NC House Republicans: Students, Teachers & Schools Denied Key Resources Due to Gov. Cooper & Democrats Holding Budget Hostage

Top Line Points

Gov. Roy Cooper and Democrats are holding the entire state budget hostage over their demands for Medicaid expansion.
Their political games are hurting students, teachers, schools and colleges who desperately need these vital resources in the budget.
From billions in school construction and education funding to millions in teacher raises and classroom supplies, the Governor and Democrats are putting politics over people.
Furthermore, by holding the budget hostage, the Governor and Democrats are denying tens of thousands of low-income NC students free lunches.
It is simply unfair and irresponsible to use students, teachers and schools as bargaining chips to force a partisan agenda through the legislature.
Key Education Benefits and Resources Being Blocked
  1. 3.9% teacher pay raise over the biennium.
  2. $1.43 billion over two years in increased education funding.
  3. $91 million in school safety measures.
  4. $4.4 billion over the next 10 years for school construction.
  5. $3 million to provide free school lunches for low-income students.
  6. $15 million in new funding for classroom supplies.
  7. Provides $150 per teacher in the 1st year and $200 in the 2nd year for teachers to purchase classroom supplies.
  8. $400 million for Community College construction and renovations.
  9. $632 million in capital projects for the UNC System.
  10. Continues N.C. Promise, giving students an opportunity to attend three state universities for only $500 a semester.

 

School Construction Funding Per County

 

Alamance-Burlington $18,428,823
Alexander County $12,411,156
Alleghany County $10,353,574
Anson County $11,884,154
Ashe County $10,775,162
Asheboro City $ 4,396,455
Asheville City $ 2,713,629
Avery County $10,511,929
Beaufort County $12,165,414
Bertie County $11,234,254
Bladen County $12,277,125
Brunswick County $13,315,336
Buncombe County $14,687,531
Burke County $15,756,422
Cabarrus County $17,220,503
Caldwell County $15,402,161
Camden County $10,666,626
Carteret County $12,158,044
Caswell County $11,332,269
Catawba County $11,116,803
Chapel Hill-Carrboro $ 9,532,195
Chatham County $12,337,946
Cherokee County $11,136,538
Clay County $10,335,402
Cleveland County $16,605,277
Clinton City $ 4,357,148
Columbus County $10,632,523
Craven County $14,384,993
Cumberland County $28,886,745
Currituck County $11,067,730
Dare County $11,381,585
Davidson County $14,998,456
Davie County $11,627,851
Duplin County $15,498,144
Durham County $18,587,527
Edenton/Chowan $10,729,020
Edgecombe County $13,427,241
Elkin City $1,616,987
Forsyth County $24,142,940
Franklin County $14,047,855
Gaston County $20,416,874
Gates County $10,913,914
Graham County $10,336,858
Granville County $14,143,141
Greene County $12,000,632
Guilford County $28,758,346
Halifax County $ 5,201,993
Harnett County $21,892,627
Haywood County $11,889,100
Henderson County $13,511,592
Hertford County $11,524,488
Hickory City $2,861,982
Hoke County $15,821,609
Hyde County $10,156,538
Iredell-Statesville $13,034,411
Jackson County $10,974,793
Johnston County $27,659,803
Jones County $10,399,503
Kannapolis City $3,000,295
Lee County $14,032,240
Lenoir County $14,071,824
Lexington City $ 2,423,631
Lincoln County $13,071,054
Macon County $11,156,512
Madison County $10,666,773
Martin County $11,558,269
McDowell County $12,814,262
Mecklenburg County $48,448,911
Mitchell County $10,546,702
Montgomery County $11,488,434
Moore County $13,314,557
Mooresville City $ 3,829,900
Mount Airy City $ 2,259,667
Nash-Rocky Mount $16,943,741
New Hanover County $16,843,283
Newton-Conover $ 2,095,306
Northampton County $10,865,984
Onslow County $18,360,133
Orange County $ 5,612,793
Pamlico County $10,324,498
Pasquotank County $12,451,049
Pender County $13,872,281
Perquimans County $10,472,554
Person County $11,454,025
Pitt County $19,856,962
Polk County $10,546,975
Randolph County $15,742,900
Richmond County $14,202,934
Roanoke Rapids City $ 6,041,637
Robeson County $25,780,597 23
Rockingham County $15,686,829
Rowan-Salisbury $17,608,410
Rutherford County $14,040,176
Sampson County $11,949,305
Scotland County $13,570,841
Stanly County $13,731,951
Stokes County $12,719,108
Surry County $10,800,912 31
Swain County $10,615,809 32
Thomasville City $ 1,796,180 33
Transylvania County $10,895,356
Tyrrell County $10,313,374 35
Union County $20,751,542 36
Vance County $13,614,718 37
Wake County $52,215,430 38
Warren County $10,668,056 39
Washington County $10,703,586 40
Watauga County $11,217,518 41
Wayne County $19,103,192 42
Weldon City $ 1,891,823 43
Whiteville City $ 4,312,611 44
Wilkes County $14,016,757 45
Wilson County $14,881,132 46
Yadkin County $12,532,520 47
Yancey County $10,572,504

