Last week at the North Carolina General Assembly seemed like a month, particularly as far as time spent in voting sessions, as well as bills handled and passed by both the House and Senate. As we were winding down the short session and planning to adjourn, many bills were combined, approved by both chambers, and sent to the Governor.
While I can’t list all the important bills in this column, I will highlight some that should impact our area, and just say that many of the others will adjust our regulatory and tax climate in many ways.
On Monday night we had two resolutions that honored deceased members of the N.C. House. Representative Linda Johnson of Cabarrus County was a member of the House for twenty years, became one of the most influential and respected leaders in the House, and was a very good friend during my tenure there. She passed away in February and I was able to attend her service just before the COVID scare ended such gatherings.
Representative MaryAnn Black was a highly respected and admired leader in the Durham community prior to coming to the N.C. House three years ago. She immediately made many friends there, made an impact, and was considered a positive and gracious colleague to the House members.
Several bills that impact Brunswick County directly came through last week. House Bill 1163 had several sections, but the third section allowed Brunswick County to participate in a pilot program for shellfish farming, which means a small area near the mouth of the Shallotte River will be opened to oyster farming leases. We had been the only coastal county not included in this program, and this bill corrected it.
Senate Bill 286 – Amend Fire Prot. Fees/Union/Brunswick clarifies that an area taken into a municipal fire district will pay fire fees to that district and be protected by that district. I was told that the county had already worked this out and this assures it.
A provision that was moved from another bill into House Bill 902 at the last minute will allow limited liability for community pools that open, so that they cannot be held totally responsible if someone believes they contracted COVID 19 due to using their facility. This will also impact our many condominium pools and pools at duplexes and hotels on both our beaches and inland areas.
House Bill 77 – DOT 2020-2021 Fiscal Year Budget/Governance, which I mentioned last week, was finally passed by both chambers and sent to the Governor for his signature. It provides a revised budget for the N.C. Dept. of Transportation based on reduced revenues, and it specifies control procedures for fiscal responsibility, as recommended by the State Auditor. We believe the Governor will sign it into law.
Another important bill for transportation and education infrastructure did not make it through the process. House Bill 1225 – Education and Transportation Bond Act of 2020 passed the House, but has not been through the Senate.
After a late session Thursday night, we adjourned at 11:55, but reconvened after midnight Friday morning. The final adjournment occurred at approximately 3:00 a.m. Friday morning. We plan to return on September 2nd, after we know the results of the July 15th tax filing deadline and the bills that were signed or possibly vetoed by the Governor.
This could be my last article until we reconvene in September. I have written them each week we are in session since I first went to the N.C. House. I hope they are helpful for those that like to keep in touch with what we do and express their opinions when they feel the need.