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Politics
Here are some of the other stories catching our attention.

About 500 Bills Survived Crossover Deadline

Lawmakers filed about 1,600 bills this session. About a third of them survived what’s called the crossover deadline. That’s when bills that don’t contain spending or taxes must make it out of either the House or Senate.  If they don’t, they fail for this year. 

MR: You’re our education reporter, so let's start with what education bills are still on the table?

LW: Teacher pay is always a hot topic. Last year, lawmakers agreed to raise the base salary for beginning teachers to $35,000 this year. That still stands, but this year lawmakers are trying to find ways to reward teachers outside of simply raising base salaries. A house bill would create a program to award scholarships to college students and teachers who agree to fill what are called high-need positions in hard-to-staff schools.

MR: Seems like the state already had a program like that. 

LW: It did. It was the teaching fellows program, but Republicans ended that last spring. Another House bill would create a grant program for training principals. There is also a bill to give local boards of education more flexibility with the school calendar and one that would make growth in test scores a bigger part of school grades.

MR: What about some other notable bills that have survived this crossover deadline?   

LW: A bill that would make judicial elections partisan for Supreme Court and court of appeals races is still alive. So is one that would limit the number of state-funded projects that would require environmental reviews. Only those projects that are more than $10 million would have to undergo one. Now, body cameras have also been a topic of discussion in the legislature. CMPD and some other police departments are rolling them out. A house bill would make that footage – including dash cameras – public record.  That is if they don’t interfere with personnel records. 

MR:  And, Lisa, there's the issue of eminent domain. What about the efforts to repeal the Map Act?

LW: Right, the Map Act makes buying land in eminent domain cases as cheap as possible for the Department of Transportation. It allows the state to mark a future road corridor without having to buy the property right away, essentially putting the property on hold for the state. It lowers the market price for the land. The state saves money, but the landowner loses it. Efforts to repeal it are alive and well. That bill passed the house unanimously. About 4,100 pieces of property are affected by the Map Act. The DOT says it would cost about $600 million to buy them up right away. 

MR: Most of these bills have been introduced in the state House.

LW: They have been. The House passed about 350 of them. The Senate about 150.

MR: What chance do those measures have in the opposite chamber?

LW: The house bill to bring back the historic tax credit in some form doesn’t have much chance. Senators have said they see no reason to do that. Some of the education bills regarding scholarships to fill positions at hard-to-staff schools will probably do pretty well. 

MR: What about the flip side of that? What prominent bills have died?

LW: A controversial religious freedom bill is dead at least for now. A couple weeks ago, House Speaker Tim Moore said it’s not the proper path to go. He said business opposition to it was one of the big reasons not to pursue it. A Senate bill would have mandated the number of classes UNC system faculty teach. That generated a lot of outcry and the bill’s sponsor decided to launch a study first before pursuing that. 

MR: This doesn’t mean these bills are gone for good?

LW: No. Bills may die, but the ideas certainly don’t. Even this session, they can come back in the appropriations bill or re-surface by attaching it to other bills, often to unrelated legislation.