 

Community College Construction Funding

 

Alamance CC $7,938,704
Asheville-Buncombe TCC $8,265,643
Beaufort County CC $4,149,414
Bladen CC $3,520,119
Blue Ridge CC $2,905,574
Brunswick CC $2,278,736
Caldwell CC and TI $6,909,954
Cape Fear CC $ 9,986,372
Carteret CC $ 3,375,700
Catawba Valley CC $ 8,655,880
Central Carolina CC $10,031,233
Central Piedmont CC $20,000,000
Cleveland CC $ 7,598,247
Coastal Carolina CC $ 8,460,455
College of the Albemarle $ 6,376,529
Craven CC $ 5,765,056
Davidson County CC $ 6,755,089
Durham TCC $ 6,188,478
Edgecombe CC $ 5,417,837
Fayetteville TCC $20,000,000
Forsyth TCC $14,572,113
Gaston College $ 9,009,858
Guilford TCC $19,525,968
Halifax CC $ 2,996,526
Haywood CC $ 2,105,434
Isothermal CC $ 5,007,321
James Sprunt CC $ 3,144,017
Johnston CC $ 5,111,793
Lenoir CC $11,826,322
Martin CC $ 2,190,242
Mayland CC $ 3,829,850
McDowell TCC $ 2,173,649
Mitchell CC $ 3,397,210
Montgomery CC $ 1,860,231
Nash CC $ 7,753,111
Pamlico CC $ 1,222,332
Piedmont CC $ 3,001,442
Pitt CC $14,535,241
Randolph CC $ 5,418,451
Richmond CC $ 7,526,958
Roanoke Chowan CC $ 2,217,281
Robeson CC $ 6,555,976
Rockingham CC $ 4,407,523
Rowan-Cabarrus CC $12,614,170
Sampson CC $ 5,203,976
Sandhills CC $ 4,970,448
Southeastern CC $ 6,701,009
South Piedmont CC $ 5,560,411
Southwestern CC $ 5,020,226
Stanly CC $ 5,610,190
Surry CC $ 7,888,312
Tri-County CC $ 2,055,656
Vance-Granville CC $ 7,394,217
Wake TCC $20,000,000
Wayne CC $9,149,360
Western Piedmont CC $ 3,947,229
Wilkes CC $ 5,514,320
Wilson CC $ 4,402,607

Legislative Update from Representative Frank Iler – July 15, 2019

Last week in the North Carolina General Assembly started quickly on Monday
with a night voting session and saw us handle a full calendar all week. After a
week off for July 4 th celebrations, we had a lot to do. The Budget bill, House Bill
966, was back on the calendar for a possible veto override vote, and many bills that
had come over from the Senate were on the House floor for votes. The Senate was
also voting on our House bills.

