The week began in earnest on Monday as the House Appropriations Chairs returned to Raleigh in hopes of getting down to business on the budget. Meanwhile, a meeting was held with Senator Stein to discuss one of his bills on Safe Schools. His request was for a group of interested parties to get together and hammer out the details of what could be done on the training aspect for the reportable offenses and adding questions to the Working Conditions Survey. The House and Senate convened on Monday evening and ran several bills, moved bills off the calendar, and left to return to work on Tuesday.
State employees rallied at the Legislature on Tuesday to protest the pay cuts and furloughs the Governor enacted last week. Meanwhile, House Education Appropriations met on Tuesday morning to hear 3-5 minute presentations from twelve Non-Profit groups who receive State funding. They started with the Radio stations (3) then moved on to Technology groups and then to the Education areas. They were barely half way through when time ran out and the Chairs requested the remaining non-profits to return to finish the presentation immediately after Session. House Education was next on the schedule to meet and hear several bills, including the Graduation Project and Personal Education Plans (PEP). The NAACP spoke in favor of the PEP legislation, which requires teachers to prepare a PEP anytime during the year, using any factors they deem relevant, include a parent in the process, give parents notice of the PEP, and send home the plan. The Republicans and Democrats on the Committee thought the passage of this bill would improve the success of students and increase the graduation rate. The PEP legislation was first introduced 10 years ago and the question is has it made a difference yet? This will likely increase the number of PEPs required by several times. NCAE was supporting the bill. The Graduation Project flexibility bill and study passed with bipartisan support and was sent to Rules to be included in the Study bill. Efforts were ongoing with members on House Bill 593 Change School Starting Date. The bill would have allowed LEAs to adjust their calendars to begin school as early as the second Monday in August. As usual the tourism industry was lobbying hard to defeat the bill scheduled in House Commerce. Commitments were made for two minor amendments and it was believed the votes were there. After several members did not show up for Committee and the votes were counted the bill did not receive a Favorable Report by a 13 to 14 roll call vote. The bill is rescheduled for Monday, May 11 on Commerce again. The bill has passed the House before, but has not gotten a hearing in the Senate, but it will have to clear the House first. Another local bill to provide calendar flexibility for three counties did not receive a Favorable report in another House Committee though the bill sponsor, Rep Burr (Freshman), did a Great Job presenting and arguing for the bill. He received a better vote on his bill in defeat than the other bills did in this same committee previously.
Prior to Session the House Appropriations Chairs met to hear from State Revenue on possible availability for preparing the House budget. All the Chairs were saying it is bad and getting worse everyday. House Appropriations met first thing Wednesday morning to pass two bills, HB 917 Implementation of Executive Order #11/Protect Employees and HB 1172 Take Voluntary Furloughs/State Government & Schools. Joint Appropriations is scheduled to meet in the morning to hear the Revenue report at 9:15 AM. Then the House Appropriations Chairs will go back to work to give the subcommittee’s their targets for preparing their budgets. Public Schools, was funded at $7.8 Billion last year and the Continuation Projections for 2009-2010 are $8.245 Billion. In other developments on Tuesday, the Senate passed the SB576, the bullying bill, by a vote of 25-22. The debate lasted a long time and most of the votes fell along party lines. Another contentious bill on the Senate floor this week, The Healthy Youth Act (sex education bill) was pulled from the calendar and sent back to the Mental Health and Youth Committee for further work.
On Wednesday, the House approved the Furlough bills and sent them to the floor for a vote. The Revenue numbers are about $4 Billion below last year’s total budget of $21.3 Billion. Cuts and funding are going to need to occur to balance the books. The House remains on target to finish the budget by the end of May. The fiscal staff advised the members it could take up to five years to get the funding allotment back to where it was in 2008-2009. Meanwhile schools and schools of higher education continue to add students and the State’s needs in health care are growing too.
On Thursday, the flurry of bills in Committees continued in both the House and the Senate. The number of bills posted on the House and Senate calendars for a floor vote, are also increasing. Committees continued their fast pace by scheduling multiple meetings to try and get bills approved before Crossover Deadline, May 14th. This gets to be a scary time when things are passed and no one knows what changes are being made to bills. The House Appropriations Chairs are hoping to release their funding targets to the various subcommittee chairs today. The House Committees are scheduling meetings for Monday to try and get the bills passed before the May 14th deadline. House Budget work will really get started next week, but the question is how long before they finish and it is looking like early June.
