Gov. Bev Perdue will address the General Assembly tonight, casting her own perspective before the assembled legislators who are now in their seventh week of creating their own legislative path into North Carolina’s future. Perdue, who has already ordered a 9 percent cut in state government spending, is expected to talk mostly about the economic challenges facing the state. The speech will be shown live on UNC-TV’s digital channel, beginning at 7 p.m. UNC-TV’s public affairs program Carolina Now will also air the recorded speech in its entirety, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Perdue will speak at Asheville’s Council of Independent Business Owner’s luncheon about noon on Thursday at the Crest Center. The event is open to CIBO members.
Legislation introduced in the General Assembly during the past week that is of particular interest to WNC legislators or residents include the following highlighted bills: to provide extra funding for food banks around the state, including WNC’s MANNA Food Bank; expand the Division of Emergency Management to include natural hazard risk management; establish the N.C. Racial Justice Act; and place North Carolina in league with the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
HB 372 – Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Credit: A companion bill to SB 239, would extend the sunset for the renewable energy tax credit (matching federal tax credit) to encourage installation of renewable energy and energy-efficient property such as biomass equipment, hydroelectric generators, solar- and wind-energy equipment, and geothermal heat pumps. Passed first reading; referred to Committee on Energy and Energy Efficiency. Rep. Susan Fisher of Buncombe County, co-sponsor.
HB 380 – Strengthen Local Emergency Management: Rewrites current state law according to recommendations by the Joint Committee on Emergengy Preparedness and Disaster Management Recovery, ensuring all local plans are consistent with federal and state laws and regulations and establishing a review of local plans biannually by the Division of Emergency Management. Authorizes counties and incorporated municipalities to form joint emergency management agencies. Passed first reading; referred to Committee on Local Government II. Rep. Ray Rapp of Haywood/Madison/Yancey counties, co-sponsor.
HB 381 – Expand Division of Emergency Management Authority: Expands current state law to address hazard risk management and to include administration of federal and state grant funds for emergency management, as recommended by the Joint Committee on Emergengy Preparedness and Disaster Management. The division will coordinate hazard risk analysis with supporting state and county governments, and will establish a hazardous-risk management system to display natural hazards and vulnerabilities, and conduct risk assessments—including “acquiring and leveraging all natural hazard date generated and mainatained” by state and local governments. (Companion bill: SB 257.) Passed first reading; referred to Committee on State Government/State Personnel. Rapp, co-sponsor.
HB 389 – Food Bank Funds: Appropriates $1.5 million for the 2009-2010 fiscal year to the Department of Health and Human Services to provide additional funding to N.C. food banks, including MANNA Food Bank of Asheville.(Comopanion bill SB 279.) Passed first reading; referred to Committee on Appropriations. Fisher, co-sponsor.
HB 405 – Western Justice Academy Firing Range: Provides that any firing range constructed on the grounds of the Larry T. Justus Western Justice Academy shall be an indoor facility. (Companion bill SB 399). Passed first reading; referred to Committee on State Government/State Personnel. Rep. Carolyn Justus, Henderson County, primary sponsor.
HB 406 – Western Justice Academy/Wildlife Resources Firing Range: Directs the Department of Justice and the Wildlife Resources Commission to jointly contruct a firing range for use by criminal justice officers attending the academy, wildlife resource officers and others, as well as providing for hunter safety classes. (Companion bill SB 401.) Passed first reading; referred to Committee on State Government/State Personnel. Justus, primary sponsor.
HB 417 – Drivers License Changes/Young Drivers: Revises current state law to require that a person at least 16 but less than 18 must hold a limited provisional license for 12 months instead of the current six, before obtaining a full provisional license. Passed first reading; referred to Committee on Judiciary III. Reps. Jane Whilden of Buncombe, Rapp, co-sponsors.
