United States: North Carolina General Assembly Week In Review - September 04, 2015

Budget Update

The current continuing resolution (CR) is set to expire at midnight in two weeks, Friday, September 18, but House and Senate leadership remain optimistic that they won't need another CR. Conference committee members for House Bill 97, the 2015 Appropriations Bill, are staying through the holiday weekend to try to finalize negotiations.

Senator Brown stated this week that he believes the conference committee could come to an agreement by early next week. Following any agreement, the legislative staff will need a couple days to finalize the bill before it can be introduced. Therefore, the earliest the public could see the finalized bill would be Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

Regardless of introduction, legislative rules prohibit a vote on appropriation conference reports until the third legislative day following the introduction of the report. That means the earliest a vote on the budget conference report could be taken would most likely be next Friday, September 11, or the beginning of the following week.

Read the new CR here. Read HB 97 here.

Town/Municipality Caucus

A new bipartisan caucus was formed this week, the Town/Municipality Caucus of the General Assembly. During session on Tuesday a letter was read requesting the caucus be recognized by both House and Senate Chambers.

The caucus will be a joint caucus with both House and Senate members. The mission of the caucus is to "create an opportunity [and] open environment for legislators with municipal experience to offer education about the State-Municipal partnership and to exchange information and ideas about legislation that will impact local government." The caucus hopes to bring greater awareness to how legislation will affect local governments.

The Senate caucus leaders will be Sen. Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland) and Sen. Joel Ford (D-Mecklenburg). House caucus leaders are Rep. Mitchell Setzer (R-Catawba) and Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover).

Listen to House Chamber Audio from September 1, 2015 here.

Presidential Primary Date

This week the House failed to concur to the Senate's changes to HB 373, 2016 Presidential Primary. The bill would have established policies for a March 15, 2016 primary date for 2016 presidential candidates only. The house voted 104-0 to fail to concur.

House Republicans are exploring the possibility of holding all primary elections on March 15, 2016. Although this change is estimated to save $4-$6 million, by not holding a second primary election date in May 2016, some legislative members remain skeptical of the change. Sen. Dan Blue (D-Wake) stated the new voter ID law would be in effect for those primary elections and he believes moving the date to March will hinder preparations for the new voter ID law.

Neither the House nor the Senate have appointed conference committee members yet.

Read HB 373 here.

Uber bill signed into law

Earlier today, the Governor signed SB 541, Regulate Transportation Networks Companies, into law. The bill requires transportation network companies, such as Lyft and Uber, to buy insurance coverage for their drivers and passengers and perform nationwide criminal background checks on drivers.

The bill becomes effective October 1, 2015.

Read SB 541 here.

Billy Richardson replaces Rep. Rick Glazier

Last Saturday, Democrats in House District 44 elected former House Representative and trial lawyer Billy Richardson to fill Rep. Rick Glazier's (D-Cumberland) term in the NC House of Representatives. Former Rep. Rick Glazier resigned from the NC House on Friday of last week to join the N.C. Justice Center in Raleigh.

Rep. Richardson is a trial lawyer at The Richardson Firm, PLLC, where he practices with his son. He has argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, and previously served two terms in the NC House from 1993 to 1996. Rep. Richardson was defeated last year in the 2014 election for NC Senate by current Senator Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland).

Rep. Richardson's appointment was approved by the Governor and sworn in this week.

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