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Bad Bill of the Year Tournament

Want to find out more about the bill? Click the bill number.

This year’s bad bill winner (ahem, loser) is HB976. The Gun “Safety” Act.

HB803: Healthy and High Performance Schools Act

  • An attempt to define – to the milligram – what is a “healthy” breakfast or lunch
  • Extra reimbursement for schools serving “locally grown” food in their meals
  • Instructions on the number of minutes of physical activity in which children should engage. The bill outlines specific times for different grade levels
  • The creation of an “environmental programs” office at DPI
  • The establishment of a “School Gardens Program” at DPI, which will encourage and monitor the creation of gardens on school grounds. Produce grown in the gardens – if determined to be safe – would be served to students. The program would “collect data on the location and types of gardens” in the schools.
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HB208: Ban the Box

This bill would prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their criminal record until after a job offer has been made.

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HB976: The Gun Safety Act

Included is the usual gun control wish list: the repeal of the Castle Doctrine, a liability insurance requirement for pistol ownership, a requirement for victims of stolen firearms to report it within 48 hours (or be charged with a crime), a requirement for Sheriffs to report any irregularities from background checks to the NICS, and a law forbidding firearms from being stored anywhere a person under 18 can access it.

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HB956: Act to Regulate Aggressive Dog Breeds

Under H956, any Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Mastiff, Chow, Perro de Presa Canario or wolf hybrid would be classified as an “aggressive breed.” To take ownership of any of these breeds, the owner would be required to submit to a criminal background check, take a 4 hour course on dog safety through the Humane Society or another approved rescue organization, notify the issuer of any applicable homeowner’s insurance, and pay a $25 fee to obtain a special aggressive breed permit. Any offender could receive up to a Class 3 misdemeanor.

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HB447: Restore Teaching Fellows Program

Facing a multi-billion dollar budget deficit in 2011, the state legislature reduced and eliminated a variety of programs in order to balance the budget. One program the legislature ended future funding for was the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program. The Teaching Fellows program awarded renewable scholarships of up to $6,500 annually to 500 high school students who were interested in becoming teachers and who promised to work in North Carolina public schools for at least four years after graduation.

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SB362: Study Energy Efficiency Standards

This bill would create a study of an ineffective “tiered” billing format for electricity, impossible goals for electricity-use reduction, and an ambiguous “pollution tax.” Tiered electricity rates mean that the more electricity you use, the higher per kilowatt-hour rate you pay. It would also charge higher rates during peak energy use times. Such a mechanism is popular in other states such as California, but according to the Los Angeles Times, “A growing body of research suggests that not only does tiered pricing fail to meet these goals, it is counterproductive: It neither encourages conservation nor helps low-income people pay for power.”

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HJR 171: Free Speech for Me, But Not for Thee

This resolution urges the NC General Assembly to draft a resolution opposing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and calling on Congress to amend the Constitution to reverse the free speech rights protected by the United decision. For those who may not recall, the United decision reversed previous laws that banned independent political expenditures by corporations (including non-profits and unions).

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SB18: Amend Locksmith License Act

The bill severely limits the conditions under which a non-locksmith can open a locked door. The bill restricts exemptions for towing and lockout services and also requires that any person who by-passes a lock for a school, college, university, hospital, government facility, and apartment must be a licensed locksmith. This change would require all these facilities certify janitors and maintenance staff as licensed locksmiths, or hire an independent locksmith.

Most disconcertingly the bill states that a Police Officer or Fireman may perform lock-picking services “only when opening a locked door to a vehicle, home, or business in a life-threatening emergency or during investigation of a crime.” Pity the law-abiding citizen trapped behind a locked door who is not in imminent threat of dying, but is merely enduring a “dangerous” situation.

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SB 150: Paging Karl Marx

A proposition to study a central bank for North Carolina. Basically, the “state-owned bank” would take taxpayer dollars, then loan these funds to select businesses (including privately owned banks). You don’t think there’d be any political preferences to who receives these loans, do you? And what interest rates would the state-owned bank charge — would they reflect the riskiness of the loans and the market’s rate of time preference?

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HB 722: Racial Justice Act, Part 2?

The death penalty is always a hot topic in any discussion, but is HB 722 another back-door attempt to do away with the death penalty without addressing the issue itself?

HB 722, “Capital Punishment/Severe Disabilities,” would mandate that a killer who suffered from a “severe mental disability” when the crime was committed would not be sentenced to death. Read the full article

HB 797, Business Facilities Development: Making a Bad Idea Worse

HB 797, Business Facilities Development, sponsored by Reps. Charles Jeter (R-Mecklenburg), Paul “Skip” Stam (R-Wake), and Tom Murry (R-Wake), would extend government-subsidized loans to groups of unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats. Specifically, the bill makes changes to the Site Infrastructure Development Fund (SIDF).

