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Report on Bills Introduced During the 2021 Long Legislative Session 

The following is the status of some of the legislation that I was involved with during the 2021 Legislative Long Session of the General Assembly.

HB 18 - Local School Administrative Unit Cash Management

I was the sole Primary Sponsor. At the request of the New Hanover County Board of Education, I introduced this legislation to allow local public schools to deposit and hold State funds from the State Treasurer in their local bank accounts for up to 3 business days after drawing on the State funds before making a final disbursement to the ultimate payee. The Bill passed the House; went to the Senate for consideration; was incorporated into Senate Bill 695, Various Education Changes, which passed; and was signed by the Governor.

HB 67 - GSC Technical Corrections 2021

I was the sole Primary Sponsor. I represent the House as a member of the General Statutes Commission (GSC). Each Session, the GSC recommends corrections of a technical nature to the General Statutes and Session Laws. This Bill passed the House, passed the Senate, and was signed by the Governor.

HB 68 - GSC Licensing Boards and Commissions / Rule Crimes

I was the sole Primary Sponsor. The General Assembly has been looking at recodification to simplify our Criminal Code. The General Statutes Commission (GSC) was directed by the General Assembly to conduct a study and make recommendations regarding whether any crimes defined by rule or ordinance should instead be defined by statute. As a result of that study, the GSC recommended this Bill, which eliminated provisions that broadly criminalize violations of rules of certain licensing boards and commissions. The Bill passed the House and the Senate and was signed by the Governor. 

HB 205 - Abuse and Neglect in Public Schools

I was the lead Primary Sponsor. I introduced this legislation to address child abuse, neglect and sexual abuse. After the Bill passed the House unanimously, it was sent to the Senate for consideration. While HB 205 was pending in the Senate, it passed SB 693, Expedite Child Safety and Permanence, and it was referred to the House Judiciary 1 Committee, which I am Chairman, for consideration. To expedite HB 205, I added the provisions of this legislation to SB 693 with some changes that I agreed to. SB 693 passed the House, the Senate concurred with my actions, and it was signed by the Governor. This legislation requires the State Board of Education, in consultation with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, to adopt a rule requiring information on child abuse and neglect, including age-appropriate information on sexual abuse, to be provided by public schools to students in grades 6 through 12. This information shall be provided in the form of a document provided to all students at the beginning of each school year, as well as a display posted in visible high-traffic areas throughout each school, with likely warning signs indicating that a child may be the victim of abuse or neglect, including age-appropriate information on sexual abuse; the telephone number used for reporting abuse and neglect to the Department of Social Services in the county in which the school is located; a statement that reported information shall be held in the strictest confidence, to the extent permitted by law; and available resources, including an anonymous safety tip line application. Local Boards of Education shall implement the rule addressing student awareness of child abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse, adopted by the State Board of Education. This rule shall also apply to charter schools, regional schools, laboratory schools, and high schools under the control of the University of North Carolina.

HB 355 - Firefighting Foam Registry / PFAS Ban

I was the sole Primary Sponsor. I introduced this legislation, and a companion Bill was introduced in the Senate, requiring fire departments operated, regulated, or managed by either the State or local government, including those located at or serving public airports, in partnership with the Office of the State Fire Marshall, shall provide an annual inventory of all Aqueous Film-Forming Foams (ATFF), which could contain per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), at each department; annually identify all AFFF no longer being utilized at each department that should be properly disposed of; and report within 15 days individually, as well as annually, every incident where AFFF were deployed. Because PFAS contamination is strongly linked to cancer, and cancer is now the leading cause of line of duty deaths for firefighters, I amended HB 355 to include a new section prohibiting the discharge for training or practice purposes firefighting foam that contains intentionally added PFAS chemicals, as well as prohibiting the discharge of such firefighting foam for testing purposes unless otherwise required by law or an authority having jurisdiction, and a testing facility has implemented appropriate containment, treatment, and disposal measures to prevent release of this foam into the environment. This legislation passed the House unanimously and was sent to the Senate for consideration. The original language in HB 355 and the companion Senate Bill were included in the policy provisions of the Budget that was signed by the Governor. However, the Senate would not agree to the language in my amendment to HB 355 being included, so that portion of my legislation is still pending consideration by the Senate.  

