Everyone is probably aware by now that the Governor vetoed three key pieces of legislation the weekend of June 29th through July 1st. In addition to overriding all three of these vetoes, we were able to pass significant legislation to benefit the coast on Monday and Tuesday of last week. However, one important bill failed to pass. There was a sense of urgency to get back for the July Fourth celebrations and parades, such as the one we have in Southport.
On everyone’s mind was the budget, House Bill 950 – Modify 2011 Appropriations Act. If we didn’t override the Governor’s veto, the teachers wouldn’t get the first raise in four years, Medicaid could go bankrupt, and increased ferry tolls would be imposed, among other undesirable things. When the House override vote was taken Monday at 9:59 P.M. it passed 74 – 45, two votes more than necessary. During a brief recess, I went over to the Senate to watch their debate and vote. Their vote was 31 – 10 to override. As I watched Lt. Governor Walter Dalton, presiding in the Senate, and announce that “House Bill 950 is passed into law at 10:41 P.M. July 2nd”, the second the vote was taken, it felt historic. It was also fulfilling that we could come together over weeks and months of debate to accomplish this for the state. It would not have been possible without the help of six House Democrats, including Rep. Dewey Hill, who is retiring.
Earlier in the long Monday session the veto of Senate Bill 416 – Amend Death Penalty Procedures was overridden 31 – 11 in the Senate and 72 – 48 in the House. It became law at 2:29 P.M. Monday as it passed the House. This law focuses the racial justice defense on the defendant and local statistics rather than statewide statistics on the makeup of juries. It does not repeal the Racial Justice Act, as some said.
The third bill, Senate Bill 820 – Clean Energy and Economic Security Act, was vetoed on Sunday and overridden on Monday. The Senate vote of 29 – 13 was in early afternoon, and the House vote of 72 – 47 was 11:04 P.M., at which time it became law. This is the shale gas extraction or “fracking” bill that directs study and rule making for two years, but does not permit fracking until the General Assembly votes on it after that time.
Two homeowners’ associations bills I mentioned previously were passed by the House unanimously on June 21st and sent to the Senate. House Bill 1105 – Modify Taxation of HOA Property changes the way HOA properties in another taxing jurisdiction are taxed, such as beach clubs. It passed the Senate unanimously and went to the Governor on the 28th. She has ten days to sign or veto it.
The other bill, House Bill 1084 – HOAs/Planned Community Act Amends, also passed the House unanimously on June 21st. However, it was sent to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate, where it was not heard, and therefore, died when we adjourned the session. I was very disappointed after all the work and attention it had received over three years, and I plan to re-introduce it in the 2013 session.
There were many other bills passed that will impact us all, including eliminating emissions inspections on cars newer than three years old, study of sea level change, extension of film credits, and many others.
As this may be my last report of this session, it needs to be said that none of our accomplishments would have been possible without the input and support of so many of you. It is very important for us to be able to say, “This is what the folks in our district/county want.” Thank you for all your gracious support.