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SB 558: Exposing Taxpayers to More Risk

Senate Bill 558, Treasurer’s Investments, appears to mimic the risky behavior of the desperate gambler. Sponsored by Sen. Ralph Hise (R-McDowell) and strongly supported by State Treasurer Janet Cowell, this bill would allow the Treasurer to engage in more risky investments with the state’s $78 billion pension fund. The bill was just approved by the Senate Committee on Pensions and Retirement and Aging.

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HR 836: Perpetuating a Major Myth from the Financial Crisis

The Resolution would have the General Assembly urge “the United States Congress to enact legislation that would reinstate the separation of commercial and investment banking functions that were in effect under the Glass-Steagall Act.”

The premise behind this resolution is the ill-informed myth that “the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed in 1999, partially contributing to the greatest speculative bubble and worldwide recession since the Great Depression of 1933.” Neither one of these statements is remotely true. Read the full article

HB 737: Shun and Neglect the Unemployed

Aiming to put people back to work, the bill does two things: provides employers a tax credit for hiring anyone that has been unemployed for a period longer than 12 months and forbids employers from discriminating against persons based on their status as unemployed.

No one will argue that the General Assembly needs to be proactive to fix North Carolina’s economy and create an environment that fosters economic growth and puts people back to work. However, providing tax credits to employers that hire the long-term unemployed is not the answer to North Carolina’s high unemployment rate. While it hypothetically encourages employers to hire those that have been unemployed for longer than 12 months, it unintentionally creates an environment that leaves the more recently unemployed in a vulnerable situation. If employers are financially incentivized to hire those that have been unemployed for more than 12 months, why would they hire another equally, or possibly better-skilled unemployed candidate that has been out of work for only 6 months? They wouldn’t. Read the full article

HB 603: The Discourage Employers From Hiring Women Act

The bill aims to guarantee fair compensation by requiring employers to pay all employees “the same wages in the same establishment for the same quality and quantity of the same classification of work.” No one will argue that this should always be the case in any effectively managed operation. However, the government mandating it offers yet another arbitrary, inconsistent piece of red tape for small business owners to deal with when trying to hire North Carolinians.

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HB 188: One Size a Bad Fit for One Stop

HB 188 seeks to require all 100 counties to conduct at least 20 hours of one-stop voting in total on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) in first primaries and in General Elections in even numbered years. Currently, North Carolina law (NCGS 163-227.2) sets out a 17 day period for all 100 counties to conduct one-stop voting in the Boards of Elections offices.

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SB 155: Lipstick on a Pig – “Independent Redistricting Commissions”

While Civitas remembers the late Senator Horton fondly, we are skeptical of all “non-partisan” or “independent” redistricting committees. We believe that redistricting is an inherently partisan process and should be transparently implemented by the elected officials charged with the responsibility by our State’s Constitution.

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SB 99: For Whose Benefit?

For starters, the underlying premise of creating a “benefit corporation” is that traditional corporations and companies don’t benefit the public. This notion, of course, is ludicrous. As Francis DeLuca noted in the 2011 Bad Bill summary: “A lawful, profitable business, by its very existence, already ‘benefits’ society…A business, by making a profit, increases the wealth of society and hence the ability of individuals to find employment and increase their standard of living. They also provide products and services that make our lives better.”

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HB 18: Nanny State is the Real Burning Issue

The bill gets tricky because its stated goal is understandable. After all, North Carolinians should be concerned about the health of the state’s younger generations and whether they will get skin cancer. However, HB 18 goes awry when it cuts the parents out of the overall decision-making process. In a manner somewhat reminiscent of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s soda ban, HB 18 does not help families make more informed health decisions but instead makes it for them. While the risks associated with indoor tanning are well documented, older teens and their parents are very capable of making decisions without the government serving as their nanny. Quite simply, this is another case of someone in the government trying to get involved in families’ day-to-day health decisions.

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HB 100: Unhealthy Government Intrusion, Take 2

HB 100 would mandate a certain threshold of paid sick days, and also detail what qualifies as a paid sick day. In other words, it would outlaw voluntary agreements between employer and employee that didn’t meet the government standards. In a free society, it is none of the government’s business how many paid sick days employers offer to their workers. Moreover, imposing more labor expenses upon businesses will force them to either reduce salary or other benefits, or reduce the number of workers. Allowing entrepreneurs the flexibility to offer differing benefits packages as part of their compensation plan inspires a more competitive labor market.

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