After Long, Sometimes Contentious Week, Here's What Bills Are Still Alive At The General Assembly
You know it's been a tough week at the General Assembly when this is uttered on the House floor: "Let's do our job. Vote on the bills and get the hell out of here."
That was Republican Representative Gregory Murphy speaking yesterday. Others clearly shared his view.
This tension was due to a self-imposed deadline known as crossover. A date by which a bill must be passed by either the North Carolina House or Senate in order to still be considered alive. Thursday was Crossover day and joining Morning Edition host Marshall Terry to talk about what did and did not make the deadline is WFAE's Tom Bullock.
MT: Tom, I want to start with what led up to Representative Murphy's comment. It didn't just come out of the blue.
TB: No, it didn't. It came at the tail end of a pretty heated exchange over a bill which would allow individuals to sue a city, town, county, or even a police force if they believe that group is not enforcing federal immigration law. This could lead to fines of up to $10,000 a day if a judge agrees plus legal costs.
This bill passed second reading in the House without debate. But when the final reading was called for a vote, Minority Leader Darren Jackson objected, which would push the bill back another day and mean it doesn’t make the crossover deadline. House Speaker Tim Moore really didn't like that and called out the Democrats for the move. Saying they didn’t inform him of this in time. Here's one exchange between Jackson and Moore
DJ: "The Speaker's office was not informed this morning about 9 o'clock of my intention to make that objection?" TM: "I don’t know if the Speaker's Office was, I got a lot of staff. I wasn't."
TB: Jackson said, not so fast. "What's taking place right now is just a show. So it makes it look like I'm the bad guy. Ok. I did everything the right way." Jackson went on to say, "I notified of the objection first thing this morning and I don’t appreciate having my integrity questioned."
In the end, the House had to suspend its rules in order to vote on this and another bill.
And the bill at the heart of this, did pass and make the crossover deadline.
MT: The House and Senate passed well over 100 bills combined this week alone. Let's highlight some of the other bills that made the deadline.
TB: Keeping with the federal immigration law theme, the Senate passed a measure which would allow the state to withhold some funding from municipalities and universities if they don’t enforce federal immigration law. It also stipulates local officials must investigate claims of non-compliance made by the public.
And the House passed a bill requiring all government contractors use the E-verify system to check the immigration status of their workers.
In education there are a few bills to highlight. First, there's House Bill 514 which allows the Charlotte suburbs of Mint Hill and Mathews to run their own charter schools. Currently both towns are in CMS. This bill would allow them to create charters where their residents get priority.
And the Senate passed a bill in response to the legal fight between Union County and its school board. The measure would bar school boards from suing counties for more education funding.
The House also passed a bill which would allow charter schools to increase their student count by 30 percent without seeking state approval.
And finally, there's a bill which would require the UNC system establish a policy on free speech. That policy could only be limited by "narrowly tailored viewpoint- and content-neutral restrictions on time, place, and manner of expression." It also includes calls for disciplinary actions for anyone who "substantially disrupts the free expression of others." Think protesters.
And speaking of protesters, the House passed a bill which would shield drivers who hit protesters from lawsuits.
MT: There were also two bills worth noting which deal with police.
TB: The first focuses on who can see police body and dashboard camera footage without a court order. And there was a big fight over this one.
In the end the bill, passed by the House, would allow police forces to share the footage with other forces for joint investigations and training purposes. And it now grants city and town managers to view the footage at will. But language which would allow citizens review boards and city and town council members to view the footage without a court order was stripped out.
The House also passed a bill to provide protections for whistleblowers in a police force. This after three officers in the small town of Mocksville were fired in 2011 after they alleged corruption in the force.
MT: So these are some of the bills that made the crossover deadline. Which bills didn’t?
TB: Again, here are some highlights:
Two bills which would have eased regulations on the size and locations of billboards didn't get passed.
Neither did a measure which would have allowed those over 21 to ride a motorcycle without a helmet.
Also, a bill to expand when, where and how people could carry guns in North Carolina didn’t get a floor vote in the House.
There was also a bill that would have deemed some forms of protest "economic terrorism" died in committee earlier this week after questions were raised about free speech rights and comparisons to civil rights demonstration.
MT: Officially any bill that doesn’t make this crossover deadline is dead. But, Tom, that's not always the case.
TB: At the risk of making them sound like zombies, they can be resurrected in another form. Like an amendment to a bill that has made the deadline.
And there are bills not affected by the deadline. Those that deal with taxes, spending and the big one, the budget are still alive and well.