Independence Day, July 4 th is always exciting for our citizens, especially those
being sworn in as citizens for the first time in naturalization ceremonies, those who
are joining in parades in many of our towns, and those enjoying family time. It
was a pleasure to ride in Southport’s Official N.C. July 4 th parade and see many
friends across the county on this patriotic day that should bring us closer and help
us realize how lucky we are to be here.

The state budget, House Bill 966 – 2019 Appropriations Act, was vetoed by the
Governor on Friday, June 28 th , one day after it passed both the House and Senate.
His explanation was two sentences long, but came down to the lack of Medicaid
expansion the way he wanted it in the budget. It is widely known that, in addition
to the $4 billion spent on Medicaid now, his plan would add $1.2 billion to the
budget and possibly $8 billion over the next 5 years.

However, the budget bill can be enacted into law over his objections if the House
and Senate can get three fifths of the members to vote for it. That would be 72
votes in the House and 30 in the Senate. Since it is a House bill, we have to vote
first. So, House Bill 966 was on our House calendar all last week in the hopes of
obtaining enough Democrats to join with the 65 Republicans and accomplish the
override. The state is now operating on the previous budget as of July 1 st , but not
shutting down. What the veto does is stop the teacher and state employee raises,
future public school and community college construction funds, school safety
funds, further tax cuts for working families, future transportation construction and
maintenance funds, as well as funds for many local and regional projects for our
citizens. We are continuing to work on the override vote, which could come at any
time.

There were approximately 90 bills on the House calendar last week over the four
voting sessions. There were House bills that had been changed in the Senate with
which we had to vote to concur. Most passed the concurrence votes, but on some
we voted to not concur. These will go to a conference committee of House and
Senate members, then back to both chambers for final votes once there is
agreement. Other bills were Senate bills to which we agreed, and others were
House bills up for floor votes for the first time. This busy week was reflected in
the Senate, which appeared to have about 100 bills on which to vote. Some bills
receive quick votes, but others have hours of debate.

A few of the bills that are receiving much attention include a Gaming Commission
bill (SB 574), an ABC reform bill (SB 290), a healthcare bill (HB 655), and the
Farm Act (SB 315). All the bills can be accessed and read on the General
Assembly website, www.ncleg.net .

We expect another full calendar this week, along with conference committee
meetings and policy committee meetings, at least extending from Monday through
Thursday.

Legislative Update from Representative Frank Iler – July 1, 2019

Last week in the North Carolina General Assembly was highlighted by the presentation of the state’s 2019 – 2021 budget, the votes to pass it, and some local bills of interest.  The rhetoric was about as hot as the 90 degrees outside, but was not unusual compared with past budget debates.

House Bill 966, the state budget for fiscal years 2019 – 2020 and 2020 – 2021, was presented last Tuesday at a joint House and Senate press conference.  It was then debated and voted out of both chambers on Wednesday and Thursday.  The General Fund budget is supported by income taxes, sales taxes, and some receipts from fees and fines.  The Transportation budget is supported by a fuels tax at the pump, DMV fees, and Highway Use Tax (HUT) when you buy a car.

The General Fund budget spends $24 billion in 2019 – 2020 on Education, Health and Human Services, Justice and Public Safety, and all other state agencies except Dept. of Transportation.  In 2020 – 2021 it spends $24.8 billion.  This is a 3.5% increase the first year compared to 2018 – 2019, and 3.3% increase the second year.  This is in line with the growth in population and inflation.

The Transportation budget spends $3.9 billion in 2019 – 2020 and $4 billion in 2020 – 2021.  These are increases of 3.7% and 4.0%, respectively.  This funds all transportation construction and maintenance, except for some federal funds.  This includes our highways, ferries, ports, aviation, rail, bike and pedestrian projects, DMV, and public transit.  We continued to invest heavily in the General Maintenance Reserve, bridge preservation, and contract resurfacing.  We added $7.4 million to the Powell Bill funds that towns receive for their city street maintenance for the first increase in 6 years, bringing it to almost $155 million.

