HB 587 – Repeal Death Penalty would abolish the death penalty, and all prisoners currently on Death Row would be resentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Introduced by Reps. Meyer (D-Hillsborough), Black (D-Durham), and Hawkins (D-Durham) and referred to House Judiciary and then to Rules.
ECONOMIC JUSTICE/WORKERS RIGHTS
HB 533 – Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights addresses what it calls “erratic and on-call scheduling practices” that are “unpredictable” and produce “last-minute work schedule changes.” It would require employers to give notice of work schedules at least two weeks in advance and to provide additional pay if those shifts are changed. It also requires pay for on-call shifts when the employee is not actually called in to work. Exceptions are given to employers for certain specified reasons, such as the unexpected absence of other employees. In addition, employers could not treat part-time and full-time employees differently in hourly wage, access to time off, and eligibility for promotions solely because of their part-time status. Introduced by Reps. Brockman (D-High Point), Fisher (D-Asheville), Harrison (D-Greensboro), and Holley (D-Raleigh). Referred to House Rules.
HB 551/SB 616 – Require Paid Work Breaks would require employers to give a paid 20-minute break to employees working a shift of six hours or more. Introduced by Reps. Dahle (D-Raleigh), Beasley (D-Charlotte), and Hawkins (D-Durham) and by Sens. Chaudhuri (D-Raleigh) and Nickel (D-Cary). Referred to House Rules and to Senate Rules.
The following three bills contain elements of HB 46, Economic Security Act of 2019. (See RR, February 26.)
SB 502 – “Ban the Box.” Introduced by Sens. Mohammed (D-Charlotte) and McKissick (D-Durham). Referred to Senate Rules. (Also similar to HB 460/SB 545, Fair Chance Hiring. See below and in RR, April 5.)
SB 486 – North Carolina Equal Pay Act. Introduced by Sens. McKissick, Marcus (D-Davidson), and deViere (D-Fayetteville). Referred to Senate Rules.
SB 575 – Restore Bargaining Rights. Introduced by Sens. Nickel, Van Duyn (D-Buncombe County), and Waddell (D-Charlotte). Referred to Senate Rules.
SB 561 – Education/Job Readiness in Prisons and Jails is identical to HB 463. (See RR, April 5.) Introduced by Sens. Britt (R-Lumberton), Sanderson (R-Arapahoe), and Woodard (D-Durham) and referred to House Rules.
HB 545/SB 517 – Protect the Military/Fisheries/Tourism would prohibit exploration, development and production of offshore oil and gas in North Carolina’s coastal waters. Introduced by Reps. Butler (D-Wilmington), Harrison, Martin (D-Raleigh), and Russell (D-Boone) and by Sen. Peterson (D-Wilmington). Referred to House Rules and to Senate Rules.
HB 566/SB 651 – Polluter Pays grows out of recent pollution events in North Carolina. The first part addresses water or air pollution that is “causing danger to the health or safety of the public.” The state could order those causing the water or air pollution to discontinue the actions causing it and could require the polluter to provide temporary or permanent water supplies to people whose water supply had been contaminated by the pollution. The second part prevents an electric public utility (read: “Duke Energy”) from making customers, as opposed to stockholders, pay for cleaning up coal ash ponds and their pollution. Introduced by Reps. Harrison, Russell, Hunt (D-Charlotte), and B. Turner (D-Asheville) and by Sens. Garrett (D-Greensboro), Marcus and deViere. Referred in the House to Energy and Public Utilities, then to Environment, then to Appropriations/Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources, then to Finance, then to Rules. Referred in the Senate to Rules.
HB 567 – Coal Ash/Prohibit Cost Recovery/Proper Disposal contains the provision of HB 566/SB 651, above, regarding who pays for coal ash cleanup. In addition, it requires the excavation of all coal ash ponds and disposal of the coal ash in lined landfills, with the work to be completed over the next ten years. Introduced by Reps. Harrison, Clark (D-Huntersville), Reives (D-Goldston), and Queen (D-Waynesville). Referred to the same string of five committees as HB 566, above.
