Budget talks gained momentum this week as negotiators met during the weekend and for several hours each day to work toward a compromise.
They have reached a general agreement on salaries and many other items already and continue to work toward a quick resolution. They plan to have the final deal ready soon.
While these talks continue, the House has continued to work on issues important to the people in our communities, such as annexation, health and education. We will continue to work on these vital matters as we wrap up this session, and I look forward to returning home full-time soon.
In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact me. I would be pleased to assist you in any way.
A bill that would temporarily halt municipalities’ ability to annex without voter approval has earned the backing of a House committee. The first draft of the plan (H2367) would have created a one-year moratorium on involuntary annexations, but committee members pushed back the start to July 31 to give some cities and towns the time to complete annexations they already have initiated. The proposed moratorium would end April 30, 2009, giving lawmakers 10 months to study the state’s annexation laws.
Someone who violates a domestic violence protective order three times would be guilty of a felony under legislation (H44) that has been approved in the House. Existing law requires four violations of the order before a person is charged with a felony. Punishment for the crime generally ranges from community service to up to nearly two years in prison.
People who are wrongfully convicted would receive $50,000 for every year they spent in jail if they were exonerated. Existing law allows only $20,000 a year and caps the total award at $500,000. The bill (H2105) approved by the Judiciary II committee would increase the cap to $750,000 and allow free job training and tuition for community colleges and public universities. The bill now goes to the Appropriations Committee.
Legislation approved in committee would ban children under 16 years old from riding in the open bed of a truck. The bill (H2340) approved in the Judiciary I committee would change the existing law, which allows children as young as 12 to ride in truck beds and includes exemptions that allow children of any age to ride in the back of a truck if they are with adults or in a rural area. The bill has been re-referred to the Committee on Judiciary II.
The House has approved a bill that would allow national board certified teachers to become full-time mentors. The bill (H2360) requires teachers to have taught two years before they could become a mentor. They would have to remain a mentor for three consecutive years before returning to the classroom. This bill is now in the Senate.
The House has approved a measure that will require warning labels on containers for unpasteurized and unprocessed milk was approved by the House Health Committee. North Carolina law prohibits the sale of raw milk for human consumption because of health concerns, but the product can be sold for use by pets. The Board of Agriculture approved a plan to dye all raw milk charcoal gray to make the milk unappealing to people, but raw milk advocates said their animals would not drink such a product, either, and that no organic dye was available. A compromise bill (H2524) would require milk containers to bear warning labels saying that the products are not for human consumption and that selling raw milk for human consumption is illegal.
A bill to improve mortgage services has been improved in the House. The measure (H2188) would require home loan servicers to provide anyone taking out a mortgage with information about servicer fees within 30 days of activation of those fees. If the servicer fails to notify the receiver of the mortgage, the fee would be waived.
Another House bill (H2463) would require mortgage servicers to become licensed and make it against the law to operate without one. The license would expire annually. This bill also clarifies the Mortgage Lending Act by describing in detail the qualifications and duties of a mortgage lender. The bill now goes to the Senate.
The House this week recognized the 50th anniversary of public school integration by honoring some of the students and administrators who helped break the color barrier. Several members of the House of Representatives who were teachers or students at the time used the occasion to recall personal stories and remembrances from the integration movement. Others expressed gratitude for their efforts. Governor Easley also recognized the students at the Governor’s Mansion and presented each with the Old North State award.
More than 300 clergy members have petitioned lawmakers to complete passage of the North Carolina Racial Justice Act, a bill approved in the House last year that allows defendants facing the death penalty to argue that race played an improper role in their prosecutions. Several of the ministers, along with death-penalty opponents and lawmakers also gathered to support the bill. The bill would allow a judge to reduce the sentence to life in prison without parole if it was determined the prosecution was based on racial bias. The bill (H1291) is now in the Senate’s Judiciary II Committee.
I plan to attend the following meetings/events:
I wish for you and your family a Happy and Safe July 4th Holiday Weekend
Please invite me to attend your county, city, community or civic, etc. meetings or events.
As I’ve said many times before, I hope you will continue to let me know how you feel about the issues that are being debated by the North Carolina Legislature and the challenges you and your family are facing each day.
By working together, we can make Northampton, Vance and Warren Counties and all regions of North Carolina a better place to live, work and raise a family.
Please remember that you can listen to each day’s committee meetings and press conferences on the General Assembly’s website. Once on the site, select “audio,” and then make your selection — Appropriations Committee Room or Press Conference Room. You can also use the website to look up bills, view lawmaker biographies and access other information.