by: David Ferrell
North Carolina Legislative Session Begins
The North Carolina General Assembly convened its 2023 session on Wednesday January 11, 2023. Unlike the activities in the U.S. Capitol the week before, in the state capital of Raleigh lawmakers began their work quietly and with ceremony. Opening day was mostly ceremonial, with families on the House and Senate floors. Senator Berger (R-Rockingham) was elected President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Across the hall in the House chamber, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) was reelected as Speaker. Leadership roles in the House also included Sarah Stevens (R-Surry) as Speaker Pro Tempore.
Senator Berger will preside over a veto-proof majority in the Senate, with 30 Republicans and 20 Democrats. Speaker Moore will preside over a Republican majority of 71, one vote shy of a veto-proof majority. Among the priorities for this legislative session are education, economic development, broadband internet and more. In addition, Republicans in charge of both chambers are expected to grapple this year with key issues from 2022 that did not get resolved. That includes whether to accept Medicaid expansion, license sports gambling and legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Passing a two-year state government budget also will be one of the Legislature’s chief tasks for this year’s work period, which usually ends in early summer. Compared to the past four years, Cooper will have a harder time keeping his vetoes upheld during the upcoming session. His efforts to keep House Democrats united will be tested should Republicans advance new abortion restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated federal abortion protections last June.
Current bill deadlines based on House and Senate rules are as follows:
- March 9 - Senate deadline to submit public bills to Bill Drafting
- March 29 - House deadline to submit public bills to Bill Drafting
- April 4 - Senate deadline for pubic bill introduction
- April 25 - House deadline for public bill introduction
- May 4 - Crossover deadline for bills to have passed either the House or Senate for consideration during the remainder of session
Senator Berger and Speaker Moore have appointed committees for the 2023-2024 legislative session. Committees of interest include:
Senate Judiciary Committee:
- Chairs: Sens. Danny Earl Britt, Jr., Warren Daniel, E.S. "Buck" Newton
- Members: Sens. Sydney Batch, Dan Blue, Amy S. Galey, Lisa Grafstein, Rachel Hunt, Michael A. Lazzara, Michael V. Lee, Natasha R. Marcus, Mujtaba A. Mohammed, Paul Newton, Brad Overcash, Norman W. Sanderson, Benton G. Sawrey
House Judiciary 1 Committee:
- Chair: Rep. Ted Davis, Jr.
- Vice Chair: Rep. Grey Mills
- Members: Reps. John R. Bradford, III, Tricia Ann Cotham, Rosa U. Gill, Jon Hardister, Pricey Harrison, Abe Jones, Larry W. Potts, Jason Saine
House Judiciary 2 Committee:
- Chair: Rep. Sarah Stevens
- Vice Chair: Rep. Charles W. Miller
- Members: Reps. Vernetta Alston, Laura Budd, Dudley Greene, Marcia Morey, A. Reece Pyrtle, Jr., Robert T. Reives, II, Carson Smith, David Willis
House Judiciary 3 Committee:
- Chair: Rep. Hugh Blackwell
- Vice Chair: Rep. Bill Ward
- Members: Reps. Terry M. Brown Jr., Terence Everitt, John Faircloth, Wesley Harris, PhD, Julia C. Howard, Joe John, Keith Kidwell, Jeff Zenger
House Local Government – Land Use Planning and Development Committee:
- Chair: Rep. Mark Brody
- Members: Reps. Jay Adams, Jennifer Balkcom, Cynthia Ball, Gloristine Brown, Kevin Crutchfield, Allison A. Dahle, Ben T. Moss, Jr., Renée A. Price, Caleb Rudow, Sam Watford, Jeff Zenger
The legislature has hit the ground running this session with a few high profile bills. The Senate has considered and approved the “Parents’ Bill of Rights”, Senate Bill 49, which would establish a Parents' Bill of Rights enumerating certain rights of parents related to the education, health, privacy, and safety of their child; would require public school units to provide parents with information related to parental involvement in schools, legal rights for their child's education, and guides for student achievement; would require public school units to provide notifications on student physical and mental health, require age-appropriate instruction on certain topics in kindergarten – 4th grade, and create remedies for parents to address concerns over implementation of these requirements; and would require health care practitioners to obtain written consent from the parent of a minor child before providing treatment. Senate Bill 49 is similar to a House bill from the 2021-22 legislative session that received opposition from Governor Cooper, resulting in a threat of a veto of the legislation.
