Dear Friends and District 98 Constituents,
We have been in session over 7 months and there is still a long road ahead. The last major item of the long session is the State’s budget. While we should have adjourned a few weeks ago, I am committed to stay in Raleigh as long as it takes to negotiate the best budget possible. Below are updates on a variety of issues:
Bills Signed into Law:
Last week, the NC Governor signed 26 bills into law. I am very pleased to share that I was the primary sponsor on 2 of the 26 bills signed into law.
H174, Landlord/Tenant Foreclosure & Eviction Changes: A bill amending and enhancing certain notice requirements and protections for tenants of real properties in foreclosure and other amendments to the Homebuyer Protection Act.
H721, Subdivision Ordinance/Land Development Changes: A bill clarifying the law regarding performance guarantees developers are required to provide to cities and counties to assure completion of required improvements to subdivided land.
To read more about all the bills signed into law please click here: http://governor.nc.gov/press-release/governor-mccrory-signs-26-bills-law
House and Senate committees are completing their work as we approach the end of session this year. We are working to move bills before the session adjourns. Although a lot of focus is on the State’s budget, there are still numerous bills which are still being considered.
There were initial estimates that our surplus would be $400M but the final calculation was $445M. This is great news for North Carolina, and shows that we are being fiscally responsible with our budgeting choices.
North Carolina is 1 of 5 states without an approved budgets and the only State with a prior year surplus that still does not have a budget. However, I firmly believe we should stay in session as long as it takes to get you the best budget possible.
The House and Senate have appointed conferees to work out differences in the budget. I am honored to be appointed as a House conferee. The House and Senate are $700M apart with some disparities that we are working to resolve, such as funding for teacher assistants; driver's education funding; Medicaid reform; changes to the state tax code; and changes to the local sales tax redistribution.
It is normal for the House and Senate to have disagreements when it comes to the state budget. When you are dealing with a multi-billion dollar spending plan, legislators are not going to agree on every detail. Our goal is to reconcile our differences and pass a balanced budget that spends taxpayer dollars responsibly.
Presidential Primary Moves to March:
The North Carolina presidential primary has been moved to March 15th. This was done in order to give us a seat at the table in the presidential primary process. Currently, the presidential primaries are often decided by the time North Carolina holds its primary, which is in May. By moving the presidential primary to March, our citizens will now have an influence as to who the political parties choose to be their presidential nominee.
Connect NC Bonds:
The House passed H943, Connect NC Bond Act. It’s a $2.8B general obligation bond which provides funding for infrastructure ($2.4B) and transportation ($400M.) This general obligation bond would have to be approved by voters on a statewide ballot in 2016. North Carolina has not had a general obligation bond since 2000 and interest rates are currently historically low. I think a bond package can be a wise use of the State’s borrowing capacity. That said, though, I voted against the bill because of the $400M that is allocated for transportation projects. Due to the issue that the I-77 Express Managed/Toll Lanes project was “sold” to our region under the premise that no funding sources were available, I cannot support a bond package that includes any funding for highway transportation projects. Perhaps the Senate will remove this specific allocation and, if they do, I will support them on the concurrence vote.
I-77 Express Managed/Toll Lane Project:
I ran an amendment on the House floor during the debate on H943, Connect NC Bond Act. My amendment attempted to terminate the contract with Cintra/I-77 Mobility Partners, fund any associated penalties/damages/fees, and install general purpose lanes from mile marker 20 to Exit 36. I gave an impassioned explanation about this issue and asked my House colleagues to support the amendment. Before any questions could be asked or a vote taken the Rules Chair raised a point of order. Unfortunately, it was determined that my amendment was out of order because bond indebtedness cannot be used to fund/pay contract termination penalties and fees. I plan to meet with the Rules Chair to see if I have other legislative options.
As always I encourage any of my constituents to either attend a Coffee Chat or even make the drive to Raleigh. I will make time to visit with you and will even try to schedule a personalized tour of the State Capitol. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 919.733.5828.