Last week the North Carolina House of Representatives and Senate were in special session Wednesday and Thursday. We welcomed a new member, Bob Muller of Pender County, passed a major elections bill, passed new districts for our judges and District Attorneys, and we overrode the Governor’s vetoes on two important bills, including the GenX funding.
Prior to driving to Raleigh Tuesday night, I was honored to participate in the Brunswick School System’s Employee Recognition Dinner. Having sat on the panel that interviewed the top teachers for 2017 Teacher of the Year, it was a privilege to be able to speak to the employees being honored in the various categories, including the finalists in Teacher of the Year. Congratulations to Tara Cumbee, Union Elementary; Sam Jennings, South Brunswick High; and Carolynn Phillips, Teacher of the Year, Leland Middle School.
Arriving in Raleigh late Tuesday night, we started early on Wednesday. During the first formal session at 10:00 a.m., we saw new Rep. Bob Muller sworn in by the Speaker. Bob replaces retiring Rep. Chris Millis, represents Pender County, and is a good friend of mine and of Brunswick County.
During the second session, at noon, we overrode the Governor’s veto on House Bill 56 – Amend Environmental Laws. This bill has over 20 provisions concerning our environmental laws. The two that impact our area the most are the funding for the GenX issue in the Cape Fear River and the establishing of the Coastal Storm Damage Mitigation Fund. I encourage our readers to read this important bill at www.ncleg.net , and see if they agree with our overriding vote of 70-44. As usual, none of us like every provision, but believe in total it should be law.
In Thursday’s marathon session, we passed Senate Bill 656 – Electoral Freedom Act of 2017. It allows third parties and independents more access to getting on the ballot and does away with party primaries for judges. It had a lot of debate, but when considered with our other election legislation, I felt it was a good bill. It passed 70 – 44 and was presented to the Governor on Thursday.
We also voted on Senate Bill 181 – Electronic Notice-Guilford County, which allows public notices to be on line and not in the newspaper. It is a local bill for Guilford County. While I had no love for the Greensboro News-Record, I chose to vote for more public notice, not less. It passed by a slim 58-57.
We took up the judicial districts in House Bill 717-Judicial Redistricting & Investment Act. Our district did not substantively change, but according to the formula for the increased investment, we gain 1 District Judge, 1 Superior Court Judge, and 1 Assistant District Attorney. It passed 69-43 on a party line vote, except for 1 representative. Rep. Brisson of Bladen County, which is in our judicial district, voted with the majority to help us pass it. It now goes to the Senate.
Thursday we also overrode the Governor’s veto on Senate Bill 16 – Business Regulatory Reform Act of 2017. It gives specific relief and clarification of regulations on primarily small businesses. It passed 70 – 42.
We adjourned around 10:30 Thursday night after a long day. We plan to return to Raleigh on January 10th . I will be required to attend some committee meetings in Raleigh, but I will mostly be in the district visiting school classrooms and holding meetings in various neighborhoods.