Some of the biggest parts of the General Fund include Education at 59% of the budget and Health and Human Services at 23%.  This leaves 18% for Justice and Public Safety and all other departments.  Teachers are getting raises for the 6th and 7th years in a row.  Other state employees are getting a 5% raise after years of little or no raises.

The budget also includes a plan to spend $4.4 billion over 10 years for a school construction initiative.  Out of the first $1.5 billion for public school construction  and renovation Brunswick County should receive over $13.3 million.  Out Of $400 million for Community College construction and renovation Brunswick C.C. should receive over $2.2 million.

Other projects, funded through Natural and Cultural Resources, included a roof renovation for Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach and maintenance support for the Museum of Coastal Carolina in Ocean Isle Beach.  These are resources used by our schools in educating our children as well points of interest to our citizens and visitors to the area.

Unfortunately, the Governor chose to veto the budget on Friday, primarily for the reason that it didn’t include Medicaid expansion the way that he wanted.  All these appropriations will be uncertain past the beginning of the fiscal year, which is this Monday, July 1st.  Unless the House and Senate can override the veto, local governments and school systems may hold up their budgets, wondering what the final teacher pay and funds for other projects may be.  However, the state government doesn’t shut down, but continues on the previous budget.

One local bill of interest was House Bill 237 – Brunswick County Zoning Procedures Changes, sponsored by Rep. Butler and myself.  Requested by the county, it delegates more authority to the planning board, but leaves open the opportunity for appeals to the County Commissioners as needed.

We can all look forward this week to Independence Day celebrations, including the official N.C. Fourth of July Celebration and parade in Southport.  See you there.

Legislative Update from Representative Frank Iler – June 25, 2019

Last week in the North Carolina General Assembly saw budget negotiations go into the third week, a controversial fish bill in the House, and a local project in Oak Island getting sudden attention. 

As we were hoping to vote the final budget out of the House and Senate last week, we still had some issues being negotiated between the two chambers.  The Education section and the Health and Human Services section were taking the most time to be resolved, as well as salaries and cost of living increases for state workers and retirees.  This is not unusual at this point in the process, and we hope that this week we have agreement and the final votes.  The budget will then go to the Governor for his consideration to sign it or veto it.

The House took up a controversial and divisive fish bill that divided both parties. House Bill 483 – Let Them Spawn requires size limits on certain species of fish so that in theory they are old enough to spawn at least once, thereby producing more fish populations.  There is not good science on either side of the discussion, but that doesn’t keep numbers and theories from being thrown around.  Some in the recreational fishing industry think this is the answer to protecting the resource.  Commercial fishermen, on the other hand, are convinced that it is an effort to get their nets out of the water forever.  I did not think the case was made that this is an appropriate move at this time, when the N.C. Division Marine Fisheries is undergoing some changes and is working on the same issues.  However, the bill passed the House by a vote of 58 – 54 on Wednesday and 58 – 47 on Thursday.  Both political parties were split almost 50 – 50. It now goes to the Senate. 

Paving on Oak Island Drive in the Town of Oak Island began about two weeks ago.  Since it is a state road, the NC Dept. of Transportation is responsible for contracting of the paving.  I got a phone call bringing to my attention that it was disruptive during this very busy season of traffic on the main road in town.  After calling NCDOT about the timing, I was told that it was scheduled to be paved soon after the work on the bridge was completed.  They also said the town was consulted, and asked if a delay until after Labor Day was needed.  Apparently, town officials were concerned if it was delayed that it would be hard to get back on the paving schedule, and that the work needed to be done this year before winter.  I was glad to see NCDOT being responsive to our towns and county when it comes to these projects, which are always inconvenient while in progress, but more convenient after completion.  As I drove on Oak Island Drive last Saturday, and crossed the Barbee Bridge, it felt like a new bridge instead of “the old bridge.”

