This week, we continued our work to improve the lives of the people of North Carolina.
We moved a number of important bills to make life easier for our military members, improve education and protect your safety. A number of these initiatives continue to work through our committees and will be discussed on our chamber floor within the next few weeks.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and ideas about my work in Raleigh and I have included below information about some of the legislation we are considering. I look forward to hearing from you.
Members of the House voted unanimously in favor of legislation that would make it easier for soldiers, reservists and National Guard members to renew their drivers’ licenses (HB 98). Under current law North Carolinians may renew their drivers’ licenses as much as six months prior to the expiration date. If enacted, this legislation would allow members of the armed forces to renew their licenses upon receipt of deployment orders. The bill would also allow a 30-day grace period for the renewal of an expired license upon release from active duty. The bill will now go to the Senate.
Legislation that would encourage policies to facilitate graduation has been approved in the House (HB 187). If enacted, the legislation would direct local boards of education to encourage local businesses to adopt personnel policies to permit parents to attend school conferences. The legislation would also encourage local boards of education to adopt policies to implement programs that: (1) assist students in making a successful transition between the middle school and high school years, (2) increase parental involvement in student achievement, and (3) reduce suspension and expulsion rates and encourage academic progress during suspensions. In addition, the bill would direct local school boards to modify policies on pregnant and parenting students that would better enable those students to graduate. The bill is now being considered in the Senate.
The State Board of Community Colleges would be authorized to waive tuition for members of the National Guard under legislation filed in the House this week (HB 795).
Counties interested in establishing health insurance pilot demonstration projects to provide a model for affordable employer-based health insurance would be authorized to do so under a bill that passed the House this week (HB 212). The bill will now go on to the Senate.
Legislation that would appropriate money for the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees and make other changes related to the State Health Plan was debated in the House Committee on Insurance this Thursday (SB 287). The bill will remain in the Insurance Committee for further discussion next Tuesday.
The Division of Emergency Management would be authorized to establish a registry that counties and municipalities could use to identify functionally and medically fragile people during a disaster. House Bill 382 passed the House this week and would also authorize counties and municipalities to operate similar registries. The intent of this legislation is to improve the safety of medically vulnerable individuals in the event of a disaster. The bill will now go on to the Senate.
A bill to ban smoking in restaurants and workplaces was found favorable in the House Committee on Judiciary I on Wednesday (HB 2). Supporters of the bill say it will improve health. Opponents of the bill say that it infringes on personal property rights.
Local governments could object to the location of Alcoholic Beverage Control stores in their districts under legislation approved this week (HB 186). The bill establishes a procedure for municipalities to object and allows them extra time to conduct a public hearing or submit a resolution concerning a potential store location. The ABC Commission would still have the final authority to determine the location of ABC stores. The bill has now gone to the Senate, where it was referred to the Senate Committee on State and Local Government.
The penalty for altering, destroying, or removing the permanent serial number of a firearm would be increased from a misdemeanor to a felony under legislation filed in the House this week (HB 787). The existing Class I misdemeanor would be upgraded to a Class H felony if the law passes.
Discussion on President’s Stimulus Plan
A discussion on the President’s Stimulus Plan featuring Congressman G. K. Butterfield and Mr. Dempsey Benton, Director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Recovery and Investment, and sponsored by Representatives Jean Farmer-Butterfield, Angela Bryant, Lucy Allen, Joe Tolson, Randy Stewart and Senators Clark Jenkins, Ed Jones and A.B. Swindell is scheduled for Friday, March 27, 2009, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the Wilson OIC Facility, 801 Reid Street, East, Wilson, NC 27893, 252.291.0038. All non-profit groups and the public are invited and encouraged to attend this meeting.
I am working on setting up a meeting to discuss the President’s Stimulus Plan in my district. Details will be shared at a later date.
I plan to attend the following meetings/events:
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 session, committee meetings and press conferences on the General Assembly’s website. Once on the site, select “audio,” and then make your selection — House Chamber, Senate Chamber, Appropriations Committee Room or Press Conference Room.