HB 598 - Restitution / Sexual Exploitation of Minor

I was the sole Primary Sponsor. In North Carolina, if a child has been the victim of child pornography, he or she has avenues for seeking restitution from the person who made the pornographic material, but they do not have any avenue to receive restitution from the consumers of their images. I was asked by the Director of Shield North Carolina to introduce legislation to address that issue. I worked with the NC Conference of District Attorneys, among others, and introduced HB 598 which provides that in addition to any other civil or criminal penalty, the Court must order restitution to the person being exploited by any Defendant who viewed the child pornography and has been convicted of either first-degree (production), second-degree (distribution), or third-degree (possession) sexual exploitation of a minor. The Bill passed the House unanimously and is pending in the Senate for consideration.

HB 615 - Juvenile Court Mental Health Assessments

I was the sole Primary Sponsor. I was requested by the NC Department of Public Safety (DPS) to address a “loophole” concerning Juvenile Court Mental Health Assessments. Under prior law, Judges in a juvenile action were authorized to order that the juvenile be examined by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other qualified expert as may be needed for the Court to determine the needs of the juvenile. If the Judge believed, or if there was evidence presented to the effect that the juvenile had a mental illness or a developmental disability, then the Court was required to refer the juvenile to the area Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services Director for appropriate action. The problem was that this Director position had been eliminated about a decade ago when the State transitioned to a Local Management Entity (LME)/Managed Care Organization (MCO) model for mental health services, but that language was never updated. Some defense attorneys were able to use this provision as a loophole to overturn adjudications of delinquency because new procedures, rather than what the law specified, were used by the Court. I worked with my local Chief District Court Judge and the DPS Deputy Secretary for Juvenile Justice, among others, and introduced HB 615, which removed the reference to the Director position that no longer existed, closing this loophole. In addition, this legislation also defined “severe emotional disturbance” and removed prior provisions related to juveniles suspected of having a mental illness or developmental disability and codified new requirements for addressing such juveniles. HB 615 passed the House unanimously and was sent to the Senate for consideration. While HB 615 was pending in the Senate, it passed SB 207, Various Raise the Age Changes / JJAC (Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee) Recommendations, and it was referred to the House Judiciary committee, which I am Chairman, for consideration. To expedite HB 615, I added the provisions of this legislation to SB 207. SB 207 passed the House, the Senate concurred with my actions, and it was signed by the Governor.

SB 207 - Various Raise the Age Changes / JJAC Recommendations 

Previously in North Carolina, the minimum age of the Court’s juvenile jurisdiction was 6 years old. The Senate passed SB 207, Various Raise the Age Changes / JJAC (Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee) Recommendations, and it was referred to the House Judiciary 1 Committee, which I am Chairman, for consideration. The JJAC had recommended raising the minimum age of juvenile jurisdiction from 6 to 10 for all offenses, while continuing to provide services to those at-risk youths under 10 through school, primary care, local Departments of Social Services, mental health, and local programming, because young children are simply not competent to go to Court and their competency or lack thereof should apply to all crimes. I worked with my local Chief District Court Judge and the Department of Public Safety Deputy Secretary for Juvenile Justice, among others, to make sure that the recommendations of the JJAC were included in SB 207, as well as recommendations by the Administrative Office of the Courts and the NC Conference of District Attorneys. It passed the House, the Senate concurred with my actions, and it was signed by the Governor.

HB 766 - No Soliciting Certain Funds / Election Boards

I was a Primary Sponsor. As part of the House attempt to address election integrity, this Bill prohibited the State Board of Elections, County Board of Elections, County Board of Commissioners, or elected municipal officials to solicit, take, or otherwise accept from any person any contribution, donation, or anything else of value for purposes of conducting State or local elections in North Carolina. Since the Senate had already passed SB 725, Prohibit the Acceptance of Private Money for Conducting Elections or Hiring Temporary Elections Workers, the decision was made to proceed with the Senate Bill since it included the language of HB 766. The Senate Bill also passed the House but was vetoed by the Governor. 