Legislative Update from Rep. Frank Iler – June 3, 2019

The past two weeks have produced less news than usual from the legislature.  However, that all changed last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The House Speaker made a surprise announcement on Wednesday.  Also, the Senate has been working very hard on the state budget which the House sent them early in May, and they passed it with votes on Thursday and Friday.

Senate Bill 359 – Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act was vetoed by the Governor on April 18th.  The Senate voted to override the veto on April 30th by a vote of 30 – 20.  It has been on the House calendar for a possible override vote almost every session in May.  It requires a three-fifths vote to override, which would be 72 votes with all members present and voting.  We haven’t felt that we had the required number, so the vote has not been called by the Speaker.  However, the Speaker announced last Wednesday that the vote will definitely be taken this Wednesday, June 5th

The short bill simply says that a baby born alive is entitled to the same treatment to save its life as any other living human being.  It is hard to understand how anyone could vote against that, but this is where we are today.  It is totally political in some people’s minds.  We only hope the votes will be there Wednesday.  I was a cosponsor of the identical companion bill, House Bill 602.

The Senate has been working hard on the state budget since we in the House voted it out May 3rd and they received it on May 6th.  They had lengthy committee meetings and finalized their budget in Senate floor votes on Thursday and Friday.  The final vote on Friday was 30-16. It will now come back to the House this week.  Since there are differences in our budget and theirs, we will vote to “not concur” and then go into conference until we agree on the entire budget.  We plan to be done before the fiscal year end date of June 30th.

Several groups and individuals continued to visit and discuss their priorities with us in Raleigh. I was glad to meet with a group of homebuilders two weeks ago, and meet with our Sheriff Ingram last week.  The Sheriff is also looking forward to beginning a term starting in July as President of the North Carolina Sheriffs Association.

It was also good to have a page from back home last week.  Aubrey Sherrod of South Brunswick High School was a House page and got to see a few floor votes on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The pages also get to tour the museums and Capitol Building to see the history and the government in their state.  We had a large group, since school is ending for the year, so maybe they were able to make some new friends from across the state.

Legislative Update from Rep. Frank Iler – May 20, 2019

Last week in the North Carolina General Assembly the House was on a reduced schedule, as the Senate worked on the budget.  Some of our committees were still meeting, we began considering more Senate bills that had passed in that chamber and crossed over to ours, we passed a very important transportation bill, and had visitors from back home. 
 
The House Finance Committee and the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House (Rules Committee) met Wednesday with full agendas of bills that would be on the House floor later in the day.  They were non-controversial and several were local bills that had tax implications not affecting our county.
 
However, an important state-wide transportation bill, Senate Bill 605 – Highway Storm Recovery Act had already passed the Senate 48-0, so we took it up in two committees Wednesday and also passed it on the House floor.  What the bill does is authorize the State Controller to transfer funds from the unreserved fund balance in the General Fund (the Rainy Day Fund) to a new fund in the Dept. of Transportation called the Disaster Relief Cash Flow Loan Fund.  The funds would be a loan in the amount of $90 million to allow NCDOT to continue the transportation construction and maintenance scheduled across the state uninterrupted by the large amounts spent on emergency projects after Hurricanes Florence and Michael.  The loan would be paid back by the funds reimbursed by FEMA or by June 30, 2021, whichever comes first.  It is expected that as much as $300 million may be finally reimbursed from FEMA back to NCDOT.  This is just to ease the cash flow and not stop or delay existing planned projects.  NCDOT is the only department up until now to not receive any funds from the Rainy Day Fund.  After brief debate on the House floor, it passed 99 – 1.  The Governor signed the bill into law Thursday, the next day.  Our Senator, Bill Rabon, was the main primary sponsor of this bill.
 
