The 2011 session of the North Carolina legislature has accomplished an amazing amount of work in a short time. The session is likely to end in the near future, (for that we are always happy) but there is still work to do.
The legislature is due to return later this summer to finish redistricting and to look at a number of constitutional amendments.
In the meantime, below are several bills that have been passed by one legislative body, but not the other. Before the legislature adjourns they need to pass these initiatives and send them to the governor for her signature. Voters should not have to wait until 2012 for these bills to be enacted.
Jobs Related Bills:
- SB 308 – State Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Ensures state regulators do not impose regulations on the emission of “greenhouse gases” if no federal regulations are enacted. Also prevents regulations stricter than federal regulations. This is needed to guarantee that North Carolina businesses are not at a competitive disadvantage to other states. Additionally, there have been moves at the state level to impose regulations without specific statutory authority.
- HB 542 – Tort Reform for Citizens and Businesses
Creates a more favorable environment for job creation by lowering the cost to employ more workers.
- SB 593 – Government Reduction
Ends at least 60 duplicative and unnecessary boards and commissions.
- SB 709 – Energy Jobs Act
Desperately needed to keep North Carolina in the energy game involving offshore resources. It will lead to jobs and tax revenue, especially in a part of the state that needs it. Also, it is forward thinking in preparation for the unlikely scenario of an oil catastrophe.
- SB 781 – Regulatory Reform
Increases much needed government efficiency and prevents agencies from adopting new rules unless expressly authorized by federal or state law.
Law and Order Legislation:
- SB 9 – No Discriminatory Purpose in Death Penalty (amend the Racial Justice Act)
Begins to restore the concept that justice is blind and that random statistics have no place in the courts. Will ensure that justice is served in a more expeditious and logical manner.
- SB 34/HB 650 – Castle Doctrine
As the saying goes, a man’s (and a woman’s) home is his castle. They should not have to worry about prosecution when they take prudent steps to protect themselves and their families in their castle (and environs).
Education Related Bills:
- HB 342 – High School Accreditation
Prevents state universities from using accreditation as a factor in admission from North Carolina public high schools. Gives power to the State Board of Education to re-establish an accreditation procedure for high schools. This reform is needed as the current non-profit which handles accreditation is a monopoly and has used this status to threaten several districts across the state with loss of accreditation over non-academic criteria. This has occurred while accrediting some of the worst performing schools in NC.
- HB 344 – Tax Credit for Children with Disabilities
A win/win for families and taxpayers as it provides special needs children an education in a place their family chooses that best serve the children’s needs while saving taxpayers money.
- HB 744 – Safe Students Act
While a requirement to track legal status was removed, this bill still requires, in clear language, that schools can only admit students whose parents first provide proof of immunization and birth.
- HB 491 –Eliminate COPs
Enough ignoring the Constitution. Eliminate debt instruments that have obligatory taxpayer backing for repayment, yet do not allow the voters a say on whether or not they authorize such debt.
- HB 845 – Annexation Reform Act of 2011
A bill that should have been passed years ago to protect private property owners and allows citizens a say as to whether they want to be part of a city.
- There are several de-annexation bills passed by one legislative body that the other needs to pass
- HB 854 – Woman’s Right to Know Act
Long overdue legislation that is constitutional, informative and mainstream.
Immigration Related Bills:
- HB 33 – Consular Documents Not Acceptable as ID
Prohibits any level of government or government agency in North Carolina from accepting the Matricula Consular, an easily forged Mexican document, as proof of identification. Legal international visitors or residents in North Carolina already have official identification documents issued by the U.S. government.
- HB 36 – Employers/Gov. Contractors Must Use E-Verify
A commonsense start to getting a hold on illegal immigration and ensuring jobs/contracts are going to legal American citizens. North Carolina has had one of the fastest growing populations of illegal immigrants in the nation.
- SB 205 – No Benefits for Illegal Aliens
Establishes that illegal immigrants cannot qualify for federal and state benefits. Lists 11 kinds of documents a person must offer to a government agency to receive benefits.
- SB 303 – Limited Duration Licenses/Real ID Compliance
Ensures resident alien or tourists do not have use of a valid driver’s license once their Visa expires.
Election Related Bills:
- HB 351 – Restore Confidence in Government
Requires a government-issued photo ID to vote. Such a bill will ensure better security and integrity of our election process.
- HB 32 – Electoral Freedom Access Act of 2011
North Carolina’s restrictive ballot access laws have long needed reform. This bill will mean increased competition for the two major parties and should lead to a more diverse choice of candidates, plus more robust discussion of the issues.
- SB 47/HB 452 – Restore Partisan Judicial Elections
In 2004, the legislature took the partisan label off of statewide judges after earlier removing it from local judicial offices. This has resulted in up to 1/3 of the electorate choosing to not vote in judicial elections due to lack of information. This legislation is a simple step to provide voters more information on judicial candidates when casting their ballot.
- HB 300 – Election Fairness Act of 2011
Determines how a ballot is organized and establishes, in law, the rotation of parties and candidates.
- SB 411 – Vote for the Person, Not the Party Act
Eliminates straight ticket voting in North Carolina. Straight ticket voting is a remnant from the days of one-party control and needs to be eliminated to bring North Carolina election law into the modern era. North Carolina is one of only 15 states that still have this practice, several of which are considering changing their laws this year.
- SB 456 – Candidate List Party or Unaffiliated Status
This will allow candidates to list their party of registration, or unaffiliated if that is the case, on the ballot in races that are listed as “non-partisan,” such as municipal elections or local judicial races. This will give voters one more piece of information with which to make a decision when voting. Since both major parties now routinely let their activists know party endorsements in “non-partisan” elections, this information will now be available to the general voter.
The following bills have not been acted on, but if this legislature wants to be known as a friend of the taxpayer – they need to act.
- SB 751/HB 399 – Cap the Gas Tax
North Carolina already has one of the highest gas taxes in the Southeast and it is due to go up in July (from 32 cents to 36 cents a gallon). In 2010, the legislature and governor turned what had been a CAP into a floor – reverse that and put the CAP back on. In addition, fix the NCDOT if you need more highway money.
There are, of course, a few bills that need to be voted down or drastically altered.
Bills to avoid (not necessarily a complete list):
- SB 527 – Life Sciences Development Act
This bill would have North Carolina taxpayers guaranteeing investments by private individuals. Civitas previously wrote about how bad this legislation is here, here and here.
- SB 655 – Dentistry Management Arrangements
Why is a supposedly conservative legislature messing with business to business relationships? There may be some “Rent Seeking” going on here.