 

Additional Report on Appropriation Bills Introduced During the 2021 Long Legislative Session

The following is the status of some of the appropriations legislation that I was involved with during the 2021 Legislative Long Session of the General Assembly.

HB 13 - State Search and Rescue Program

I was the sole Primary Sponsor. The State Search and Rescue Program consists of seven regional teams throughout North Carolina, which includes the New Hanover County Fire-Rescue Department and the City of Wilmington Fire Department. Each of the regional teams service their home community, as well as responding across the State as needed. The teams maintain specialized personnel and equipment necessary to rescue people from collapsed buildings, structures, trenches, fast moving water, high rise buildings and other high risk events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and widespread flooding. In 2017, at the request of former Wilmington Fire Department Chief Buddy Martinette, I filed an initial Bill requesting funding for the Program and was successful in getting an appropriation in that Budget. In 2019, I filed another Bill requesting continued funding for the Program and was successful in getting an appropriation in the Budget; but unfortunately, that Budget was vetoed by Governor Roy Cooper. So in 2021, I filed a new Bill requesting funding of a total of $4,000,000 for the Program. I subsequently submitted a formal appropriation request and had conversations with various Appropriation Chairs about it. As a result of those efforts, the requested appropriation of $4,000,000 was included in the final Budget that was signed by the Governor. I am very proud that I was able to successfully obtain the necessary funding to provide the brave men and women, who risk their lives to help those who need assistance during emergency situations, with the necessary equipment and training to continue to do so.

HB 14 - Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina

I was the lead Primary Sponsor. The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina is the largest hunger relief organization in the region and presently supports the health and wellbeing of children, seniors, and adults in New Hanover, Brunswick, Columbus and Pender counties. During the latter part of 2020, I met with Director Beth Gaglione and toured the facility. While there, I learned that insufficient space at their present location was the largest single obstacle to feeding more of our hungry population, and we discussed their project to build a new facility in Wilmington with public/private funding. I was asked to assist by obtaining an appropriation from the State of North Carolina. Based on information given to me by Ms. Gaglione, I filed a Bill requesting $750,000 for the project. I also asked fellow Representatives from Brunswick, Columbus and Pender Counties to join me as primary sponsors on the Bill since their respective House Districts were served by this Food Bank. I then submitted a formal appropriation request and had conversations with various Appropriation Chairs about it. As a result of these efforts, the requested appropriation of $750,000 was included in the final Budget that was signed by the Governor. I am very proud that I was able to successfully obtain this funding to assist our local Food Bank in building the additional space needed to help those in our area that are in need of food and proper nutrition.

HB 15 - Fort Fisher State Historical Site

I was the sole Primary Sponsor. The Fort Fisher State Historic Site is the most visited State Historic Site in North Carolina and is an economic engine for New Hanover County. In 2017, I was contacted by the Friends of Fort Fisher and asked to help obtain funding for an original $20,000,000 project for a new Visitors Center, parking lot and maintenance facility at the site.  I initially obtained $400,000 for preconstruction planning and architectural drawings and $5,000,000 for the project. I subsequently obtained an additional $7,500,000 for the project, for a total of $12,500,000.  In 2019, I filed a Bill and obtained the remaining $7,500,000 for the project, as well as an additional $500,000 for an Underwater Archaeological Branch to be located at the site; however, the Budget was vetoed by Governor Roy Cooper and the appropriation was never funded. So in 2021, I filed a new Bill requesting an appropriation of the $8,000,000 that was contained in the previous vetoed Budget.  I also submitted a formal written appropriation request for this funding and had numerous conversations with various Appropriation Chairs about it.  The $8,000,000 was included in the initial Budget, but the Friends of Fort Fisher asked if I could obtain an additional $2,000,000 for the project due to inflation of the cost of construction.  I lobbied the appropriate Appropriation Chair for this request, and the additional $2,000,000 was added. As a result of these efforts, the requested appropriation of $10,000,000 was included in the final Budget that was signed by the Governor. I am very proud that I was able to successfully obtain the necessary funds of $22,000,000 for this very important part of our local history, as well as $500,000 for the Underwater Archaeological Branch.      

