2009 LEGISLATIVE SESSION MEMO #28

The Appropriations Chairs returned to Raleigh earlier than planned on Monday. After working until 6:00 PM on Friday with what they thought was an agreement on class size increases and teacher assistants, the deal fell apart. The Governor was still not happy and by Sunday night the agreement was gone and the budget chairs were headed back to Raleigh. On Monday, they met off and on until late in the day. By the time they were headed to Session a new deal had been cut and the class size increase funds and teacher assistant funds had been rolled into one HUGE cut of $225 million this year and $304 million next year. Tied to this Flexibility Cut was a special provision preventing LEAs from increasing class size in Grades K-3, but only encouraging them not to make cuts in Grades 4-12 or impact the classroom. The size of a cut is more than $21.69 million in Wake. This is in addition to the other line item cuts being made to public schools such as central office, non-instructional support, transportation, technology, limited English proficiency, mentors, staff development, and student accountability. The Democrats caucused and the Senate apparently had agreed and so the budget was back on track to be read in before midnight on Monday and then to the floor for a vote on Tuesday and Wednesday. The tax package has been settled.  There is a 3 percent individual income tax surcharge on married couples earning over $250,000, and a 2 percent income tax surcharge on those earning $100,000 to $250,000. Other taxes included a 3 percent corporate tax surcharge, 1 percent sales tax increase, tax on digital products and click–throughs, and increases in taxes on liquor, beer, wine, and cigarettes.

On Tuesday, they convened at 3:00 PM so members would have time to review the budget. There were a few problematic bills starting to surface in committee. The diabetes bill came flying out of the House Education Committee and heard on the House floor after Session on Tuesday. The House Session did not end until sometime after 6:30 PM (after hours more than 3 and a half hours of debate). The Democrats talked about how it was the best they could do and the Republicans railed against the tax increase when people are struggling to keep their jobs and make ends meet. The vote in the House and Senate on 2nd reading of the budget was predominately along party lines.

On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee met to hear SB 1292 Employment of Noncertified School Personnel. The bill was negotiated to consensus before it left the House, however Tony Rand had an amendment and this added more protections for school system at-will employees. The bill received a Favorable Report as amended and was sent to the Senate floor. Efforts began to try and undo the damage. The Teamsters have been fighting to get a foothold in North Carolina and this was one of their bills. In other drama, the House was going to pass the Diabetes Plan reporting bill for public schools and charter schools on the House floor. There was quite a bit of discussion with another Senator Rand bill. In the end, the bill passed second reading, while Representative Love objected to third reading in an attempt to slow it down and see if he could amend it to take out the reporting requirement.  The House once again debated the budget bill for an hour or more and voted it out on third reading, as did the Senate and then it was sent to the Governor. There was talk the Senate would work through Friday and leave. The House, on the other hand, is planning to stay until next week.

On Thursday, several committee meetings were still on the calendar. The House and Senate Appropriations Chairs met to try and work on the Budget Technical Corrections bill. There are several bills that are being worked on in the wings. The Speaker’s and President Pro Tempore’s Appointments, the Study Bill, the General Statute’s Technical Corrections, Clarifying Technical Changes. The Senate ran the Adjournment Resolution and set the date as Tuesday, August 11, 2009. SB 1292 Employment of Noncertified School Personnel was on the Senate floor on Thursday.  Senator Tillman tried to amend the language out of the bill the Teamsters Union had added. The amendment failed. The bill passed second reading, but was objected to on third reading.  The Senate has still said they will vote on bills Friday and not after that time. The House on the other hand plans to leave Thursday and not return until Monday. On Thursday, the end games began, they convened and started running bills and recessing and handling bills committees held on the Senate floor. The House was busy doing the same though they were not in as much of a hurry as the Senate. Senator Snow had Appropriations meet to hear his e-verify bill. A bill punishing anyone in the State who hired an illegal immigrant everything from prosecutions, to revocation of licenses and more, and after all was said and with all the problems, the bill was not given a Favorable report on a voice vote. Senator Snow was desperately trying to move the bill over to the House for short session and work on all the problems, but the Senators did not want to vote to send such a bad bill over to the House. The Senate continued to convene and recess throughout the remainder of the day until they finally adjourned around 8:00 PM to return Friday at 10:00 AM. Their plan is to finish as many bills as possible tomorrow and to return on Tuesday and adjourn the Session. Meanwhile, the House met well into the evening. The House adjourned at 11:17 PM and will return on Monday evening to try and finish by Tuesday. Still no word on the variety of ending session bills, especially the Budget Technical Corrections bill, which can sometimes bring more surprises and sneaky stuff! You need to pay close attention right now, because this is the time when unusual things happen.

