A report card — of sorts — on Buncombe County legislators

Last week, the two state senators who represent separate parts of Buncombe County brought some 30 new pieces of legislation to the floor of the Senate. Republican Tom Apodaca of 48th District introduced a scattershot of bills on topics ranging from roadside campaign signs to reallocation of lottery funds to real estate license law amendments and communications regulatory reform. The senator from Hendersonville chairs the Rules and Operations and the Ways & Means committees in the Senate, as well as co-chairing Insurance, Pensions & Retirement and Aging, and the Select Committee on UNC Board of Governors. Understandably, his bill sponsorship is both high (he is currently the primary sponsor of 27 and the co-sponsor of 42 separate bills) and diversified. Apodaca is a five-term member of the Senate.

Democrat Martin Nesbitt Jr. of the 49th District, on the other hand, filed a speight of bills grouped around a topic he has long been legislatively associated with: mental health and youth services. More specifically, the former majority leader and now minority leader put forward bills to effect such things as a required report on implementation of evidence-based practice in psychiatric hospitals, a requirement for a statewide plan for fair and equitable allocation of resources for individuals with development disabilites, and the appropriation of additional funds to expand local inpatient psychiatric beds or bed days. Veteran Nesbitt has spent four-plus terms in the Senate and a previous eleven-plus terms in the House.

With the General Assembly now in its eighth week of the 2011-2012 session, the following snapshots follow the focus thus far of each of Buncombe County’s elected representatives in sponsoring legislation for the state.  Total primary sponsorships and co-sponsorships are given for each legislator, followed by the name and number of each primary-sponsorship bill (with a link to its current text) and its current status or committee location. This Buncombe County overview is followed by our weekly synopsis of key legislation introduced by members of the Western North Carolina delegation.

Buncombe County Legislation Sponsorship
Susan Fisher, Democrat (four and a half terms), 114th District: Primary (6); co-sponsor (41)
Motorcycle Awareness Month (HB 105): Rules, Calendar and Operations.
North Carolina Health Benefit Exchange Act (HB 126): Health & Human Services.
Women at Risk Funds (HB 130): Appropriations.
Household Good Carriers/ID Markings (HB 311): Transportation.
Incorporate Leicester (HB 327); Government.
ARTS NC Special Plate (HB 402): Filed.

Patsy Keever, Democrat (first full term), 115th District : Primary (4); co-sponsor (12)
Motorcycle Awareness Month (HB 105): Rules, Calendar and Operations.
Women at Risk Funds (HB 130): Appropriations.
Efficient and Affordable Energy Rates Bill (HB 135): Public Utilities.
Require ABC Permittees to be Tax Compliant (HB 189): Commerce and Job Development Subcommittee on Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Tim Moffitt, Repubican, 116th District (first term): Primary (5); co-sponsor (33).
Honor Boy Scouts (HB 39): Adopted.
Select Committee Investigate CTS (HB 186): Rules, Calendar and Operations.
Requesting State Treasurer/Five (HB 221): Rules, Calendar and Operations.
Biltmore Lake Annexation Repealed (HB 236): Finance.
Buncombe Involuntary Annexation Moratorium (HB 326): Government.

