SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Each week NC House Representative Harry Warren, R-Rowan, provides a newsletter to WBTV in which he discusses what's going on in the General Assembly, with a particular focus on item having an impact on Rowan County.
Here, unedited, is the latest edition that we refer to as "Warren's Weekly:"
Here is the last update on Interim Committee meetings that have taken place over the last two weeks.
As usual, I have included links to other stories that you might find of interest. As the "short session" proceeds, there will be standing committee meetings, which are also open to the public, so if you would like to attend one that is focusing on a subject of interest to you, feel welcome to attend. Meeting schedules are subject to change (sometimes at the last minute), so be sure to confirm the schedule on the General Assembly website or by contacting the office of the Committee Chair, before you make the two-hour drive to Raleigh.
If you would like to attend a meeting, but can't make it to Raleigh, you can still "attend" many of the meetings by listening online, just as you may have for the Interim Committee meetings. You must first determine in what room the committee is meeting.
If the committee meets in either room 544 or 643, you can listen online. To access the audio version of a meeting, go to: www.ncleg.net, click on "audio" on the bar near the top, then select either "Finance Committee Room (Rm 544)" or "Appropriations Committee Room (Rm 643)" to listen.
Most interim committees have completed their charges and prepared their committee reports for the legislature. I will be glad to send you any committee reports that you request, or direct you to them on line, if available. Going forward, I will increase the newsletters to report on the weekly activities of the General Assembly.
This newsletter contains reports from four interim committees that met last week. Each of these committees has produced some proposals for legislation, some of which must be taken up during the short session, which I anticipate is going to be longer than either Chamber's leadership would prefer. In addition to the budgetary adjustments that the session is specifically designed to address, there are other issues that require attention and they are not easily resolved. Teacher Compensation, a response to the Duke coal ash spills, Common Core and several of the interim committees' legislation proposals must be addressed, and debate will certainly protract the length of the session.
As a member of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance, which is included in this newsletter, I can assure you that the four legislative proposals that our committee has produced will be taken up in the short session, although they may be rolled into one bill to expedite the process. In any event, I expect the session to adjourn by the end of June.
I hope you find this report, provided by and reprinted with the permission of MVA Public Affairs, helpful and informative.
I have scheduled a Town Hall meeting for Friday, May 29th to be held in the Rowan County Commissioners Chambers located at 130 West Innes St., Salisbury, from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
The schedule is about an hour earlier than past Town Hall meetings, but is necessary to avoid a scheduling conflict with a previously scheduled commitment. Due to the earlier hour, you are advised to arrive early in order to find a parking spot, as all county employees will be at work or preparing to leave and many of the downtown stores will still be open, so parking may be a challenge.
Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee:
The Committee met on Wednesday, May 7, to approve their final report to the General Assembly. The report included three draft legislative proposals that would:
- Require local administrative units to provide schematic diagrams and keys to the main entrance of all school facilities to law enforcement,
- Clarify the process for review of charter applications by the NC Charter Schools Advisory Board, raise the application fee for charters, require adoption of rules for charter application process, clarify the appeals process for denials of charter applications and subject charter schools to the open meetings/public records laws, and
- Require the State Board to identify military connected students using the uniform education reporting system.
In addition to approving their report, the committee heard from Lt. Governor Dan Forest on his proposal to establish an Education Endowment Fund designed to provide additional support for K-12 public schools. The new fund would be funded by the following:
- Revenue generated by the sale of special license plates,
- Gifts, grants, and other contributions given to the State designated for the Fund, and
- General fund appropriations.
Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Information Technology:
The Committee held their final meeting of the Interim on Thursday, May 8. The Committee approved their final report to the General Assembly. Included in the report was draft legislation dealing with 911 service, student privacy and educational longitudinal data.
Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy:
The Commission met on Thursday, May 8, for the final time before the Short Session. The Commission reviewed its legislative proposal and report for 2014. The proposal, the Energy Modernization Act,contains a variety of energy related items including extending the deadline for development of a modern regulatory program for the management of oil and gas exploration; enacting certain exemptions from requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act applicable to rules for the management of oil and gas exploration, development and production; creating the North Carolina Oil and Gas Commission and reconstituting the North Carolina Mining Commission; establishing a severance tax and direct studies on various issues.
Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance:
The Committee met on Friday, May 9. The Committee received an update from the Division of Workforce Solutions on ongoing efforts with respect to local office service realignment and joint efforts with the Division of Employment Security to ensure that recipients of unemployment benefits are receiving appropriate services to assist in securing new employment.
The Division of Employment Security gave an update on collections of overpayment amounts, the Division's backlog in adjudicating claims, and the State's efforts to reduce the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund's debt to the federal government. As of today, that debt is down to approximately $1.3 billion.
The Committee approved its report to the 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly and recommended legislation on the following topics:
- Adding a requirement that claimants of unemployment benefits submit an acceptable form of photo identification to the Division of Employment Security.
- Eliminating the variable range for the unemployment insurance benefits duration period. Under current law, the maximum period over which an individual may claim benefits varies based on both the individual's work experience and the overall unemployment rate. However, due to a quirk in the statutes, all claimants are allowed to claim benefits up to the maximum time period if the unemployment rate is 8% or below and there is minimal variation thereafter. This recommendation would simplify the current process by basing the maximum duration of unemployment benefits solely on the overall unemployment rate without regard to an individual's work experience.
- Clarification of the confidential nature of information maintained by the Division of Employment Security.
- Validation of certain determinations made by the Division of Employment Security prior to the appointment of the Board of Review and changes with respect to how members of the Board of Review are appointed.
- Allowing the Division of Employment Security to garnish employer receipts (such as credit card receipts) when the Division prevails in a civil action against the employer to collect unpaid employment taxes.
- Technical and administrative changes.
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