Legislative Update from Rep. Iler — July 31, 2023

The month of July at the North Carolina General Assembly was unusual in that we had the July 4th week off, a brief voting session the following week, and another record-setting group of vetoes from the Governor.

     We had hoped the biennial state budget would have been completed by July 1st, but budget negotiations at the highest level continued through the holiday week and until the end of the month.  We are now hopeful it will be completed and ready for our final votes by the middle of August.

     However, the Governor was busy during the holiday week, vetoing five of the bills he had recently received from the House and Senate.  On July 5th Senate Bill 49 – Parents Bill of Rights, House Bill 574 – Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, and House Bill 808 – Gender Transition/Minors were returned to us.  On July 7th he also vetoed House Bill 488 – Code Council Reorganization and Various Code Amendments and House Bill 618 – Charter School Review Board.  It was our hope that veto override votes could be held the following week, but due to advance vacation plans 18 of the 120 House members were absent. I was present and ready to vote.  On July 21st the Governor also vetoed House Bill 219 – Charter School Omnibus.  All these bills will be calendared for override votes in August.

     When we are not in Raleigh, many people think we are on vacation or fundraising full time.  However, my calendar and those of my colleagues fill up quickly with meetings across our districts for communication and listening purposes.  After a great July 4th BBQ at my college friend’s house on Dare St. in Ocean Isle Beach, I met with citizens on at least a dozen occasions in July, mostly on nonpartisan issues. 

     Some of the issues we addressed were Homeowners Association (HOA) reforms, transportation projects and construction methods, insurance rates, and fire department equipment budget requests.  Meetings ranged from Calabash and Sunset Beach up to Navassa, as well as at the county complex in Bolivia.  Early in the month I attended the Sunset Beach Town Council, where a many-months-long development process was approved on 22 parcels for mostly residential development.  (An opinion: Growth is coming, and it is good to see our local government planning boards and councils preparing for it.)

     Sometimes we have to travel outside the county or state on issues important to our county, especially on transportation issues.  Last Friday, I went to Pawley’s Island, SC, to the policy committee of the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study (GSATS).  This is a federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) that includes Horry and Georgetown counties and part of Brunswick County from the SC state line to the Shallotte and Holden Beach areas.  Mayors Walt Eccard and Debbie Smith are the Chair and Vice Chair of the North Carolina section of GSATS and attend the meetings faithfully.  The MPO designation helps with some additional federal money for our area and attention to our priority projects. (This is different from the Metropolitan Statistical Area or MSA, a federal census designation, which recently returned Brunswick to the Wilmington MSA.)

     Early in August we anticipate that all members of the House and Senate will be back in full force and ready to vote on veto overrides and, hopefully, the biennial state budget.  I can tell there will be provisions in the thousand-page budget that I won’t like, but we have to look at it in total and see if we can live with it.  Most of us have been working on this since February, and we are ready to let our citizens know what their budget contains and be able to move on to a better future.