The short session of the 2011-2012 General Assembly began last Wednesday. The daily sessions in the House were very short — about 20 minutes each — and no roll call votes were taken. The Senate, however, voted on annexation bills, which should be in the House this week. There were intense lobbying efforts in various committees that were looking at budget issues, and we should see the full House budget this week.
The budget has been in various Appropriations subcommittees for several weeks. Each section has been analyzed by subcommittees such as Education, Transportation, Health and Human Services, etc. I serve on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation. This week it should all come together in the full House Appropriations Committee, where we can still propose amendments to the bill and vote it onto the House floor.
Annexation bills are on the minds of many residents around Wilmington, Southport, and other communities around the state. After the passage last year of bills to establish a process for homeowners to stop an involuntary annexation, a single judge ruled the petition process in the bills unconstitutional. Two bills have been introduced and were voted on last week in the Senate. House Bill 5 and House Bill 925 each passed their Second Reading in the Senate last Thursday and should come over to the House after a third vote this Monday.
House Bill 5 – Local Deannexations, uses the power of the legislature to set city boundaries to directly cancel the annexations of nine cities, including Wilmington and Southport.
House Bill 925 – Annexation Reform, establishes a process by which a city/municipality may annex an area by a vote of the residents in the area to be annexed. Only the registered voters in the proposed annexation area may vote in the referendum.
Another issue that is generating conversation includes the exemption of the first three years inspection for a new car. There are two parts to an inspection, safety equipment such as tires, brakes, lights, etc., and an emissions inspection. In my opinion, a new car should be within the emissions limits without the inspection, but the safety inspection is still a good idea. A person can drive an unusually high number of miles in three years, or have defective tires, brakes, or lights that may go undetected without the inspection. The safety inspection is the cheaper part of the total cost. This issue came to the Joint Transportation Oversight Committee as a proposed budget provision, but was voted down until further study.
Several bills may come up soon on the issues of marine fuel tax, game fish and other coastal issues. I will keep readers posted on these the next few weeks.
The short session should live up to its name this year. We hope to finish our work in Raleigh by the end of June.