SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Each week Rowan County Representative Harry Warren (R-Rowan County) provides WBTV with an update on what's happening in the General Assembly, with a particular view towards Rowan County.
Here, unedited, is the latest edition of what we call "Warren's Weekly:"
Here is the recap from last week's (week of May 16-23, 2014) General Assembly actions.
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 web site 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.
I have scheduled a Town Hall meeting for Friday, May 30th to be held in the Rowan County Commissioners Chambers located at 130 West Innes St., Salisbury, from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
The General Assembly's short session began on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. The MVA Public Affairs Legislative Report on North Carolina will be distributed weekly to keep you up-to-date on the latest legislative issues facing the state.
(Certain items of this report provided by and reprinted with the permission of MVA Public Affairs.)
ON THE FLOOR
This week, the Senate voted on final passage of SB 786, the Energy Modernization Act, and gavetentative approval to SB 734, the Regulatory Reform Act of 2014. SB 786 would require the state to start issuing permits for natural gas fracturing in the summer of 2015. SB 734 seeks to remove outdated or burdensome regulations.
The House gave final approval to HB 1050, Omnibus Tax Law Changes. Some of the key provisions in the bill include a $100 cap on the annual business license tax that cities can charge business and it also expands the types of businesses that can be taxed. It also imposes an excise tax on the liquid used to create vapor in electronic cigarettes.
Senate Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Committee
The Committee met on Tuesday, May 20, to take up a proposed committee substitute (PCS) for SB 734, Authority to Adopt Certain Ordinances. The PCS is the Senate's regulatory reform package for this session called the Regulatory Reform Act of 2014. The bill seeks to provide regulatory relief by
- providing various administrative reforms
- eliminating certain unnecessary statutes and regulations
- modernizing cumbersome regulations.
The Committee passed the bill by a voice vote and the bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.
Senate Commerce Committee
The Committee met Tuesday, May 20, to take up SB 786, the Energy Modernization Act. The bill includes a variety of provisions dealing with oil and gas development in North Carolina. The highlights of the bill include extending the deadlines for development of a modern regulatory program for the management of oil and gas exploration, modifying certain exemptions from requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act, and establishing a date certain of July 1, 2015, for issuance for permits for oil and gas exploration. The Committee passed the bill by a voice vote, and the bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.
Senate Finance Committee
The Committee met on Tuesday, May 20, to take up SB 786, the Energy Modernization Act, and reviewed its finance related provisions. The Committee passed the bill by a voice vote.
Senate Judiciary I
The Committee met twice this week to discuss SB 648, NC Commerce Protection Act of 2013. SB 648 seeks to make various changes to the statutes governing commerce in North Carolina. Included in the bill are provisions to
- create transparency in contingency fee contracts between State agencies and private attorneys
- to create transparency in claims against asbestos and silica trusts
- to amend the laws governing products liability actions
- to prevent patent abuse
- to enforce exclusive forum provisions assented to by shareholders in derivative actions.
No vote was taken on the bill. The Senate Judiciary I Committee will continue discussion on SB 648 next week.
House Finance Committee [I represent District 77(you) on this Committee.]
The Committee met on Tuesday, May 20, and Wednesday, May 21.
On Tuesday, the Committee approved HB 1034, Volunteer Fire and Rescue Finances and HB 1069, Unemployment Insurance Laws Changes. As the titles suggest, the bills deal with changes to the retirement, relief and workers compensation funds for volunteer firefighters and rescue workers, and numerous changes with respect to the administration of the unemployment insurance system.
On Wednesday, the Committee approved SB 261, Sales Tax on Private Res. Rented by Broker, which imposes the sales and use taxes (and by extension local occupancy taxes) on private residences listed for rental with real estate brokers regardless of whether the minimum rental period requirement is met.
House Public Utilities Committee [I represent District 77(you) on this Committee.]
The Committee met on Wednesday, May 21, to take up SB 742, Adjust the Utility Regulatory Fee. The bill seeks to adjust the utility regulatory fee to reflect the changing regulatory climate for the telecommunications industry as recommended by the LRC Committee on the Assessment of Regulated and Non-Regulated Industry Utility Fees. The Committee passed the bill by a voice vote and it was referred to the House Finance Committee.
House Commerce and Jobs Development Committee [I represent District 77(you) on this Committee.]
The Committee met on Wednesday, May 21, to address two bills. HB 1032, Patent Abuse Bill, aims to prevent patent abuse in North Carolina by establishing civil penalties for unfair assertions of patent infringement. HB 1032 received a favorable report and was sent to the House Judiciary B Committee.
SB 294, Allow Use of DOT Stormwater BMPs, allows entities regulated under phase II of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Program to utilize the Department of Transportation's best management practices toolbox for linear transportation projects. SB 294 received a favorable report and was placed on the House calendar for Tuesday, May 27. [This means it will be on the House floor for a vote by all House members. If it passes the House, it will move to the Governor for a signature or a veto. He is expected to sign the measure, making it the law.]
House Rules Committee
The Committee met on Thursday, May 22, to take up three bills.
- HJR 1074, Confirm Linda Combs as State Controller, confirms Linda Combs as the State Controller through June 30, 2015.
- HJR 1112, Confirm Charlton L. Allen to Industrial Commission, confirms Charlton Allen to the NC Industrial Commission for a term beginning July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2020.
- HB 1131, Clay County Opossum Exclusion/Wildlife Laws, exempts Clay County from state wildlife laws regarding opossums from December 26 to January 2.
All three bills received a favorable report and were placed on the House calendar for Tuesday, May 27.
House Banking Committee
On Thursday, May 22, the Committee met and approved HB 1117, Conform Pledge of Joint Account Laws. The bill would conform the law governing the pledge of joint accounts in credits unions, savings and loan institutions, and savings banks to that of the law governing the pledge of joint accounts in other banks.
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