Last week at the North Carolina General Assembly saw many House and Senate bills moving through both chambers, while high level negotiations began on the state budget items in controversy. These bills impact many areas of our lives, from statewide to local concerns.
Senate Bill 191 – No Patient Left Alone Act ensures patient visitation rights during declared emergencies. It passed the House 88 – 14, and went back to the Senate for their concurrence. Another key patient bill, Senate Bill 257 – Medication Cost Transparency Act, passed the House 101 – 0, was not concurred with by the Senate and will go to a conference committee to iron out the differences.
The Regulatory Reform Act of 2021, House Bill 366, reduces unnecessary government regulations. Interestingly, it passed the House 65 – 36, with 9 Democrats voting aye with most Republicans, but with 18 of the House members not in attendance to vote. (There are 120 House members, but the Speaker doesn’t usually vote, except in a tie). Having passed the Senate, it went to the Governor on Friday.
Senate Bill 636 – Donor Privacy ensures the privacy of donors to charitable nonprofits. Since it also involves possible non-candidate political action groups, it passed on a party line vote of 58 – 34, and went back to the Senate for their concurrence. Again, the attendance in the House was low, with only 92 present and voting. Many of the absentees from the west had gone back to the flooded areas in the mountains.
Several criminal justice bills were coming through. Senate Bill 300 – Criminal Justice Reform improves policing and law enforcement laws, especially in police data standardization and Justice and Public Safety Department oversight. It passed 100 – 2 and went back to the Senate for their concurrence.
Senate Bill 693 – Expedite Child Safety and Permanency increases awareness of child abuse, including a child protective services hotline. It passed 72 – 30 and went to the Senate for concurrence.
After adjournment for the week, Speaker Moore and several members went to the flood-damaged areas of the mountains around the Town of Canton and Haywood County. I am aware that our own Representative Miller was there, not only for personal reasons, but to lend his emergency expertise to those NC citizens anywhere he can.
We expect more budget negotiations and a full calendar this week. The bills above can be read, and as well as our individual votes on them, by going to www.ncleg.gov and entering the bill number.