2009 LEGISLATIVE SESSION MEMO #24

The House returned late Monday afternoon to caucus on several controversial bills scheduled on the calendar this week, including annexation and eminent domain. The Senate did not return until Tuesday morning. The House and Senate Appropriations Chairs and Finance Chairs did not have any meetings scheduled.

On Tuesday, Governor Perdue called a meeting with the House and Senate leadership, as well as the Finance Chairs. She proposed a list of tax options for 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 to generate $1.6 and $1.7 million respectively each year, in additional revenue. The taxes were a mixture of House funding package in the budget and a Senate proposed package. Some of the highlights included a one year increase in the State Sales Tax of 1 percent (7.75 percent). A series of new taxes were included and would become effective January of 2010, including entertainment, personal services, repairs, warranties, recreation, movies, beer, wine, alcohol and tobacco (50 cents increase). A couple of  issues impacting education was the lost of the corporate income tax transfer dedicated to school construction, increased State Sales Tax and the loss of sales tax refund by other entities including the counties. The Governor is trying to get the House and Senate to end the budget stalemate by proposing enough taxes to minimize the education and health and human services cuts.  As the day wore on, the House Appropriations Chairs met by themselves off and on to discuss the budget, but there was no progress on the Finance package.

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Chairs began meeting again, but just to go over the subcommittee reports on the budget. Rumors around the building were that the Finance Chairs would meet after Session. The Senate Education Committee met and handled several bills, though it got quite comical when Senator Rand chastised House members for bringing bills that simply encourage actions. Unfortunately, without funding it has become very difficult to pass bills that add requirements to public schools, so encouraging policies to help students graduate and develop agreements with counties and cities for physical activity were passed reluctantly by the Senate.

About the only other thing going on this week was the movement of several other controversial bills. Open Government and Federal E-Verify Employees Program.

The trial lawyers have been roaming the halls this week trying to get their controversial bills moving; tort claims and contributory negligence.

On Thursday, the Senate convened at 11:00 to hear a resolution honoring Senator Vernon Malone from Wake County who passed away April 18th. The Senate members spoke for almost an hour in  a moving tribute to life of service to his community and education and the challenges he faced in living in a segregated society. The family and friends were recognized, including Senator Malone’s children and grandchildren as well as Dr. West, Harold Webb and Dr. Burns. The House convened later Thursday and considered the Joint Resolution. Most of the members of the Wake Delegation spoke and other members of both parties who knew and worked with Senator Malone before and after his election to the Senate. The House members spoke for almost 45 minutes in praising the life of Senator Malone, his dignity, his commitment and care of his beloved wife, family and community.

Until the House and Senate can compromise on the Finance package there will be no final work or agreement on the budget. A Continuing Resolution will need to be approved next week since the existing CR expires Wednesday, July 15th and the next one will either have no date or expire on July 31.  The House and Senate Appropriations and Finance Chairs are planning to meet Thursday evening and Friday. They may leave and go home Saturday. There is renewed hope they will begin to move forward on the budget and if they can’t finish next week, maybe by the end of July.

Keep your fingers crossed!

House Committees:

Appropriations Subcommittee on Education

SB 1069 Joining Our Businesses and Schools Commission Favorable Report.

Education

HB 21 Eugenics Program-Support and Education Favorable Report to PCS and re-referred to Appropriations.

SB 1069 Joining Our Businesses and Schools Commission Favorable Report and re-referred to Appropriations.

Finance

HB 1134 Open Government Act Owens Amendment failed by vote of 13-13. The amendment would have had the losing entity on legal challenge for public documents to pay the legal fees rather than the way the bill was written requiring the plaintiff to pay regardless of whether they won the case or not. Favorable Report to PCS.

Judiciary I

SB 962 Probationary Teacher Appeals Favorable Report to PCS and sent to the House Floor.

Senate Committees:

Education/Higher Education:

HB 187 Encourage Policies to Facilitate Graduation Favorable Report.

HB 348 Modify Education Requirement/School Board Member After some discussion on the Senate PCS, the bill was placed on hold and no vote was taken.  There are approximately 40 percent of school board members that do not take the required training. The PCS says if a Board member does not complete 12 hours of required training they will be notified and be given 60 days to comply. After that they can request a hearing with State Board, but the bill sets in place a removal from office process. Originally, lack of compliance was a fine imposed on the Board member based on hours missed. The issue is if there is a legal training requirement and Board members are not complying then there should be consequences. Members argued back and forth over various issues.

