The legislative clock begins to tick louder in March, as filing deadlines begin for the 2009 session. The first due-dates are March-April deadlines for bills to be sent to bill drafting; second deadlines are for actual filing in the respective chambers. May 14 is the bill crossover date—the last date for legislation not requiring new spending to get in line for action and potential passage by both chambers.
• Local bills due to bill drafting: March 3, Senate; March 18, House.
• Public bills (not appropriations): March 13, Senate; March 26, House.
• Appropriations and finance bills: April 22.(House only).
Meanwhile, synopses of some of the bills acted on in the last week that are of particular interest to WNC legislators and/or constituents are presented below, including companion bills introduced as the Appalachian Mountains Preservation Act (HB 340 and SB 341) to prohibit the use of coal derived by mountaintop removal as a source for N.C. public-utility electricity generation—as well as to amend the N.C. Constitution to include citizens’ right to hunt. There have now been some 360 bills introduced in the House, and 354 in the Senate.
HB 257 — No Seizure of Lawful Firearms in Emergency: Adapts the state-of-emergency law (G.S. 166A-3) to add that nothing in the article shall be construed to “authorize the taking, confiscation, or seizure of lawfully possessed firearms, ammunition, or ammunition components.” Passed first reading and referred to Committee on Judiciary; if favorable, moves to Homeland Security, Military and Veterans Affairs. Reps. Phillip Frye of Avery/Caldwell/Mitchell/Yancey counties, Carolyn Justus of Henderson and Roger West of Cherokee/Clay/Graham/Macon, co-sponsors.
HB 275 —Sex Offenders Can’t Be EMS Personnel: Prohibits granting or renewing EMS credentials to any individual who is required under state statutes to register as a sex offender. Justus, primary sponsor; Reps. Bruce Goforth of Buncombe, Phil Haire of Haywood/Jackson/Macon Swain, Ray Rapp of Haywood/Madison/Yancey, Frye and West, co-sponsors.
HB 276 — Regulation of Golf Carts: Adds Hendersonville to the burgeoning list of towns that would have permission to regulate golf carts. (Currently, the only other WNC town on the list is Saluda.) Justus, primary sponsor.
HB 284 — Extend Renewable Energy Credit: Would extend the sunset on the credit for investing in renewable energy property from 2011 to 2016. Referred to Energy and Efficiency; if favorable, Finance.
HB 293 — No Postsecondary Education/Illegal Immigrants: Prohibits admission to the state’s system of community colleges and university of “any person who is not lawfully present in the United States” … “except as otherwise required by federal law.” Passed first reading and referred to Committee on Education; if favorable, Judiciary I. Frye and West, co-sponsors.
HB 303 — Joint Resolution Honoring Kay Yow: Honors the “life and memory of Kay Yow, beloved women’s basketball coach at North Carolina State University,” including a lengthy list of her accomplishments. (Yow, who died in January, was the first female head coach of a college women’s basketball team in North Carolina.) Referred to Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operation. Reps. Jane Whilden of Buncombe, and Justus, co-sponsors.
HB 333 — Certified Professional Midwives Licensure: Directs the N.C. Midwifery Joint Committee to develop a proposal for licensure of certified professional midwives, in conjunction with the N.C. Obstetrical and Gynecological Society and N.C. Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, as recommended by the House Select Committee on Licensing Midwives. Filed.
HB 340 — Appalachian Mountains Preservation Act: Prohibits electric public utilities that operate coal-fired generating units located in the state from purchasing or using coal that is extracted using mountaintop removal coal mining, in order to preserve the Appalachian Mountains from Main to Alabama. The bill notes that as of 2009, 470 Appalachian peaks have been permanently erased. Some 61 percent of electric power in the state comes from coal-fired units; 50 percent of the coal used is from mountaintop-removal coal mining in the Appalachians. Filed. Reps. Susan Fisher of Buncombe and Haire, primary sponsors; Gofoth and Whilden, co-sponsors.
HB 366 — Locate Veterans Affairs Nursing Home at WCU: Designates the WCU Millennial Campus as the WNC site for a nursing home under the 2006 state match for federal grant funding for new facilities in the eastern and western parts of the state. Kinston has been chosen as the eastern site. Filed. Haire, primary sponsor.
SB 308 — Endangered Manufacturing and Jobs Act: Provides enhanced economic incentives to the state’s endangered manufacturing industries, specifically textiles and furniture. Referred to Committee on Finance. Sens. Steve Goss of Alexander/Ashe/Watauga/Wilkes and John Snow of Cherokee/Clay/Graham/Haywood/Jackson/Macon/Swain/Transylvania, co-sponsors.
SB 321 — Encourage Policies to Facilitate Graduation: Companion bill to HB 187; encourages local school boards to adopt policies encouraging businesses to permit parents to attend student conferences, implement programs to facilitate successful transition between middle school and high school, increase parental involvement in student achievement, reduce suspension and expulsion rates, encourage pregnant and parenting students to graduate, as recommended by Joint Legislative Committee on Dropout Prevention and High School Graduation. Referred to Committee on Education/Higher Education. Sens. Martin Nesbitt Jr. of Buncombe, Apodaca and Snow, co-sponsors.
SB 329 — Constitutional Amendment; Right to Hunt: Amends Section 1, Article XIV of the N.C. Constitution to add the right to “hunt, fish and harvest wildlife” for the citizens of North Carolina, subject only to laws enacted by the General Assembly and rules and regulations adopted by its administrative agencies. (Would not modify provisions of common law or statutes relating to trespass or property rights.) Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. Sens. Joe Sam Queen of Avery/Haywood/Madison/McDowell/Mitchell/Yancey, Apodaca, Goss and Snow, co-sponsors.
SB 353 — Human Trafficking Commission: Creates the N.C. Human Trafficking Commission to be administered by the Department of Administration, with power to commission, fund and facilitate quantitative and qualitative research into the specific ways trafficking is occurring in North Carolina and its links to international and domestic trafficking. Further, to contribute to efforts to inform and educate law enforcement and social service personnel as well as the general public about trafficking, and to assist in developing new policies, procedures, legislation and regional response. Referred to Committee on Rules and Operations. Apodaca, co-sponsor.
— Nelda Holder, associate editor