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NC Legislative Update: January 27, 2017

January 27, 2017

Nexsen Pruet is excited to welcome two former State government officials to our Public Policy Group. Former North Carolina Secretary of Commerce & former North Carolina Secretary of Environmental Quality, John Skvarla, & former Legislative Liaison to the Department of Environmental Quality, Neal Robbins, join the Nexsen Pruet Government Affairs team. 
Law Firm Hires Public Policy & Economic Development Veteran – Nexsen Pruet 
McCrory’s Commerce Secretary joins law firm to represent businesses – N&O

This Week

On Wednesday, lawmakers returned from a two-week hiatus to begin the business of the 2017-18 session of the North Carolina General Assembly. No votes were taken on either Wednesday or Thursday as members began filing legislation and bills were assigned to Committees. Speaker Moore (R-Cleveland) also announced that the House would not take any votes during Monday night’s session when lawmakers return next week.  
Cooper, legislators vow to play nice together – for now – N&O 
Schools, HB2, roads, spending issues for NC lawmakers in '17 – Citizen-Times 
Senate leader Phil Berger challenges Gov. Roy Cooper over corporate tax cut comments – N&O 
NC senators still mapping confirmation process, say HB2 repeal possible – WRAL 
Democrats outnumbered but optimistic on session – N&O 
Lawmakers return to Raleigh, immediately get to work – Carolina Journal

Speaker Moore reappointed his top lieutenants to their chairmanships: Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) as Rules Chairman; Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) as Senior Appropriations Chairman; Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson), Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth), Rep. Linda Johnson (R- Cabarrus) as a Co-Chairs of Appropriations; Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) and Rep. Bill Brawley (R-Mecklenburg) as Senior Finance Co-Chairs; Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland), Rep. Susan Martin (R-Wilson), Rep. Mitchell Setzer (R-Catawba), and Rep. Kelly Hastings (R-Gaston) as Co-Chairs of Finance. In addition to reappointments, Rep. John Faircloth (R-Guilford) and Rep. Dean Arp (R-Union) have been elevated to also serve as Appropriations Co-Chairs. The Speaker also announced on Wednesday that Bart Goodson, previously General Counsel to the Speaker’s Office and interim Chief of Staff, will permanently fill the Chief of Staff position. 

There was some change in the Senate with the retirements of two of Sen. Berger’s (R-Rockingham) former top lieutenants. In their absence, three senators were elevated to higher posts: Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick will serve as Senate Rules Chairman; Sen. Tommy Tucker (R-Union) will serve as a Co-Chair of Finance; and Sen. Andrew Brock (R-Davie) will serve as a Co-Chair of Finance. Several senators will return to their powerful chairmanships including: Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow), Sen. Brent Jackson (R-Sampson), and Sen. Kathy Harrington (R-Gaston) as Appropriations Chairs; Sen. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph) as Finance Co-Chair. 
Four things to know about new faces in powerful legislative committee roles – N&O 
Sen. Bill Rabon takes over as Rules committee chair – N&O

A full list of Committee chairs and membership for the Senate can be found here, and for the House, here.

Following an ill-fated attempt to repeal House Bill 2, also known as the “bathroom bill” last December, Gov. Cooper (D) said that he believes there is still an opportunity to rescind the law this session. Cooper says that he has been in talks with Speaker Moore and Sen. Berger on a path forward. He also claims that although there may not be majority support for full repeal within each of the House and Senate GOP caucuses, that there is enough support for repeal if the measure is brought before each chamber as a whole. Both chambers have an unofficial rule preventing issues from moving forward without majority support within the GOP caucus. 
Cooper Sees New Possibility for GOP-Led Repeal of HB2: 'The Ball's In Their Court' – TWC News

You can watch an interview with Sen. Berger from TWC News on the upcoming session and working with Gov. Cooper here

Legislation

Legislators began filing bills on Wednesday in both chambers. As of this afternoon 26 bills have been filed in the House and 17 bills have been filed in the Senate, with hundreds more to follow over the coming weeks. In the House, members’ bill filing privileges is limited to a maximum of 15 public bills, the Senate has no such restrictions. There are a number of important legislative deadlines that will come to fruition over the next few months including filing deadlines and “crossover”, and other than the crossover deadline, the dates are different in each chamber.

Legislative Deadlines

House filing deadlines Senate filing deadlines
Bills recommended by Study Commission
To Bill Drafting February 21st by 4:00 PM
Introduced by March 1st by 3:00 PM
Local Bills & Resolutions:
To Bill Drafting march 7th by 4:00 PM
Introduced by march 15th by 4:00 PM
Bills recommended by State Agencies
To Bill Drafting March 7th by 4:00 PM
Introduced by March 15th by 3:00 PM
Public Bills & Resolutions:
To Bill Drafting March 17th by 4:00 PM
Introduced by March 30th by 4:00 PM
Local Bills:
To Bill Drafting March 15th by 4:00 PM
Introduced by March 29th by 3:00 PM
Appropriations & Finance Bills
No Deadline
Public Bills & Resolutions:
To Bill Drafting March 30th by 4:00 PM
Introduced by April 12th by 3:00 PM
*Members may file unlimited bills
Appropriations & Finance Public Bills
To Bill Drafting April 6th by 4:00 PM
Introduced by April 19th by 3:00 PM
Crossover Deadline
April 27th 
*15 bill limit per member

Crossover is the date by which a bill must pass out of one chamber and await action from the other. If a public bill fails to meet this stipulation, then that piece of specific legislation is no longer an eligible vehicle moving forward. But just because the vehicle is dead, does not mean the content of the bill is dead. There are a number of way in which lawmakers can amend bills that did make crossover to include language that did not. 