HB 568/SB 653 –Additional Measures for Emerging Contaminants contains several provisions to help the state and its residents deal with new chemical pollutants. These provisions include:
- Repealing the Hardison Amendment, which prohibits North Carolina from having more stringent environmental standards than those set by the federal government.
- Forbidding the discharge into the state’s waters of any toxic waste for which neither the state nor the federal EPA has established a “safe” level. This would be mostly new “emerging” chemicals.
- Requiring those who cause pollution in the state’s waters to provide water filtration and treatment for local governments downstream from the source of pollution.
- Appropriating about $6 million to the Department of Environmental Quality for staff positions related to analyzing and dealing with these newly emerging pollutants.
Introduced by Reps. Butler, Harrison, Autry (D-Charlotte), and Richardson (D-Fayetteville) and by Sen. Garrett. Referred to House Environment, then Appropriations/Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources, and then Rules. Referred in the Senate to Rules.
SB 513 – State Clean Energy Goal for 2050 would require the state to be producing all of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2050. The State Energy Office and the Utilities Commission and its Public Staff would be tasked with developing an implementation plan and submitting it to the 2020 session of the General Assembly. Two pages of whereas clauses lay out the supporting research and evidence. Introduced by Sens. Nickel, Garrett, and Van Duyn and referred to Senate Rules.
GOOD GOVERNMENT/ELECTION LAWS
SB 495 – Automatic and Online Voter Registration would provide for automatic voter registration at driver’s license offices, other public agencies, community colleges, and institutions of the UNC System. In addition, qualified individuals would be able to register online and to update voter registration information online. Introduced by Sens. Woodard, Clark (D-Raeford), and Lowe (D-Winston-Salem). Referred to Senate Rules.
HB 574/SB 641 – Fix Our Democracy is a lengthy bill with several provisions designed to restore trust in government. Among them are the following:
- Create the Citizens Redistricting Commission to handle redistricting for the US House and the state Senate and House. This would require voter approval of a constitutional amendment.
- Return to nonpartisan elections for Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges.
- Establish automatic voter registration and on-line registration similar to that in SB 495, above.
- Provide for public funding of campaigns for all elected offices through the creation of the Fair Elections Fund. Conditions for public funding are similar to those in HB 510 for appellate courts. (See RR, April 5.)
- Require at least 48 hours’ notice on all legislative committee meetings.
- Offer live video and audio streaming from the House and Senate chambers and all committee rooms.
Introduced by Reps. Clemmons (D-Greensboro), Autry, Dahle, and Graham (D-Lumberton) and by Sens. J. Jackson (D-Charlotte), Foushee (D-Hillsborough), and deViere. Referred in the House to Redistricting, then to Elections, then to Rules. Referred in the Senate to Rules.
HB 589 – Let NC Vote Act also contains several good-government provisions, including:
- Set up automatic voter registration and online registration similar to that in SB 495, above.
- Re-establish same-day voter registration and extend it to election days.
- Allow 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote at driver’s license agencies, other public agencies and high schools. Registration would then happen automatically when the person turns 18.
- Permit the use of photo IDs which are expired or don’t have an expiration date.
- Restore the last Saturday of early voting.
Introduced by Reps. Meyer, Morey (D-Durham), Farmer-Butterfield, (D-Wilson) and John (D-Raleigh). Referred to House Elections and then to Rules.
HB 595/SB 617 – Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public Act/Funds would require candidates for President and Vice-President to make public their income tax returns for the prior 10 years before their names could be put on the ballot in North Carolina. HB 595, but not SB 617, includes a $100,000 appropriation for implementation. Introduced by Reps. Dahle, Harrison, Fisher, and Morey and by Sens. Chaudhuri and Nickel. Referred in the House to Elections, then Appropriations, then Rules. Referred in the Senate to Rules.
SB 626 – Assistance/Verification/Absentee Ballots. Current law allows a “near relative” or “verifiable legal guardian” to assist a voter in the process of voting absentee. SB 626 replaces them as helpers and transfers that function to a “multipartisan team” to be created by county boards of elections for the purpose of assisting absentee voters. Introduced by Sens. Bishop (R-Charlotte), Daniel (R-Morganton), and Hise (R-Spruce Pine). Referred to Senate Redistricting and Elections and then to Rules.
