Lots going on at the NC General Assembly this week what with the House bill filing deadlines of April 16 for non-budget-related bills and April 23 for budget-related House bills. The Senate bill-filing deadline has passed already. As you can imagine, it's raining bill filings in the House. It will be quieter next week, it's their spring break. The House returns on April 25, the Senate on April 29.

The crossover deadline of May 9 looms. Inquiring minds want to know,"what is this crossover of which you speak?" It's the date by which a bill must pass in either the House or the Senate in order to remain eligible for consideration in the remainder of the session. The bills that don't pass one chamber by this date are effectively dead for the session - more or less. There are zombie ideas that can rise from the dead after crossover by being included in another bill that has already passed one chamber or added to a different but quasi-related bill later in the session. Bills generally have to go through one-to-several committees before they're voted on by the full chamber, so the next few weeks will see LOTS of action in committees.

Find your legislators to call or email about any of these or other bills you read about. Remember that our calls have impact when bills are still in committee, not just when they come to the floor, so check the committee links below.

Here's a smattering of what we're following, there are a lot:

  • S559, Storm Securitization/Alt. Rates. Doesn't sound like much, but it includes what's basically a Duke Energy pitch to get state approval for rate increases because the Utilities Commission has been denying them recently (think coal ash clean-up). It has some bipartisan support, though it's opposed by environmental groups, the AARP, and clean energy companies. Duke Energy wrote this bill. Read more from WRAL. It's moving quickly through Senate committees, though big employers pushed back on it on Wednesday in committee, so maybe it will slow down when the Senate returns.
  • Lisa Sorg with NC Policy Watch discusses four bills that undermine environmental protection efforts.
  • H238, Reinstate Earned Income Tax Credit vs. S622, Tax Reduction Act of 2019. These two bills symbolize the fundamental divide between conservatives and progressives, more tax cuts and less money for state services or helping low-income working families with a tax credit that reduces or eliminates their income tax bill and reimburses them for some of the other taxes they pay. H238 is sitting in House Rules, S622 is in Senate Finance. Read more from NC Policy Watch.
  • H609, Raise the Age Modifications, would implement a variety of statutory changes recommended by the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee to support the transition of 16- and 17-year-olds into the juvenile justice system. Importantly, this bill excludes previous minor traffic offenses as automatic triggers for transfer to adult court. It was passed by the House on Tuesday, it's in Senate Rules until they return.
  • H696, NC Families First Act, would establish a paid family and medical leave insurance program. The bill would provide 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a family member, bond with a new child, or deal with needs arising from a military deployment; 18 weeks to recover from a serious health condition; or 26 weeks to care for an injured military service member. It's been referred to the House Committee on Health, worth calling to urge action on this if your representative is on that committee.
  • S494, Revocation of License/Penalty/Costs, will help people whose drivers’ licenses are suspended or revoked due to the nonpayment of court costs and fines associated with traffic citations. It will allow for the automatic reinstatement of a person’s license after a year under most circumstances and require judges to make a finding at the time that they imposed court costs and fines that the person could pay it. It has bipartisan Senate sponsors, so it may get heard this year. It's in Senate Rules.
  • Two bills to close rape loopholes: S563, Right to Revoke Consent, finally has a Republican sponsor, so it may go somewhere. NC is the only state in which a woman can't withdraw consent after sex begins, and that makes it difficult to prosecute rape cases. It's in Senate Rules now. H393, Modernizing Sexual Assault Laws, has 64 sponsors; it would, among other things, make rape of an incapacitated person a crime, even if the incapacitated person drank or used drugs. It's in House Judiciary. Read more about both bills from Carolina Public Press.

And ending with a little good stuff that's passed or likely to pass soon:

  • H121, Expunction Related to RTA/No Conviction, creates a process for 16- and 17-year-olds convicted of minor crimes to expunge their records. It passed the House this week, was sent to the Senate.
  • H198, implements a number of recommendations from the Human Trafficking Commission, including criminalizing buyer conduct in sexual servitude, providing a civil cause of action for human trafficking victims, and expanding expunction eligibility for trafficking victims. It passed the House this week, was sent to the Senate.
  • S168, Expand Allowed Medical Uses/Cannibis Extract, will allow use of cannabis extract (CBD oil) to treat intractable epilepsy, autism, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease, and other medical conditions diagnosed by a neurologist for which currently available treatment options have been ineffective. It's passed in the Senate, is in House Rules. Next I'd like to see H766, Revise Marijuana Laws (decriminalize and expunge <4oz possession). And a personal-not-Stamp NC Blue addendum: Why full cannabis legalization should be a priority if you're all about CBD oil and why 2019 could be marijuana's biggest year yet.

(Tags: NCGA, NCPol, Duke Energy)

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