HB 1580 Ensure Accountability Re: Stimulus Funds
HB 1590 The School Construction Bond Act of 2009
HB 1651 Public Safety Employee/Employer Cooperation
HB 223 No High School Graduation Project Required-Favorable Report to Proposed Committee Substitute and re-referred to Rules.
HB 661 City Managers on School Boards Pulled
HB 804 Amend Law RE: Personal Education Plans-Favorable Report and sent to the Floor.
HB 971 Legislative Study of Alternative Schools Pulled
HB 1031 Building Standards/PreK Classes in Public Schools-Favorable Report to Proposed Committee Substitute and re-referred to State Government/State Personnel.
HB 1038 Economic Development Thru Innovative Schools/Commission-Favorable Report to Proposed Committee Substitute and re-referred to Appropriations.
HB 177 Healthy Families and Healthy Workplaces Act Not Heard
HB 593 Changing School Starting Date-Passed two amendments and the bill failed by a vote of 13-14. Several members were not present who would have voted Yes and several members committed to voting yes and voted no instead.
HB 636 Staff Development OK on Protected Teacher Workdays Pulled
HB 1177 Restore Flexibility to the School Calendar Pulled
Election Law and Campaign Finance Reform:
HB 1260 Voter Pre-registration and Education-Favorable Report
Energy and Energy Efficiency:
HB 1199 Energy Efficiency in Bldgs. if State Funded-Favorable Report as Amended to take out public schools.
HB 1373 Phase-In Physical Education Requirements Pulled The bill sponsors plan to roll this and several other obesity initiatives into a study bill.
HB 744 Diabetes Control Plans in Charter Schools-Favorable Report to PCS. Removed the reporting requirement and simply requires charter schools to develop Diabetes.
HB 1022 Workers’ Compensation/Duration of Total Disability Not Heard
HB 438 State Health Plan/Calendar Year Favorable Report and re-referred to Appropriations. Fiscal note with this bill.
HB 191 General Statutes Commission Technical Corrections-Favorable Report to the PCS.
HB 193 Electronic Notice of Public Hearings Pulled
HB 1046 Child Care Facilities Rules-Favorable Report and re-referred to State Government/State Personnel.
HB 750 Restore Contract Rights to State/Local Pulled
Local Government II:
HB 352 Lottery School Capital Fund Formula-Not Heard
HB 1001 Modify School Calendar Law/3 County LEAs-Favorable Report Failed by a vote of 6 for the bill and 7 against.
HB 1263 Keep Recording of Closed Sessions Not Heard
HB 1470 Study Length of School Lunch Period-Favorable Report
Science and Technology:
HB 1261 Protect Our Kids/Cyber Bullying Misdemeanor-Favorable Report
HB 917 Appropriations Act of 2009-Favorable Report Title Change Implement Executive Order Number 11/Protect Employees.
HB 1172 Take Voluntary Furloughs/State Gov. & Schools-Favorable Report
H.J.R. 364 SBOE Confirmations-Favorable Report
H.J.R. 365 Joint Session for SBOE Confirmations-Favorable Report
HB 1140 Educ. Assistance for Minimum Wage Workers-Favorable Report to Proposed Committee Substitute.
HB 1371 Limit Use of Child Nutrition Program Funds to Re-referred to Appropriations without Prejudice. Bill sponsor has more work to do on the language.
HB 1372 Eliminate Reduced Cost School Meals Pulled
HB 1504 Transfer NCCAT to SBE-Favorable Report to Proposed Committee Substitute and re-referred to Appropriations.
Ways and Means:
HB 1433 Clarify Volunteer Immunity/AED Not Heard
SB 386 Make Best Use of Corporate Tax Revenue-Changed the title to Counties to Report Anticipated Use of Public School Building Capital Funds. Favorable Report to PCS. Senator Clodfelter said the funds not anticipated to be used would simply be sent to the General Fund.