HB 582 Special Education Changes Favorable Report Technical changes.

HB 661 City Managers on School Boards Favorable Report Requested bill.

HB 1078 Report School Violence to LEA Amendment adopted to change the time frame (same day of the offense or the next business day) for notification by the principal to the superintendent and the Board of Education.  An amendment to require a policy on parent notification of an alleged victim. Favorable Report as amended.

HB 1471 Counties and Schools Share P.E. Equipment Favorable Report. Encourage county/schools working together on physical education facilities and equipment.

Commerce

HB 1287 Recycle Products Containing Mercury Favorable Report and sent to the Senate Floor.

SB 32 Employers Must Use Federal E-Verify Program Favorable Report and re-referred to Appropriations. There are major issues with the bill, but the bill sponsor asked for approval and promised to work with the opponents (which were many) after it gets to the House. It would require public school contractors to use e-verify system. Senator Snow, the bill sponsor mentioned the federal e-verify system is only accurate 93 percent and members aid that number is optimistic with some reports of less that 85 percent accuracy.

Finance

HB 205 Lottery Act Changes Favorable Report and sent to the Senate Floor.

Judiciary I

HB 1255 Sex Offenders/Permanent No Contact Order Favorable Report.

HB 1433 Clarify Volunteer Immunity/AED Favorable Report to PCS.

House Floor:

SB 962 Probationary Teacher Appeals Passed second and third reading and sent to Senate for Concurrence.

HB 1268 Eminent Domain Re-referred to Judiciary II.

SB 708 Amend the Compulsory School Attendance Law Passed second and third reading.

SB 1069 Joining Our Businesses and Schools Commission Passed second and third reading.

HB 1134 Open Government Act Passed second reading. Amendment to mitigate legal fees was defeated and there was an objection to third reading.

HB 65 Amend Computer Solicitation of Child Passed second and third reading.

Senate Floor:

HB 535 Health Insurance Coverage/Lymphedema Passed second and third readings.

HB 1329 Consolidate Expunction Statutes Passed second and third readings and sent to the House for Concurrence.

HB 385 Public School Activity Bus Use/Stecoah Valley Center Amended on the Floor. The amendment deletes language on who has responsibility for insurance and now lets the school system maintain insurance of the activity buses. Passed second and third reading and sent to the House for Concurrence.

HB 205 Lottery Act Changes Rescheduled for July 14th.

HB 81 Notice of Special/Emergency Meetings Passed second and third reading and sent to the House for Concurrence.

HB 804 Amend Law Regarding Personal Education Plans Passed second and third reading and sent to the House for Concurrence.

HB 1287 Recycle Products Containing Mercury Re-referred to Appropriations.

SB 689 Modify DPI Reporting Requirements/Building Code/High School Passed second and third reading.

HB 187 Encourage Policies to Facilitate Graduation Passed second and third reading.

HB 661 City Managers on School Boards Passed second and third reading.

SJR 1106 Honor Vernon Malone Passed second and third reading and sent to the House. Senator Dorsett offered a Joint Resolution to honor the life of Senator Malone who passed away April 18th this year. It was extremely moving and many members of both parties spoke eloquently about the life of Vernon Malone. They told stories and shared their admiration and respect for a man who gave most of his life in public service to the people in his community especially the children.

HB 582 Special Education Changes Passed second and third reading.

HB 1078 Report School Violence to LEA Office Title Changed to Report School Violence to Superintendent/Require Notification Policy Passed second and third reading and sent to the House for Concurrence.

HB 1471 Counties and Schools Share Physical Education Equipment Passed second and third reading.

SB 962 Probationary Teachers Appeals Concurrence in House PCS.

Bills in Committees Next Week:

HB 1261 Protect Our Kids/Cyber Bullying Misdemeanor

HJR 364 State Board of Education Confirmations

SB 931 Commercial Drivers License Changes

SB 509 Revenue Laws Technical, Clarifying and Administrative Changes

SB 929 No Set Aside Bond Forfeit/ Actual Notice

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