After five weeks in the 2011 legislative session, nearly 500 bills have been introduced, half in the House and half in the Senate.  In addition, we have been working on the budget almost two weeks.   If that wasn’t enough, the census figures became available late last week, so we can start working on the redistricting process, which occurs every 10 years following the federal census.  Districts must be drawn for 13 U.S. House districts, 50 N.C. Senate districts, and 120 N.C. House districts.

House Bill 2 – Protect Health Care Freedom passed the Senate, came back to the House for concurrence, and passed 69 – 49 on February 22nd after a very heated floor debate.   Last week, the bill had been on the Governor’s desk for several days and she decided to veto it on Friday.  This week Republicans will decide if we have the votes to override the veto.  A veto requires three-fifths, 30 in the Senate and 72 in the House.  The Senate has 31 Republicans and will override the bill, but the House has 68 and could face a challenge.

Senate Bill 8 – No Cap on Number of Charter Schools passed the Senate and was introduced in the House last week.  This bill was sent to the Education Committee, where I am a member and we should be debating the bill this week.

Other bills of local interest include House Bill 140 – Oak Island/Recall Officials, House Bill 167 – Extend Assessment Refund Period, and House Bill 220 – Waccamaw River/Isolated River Basin.

HB 140 would require a referendum in November, a vote by the citizens of Oak Island, on whether or not to amend the town charter to allow a recall petition and vote procedure for elected town officials.  This is at the request of the Oak Island town council.

HB 167, filed by myself and Rep. Dewey Hill is a statewide bill, but was filed at the request of Boiling Spring Lakes.  This legislation would allow more time for a town to refund unused assessments collected for a capital project that has been taken over by another entity.  It deletes the phrase “prior to 2007″ from the law.  We were going to insert “prior to 2012”, but the Government Committee amended the bill to take out the date altogether.  Both of these bills passed the Government Committee unanimously on Thursday and could be on the House floor this week.

HB 220 is a revision of a bill passed in 2010 that made the Shallotte River an isolated river basin for purposes of inter basin transfer of water from the Cape Fear River.  Rep. Hill again joined me in filing this legislation.  The Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources was concerned about the small amount of water that Brunswick County may transfer into the Waccamaw River basin.  As a precaution, we are adding that basin to the list of isolated river basins, possibly saving the county several years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in delays and environmental studies.

This week promises to be another very busy week.

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