Legislative Update from Rep. Iler — August 22, 2023

Last week in the North Carolina General Assembly was truly historic.  We were able to override the Governor’s veto on six controversial bills, pass a comprehensive elections bill, and get an update on the prolonged budget negotiations on the biggest budget in the state’s history.

             After the Governor vetoed six landmark bills in July, we had members of the House and Senate scattered across the country and the world on vacations and attending conferences.  Finally, last week we were able to get them back for a voting session on Wednesday, where we voted to override all six of the bills he had vetoed.  They dealt with parents’ rights, charter schools, transgender issues, and building code changes.

              Senate Bill 49 – Parents’ Bill of Rights affirms parental rights over their child’s education, well-being, privacy, and safety.  House Bill 219 – Charter School Omnibus and House Bill 618 – Charter School Review Board expands access and streamlines approval of charter schools.  House Bill 574 – Fairness in Women’s Sports Act and House Bill 808 – Gender Transition/Minors protects women’s sports from biological men participating and protects minors from gender transition surgeries and puberty blockers.  House Bill 488 – Code Council Reorganization and Various code amendments blocks some costly extreme home building energy regulations.  The six bills passed the veto override vote with all Republicans voting in favor and all but one had a few Democrat votes.  Having received the required three-fifths vote in both chambers, they instantly became law.

             We had several more bills up for House votes, including one major elections bill, Senate Bill 747 – Election Law Changes.  This important bill does many things, including the following:  Makes election day the deadline for accepting absentee ballots; strengthens the rights of poll observers; prohibits election officials from accepting private donations (known as Zuck Bucks); has a pilot program for select counties to test signature verification software for absentee ballots; creates a process for removal of ineligible voters on registration rolls, and other changes.

             The biennial state budget, House Bill 259 – 2023 Appropriations Act, has been in negotiations between the top leaders of the House and Senate since late June.  We were advised that some major differences have been resolved, and all details should be ready for a vote in each chamber by the week of September 11th.  The budget in North Carolina must balance and must be identical when it is finally passed by the House and Senate.  All salary raises and many other items will be retroactive to July 1st.  Most of us believed we would meet the June 30th schedule and are hopeful it will be in law soon so that our citizens, as well as state agencies, colleges and local governments will know what their state budget contains.

             Later last week I was able to participate in two favorite activities/meetings back in the county.  Thursday night I was sworn in for a fifth term on the Brunswick Community College Board of Trustees.  Thanks to the Board of Education for the appointment and Judge Calvin Chandler for swearing me in.  Friday was a meeting in Ocean Isle Beach of the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study (GSATS).  GSATS is a federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) which puts Horry and Georgetown Counties in SC with the southwestern corner of Brunswick County up to Shallotte and Holden Beach.  MPOs help in securing federal funds for local traffic projects.  We got an update on current and future projects in the county and was very informative.