Last week at the North Carolina General Assembly was highlighted by negotiations over reopening schools, debate over Second Amendment rights, and other big issues.  The weather outside was also warming up in anticipation of Spring.

After the veto of Senate Bill 37, the bill to reopen all school districts, the House and Senate leadership began meeting with the Governor to work out a compromise.  The result was Senate Bill 220 – The Reopen Our Schools Act of 2021.  This bill will require school districts to offer in-person learning in all public schools, with K-5 classes on Plan A (minimal distancing) and 6-12 classes on Plan A or Plan B (required social distancing).  The Governor retains the right to shut down individual districts for good reasons, but not statewide shutdowns, among other compromises.  The bill passed the Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 49 – 0, received positive debate on the House floor, and passed 119 – 0.  It went to the Governor on Thursday afternoon and he signed it into law.  One can read the details at www.ncleg.gov and input SB220.

The House floor was active Wednesday and Thursday with bills on Second Amendment rights, immigration, and private property rights.  House Bill 134 – 2nd Amendment Protection Act allows concealed carry on church property that is also the location of a school, but not during school hours or school-sponsored activities.  It passed mostly on party lines, but with some bipartisan support 72 – 44.  House Bill 48 – Concealed Carry/Emergency Medical Personnel allows EMTs to carry for self-defense when imbedded into SWAT team operations.  It passed with some bipartisan support 79 – 41.  House Bill 49 – Concealed Carry Permit Lapse/Revise Law allows a longer period to renew the permit without having to retake the concealed carry course.  It also had bipartisan support, passing 79 – 41.  All three of these bills were sent to the Senate for their consideration.

House Bill 62 – Gov. Immigration Compliance/Enjoin Ordinances gives citizens the right to seek relief in court from cities or counties that have passed “sanctuary” immigration ordinances.  It passed on a mostly party line vote of 68 – 50 and went to the Senate.  House Bill 184 – Support Private Property Rights says that the inclusion of real property on a DOT map is not a material fact for disclosure during a real estate transaction.  It passed 98 – 18 and also went to the Senate.

I introduced two bills last week and cosponsored several others.  House Bill 258 – Ocean Isle Museum Foundation Funds appropriates funds for repairs, renovations, and lost revenue for the Museum of Coastal Carolina in Ocean Isle Beach and Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach.  Funds were in the 2019 – 2021 budget that was previously vetoed by the Governor in 2019, so they got nothing.  These funds may actually be included in the 2021 budget.  House Bill 281 – Loggerhead Turtle/State Saltwater Reptile is a reintroduction of my bill from last session that did not make it through the Senate.  One of the bills I cosponsored was House Bill 286 – Urge Congress/Propose “Keep Nine” Amendment which would encourage Congress to put forward an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to keep the U.S. Supreme Court at nine justices.

This week should see more bills filed and debate increase.  As usual in the Spring, we can expect the activity to heat up inside the General Assembly, just as the temperature warms outside.