Wednesday was our busiest day, and we had several groups from across the state and from our area visiting.  Optometrists had their legislative day and white coats were everywhere.  I met with two of them to discuss current issues and those that might need to be in legislation in the future.
 
The North Carolina Republican Women’s Federation also had their legislative day Wednesday.  I met with a large group from across the state in the morning and a small group from Brunswick County in the afternoon. 
 
It is expected that we will be taking up more Senate bills this week and next, and should again have a very full calendar.

Legislative Update from Rep. Frank Iler – May 13, 2019

Last week at the North Carolina General Assembly was shorter than usual for the N.C. House of Representatives. While voting on more bills than usual each day, we were able to get back to our districts for meetings with our constituents.

We started the week with an unusual Monday voting session starting at 2:00 p.m.  Before driving up, I was able to attend the groundbreaking for the Wilmington Airport (ILM) terminal expansion.  The airport is a regional asset for all the surrounding counties, particularly for business travel and tourism. The project is supported by a combination of federal and state funds, having been included in the NC transportation budget for our commercial airports.

Monday’s session included almost 30 bills, the most controversial being House Bill 474 – Death by Distribution and House Bill 87 – License Plate Reader Systems in State Rights-of-Way.  HB 474 creates a new crime of death by distribution if someone sells or gives controlled substances to another which results in their death.  After considerable debate it passed 83 – 34 on a bipartisan vote with almost all Republicans and half of Democrats voting aye.

House Bill 87 allows cameras that photograph license plates to be placed in state rights-of-way by law enforcement agencies.  After a long debate it was referred back to the House Rules Committee for further consideration.

Tuesday’s session was also longer than usual with almost 30 bills again.  There was long debate on House Bill 144 – Hands Free NC, which makes it illegal to engage in distracted driving using a mobile phone or other handheld electronic device.  After much debate from both ends of the political spectrum, it passed 92 – 23 on a bipartisan vote.

There were many study bills passed last week, including the firefighters’ separation pay issue, confinement of the mentally ill, and the guardianship laws.  We also had some feel-good bills such as the official state battleship (USS North Carolina) and the official state cookie (the Moravian Cookie).  They join the official state raptor (the Osprey), official state marine mammal (the Bottlenose Dolphin), and the official state saltwater reptile (the Loggerhead Sea Turtle), all passed earlier.  The Senate must also vote on them.

While we were able to complete a week’s business in two days, it was good to get back to the district and meet with individuals and groups of our citizens, on seven different occasions over three days.  Some of the official and unofficial meetings concerned transportation issues, such as the Carolina Bays Parkway connecting to South Carolina on the west side of the county, and the Cape Fear Crossing, which would cross the Cape Fear River and connect to highways in our county on the east side.  There was also a groundbreaking at Brunswick Plantation for the new POA building to replace the one that burned, and a luncheon where the Republican Women presented two scholarships to High School seniors.  Getting around the county and meeting different people is one of the best parts of the job.

This week we anticipate a later start to the week, and consideration of bills that were not subject to the crossover deadline last week.  We also have more groups of citizens having their “Legislative Days” in Raleigh this week.

 

Legislative Update from Rep. Frank Iler – May 6, 2019

Last week in the North Carolina General Assembly we were able to vote on over 100 bills in the House, hold an all-day committee meeting on the state budget, and vote the budget out of the House earlier in the year than anyone can remember.

The week started early Monday and lasted late each night last week. The budget deadline that we had set for ourselves as well as the deadline for bills crossing over to the Senate kept us moving at a fast pace all week, even an unusual Friday session.  Over 100 bills moved through committees and onto the House floor for votes in four days of sessions.  Wednesday was reserved for the all-day House Appropriations Committee meeting on the budget.

Some of the bills of particular interest are House Bill 724 – Truth in Caller ID Act, House Bill 99 – Transfer ALE, and House Bill 633 – Strengthen Criminal Gang Laws. HB 724 makes it illegal to clone someone’s phone number to make a solicitation or sales phone call and make the recipient think it is their home number or a friend calling.  HB 99 transfers Alcohol Law Enforcement from the SBI into a separate division of the Dept. of Public Safety.  HB 633 makes the penalties tougher for engaging in gang activity as well as planning or abetting gang activity.