SB 722 No High School Graduation Project Required Pulled
SB 738 Diabetes Control Plans in Charter Schools Favorable Report to the PCS and sent to the Floor. This bill adds charter schools to the law on Diabetes Plans and requires annual reporting by all LEAs and charter schools. Several issues were raised, but the bill is moving forward.
SB 860 Student Trust Fund/Proprietary Schools Pulled
SB 406 Classroom Experience for School Personnel Favorable Report and sent to the Floor.
SB 1019 Establish NC Financial Literacy Council Favorable Report and sent to the Floor.
SB 1030 After-School Child Care Programs Favorable Report to PCS. The bill was requested by the YMCA’s and Child Care Division opposed the changes, but Senator Stevens made a good argument and the bill was approved and sent to the Floor.
SB 1069 Joining Our Businesses and Schools Commission Favorable Report
SB 457 Add Definition of Biodiesel Favorable Report
SB 567 Promote Electricity Demand Reduction Not Heard
SB 220 General Statutes Comm./Technical Corrections Favorable Report this is the Senate version of what will be one of the Session’s clean-up bills that will have many more sections.
Pensions & Retirement:
SB 645 Retirement Technical Corrections Not Heard
HB 900 Nutrition Standards/All Foods Sold at Schools Passed second and third reading as amended and sent to the Senate.
HB 1476 Government Immunity/Adequacy of Remedies Passed second and third reading with one amendment and sent to the Senate.
HB 316 Assignment of Multiples to Charter Schools Passed second and third reading and sent to the Senate.
HB 1032 Modify History and Geography Curricula Passed second and third reading as amended and sent to the Senate.
HB 901 Honors Courses in Healthful Living Classes Passed second and third reading and sent to the Senate.
HB 735 Building Code/High Schoolers at Community Colleges Passed second and third reading and sent to the Senate.
HB 804 Amend Law RE: Personal Education Plans Passed second and third reading and sent to the Senate.
HB 1470 Study Length of School Lunch Period Passed second and third reading and sent to the Senate.
HB 191 General Statutes Commission Technical Corrections Passed and second and third reading and sent to the Senate.
HB 917 Implement Executive Order Number 11/Protect Employees Passed second and third reading and sent to the Senate.
HB 1172 Take Voluntary Furloughs/State Government & Schools Passed second and third reading and sent to the Senate
SB 526 School Violence Prevention Act Passed second reading and third reading and sent to the House.
HB 2 Prohibit Smoking in Public and Work Places Title Change to Prohibit Smoking in Certain Public Places. Passed second and third reading and sent to the Governor.
SB 754 Changes for Bonds Authorized under ARRTA Passed second and third reading and sent to the House.
HB 88 Healthy Youth Act Sent back to Committee.
SB 386 Counties to Report Anticipated Use of Public School Building Capital Funds Passed second and third reading and sent to the House.
SB 738 Diabetes Control Plans in Charter Schools Passed second and third reading and sent to the House.
SB 406 Classroom Experience for School Personnel Pulled
SB 1019 Establish NC Financial Literacy Council-Passed second and third reading and sent to the House.
SB 1030 After-School Child Care Programs Passed second and third reading and sent to the House.
SB 457 Add Definition of Biodiesel Passed second and third reading and sent to the House.
Bills in Committee Next Week:
SB 593 Change Starting Date of School
SB 596 Filling Vacancies in Local Offices
SB 730 Local Government Official Recuse From Voting
HB 213 VSL Nonfamily Sick Leave Donations.
HB 311 Continue School Construction Funding
HB 482 Reinstatement of Sick Leave/School Employees
HB 971 Legislative Study of Alternative Schools
HB 1306 Restore Flexibility to School Calendar
HB 1466 Coordinate Teacher Education Reporting Requirements
HB 535 Health Insurance Coverage/Lymphedema
HB 1247 State Health Plan/Employee-Only Premium
HB 1391 NC Risk Pool Clarifications
HB 1022 Workers’ Comp/Duration of Total Disability
SB 877 Health Benefit Plan Provider Contracts
HB 1031 Bldg. Stds./Pre-K Classes in Public Schools
HB 1046 Child Care Facilities Rules
HB 1117 Sex Offender Can’t Drive Bus with Children
HB 902 Up B-20 Biodiesel Purchases for School Buses