Monday, June 27, 2016

Legislative Update - June 2016

There has been a lot of activity taking place at the legislature over the last few weeks. Our goal is to complete our work and pass a budget by the 4th of July. It looks like we are on track to make that happen.

Here is an update on recent activity.

Budget Work Continues

The House and Senate have been working to resolve differences in the state budget. We have agreed on the total amount of spending (approximately $22 billion), but we are still negotiating the final details. It appears that we are very close to reaching an agreement, and I expect we will vote on a final budget in the next few days.

Conference Committee Appointment

It was my honor to be appointed to serve on the conference committee for the state budget. This committee consists of appointments from the Speaker of the House and the Pro Tem of the Senate. Our responsibility is to reconcile differences between the House and Senate as it relates to the budget, and offer a final version for consideration to the full legislature.

State Employment Improves

The Department of Commerce has reported that North Carolina's latest unemployment rate has dropped to 5.1 percent, which shows that our economic recovery continues. This is down from a rate of 5.8 percent a year ago. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, total employment in North Carolina has increased by approximately 460,000 since this time five years ago. Our State has out-paced the national average in job creation over this period of time.

Developmental Disabilities

It is my honor to be the lead sponsor of HB 1033 - ID Card Fee Waiver / Disability - which allows a person with a developmental disability to waive the fee for a government-issued ID. The bill passed the House earlier this week on a unanimous vote and has been sent to the Senate for consideration. The idea for this legislation came from a lady who has a daughter with a developmental disability.

Higher Education Transparency

SB 536 - Students Know Before You Go and Central Residency - is making its way through the legislature. This bill requires the State Education Assistance Authority to provide information about the potential costs, benefits and consequences of obtaining certain degrees from universities and community colleges. This information will help people decide what they want to study and what kind of career they want to pursue.

Supporting Disabled Veterans

Governor Pat McCrory recently signed HB 256 - Handicap Parking / Veterans Plate - which allows disabled veterans to use handicapped parking spaces by displaying a "Partially Disabled Veteran" license plate. This is a simple provision in state law that will provide a reasonable accommodation for brave men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Overdose Safety

Governor Pat McCrory recently signed SB 734 - Statewide Standing Order / Opioid Antagonist - which increases access to a drug known as naloxone. This is a medication that can be used to save lives when someone is suffering from an opioid overdose. Law enforcement agencies and medical professionals across North Carolina supported the bill.

United Way of Greensboro

It was a pleasure meeting with officials from the United Way of Greensboro. They came to Raleigh to discuss the work they do to support our community.

Supporting Firefighters

It was an honor to meet with firefighters who visited the legislature to discuss issues related to public safety. I have worked with them to promote legislation that will support their profession.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity had a "Hammering Contest" at the state legislature a few weeks ago. The goal was to hammer four nails into board as quickly as possible. I didn't win, but my time of 4.25 seconds wasn't too bad.

More Updates Coming Soon
I will be sure to provide you with more updates when they are available. When the budget is passed, I will provide details and figures related to how funds are appropriated. As always, don't hesitate to contact me with questions, comments or feedback.

Quote to Remember

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started."
- Mark Twain