One other bill of local and coastal interest is House Bill 169 – Loggerhead Turtle/State Saltwater Reptile, which I filed back in February.  It passed 114 – 0 and is now in the Senate.  The loggerhead sea turtle is by far the turtle that lays the most eggs in nests each year along our coast.

 

Of course, the biggest bill we took up is the budget bill, House Bill 966 – 2019 Appropriations Act.  The general fund budget appropriates $23.9 billion in fiscal 2019-2020 and $24.9 billion in fiscal 2020-2021.  This is a growth of 3% per year over the current budget, which is within the growth in inflation and population.  Of these amounts, 58% goes to education, including public schools, community colleges, and universities. Health and Human Services consumes 22% and all other departments get the remaining 20%.  The general fund is supported by sales tax and income tax.  There is no tax increase, and the franchise tax on small businesses is actually reduced.  There is a 4.6% raise for teachers with an emphasis on veteran teachers.  There is a raise for all state employees. In particular, correctional officers and trial court administrators are increased 5%. 

The transportation budget is separate from the general fund, and is supported by the motor fuels tax at the pump, as well as DMV fees and the Highway Use Tax when you buy a car.  The transportation budget is approximately $3.9 billion in 2019-2020 and $4.07 billion in 2020-2021 with about 40% in new construction projects and 60% in maintenance of existing roads, bridges, ports, ferries, rail and other forms of transportation. This is a growth of about 4% per year.  North Carolina maintains more state roads than any other state other than Texas, at about 80,000 miles.  As part of the transportation budget, the amount of funds that towns are given to maintain their city streets, known as Powell Bill funds, is increased by 10% the first year of the budget and 20% the second.  A town now receiving $100,000 will get $110,000 next year and $120,000 in 2020-2021.  They had not had an increase in five years. 

The budget bill was presented in the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, where over 75 amendments were considered.  After a favorable vote there it went to the full House session on Thursday, where it was well debated, more amendments were considered and it received a vote of 61 – 55. The second floor vote on Friday was 61 – 51.  Some of our members on both sides of the vote were absent.  The budget now goes to the Senate, where they will go through a similar process, vote it out, and send it to the Governor.  We hope to have it completed before the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1st.

This week will start early again, and will be a rush to beat the deadline Thursday for bills to cross over to the Senate. 

Legislative Update from Rep. Frank Iler – Apr. 29, 2019

Last week in the North Carolina General Assembly was shortened by the Easter break, but we managed to get in almost a week’s work in two full days.  We spent most of our time and energy on the House side finishing up the area budgets and getting bills considered in long committee meetings due to upcoming deadlines.

We returned late Wednesday to get an early start Thursday, and worked through Friday, which is usually a day back in the district rather than in Raleigh.  We jumped on the final changes to the area budgets, including my area of Transportation.  The Education budget, Health and Human Services budget and other areas were also still works-in-progress.

By Friday, we had to bring our proposed budget to the House Appropriations Committee on Transportation for approval, so that it could move on to the full House Appropriations Committee this week for final House approval.  After ten amendments Friday morning it was approved by a unanimous bipartisan vote.  The full House budget, House Bill 966, will be considered this Wednesday, which is normally an all day meeting with over 100 amendments.

Thursday afternoon I was chairing the Transportation Committee, which considers bills to be voted on by the House.  Many controversial bills were moving through House committees, and we had six bills, two of which had some divisive debate.  House Bill 267 – Require Safety Helmets/Under 21 allows adults over 21 to decide whether or not to wear helmets while riding a motorcycle.  Our citizens as well as other states are totally split on this requirement.  It is a freedom of choice issue to some and a lifesaving issue to others.  After a contentious debate it passed our committee by a slim margin and goes on to the Health committee and the Rules committee.  