SB 485 – Destruction of Certain Firearms/Local Option would permit a city or county to adopt an ordinance allowing for the destruction of firearms that have been confiscated or otherwise come into possession of that city or county. Introduced by Sens. McKissick (D-Durham) and Britt (R-Lumberton). Referred to Senate Rules.
HB 549 – Matching Funds for Affordable Housing is identical to HB 456. (See RR, April 5.) Introduced by Sens. Beasley and Hardister (R-Whitsett) and referred to Senate Appropriations/Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources, then to Rules.
SB 615 – DACA Recipients/In-State Tuition would apply to students in the UNC System or a community college. In-state tuition would be granted If they had finished high school in NC, attended NC schools for at least the last two years before graduation, have documentation of their DACA status, and have gained admission to and enrolled in a UNC school or a community college. Introduced by Sens. Nickel, Waddell, and Chaudhuri and referred to Senate Rules.
SB 637 – 48 Hour Hold for Certain Criminal Detainees would require the person in charge of a local jail to try to determine the immigration status of anyone confined to that jail because of being charged with a felony or impaired driving offense. If that person in charge is not able to determine status, s/he has to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If ICE issues a detainer request and the prisoner has been charged with homicide, rape or other sex offenses, human trafficking, or a gang-related crime, the prisoner must be held for 48 hours, even if s/he has met all of the conditions for pretrial release, unless s/he can show proof of legal residency. Introduced by Sens. Edwards (R-Hendersonville), Sanderson, and Perry (R-Kinston). Referred to Senate Rules.
SB 580 – Classroom Supplies to Teachers. Many school teachers in North Carolina are having to spend out of their own pockets to buy supplies for their classrooms. SB 580 would allocate $400 per classroom teacher per year for supplies. While this sounds like a good deal, the devil is in the details, and many teachers have spoken out in opposition. Among their concerns: 1) The money is actually being taken from money already being given to local school systems for classroom materials, instructional supplies, and equipment, so it’s not added money, just redirected money. 2) Having the money available directly to and spent by individual teachers makes it harder, if not impossible, to save money by buying in bulk. 3) The money has to be spent through ClassWallet or a similar app, which further limits the ability to save money by shopping around. Introduced by Sens. Wells (R-Hickory), Ballard (R-Blowing Rock), and Tillman (R-Archdale). Referred to Education/Higher Education and then to Rules.
SB 583. Reduce Opportunity Scholarship Funds/Public School Funds. Two years ago the General Assembly approved an annual increase in funding for vouchers by $10 million each year for 10 years. Recent reporting has shown that the state is not spending, and hasn’t spent for several years, the money already available for vouchers. SB 583 would freeze funding at the current level, i.e., with the $10 million added this year but without additional $10 million increases in future years. It would also spend $10 million for the next two fiscal years on school-based personnel, and it would transfer any unspent voucher funds to school capital construction projects. Introduced by Sens. Marcus, Searcy (D-Fuquay-Varina), and Nickel. Referred to Senate Rules.
The House has passed HB 370, Require Sheriff Cooperation with ICE (a.k.a. “Show Me Your Papers”) by a vote of 63-51, entirely on party lines. It has been sent to the Senate, where it is in the Rules Committee. This bill would require sheriffs to act as an extension of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by
- Asking people about their immigration status regardless of criminal charges
- Reporting and detaining anyone who may be undocumented
- Honoring any ICE detainers or other requests.
If this bill becomes law, it will create fear and mistrust in our communities. It will discourage people from reporting crimes, and it will make members of our communities less safe.
There are two ways to voice your opposition:
- Email or call your state senator. While HB 370 is currently in the Senate Rules Committee, it could move at any time. To find out who your senator is, click here. For contact information, click here.
- Contact Governor Cooper to ask him to veto HB 370 if it should come to his desk. To email, click here. Or call and leave a message – 919-814-2000.
For earlier coverage in Raleigh Report, click here.