In their rules, the Senate did not include time constraints for legislation including Appropriations or Finance aspects. This is because the Senate will begin the budget process in both 2017 and 2018. The two chambers alternate which body begins the process each biennial session. The State’s budget is in effect from July 1st until June 30th of the following year, which means lawmakers will be striving to pass a budget ahead of that deadline, although that is almost never the case. In the event of a failure to meet that deadline, a continuing budget resolution can extend the previous year’s budget until a date certain or a new budget is passed. Lawmakers are expected to begin Committee work next week, although none have been scheduled yet.

Among the bills filed so far, there is legislation for: Constitutional Amendment limiting eminent domain; strengthening the State’s savings reserves; reducing school class size; enhancing oversight of service contracts; and regulating pesticide use in restaurants. A full list of bills filed so far this year, links to each bill, and its current status can be found here
First bills of 2017 hint at legislature’s priorities in new session – including school class sizes – N&O

Budget Surplus

It appears the state will again have another substantive budget surplus ahead of the 2017-18 fiscal year. Budget forecasters are projecting upwards of $322 Million more in revenue collections than anticipated. Steady economic growth increased the influx in revenues which House and Senate Republicans immediately attributed to their pro-growth tax policies. Revenue collections for the state have outpaced projections for the last several fiscal years, corresponding to the state’s decreasing corporate and personal tax rates. The budget process is often more contentious with a surplus because every interested party wants their share. The bulk of the money likely will be steered toward teacher raises, growing the rainy day fund, and disaster relief from the western fires and flooding from Hurricane Matthew in the east. Lawmakers are required by the State Constitution to pass a balanced budget. 
Revenue picture remains good for N Carolina government – AP 
Hurricane Matthew drowned a state-run tree nursery, but ‘godsend’ funding will save it – N&O

Governor's Cabinet

Gov. Cooper has announced more Cabinet nominees: Mandy Hall to lead the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS); Rep. Larry Hall (D-Durham) to lead the Department of Military & Veteran’s Affairs (DMVA); Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover) to lead the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources (DNCR); 
N.C. Rep. Susi Hamilton named to state Cabinet post – Star News 
Gov. Cooper Names State Rep. Hall To Lead Military, Veterans Affairs – WUNC 
Cooper names Obama administration official to take over the biggest state agency – N&O

Mandy Hall until recently was the COO of the Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services under the Obama administration. Hall would have been a key player in Gov. Cooper’s proposed State Plan Amendment to expand Medicaid in North Carolina prior to President Obama leaving office if not for the lawsuit filed by lawmakers halting the measure. If the Senate confirmation process is upheld, she will likely face a very contentious hearing.

Rep. L. Hall, the former House Minority Leader tapped to lead DMVA, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1976-1995. If confirmed, the County Democratic Parties contained within each of their legislative districts will nominate successors to serve the remainder of their terms.

Cooper’s environmental chief faces challenges beyond Senate approval – N&O

In the News

Court battle over NC education powers to take place in June – WRAL
North Carolina business increasingly refereed with a gavel – AP
Stein working on anti-opioid plan with legislators – Citizen-Times
State likely to side with shrimpers and not impose new restrictions – WRAL
The British are coming – to open a trade office in Raleigh – N&O
New NC education chief talks about testing, teachers, school choice and Betsy DeVos – Charlotte Observer
What to do when police pull you over? NC legislators want guidelines – N&O
NC GOP’s Woodhouse praises Trump’s voter fraud probe in fiery MSNBC interview – N&O
Election officials say they're registering more voters through DMV, social service agencies – WRAL
Half of NC’s youngest voters skipped 2016 election, while seniors had record turnout – N&O
NCACC goals could shape legislative agenda – Lexington Dispatch
McCrory ordered payouts to departing Cabinet heads – N&O
Navy: Wind farm opposed by GOP lawmakers won’t harm radar – Citizen-Times
Moore may meet with locals on wind farm – Daily Advance
Urban-rural gap in North Carolina isn’t new – Herald-Sun
Former Gov. McCrory chased down D.C. alley by people shouting 'Shame!" – Charlotte Observer
Does Pat McCrory need protection? One NC senator thinks so – N&O
Lawsuit contends N.C. sex offender law goes too far – Times-News
UNC wants to waive tuition for grads of N.C. Science and Math school – Herald-Sun
High-schoolers sought for Youth Legislative Assembly – Wilson Times
Former Sen. Kay Hagan, recovering from encephalitis, moved to hospital in Atlanta – N&O


The Nexsen Pruet Public Policy team provides attorneys and clients with a newsletter summarizing the week's activities and conveying the inner workings of the legislative process and state government in Raleigh. Please feel free to pass this along to your clients or other interested parties, email KDickerson@nexsenpruet.com to be added to the list.

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