Another bill with some debate was House Bill 87 – License Plate Reader Systems in State ROWs.  This allows DOT to allow law enforcement agencies to place cameras which read license plates in the state Right of Way.  They are already legal outside of the ROW, but there was some confusion whether DOT could allow them inside the line.  Some believe it is good that law enforcement has shown they can catch criminals with the aid of these, and others are concerned about “Big Brother” photographing license plates.  It passed on a close vote and moves to the Rules Committee. 

Other bills of interest to Brunswick County was one in the Elections and Ethics Committee to delay the implementation of new voting machines, House Bill 502.  I am a primary sponsor and spoke to the committee on it.  The county requested this bill, due to the delay by the state in certifying the new machines, the cost of the machines, and the time needed to test them in an election.  After some debate, it passed and moves to the State and Local Government Committee since it is for only six counties, so far.

One other bill of interest, House Bill 806, requires Homeowner Associations of over $25,000 to have insurance to protect against fraud and theft, known as crime and fidelity insurance.  Also, House Bill 418 creates an NC Golf Council to promote golf in North Carolina.

So many bills are going through in anticipation of the crossover deadline on May 9th, that I encourage readers to visit the NC General Assembly website at www.ncleg.net.

Legislative Update from Rep. Frank Iler – April 22, 2019

Last week in the North Carolina General Assembly we had a shortened week, but managed to squeeze in some very interesting and controversial bills, had long committee meetings and almost finalized one phase of the state budget process.

The week was shorter than usual, due to an Easter break that had been planned at the beginning of the session.  Monday and Tuesday were much busier than usual, and we were able to come back to our districts on Wednesday rather than late Thursday.

I started the week on Monday in Pinehurst at a conference of the Railway Association of North Carolina.  Four of our House and Senate Transportation chairs were on a panel and discussed issues pertaining to the operations of the 2 large railroad companies and almost two dozen small ones.  It was very interesting, and they allowed us to go early and sprint to Raleigh for meetings starting just after noon.  Committee meetings went on all afternoon and the voting session started at 6:00 p.m.  Tuesday was similar, with meetings all day considering dozens of bills and the voting floor session in the House at 4:00 p.m.

Our most controversial bill was Senate Bill 359 – Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.  This was a companion bill to House Bill 602, but the Senate version crossed over first, so we voted on it Tuesday.  The bill makes it clear that if an infant survives to birth, whether or not it is the survivor of an attempted abortion, it must receive the same medical care as any other human. To refuse care or to kill the infant after birth would be felony murder.  I was amazed at the level of debate and controversy on this bill.  The vote split 65 – 46, almost on party lines, but with 4 Democrats voting with all Republicans present to pass the bill.  It went to the Governor’s desk on Tuesday, and he vetoed it on Thursday.  I was frankly surprised, as I believe that he is a good father, and that he would have taken this subject personally, not politically.

Also, on Tuesday, we had three other bills of interest.  House Bill 437 – Education on the Holocaust and Genocide passed unanimously 112 – 0. It requires the inclusion of the history of these subjects in middle and high school curricula. There were several touching stories of visits to the Holocaust death camps during the floor debate.

House Bill 350 – Designate NC Time Zone/Observe Daylight Saving Time All Year says that North Carolina will go to daylight saving time all year if and when Congress approves a bill to do the same across the country.  It passed 85 – 27.

House Bill 151 – Katelyn’s Law says that a student will not lose school days against a perfect attendance record if they are attending a legislative event (like Youth Legislature) or visiting the legislature (like serving as a page).  It passed 110 – 2.

The budget process moved along in high gear, with the full chairs having received the area budgets. They will come back to us, we will be able to present and pass each part of the budgets in our respective committees, hold the full House Appropriations Committee meeting to pass the entire budget, take it to the floor for a vote by early May, and send it to the Senate within the next two weeks.

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