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NC Legislative Update: February 3, 2017

February 3, 2017

This Week

Off to a slow start, the legislature has only filed 70 bills to date, with 39 in the house and 31 in the Senate. The only Committee to meet so far is the newly formed Senate Select Committee on Nominations, although the House has noticed four Committee meetings for next Tuesday. If they begin hearing bills, then the first floor vote of the session could come Wednesday. A link to next week’s Committee calendar can be found here. A cumulative list of House and Senate bills filed so far this year, links to each bill, and its current status can be found here.

On Tuesday, the Senate Select Committee on Nominations met for their introductory meeting to discuss the process by which the Senate will move forward with confirmations of the Governor’s Cabinet appointees. However, a lawsuit by Governor Cooper (D) challenging the law which was enacted during a special session in December is still pending with an injunction on confirmation of cabinet appointees. North Carolina historically has not required Senate confirmation, but in passing the law, shortly after Gov. Cooper defeated former Gov. McCrory (R), lawmakers argued a provision in the State Constitution allows for the “advice and consent” of the Senate on appointments. The Committee, Co-Chaired by Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) and Sen. Tommy Tucker (R-Union), disclosed the timeframe the process will begin for each nominee. The schedule is as follows:

Feb. 8th – Department of Military & Veterans Affairs – Rep. Larry Hall (D-Durham)
Feb. 14th – Department of Administration – Machelle Sanders
Feb. 16th – Department of Natural & Cultural Resources – Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover)
Feb. 21st – Department of Public Safety – Erik Hooks
Feb. 23rd – Department of Commerce – Tony Copeland
March 1st – Department of Transportation – Jim Trogdon
March 8th – Department of Environmental Quality – Michael Regan
March 16th – Department of Health & Human Services – Mandy Cohen

The Governor has yet to appoint Secretaries for the Department of Revenue and the Department of Information Technology. 
GOP senator says he hopes Cooper’s Cabinet officials will be approved – N&O 
Cooper administration may not cooperate with Senate confirmation process – WRAL

The New Hanover County and Brunswick County Democratic Parties have selected Deb Butler to succeed Susi Hamilton, who vacated her House seat to take a job as Secretary of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources in the Cooper administration. Once appointed by the Governor, Butler will serve the remainder of Hamilton’s unexpired term in the North Carolina House, representing district 18. The Durham Democratic Party has yet to fill former Rep. Larry Hall’s seat. 
Deb Butler picked for N.C. House seat – Star News

Legislation in the News: 
Deregulation, hurricane relief, bipartisanship are priorities for new NC House majority leader – N&O 
Local legislators propose solution to class size mandate – Blue Ridge Now 
Advice on how to handle traffic stops could be added to driver's ed – WRAL 
Democrats file HB2 repeal bill – but here’s why it might never get a vote – N&O 
Senators want to let restaurants grill outdoors – WRAL 
Bill could help ease tension at traffic stops – Carolina Journal 
McGrady seeks to limit condemnation of property – Citizen-Times
NC House bill aims to make more small businesses use E-Verify to check new workers' immigration status – Winston-Salem Journal 

In Other News

Average teacher pay for the school year comes in at $49,837, just below the $50,000 average touted by lawmakers in passing their previous budget. Gov. Cooper and Senate leadership have indicated that raising the average teacher pay to $55,000 over the next two years is a priority. 
Average teacher pay in NC falls short of $50,000 mark – WRAL

Citing an unfunded liability of $38 Billion in healthcare and pensions for state employees, State Treasurer Dale Folwell (R) has made recommendations to the NCGA to make the fund more solvent. The proposal recommends an initial appropriation of $153 Million into the fund with a 10-year plan to steadily increase contributions to the $90 Billion fund. 

NC Attorney General Josh Stein (D) indicated that he is willing to sue the Trump administration regarding his immigration executive order if he feels it is necessary. 

In the News

Cooper not tipping hand on whether he'll withdraw NC voter ID appeal – WRAL
Raise The Age: Could juvenile justice reform save North Carolina millions? - Politifact
North Carolina House speaker softens on Southeast’s first major wind farm – Southeast Energy News
State issues hamper megasite – Rocky Mount Telegram
Witnesses appeared before grand jury this month in Pittenger matter – Charlotte Observer
Cooper names new State Highway Patrol commander – N&O
NC Gov. Roy Cooper makes questionable claim about private school vouchers lacking accountability – Politifact
Academic and finance leaders leave the NC education department – N&O
NC superintendent to visit Winston-Salem on first stop of statewide listening tour – WRAL
Container rail service to Port of Wilmington could start in March – Star News
An NC lawmaker’s response to a transgender woman left her ‘appalled’ – Charlotte Observer
Term limits tend to come naturally in Raleigh – Rocky Mount Telegram
Environmentalists seek faster action, stricter rules on coal ash removal – WRAL

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 to be added to the list.