On Friday, efforts began with many groups to get enough votes to defeat SB 1292 on third reading. After hours of meeting with members of the various groups, the Senate convened their session at 10:00 AM.  The votes to defeat the bill seemed certain, Senator Rand, realizing he did not have the votes to pass the bill, removed it from the calendar until May 19, 2010.  The Senate is still working on the Budget Technical Corrections Bill.  The details of this bill will follow in the next legislative memo.

Bills Filed:

SB 1109 Adjournment Resolution

Senate Committees:

Education/Higher Education

HB 1292 Employment of Noncertified School Personnel Favorable Report to PCS

HB 1474 Credit Education Required/High School Seniors Favorable Report to PCS.

Judiciary I

HB 104 LEC Term Changes/Ethics Training Favorable Report to PCS. Name Changed to Clarify Legislative Confidentiality.

HB 817 Establish NC Financial Literacy Council Favorable Report to PCS. Name changed to Ethics TC and Other Changes.

HB 1329 Consolidate Expunction Statutes Favorable Report.

Judiciary II

HB 1117 Sex Offender Can’t Drive Bus with Children Favorable Report and sent to Rules.

HB 1261 Protect Our Kids/Cyber Bullying Misdemeanor Favorable Report to PCS.

Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources

HB 1099 Amend Environmental Laws 2009 Favorable Report as amended.

Commerce:

HB 212 Health Insurance Pool Pilot Program Favorable Report to PCS.

House Floor:

SB 202 Appropriations Act of 2009 Concurred and Ratified.

SB 1006 Withholding on Contractors Identified by Individual Taxpayer Identification Number Passed second and third reading and Ratified.

SB 269 Work/School Zones-Speed Camera Pilot Program Pulled from the agenda and re-referred to Judiciary II.

SB 859 Tort Claims Act/Local Government Opt-In Passed second and third reading.

SB 960 Ensure Accountability Regarding Stimulus Funds Passed second and third reading.

HB 1297 Provider Credentials/Insurer/Provider Contracting Ratified.

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

HB 1274 State Health Plan Blue Ribbon Task Force Concurred and Ratified.

SB 738 Diabetes Control Plans in Charter Schools Passed second and third reading.

SB 468 Authorize Insurance for Former Employees Conference Report Adopted.

HB 212 Health Insurance Pool Pilot Program Passed second and third reading.

HB 1172 School Based Administrators Salary Schedule Concurred and Ratified.

HB 1329 Consolidate Expunction Statutes  Failed to concur. Conference Report Adopted.

HB 274 Clarifying Changes to State Law Failed to concur. Conferees Appointed.

HB 220 General Statutes Committee Technical Corrections Passed second and third reading.

Senate Floor:

HB 209 Sex Offender Registry/Liberties with Student Passed second and third reading and Ratified.

HB 1274 State Health Plan Blue Ribbon Task Force Passed third reading and Ratified.

SB 509 Revenue Laws Technical, Clarifying, & Administrative Changes Concurred on third reading and Ratified.

SB 894 UI/School Teacher-Related Amendments Concurred and Ratified.

SB 202 Appropriations Act of 2009 Concurred and Ratified.

HB 104 Clarify Legislative Confidentiality Passed second and third reading and sent to the House for Concurrence.

HB 212 Health Insurance Pool Pilot Program Concurred and Ratified.

HB 817 Ethics TC and Other Changes Passed second and third reading

HB 1329 Consolidate Expunction Statutes Passed second and third reading and sent to the House Judiciary I.

HB 804 Amend Law Regarding Education Plans Passed second and third reading and Ratified.

SB 960 Ensure Accountability Regarding Stimulus Funds Conference Report Adopted.

HB 589 Insurance/Cover Hearing Aids Name changed to Insurance and State Health Plan Cover/Hearing Aids/Autism. Passed second and third reading and sent to the House for Concurrence. Conference Report Adopted.

HB 1292 Employment of Noncertified Personnel Passed second reading. Calendared Wednesday, May 19, 2010.

HB 1474 Credit Education Required for Students Passed second and third reading.

SB 859 Tort Claims Act/Local Government Opt-In Passed second and third reading.

SB 468 Authorize Insurance for Former Employees Conference Report Adopted.

HB 1099 Amend Environmental Laws 2009 Passed second and third reading and sent to the House for Concurrence.

HB 1172 Take Voluntary Furloughs/State Government & Schools Name Changed to School Based Administrators Salary Schedule. Passed second and third reading and Ratified.

HB 1117 Sex Offender Can’t Drive Bus with Children Passed second and third reading.

HB 1261 Protect Our Kids/Cyber Bullying Misdemeanor Passed second and third reading.

HB 274 Rewrite Foreign Money Judgments Laws Name Changed to Clarifying Changes to State Law Passed second and third reading and sent to the House.

SB 738 Diabetes Control Plans in Charter Schools Senate Concurred

SB 1109 Adjournment Resolution Passed second and third reading.

HB 220 General Statutes Committee Technical Corrections Concurred and Ratified.

HB 908 Election Administration Amendments Conference Report Adopted.

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