HB 418 – Drivers License Changes/Older Drivers: Modifies current law to require any person 85 years old or older to take a road test when renewing a license that has not expired, and modifies license expiration dates to five years for drivers 65 to 75 and three years for driver 75 and older. Passed first reading; referred to the Committee on Aging.
HB 423 – Raise Homestead Income Limit: Would increase the income limit of the homestead exclusion from $25,000 to $30,000. Passed first reading; referred to the Committee on Ways and Means/Broadband Connectivity. Reps. Phillip Frye of Avery/Caldwell/Mitchell/Yancey, Roger West of Cherokee/Clay/Graham/Macon, Rapp, co-sponsors.
HB 430 – Voter Identification: Modifies current law to require that every individual seeking to vote in person at a voting place or a one-stop (early voting) site present to a local official there before voting one of the following: (1) a current and valid photo identification; (2) a copy of a current utility bill, paycheck, bank statement, government check or other government document that shows a name and address. Filed. Frye, Justus, West, co-sponsors.
HB 462 – Solar Manufacturing Incentive Grant Program: Establishes a solar-incentive grant program within the Department of Commerce, to be administered by a new Solar Investment Committee, in order to foster job creation and encourage economic investment in the state. Rep. Bruce Goforth of Buncombe County, primary sponsor.
HB 472 – N.C. Racial Justice Act: Establishes that no person shall be subject to or given a sentence of death or be executed pursuant to such judgment that was sough or obtained on the basis of race. Proof of racial discrimination would include: A finding that race was the basis to seek or impose a death sentence; that death senteces were imposed more frequently upon persons of one race than upon persons of another; that race was a significant factor in exercising peremtory challenges during jury selection; that sthe state is unable to justify demonstrated racial disparities in sentencing. Filed. Fisher, co-sponsor.
SB 257 – Expand Division of Emergency Management Authority: Companion to HB 381 (above). Referred to state and Local Government. Sens. John Snow of
Cherokee/Clay/Graham,/Haywood/Jackson/Macon/Swain/Transylvania, primary sponsor; Sen. Martin Nesbitt Jr. of Buncombe County, co-sponsor.
SB 379 – Remove Cap on the Number of Charter Schools: Would remove the cap on the number of charter schools in the state. (Companion to HB 288.) Filed; referred to Committee on Education/Higher Education. Sens. Tom Apodaca of Henderson, Doug Berger of Franklin/Granville/Vance/Warren, co-sponsors.
SB 403 – Victims Compensation Amendment: Amends the crime victims compensation act to provide that criminally injurious conduct includes both felony and misdemeanor death by vehicle, and to provide that economic loss for which compensation may be awarded shall include grief counseling for spouse or children. Filed; referred to Judiciary II. Berger, primary sponsor.
SB 417 – National Popular Vote Interstate Compact: Would establish North Carolina as a member of the agreement among the states to elect the president by popular vote. Filed; referred to Judiciary I. Berger, co-sponsor.
SB 461 – N.C. Racial Justice Act: Establishes that “no person shall be subject to or given a sentence of death, or shall be
executed pursuant to any judgment” sought or obtained on the basis of race. Proof of racial discrimination would include a finding that race was the basis of the decision to seek or impose the death sentence, or that race was a significant factor according to evidence that death sentences were sought or imposed more frequently upon persons of one race than another; that race was a significant factor in perejmptory challenges during jury selection; that the state is unable to justify racial disparities identified statistically. Filed. Berger, Nesbitt, co-sponsors.
SB 470 – Spay/Neuter Funding: Would provide space on state income tax forms to donate for the spaying and neutering of dogs and cats in order to help reduce the population iof unwanted animals in the state. Filed. Sens. Joe Sam Queen of Avery/Haywood/Madison/McDowell/Mitchell/Yancey, John Snow of Cherokee/Clay/Graham/Haywood/Jackson/Macon/Swain/Transylvania, Berger and Nesbitt, co-sponsors.
— Nelda Holder, associate editor