Action in the Legislature in the past week included a bill to allow video gaming — and take 20 percent of the income — and legislation to provide financial help for “very small county school systems.” Those and other appropriations bills of interest to WNC legislators or citizens are included below, along with a voting record on some of the bills that moved out of the House and Senate.
HB 1524 – Funds for Very Small County School Systems: Aimed at aiding county school administrative units with less than 1,500 students, $1,504,832 would be appropriated for 2009-2010 fiscal year and again for 2010-2011. The money is to be used to reduce the ratio of students to teachers in K-5 by one; grades 6-8 by two, and grades 9-12 by three. Passed first reading; referred to Committee on Appropriations. Rep. Roger West of Cherokee/Clay/Graham/Macon counties, primary sponsor.
HB 1528 – NC REAL Funds: Appropriates $250,000 in 2009-2010 fiscal year and again in 2010-2011 to the Community Colleges Systems Office to support the Carolina Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning (NC REAL) program. Passed first reading; referred to the Committee on Appropriations. Rep. Ray Rapp, Haywood/Madison/Yancey countries, primary sponsor.
HB 1536 – Diabetes Self-Management/Reimbursement: Provides for reimbursement for Diabetes Outpatient Self-Management Education Programs through the Division of Medical Assistance, Department of Health and Human Services, for Medicaid enrolees. Passed first reading; referred to Committee on Health.
HB 1537 – Video Gaming Entertainment Act: Allows video gaming in the state for the purpose of profit-sharing with the state. Sets procedure for licensing and qualifications for licensed operators and esstablishments. Sets a $5,000 fee for an operator’s license valid for $10 years, and a $200 yearly fee per video gaming machine. Additionally, 20 percent of the gross income from each machine is to be paid to the N.C, Department of Revenue. Passed first reading; referred to Committee on Judiciary II.
HB 1547 – Senior Automobile Property Tax Exclusion: Excludes the first $2,000 in appraised value of a motor vehicle owned by an individual at least 65 years of age who meets the income elibilty limit (G.S. 105-277.1). Filed. West, co-sponsor.
HB 1549 – Limit General Fund Expenditures:Provides that General Fund expendirues shall not exceed revenue for tthe previous calendar year, and restricts any positibe balance for appopriation “only for taxpayer refunds, capital improvements, or to repay the state’s indebtedness. Filed. West, co-sponsor.(Companion bill, SB 1052; Sen. HB 218 – Parent & Student Educational Involvement Act (Modifies requirements for notice to parent of student suspension for more than 10 days.)
Aye: Fisher (co-sponsor), Frye, Gofort, Guice, Haire, Justus, Rapp, West, Whilden
Passed in Senate:
SB 287 – State Health Plan $/Good Health Initiatives: appropriates funds for state health plan for teachers and state employees and make other changes related to state health plan.
Aye: Berger, Goss, Nesbitt, Queen, Snow
Also in the Senate, a third edition of SB 202 — base budget appropriations for current operations — was approved April 7 by Senate Appropriations, Pensions & Retirement and Finance Committees. The House Committee on Appropriations will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, April 28, 6 to 9 p.m.
— Nelda Holder, associate editor
Note: The Carolina Lily (Lilium michauxii) pictured above is the state wildflower, growing throughout the state from Cherokee to the coastal swamplands. Most prevalent in July and August, it can bloom into October.