Even though the legislative session has ended, work continues on some proposed new laws. In the past week, the governor has signed nearly 50 bills into law. Nine bills were pending on Wednesday afternoon. The governor has until Aug. 2 to sign the bills, allow them to become law without her signature or veto them. If she vetoes any bills, the General Assembly could have to go back to Raleigh to consider whether to override them.
This week, I wanted to share with you some of the state’s newest laws, many of which I voted to support. These laws include measures to cut out fraud, waste and abuse in government; improve our criminal laws and examine the use of alternative energies.
HB 1074 adds whistle-blower protections to the local governmental employees’ retirement system, and provides access to documents and property related to fraud investigations. It also institutes additional fraud protections to the Disability Income Plan. HB 177 creates an interagency task force to study the possible use of alternative fuels by state agencies and the development of an associated fueling infrastructure. The bill also establishes criteria for the operation of electric vehicle charging stations at state-owned highway rest stops.
HB 1021 makes adjustments to The Justice Reinvestment Act, clarifying several areas, including changing total confinement of drug trafficking changes to include post-release supervision, and requiring persons ordered to perform court-ordered community service to pay the community service supervision fee. I voted against the JRA because it will put more inmates into county jails and leave our sheriffs open to more liability. However, I like many provisions of it and I did vote for these amendments
HB 244 adds whistle-blower protections to persons alleging fraud or other misconduct related to the State Health Plan. The bill also allows two charter schools to participate in the State Health Plan. HB 153 prohibits a person who has been convicted of a felony related to public employment or holding office from receiving retirement benefits from state and local retirement systems.
SB 105 increases the penalties for some first- and second-degree murders and for those who kill while driving drunk.
SB 635 allows juveniles convicted of first-degree murder seek parole after 25 years in prison.
HB 462 prohibits cities and counties from using contingency contracts to find those who owe them taxes or fees.
SB 910 makes the sale of a minor a felony offense.
SB 810 — Regulatory Reform Act 2012
SB 821 — Study and Amend Fisheries Laws
HB 1023 — Expunctions/Nonviolent Offenses
HB 1077 — PPP Pilot Toll Project/Ferry Tolls
HB 1181 — Study Municipal Local Options Sales Tax
News reports have pointed out several changes in the recently approved budget that give the next governor more authority to hire political allies. The incoming governor will be allowed to hire up to 1,000 political appointees who would be exempt from normal state hiring procedures. The sitting governor was allowed to hire up to 440 state workers. The budget also lifts the salary cap on hires by the governor and increases the inauguration and transition budget for the next governor from $420,000 to $750,000. Critics say the changes were made for political reasons since the Republican candidate is leading in the governor’s polls.
I was saddened this week to learn Representative William Wainwright, a former Speaker Pro Tempore in the House of Representatives and for the past two years the deputy minority leader for House Democrats, died Tuesday at the age of 64. Rep. Wainwright was a presiding elder in the AME Zion Church. He served 11 terms representing Lenoir and Craven counties. He will be greatly missed.
Thank you for your interest in the legislature and state government, and please let me know if I can be of assistance in some way.