HB 16 - Southeast Area Technical High School (SEA-Tech)

I was the sole Primary Sponsor. Southeast Area Technical High School (SEA-Tech) is an innovative vocational high school available to students in the Wilmington Metro region of North Carolina. In 2019, I was asked by the New Hanover County School System to seek funding to build a facility to support the expansion of SEA-Tech in order to support the growth and development of the Cape Fear region. I filed an initial Bill requesting an appropriation of $3,150,000 and was successful in getting that funding in the Budget; but unfortunately, the funds were not received because the Budget was vetoed by Governor Roy Cooper. So in 2021, I filed a new Bill initially requesting the previous appropriation of $3,150,000, but because of inflation in construction costs, I subsequently submitted a formal appropriation request for $4,000,000 and had conversations with various Appropriation Chairs about it. As a result of those efforts, the requested funding of $4,000,000 was included in the final Budget that was signed by the Governor. I am extremely proud that I was able to successfully obtain funding necessary to enable SEA-Tech to build additional space so that more students can get a great vocational education, enter our local work force, and be productive members of our community.

HB 17 - Pilot Project to Treat Opioid Overdose

In 2017, I became aware of a pilot project for the City of Wilmington to establish a “Quick Response Team” to address the needs of opiate and heroin overdose victims who were not getting follow-up treatment. The Program would be voluntary and require annual funding in the amount of $250,000. I was asked by the City to seek the initial funding necessary for the program, and because New Hanover County was in the unfortunate position of being one of the worst places in the country for opioid use, I agreed to do so. I was subsequently able to get the funding through 2021, but the City did not receive the appropriation for 2021 because that Budget was vetoed by Governor Cooper. However, the City was able to get one-time assistance elsewhere so the Program could continue in 2021. So in 2021, I filed a new Bill requesting $500,000 for 2022 (to replace the $250,000 that the City used in 2021 and $250,000 for 2022) and $250,000 for 2023. I also submitted a formal appropriations request and had conversations with various Appropriation Chairs about it. As a result of those efforts, the requested appropriation of $750,000 was included in the Budget that was signed by the Governor. I am very proud that I was able to successfully obtain the funding for those individuals, who want to address their addiction to opioids, being able to get the necessary help that they need to do so through this very successful Program.

HB 454 - Funds for Texfi Remedial Pilot

I was a Primary Sponsor. The Texfi Industrial Plant operated in Fayetteville until it closed in 1999. The site is polluted with very high concentrations of known carcinogens that are spreading laterally and vertically in the groundwater towards the nearby Hoffer Water Treatment Plant and the Cape Fear River. This Bill requested funding to test a remedial strategy to address this contamination that threatens the drinking water of the residents of the Cape Fear River Basin. An appropriation of $220,000 was included in the Budget that was signed by the Governor. I am proud that I was able to be a part of obtaining this funding to protect our local drinking water. 

World War 1 National Guard Monument

On September 29, 1918, during World War 1, North Carolina National Guard infantrymen in the 119th Infantry Regiment “Tar Heel Brigade” of the Army’s 30th Division broke through the so-called Hindenburg Line in northern France, which was Germany’s last line of defense. While this victory was very significant because it directly contributed to the end of the “Great War”, it was the second most bloodiest day in North Carolina history, the bloodiest being when Tar Heel infantry joined Pickett’s Charge during the Civil War. In 2021, I was asked on behalf of the North Carolina National Guard Museum Foundation to seek funding in the amount of $30,000 to assist in placing a monument on the Capitol Grounds in Raleigh to honor the North Carolina members of the 30th Division for their participation in that important battle. I did not file a Bill requesting that funding; but rather, submitted a formal appropriation request and had conversations with various Appropriation Chairs about it. As a result of those efforts, the requested appropriation of $30,000 was included in the final Budget that was signed by the Governor. I am very proud that I was able to successfully obtain funding in order to assist in honoring our North Carolina National Guard World War 1 heroes, especially those who were wounded and gave their all, and I look forward to the completion of this monument.

