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NC Legislative Update: March 3, 2017

March 3, 2017

This Week

Gov. Cooper (D) unveiled his $23.5 Billion budget proposal on Wednesday, a roughly $1 Billion or 5.1% increase over the 2016-17 budget. State Budget Director Charlie Perusse gave the Governor’s Recommended Budget Presentation to a joint meeting of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees yesterday. Among other provisions, the proposal includes raising the average teacher salary by 10% over the next two years to $55,000 and expanding Medicaid. The State currently has a $522 Million revenue surplus. Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) described the proposal as “reckless” for spending too much. Although no public agreement between the House and Senate on a budget figure has been made, the compromise will likely increase spending by roughly $500 Million, or half of the Governor’s proposal. The legislature is under no obligation to accept any of the Governor’s recommendations. The various Appropriations Subcommittees are expected to meet jointly next week to assess their respective subjects of the budget. 
Cooper touts 'investments' in first budget – WRAL 
Cooper unveils his first budget proposal as governor – N&O 
Governor unveils budget proposals – NSJ

Sec. Larry Hall of the Department of Military & Veteran’s Affairs (DMVA), finally appeared before the Senate Commerce & Insurance Committee to begin his confirmation process. After three previous absences, the Committee issued a subpoena compelling him to yesterday’s confirmation hearing.Gov Cooper had requested that a judge halt the subpoena until after a lawsuit on the matter had been resolved, but no action was taken, allowing the Committee to move forward with the hearing. The Committee gave its unanimous approval and the full Senate is expected to finalize his confirmation Monday evening.

Senate committee confirms Hall as military affairs secretary – WRAL

The House began moving a Joint Resolution inviting Gov. Cooper to address a joint session of the legislature on March 13th at 7:00PM for his first State of the State address. The bill passed the House 114-1, with Rep. Carl Ford (R-Rowan) as the lone “no”, and the bill awaits action in the Senate with no problems expected. 
Cooper's Address to Legislature Penciled in for March 13 – US News

A pair of companion bills were filed Tuesday, House Bill 206 & Senate Bill 152, entitled NC Cancer Treatment Fairness, sponsored by Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) in the House and Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) in the Senate. Rep. Lewis has previously championed similar legislation requiring health insurance companies to offer the same coverage and co-pays for orally administered anticancer drugs as they do for intravenous anticancer drugs. More often than not, out-of-pocket costs under many insurance plans for oral chemo are much higher than intravenous treatment.

Senate Bill 155, entitled Economic & Job Growth for NC Distilleries, sponsored by Sen. Rick Gunn (R-Alamance), makes numerous changes to the State’s ABC laws. Dubbed “the Brunch Bill”, it is called such for a provision that would allow the earlier Sunday sale of alcohol in NC restaurants, moving the time up from noon to 10:00AM, subject to approval by each County. The bill would also allow distillers to obtain a special event permit for spirit tastings at ABC stores, trade shows, conventions, shopping malls, street festivals, holiday festivals, agricultural festivals, balloon races, local fund-raisers, and other similar events approved by the ABC Commission. Another provision would increase the number of bottles an individual may purchase directly from a distillery in a 12-month period from one to five. 
You could order alcoholic drinks on Sunday mornings under NC Senate bill – N&O

Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly) has filed four different bills aimed at scaling back the Governor’s appointment power. Two bills, House Bill 12House Bill 14 modify the appointment of Community College Board of Trustee members by transferring the Governor’s four appointments to the Speaker of the House and the President Pro-Tem of the Senate, who would each appoint two. Both bills passed the House on largely party line votes and await action in the Senate. House Bill 240House Bill 241 have been filed but have not received a hearing yet. The bills would remove the Governor’s authority to fill vacancies for Special Superior Court and District Court Judge seats and give the appointment power to the NCGA. 
NC House looks to take more appointment powers away from Gov. Roy Cooper – N&O

Other legislation of interest includes: 

House Bill 36 entitled Enact Enhanced Access to Eye Care Act, sponsored by Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly). The bill would allow optometrists to perform several procedures currently performed by ophthalmologists, including certain laser eye surgery and removing skin tags from around the eye. The bill received a hearing for discussion only on Wednesday in the House Health Committee. The bill is strongly opposed by the ophthalmologists. 
Doctors don't see eye-to-eye on laser surgery legislation – WRAL 

Senate Bill 145 entitled Government Immigration Compliance, sponsored by Sen. Norm Sanderson (R-Pamlico), would withhold state funds from cities that refuse to comply with immigration laws and become “sanctuary cities”. 
NC bill withholds state funding from immigration sanctuary cities – Fox 8

House Bill 243/Senate Bill 175 entitled Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention (STOP)Act, sponsored by Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Pitt) and Sen. Jim Davis (R-Macon). The bill is an attempt to address the ongoing opioid epidemic in North Carolina, which includes stricter reporting requirements for providers prescribing opioids for pain relief. It mandates that doctors and pharmacies dispensing opioids register with and participate in the Controlled Substances Reporting System. 
Bill filed in Raleigh would address opioid misuse – Star News 
Opioid bill would tighten prescribing and reporting requirements to fight widespread addiction – NSJ

In total 102 bills were filed this week, with 56 in the House and 46 in the Senate, bringing the total number of bills filed so far this session to 431. A link to next week’s Committee calendar, which is going to be very busy, 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.

Legislation in the News: 
4 bills in Raleigh that could change education – Star News 
NC bill would require massage therapists to speak English – Charlotte Observer 
NC House looks to take more appointment powers away from Gov. Roy Cooper – N&O 
Bill would allow concealed carry guns on UNC, community college campuses – N&O 
Nonpartisan redistricting gets another push – WRAL 
Should local leaders have more sway over road projects? NC House bill would give them more power – N&O 
Deadly drunk boating accidents would result in jail time under NC House bill – N&O 
NC Dems introduce bills to raise minimum wage to $15/hr, ensure equal pay for women – WNCN 
Parents of students with concussions won’t decide when they return to sports, lawmaker says – N&O

In Other News

NC native Ray Starling, formerly the Chief of Staff to U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R), has been selected to serve as President Trump’s special assistant to the President for agriculture, trade and food assistance. Starling also served as Tillis’ Chief of Staff when Tillis served as Speaker of the NC House. He also previously served as General Counsel to the NC Commissioner of Agriculture, Steve Troxler (R) in the Department of Agriculture & consumer Services.
Starling leaves Tillis' office for White House post - NSJ

Sen Joel Ford (D-Mecklenburg) officially launched his bid to seek the Mayor’s office in Charlotte. In the Democratic primary, Ford is expected thus far to face sitting Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Mayor Pro-Tem Vi Lyles. Ford is considered to be politically moderate and business-minded compared to his peers. Additional candidates from both sides of the aisle will likely announce runs in the near future. 
Joel Ford makes it official: ‘I’m all in’ – Charlotte Observer 
The continuing culture wars in Charlotte – Mayor’s race edition – Politics NC

In the News

Court rulings mean NC is without an elections board and ethics commission, Berger says – N&O
NC House members honor memory of Paul Luebke – N&O
African-American legislators in NC voice support for school vouchers and charters – N&O
NC public schools names new chief financial officer – WRAL
Following protests, Rouzer to hold town hall in Bolivia – N&O
Gov. Cooper picks coastal mayor, once a convicted felon, to lead ABC Commission – 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 to be added to the list.