Tom Apodaca, Republican, 48th District: Primary (27); co-sponsor (42).
Permanent Senate Rules (SB 1): Adopted.
Medical Liability Reforms (SB 33): Judiciary Subcommittee A.
Henderson County Fire Districts (SB 44): State and Local Government.
Invite the Governor (SB 50): State and Local Government.
UNC Board of Governors Election (SB 52): Adopted.
Honor John A. Garwood (SB 65): Adopted.
Level Playing Field/Local Government Competition (SB 87): Judiciary 1.
Gubernatorial Team Ticket Implementing (SB 139): Rules and Operations.
Leadership Limits/Gubernatorial Team Ticket (SB 140): Rules and Operations.
Concealed Carry/DA, Assistant DA, Investigator (SB 141): Judiciary II.
48th Senatorial District Local Act (SB 193): Rules and Operations (placeholder).
Electric Vehicle Incentives (SB 194): Passed second and third reading.
Operation of Mopeds (SB 195): Insurance.
State Treasurer’s Investments.-AB (SB 215) Pensions & Retirement and Aging.
Transfer State Health Plan to State Treasurer (SB 265): Insurance.
Relief from Administrative Procedures Act/Community College (SB 284): Rules and Operations
State Health Plan/Administrative Commission (SB 285): Insurance.
Public Bill Filing Deadline (SB 286): Adopted.
Extend Small Business Center Incubator Period (SB 287): Education/Higher Education.
Surplus Liens/Premium Tax.-AB (SB 321): Insurance.
Adopt Official State Sport (SB 322): Rules and Operations.
Insurance Amendments.-AB (SB 323): Insurance.
ABC Law/Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (SB 324): Rules and Operations.
Diabetes Alert Day (SB 371): Filed.
Special Plate for the Green Industry Council (SB 372): Filed.
Community Association Managers Licensing Act (SB 373): Filed.
Landowner Protection Act (SB 374): Filed.

Martin Nesbitt Jr., Democrat, 49th District: Primary (14); co-sponsor (1).
Adopt Official State Sport (SB 322): Rules and Operations.
Funds for Step-Down Unit for BART (Behaviorally Advanced Residential Treatment) Program (SB 325
): Mental Health & Youth Services.
Evaluate DD (Developmentally Disabled) Residential Options for Children (SB 326): MHYS.
Modify MHDDSAS (Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services) Reporting Requirements (SB 327): MHYS.
Report on Transfer of CAP (Community Alternatives Program)-MR/DD Utilization Review to LMEs (Local Management Units) (SB 328): MHYS.
Evidence-Based Practice in Psychiatric Hospitals (SB 329): MHYS.
Report on MH Services Provided by Hospital ERs (SB 330): MHYS
Evaluate Efficacy of CABHA Model (Critical Access Behavioral Health Agency) (SB 331): MHYS.
Report on NC Clubhouse Programs (SB 332): MHYS.
Revise DD Waiting List Process (SB 333): MHYS.
Expand Inpatient Psychiatric Beds/Funds (SB 334): MHYS.
Apply for TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) Medicaid Waiver (SB 335): MHYS.
Develop Plan for Allocating DD Resources (SB 336): MHYS.
Allow Expansion of Capitated Waiver (SB 337): MHYS.

WNC-sponsored legislation of note for March 14-17
HB 349 (Promote Green Roofs on Buildings): Creates incentives to promote use of green roofs in order to reduce storm-water runoff, mitigate warming in metropolitan areas, and reduce energy consumption. Passed first reading; referred to Committee on Environment. Co-sponsor, Fisher.

HB 351/SB 352 (Restore Confidence in Government): Would require photo identification before voting and limit the chair of the State Board of Elections to two two-year terms, among other provisions. House: Passed first reading; referred to Committee on Elections. Co-sponsor, Moffitt. Senate: Passed first reading; referred to Committee on Judiciary I. Sponsor, Ralph Hise, Republican of Spruce Pine; co-sponsor, Jim Davis, Republican of Franklin.

SB 324 (ABC Law/Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians): Authorizes the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, as a sovereign nation, to receive shipments of spirituous liquor and fortified wines from the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commisssion, and to establish a tribal alcoholic beverage control commission to regulate those beverages. Passed first reading; referred to Committee on Rules and Operations. Primary sponsors, Apodaca and Davis; co-sponsor, Hise.

SB 362 (Reallocate Lottery Funds): Removes the present requirement that 50 percent of net lottery revenue designated for class size reduction be distributed instead to the Public School Building Capital Fund (40 percent of class size fund) and to the funding of state college and university scholarships (10 percent). Passed first reading; referred to Education/Higher Education. Co-sponsor: Apodoca.

by Nelda Holder, contributing editor

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