 

Report on Bills Introduced During the 2019-2020 Long and 2020 Short Legislative Sessions

The following is the status of some of the legislation that I was involved with during the 2019-2020 Legislative Long Session and the 2020 Legislative Short Session of the General Assembly.

HB 32 - Collaborative Law 

I was the sole primary sponsor. This Bill was recommended by the General Statutes Commission (GSC), of which I am a member. Collaborative Law is a voluntary alternative dispute resolution process in which parties make a good faith effort to resolve their dispute without the intervention of a court or tribunal. Like mediation, both sides are represented by an attorney; but unlike mediation, there is no third-party mediator. It adds an additional option to the dispute resolution procedures recognized in this state. The Bill passed both the House and the Senate and is now law.

HB 33 - Adjust GSC Membership

I was the sole primary sponsor. This Bill changes the present statute to conform to the membership of the General Statutes Commission being reduced from 14 to 13 members; establishes the effective date of the 2-year terms of the members; and addresses the appointment procedure to fill an unexpired term due to a vacancy. The Bill passed the House, was included in another Bill passed by the Senate, and is now law.

HB 44 - Fort Fisher Historic Site Funds

I was the sole primary sponsor. There are plans for improvements to this historic site, which will include a new visitors center; parking lot; and maintenance facility. I had successfully lobbied for previous appropriations of $400,000 for architectural plans as well as $12.5 million toward the $20 million cost of the project. This Bill requests the final $7.5 million for the project, as well as $500,000 for an Underwater Archaeological Branch to be located on the grounds of the site. The $8 million was included in the Budget that was vetoed by the Governor. Hopefully, funds will become available soon for this appropriation.

HB 51 - Official Azalea Festival

I was the sole primary sponsor. This Bill adopts and designates the North Carolina Azalea Festival held annually in Wilmington as the Official Azalea Festival in the State. The Bill passed the House but unfortunately the Senate has chosen not to consider it.

HB 52 - Wrightsville Beach Local Act Amendment

I was the sole primary sponsor. This Bill assists the Town of Wrightsville Beach in the construction of improvements in the area at the end of East Salisbury Street and adjacent to Johnnie Mercer's Pier. These improvements will include the use of the land as a public square or park (gazebos, boardwalks, public restrooms, outdoor showers and foot rinse facilities), as well as public beach access. All improvements will be compliant with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). The Bill passed the House and the Senate and is now law.

HB 89 - SEA-Tech CIHS Funds

I was the sole primary sponsor. This Bill requested funding to assist in the completion of a new vocational high school. Since this project involves state funds being used for an educational building that will be owned by the New Hanover County School System, funding had to be obtained from a source outside of the Budget. An appropriation of $3.15 million was secured.

HB 125 - GSC Revised Uniform Athlete Agents Act

I was the lead primary sponsor. This Bill expands and enhances existing protections for student athletes and educational institutions from the harm that can result from the predatory practices of some athlete agents who are drawn to the large amount of money at stake and deceive student athletes into entering into agency contracts with very unfavorable terms. The Bill passed the House. While the Bill was in the Senate for consideration, the GSC asked for it to be withdrawn because of the move nationally to compensate college athletes.

HB 159 - State Search and Rescue Funding

I was the sole primary sponsor. This Bill requested funding to purchase equipment, maintain equipment, and provide other items necessary to ensure statewide search and rescue services. An appropriation of $3 million was included in the Budget that was vetoed by the Governor. Hopefully, funds will become available soon for this appropriation.