The House considered and approved House Bill 40, Prevent Rioting and Civil Disorder, which is a priority of House Speaker Moore who sponsored an earlier version of the same legislation in last year’s session. After witnessing the Raleigh riots in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Speaker Moore resolved to steepen penalties for destructive behavior.
House Bill 76, the House’s version of Medicaid expansion, was approved and sent to the Senate for consideration. This will would provide healthcare coverage for 600,000 low-income individuals in North Carolina, according to North Carolina Department of Health and Human Service estimates. The House bill does not tie expansion to changes in certificate of need regulations, which were a sticking point in Medicaid expansion negotiations last year. The Senate sought to tie expansion to CON reform while the House did not. CON laws require healthcare providers to get approval from the state for new healthcare facilities, medical equipment purchases and more.
Additionally, the Senate Health Care Committee passed Senate Bill 46, Medical Billing Transparency on Wednesday. The purpose of this bill is to protect North Carolinians from unexpected medical bills and to ensure that individuals are not penalized for receiving care from out-of-network healthcare providers in in-network facilities. Senate Bill 46 requires a written notice from healthcare providers disclosing their network status at least 72 hours prior to the patient receiving healthcare services at an in-network facility. This legislation is expected to pass the full Senate next week and move over to the House.
The Senate combined three gun-related bills, repealing the Pistol Purchase Permit, allowing firearms in religious meeting places, and creating a Firearm Safe Storage Awareness Initiative, into one and passed it by a party line vote of 29-19.
Finally, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard Senate Bill 3, NC Compassionate Care Act on Wednesday, which would legalize medical cannabis in North Carolina for debilitating conditions. Amendments are expected to be made to the bill in committee next week before the bill advances to the Senate floor.
Bills of Interest
Several bills of interest to NCLTA have been introduced this session. Senate Bill 42, C-PACE Program, would enact Article 10B, titled the "Commercial Property Assessed Capital Expenditure and Resilience Act (C-PACE)," in Chapter 160A. The bill would authorize the establishment of a statewide commercial property assessed clean energy program that local governments can voluntarily join to allow free and willing owners of certain properties to obtain low-cost, long-term financing from capital providers for qualifying improvements, secured by a recorded assessment and lien pursuant to the Article. The bill would require local governments seeking to participate in the program to adopt a resolution with specified content included, such as (1) an authorization for the C-PACE program to operate within its jurisdictional boundaries and to offer C-PACE financing to willing and qualified property owners, (2) its intent to participate in the program and take associated actions, (3) designation of the department or employee that will execute the C-PACE documentation set, and (4) notice of the public hearing on the proposed program. The bill further provides for foreclosure procedure, parameters, and lien priority, with the C-PACE lien being superior to all non-governmental liens on the property from the date on which the notice of the C-PACE lien was recorded, subject to mortgage holder consent. The bill details the effect of a C-PACE lien, deeming the lien to run with the land and reign superior to all non-governmental liens from the date of recordation, with other liens providing for accelerated payment deemed unenforceable as provided. The bill would bar contesting matters regarding whether the improvement or project is a qualified improvement or qualified project, or financing procedural or substantive irregularities, following assessment recordation.
Senate Bill 110, GSC Unif. Community Prop. Disp. At Death Act, would enact the Uniform Community Property Disposition at Death Act, as recommended by the General Statutes Commission. Senate Bill 112, GSC Conveyances Between Spouses, would provide for the effect that conveyances of real property between spouses have on certain marital property rights and to make technical corrections, as recommended by the General Statutes Commission.
House Bill 29, Support Private Property Rights, would clarify that the inclusion of real property on a comprehensive transportation plan is not a required disclosure or a material fact for the purposes of disclosure for real estate transactions. House Bill 20, Cash Commitment Act, would prohibit retail businesses from refusing cash payments. The bill provides that any person that engages in the business of selling goods or services at retail to the public and that accepts in-person payments at a physical location in this State shall satisfy both of the following requirements: (1) The person shall accept cash as a form of payment for sales made at the physical location; and (2) The person shall not charge cash-paying customers a higher price compared to the price charged to customers not paying with cash.
For more information about legislation described in this article, feel free to contact NCLTA’s lobbyist David Ferrell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 573-7421. Information is also available on the General Assembly’s website: www.ncleg.gov.
David P. Ferrell, Esq. - NCLTA Lobbyist
NEXSEN PRUET PLLC
4141 Parklake Ave, Suite 200
Raleigh, North Carolina 27612
Telephone: (919) 573-7421