocument/2019/502/0/DRH10080-MW-37A
Check back next week for more updates from the General Assembly.