The 2015 legislative session has picked up pace as we work to move bills before the "crossover deadline" on April 30th. Bills that don't move from one chamber to the other by the crossover deadline will become ineligible for the rest of session.
Over 1,000 bills have been filed this year in the legislature, but only a small percentage of those bills will become law. I have filed several bills, most of which are related to regulatory reform.
At any rate, I wanted to take a moment to give you an overview of how things are going in the NC House. Here is a brief update:
Economy Shows Improvement
North Carolina's latest unemployment rate is 5.4 percent. That is a strong improvement from five years ago, when the unemployment rate was 11.3 percent. During that same time period, we have added over 300,000 net new jobs, making us a leader in job creation. There is still work to do, but this indicates that we are moving in the right direction.
North Carolina Maintains Low Debt
Some people may not be aware that North Carolina currently has the 16th lowest debt out of all 50 states (total state debt as percentage of GSP). We are also one of only 15 states that have a "AAA" bond rating from S&P. This indicates that we are being responsible with tax dollars and working to prevent future generations from having to pay an excessive amount of debt.
Strengthening Public Education
Several steps are being taken to support our public education system, such as reducing paperwork for teachers; eliminating excessive test requirements; and finding ways to utilize technology in the classrooms. We are also working to provide teachers with another pay increase this session. I cosigned several bills that will help to accomplish these goals.
Future Tax Reform
Ideas on how to implement further tax reform continue to be discussed. We enacted substantial tax reform in 2013, but that was just a start. Our goal will be to get our taxes as low as possible for all of our citizens, which will help to create jobs and grow the economy.
Ideas on how to control the cost of Medicaid are being debated. Although Medicaid expansion has been discussed, the legislature will not support taking this action because it would expand bureaucracy and increase long-term costs. Our focus will be on improving the integrity of the current Medicaid system by making it more efficient and cost-effective.
State Budget Discussions
The NC House is currently working on the details of the state budget. There will be a great deal of discussion between the House and Senate before a final budget is reached. Governor Pat McCrory has released his proposed budget, and we are taking his recommendations into consideration. Our goal is to write a budget that is fiscally responsible and funds the core services of government.
Supporting Our Firefighters
This session it is my honor to be primary sponsor of a bill that provides health care protections for firefighters who are at a higher risk of developing certain deadly diseases. These brave individuals serve to protect the public from danger, and it it our duty to help protect them from illnesses that they are likely to develop in the line of duty.
Education in the NC House
Almost every day we have children visiting the General Assembly from different parts of the State. It is always a pleasure to meet with school students and explain to them how the political process works. We have an obligation to teach children learn the importance of civic duty and public involvement.
Regulatory Reform / Good Government
When I ran for office, I cited regulatory reform and good government as top priorities. These are issues that I have focused on this session. Below is a list of a few bills that I have filed as a primary or lead sponsor, along with a brief description of what each bill does.
HB 126 - Mortgage Origination Support Registration
This bill creates a basic oversight system for third party mortgage underwriters/processors and prevents these individuals from having to comply with burdensome regulations.
HB 289 - NC Money Transmitters Act
This bill streamlines state laws related to electronic money transfer systems, which haven't been updated since 2001.
HB 428 - Permanent Plates/Charter Schools
This bill allows public charter school vehicles to obtain permanent license plates, which will reduce costs on charter schools.
HB 474 - Healthy Out-of-School Recognition Program
This bill creates an optional extracurricular health-and-wellness program for children. It would not have a fiscal impact on the state budget.
HB 564 - Exempt Motorcoach Manufacturer and Distributor
This bill would eliminate unnecessary sales restrictions on motorcoach producers, which will make it easier for these companies to operate and do business.
HB 607 - Allow Protected Security Freezes
This bill would extend security freeze protections to children under 18 years of age, which will help to prevent identify theft for minors.
HB 651 - Appraisal Record Keeping and Background Checks
This bill reduces excessive compliance requirements for real estate appraisers, which will help the industry operate more efficiently.
HB 711 - Prohibit Nonfunctional/Counterfeit Air Bags
This bill would make it illegal to sell nonfunctional, counterfeit air bags, which has become a serious public safety issue in North Carolina.
HB 829 - Automatic License Plate Readers
This bill would set forth laws to protect public privacy and prevent abuse of information related to the usage of LPRs.
HB 849 - Create Debtor Exemptions for Firearms
This bill would prevent debtors from confiscating firearms if the debt owed is less than $5,000, which will help to protect personal property related to the Second Amendment.
In addition to the bills that I have filed as a lead or primary sponsor, I have cosponsored bills that protect property rights; support military veterans; require zero-based budgeting; promote choice in energy consumption; support the Second Amendment, etc.
Keep Track of Legislative Activity
During session I provide regular updates on the work that I am doing through Facebook and Twitter. You can follow my activity at the links below:
Of course, my door is always open should you wish to contact me directly with questions, comments, or feedback related to public policy.
Quote to Remember
"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."
- Benjamin Franklin