HB 198 - Human Trafficking Commission Recommendations

I was the lead primary sponsor. This Bill provides additional needed legislative action to both reduce the demand fueling human trafficking and to expand the avenues of post-conviction and civil relief available to both adult and juvenile victims. The Bill passed the House and the Senate and is now law.

HB 225 (SB 127) - Protect Government Accountability

I was a primary sponsor of HB 225. SB 127, which is an identical Bill, was also introduced in the Senate, passed, and came to the House for consideration. Since that Senate Bill crossed over to the House first, the House passed that Bill rather than HB 225, and it is now law.

HB 264 - GSC Technical Corrections 2019

I was the sole primary sponsor. This Bill makes various technical corrections to the General Statutes, as recommended by the General Statutes Commission. The Bill passed the House and the Senate and is now law.

HB 321 - Pilot Project to Treat Opioid Overdose

I was the sole primary sponsor. I had successfully lobbied for previous appropriations of $250,000 during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 fiscal years to fund this Project. This Bill requests an additional appropriation of $250,000 for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. Hopefully, after the project has established a successful three-year track record, that pilot project can be turned into a permanent program with recurring annual funding. The $250,000 was included in the Budget that was vetoed by the Governor. Hopefully, funds will become available soon for this appropriation.

HB 323 - Assess Costs of Local LEO Crime Lab Analysis

I was a primary sponsor. This Bill provides that the specific costs of a particular drug test will be paid by the offender and those funds will be committed to the general fund of the local government unit that either operates the laboratory or paid for the laboratory services. The Bill passed the House and the Senate and is now law.

HB 380 - Aerial Adventure Courses/Sanders' Law

I was the lead primary sponsor. Under the direction of the Department of Labor, this Bill governs the design, construction, installations, plans reviews, testing, inspection, certification, operation, use, maintenance, altercation, and relocation of aerial adventure courses (which includes zip lines) in this State. Currently, aerial adventure courses are not regulated by statute. The Bill passed the House but unfortunately the Senate has chosen not to consider it.

HB 461 - Funds for Fort Fisher Aquarium

I was the lead primary sponsor. This Bill requested funding to assist in the planned renovations for this particular aquarium, which include structural upgrades, updated displays, redesigned classroom space, a new otter habitat, a new large feature aquarium to display sand tiger sharks, and other improvements. An appropriation of $5 million was secured.

HB 633 - Strengthen Criminal Gang Laws

I was the lead primary sponsor. This Bill revised both the current Criminal Gang Nuisance Act and the Criminal Gang Suppression Act, increased penalties for the use of a firearm in a criminal gang activity or a felony, and increased the penalty for possession of a firearm by a felon. The Bill passed the House. The Senate passed the Bill with deletions and additions that the House could not agree to, so unfortunately the Bill did not move forward.

 

Report on Bills Introduced During the 2018 Short Legislative Session

During the 2018 Legislative Short Session of the General Assembly that recessed at the end of June, I was either the Sole Primary Sponsor or a Primary Sponsor on the following Bills that passed both the House and the Senate and are now law:

SB 566 - Wrightsville Beach/Wilmington Deannexation-Annexation

This allowed the City of Wilmington and the Town of Wrightsville Beach to exchange property near the old Galleria Mall. The existing ABC store that is presently located on the property in the City of Wilmington will be removed and that property developed by the owner. A new ABC Store will be built on the property that is now in Wrightsville Beach.

HB 15 - Convey State Property to Wrightsville Beach and HB 1004 - Wrightsville Beach Local Act Changes

These 2 separate Bills will give the Town of Wrightsville Beach clear title to property located at the end of Salisbury Street adjacent to Johnnie Mercer's Pier and allow the Town to make ADA compliant improvements which will include removing the existing unenclosed gazebo; remodel the existing bathroom facilities for men and women and add changing rooms, outdoor showers and foot rinse facilities; installation of a passive recreation area that will include a sitting area with chairs, benches, swings, and a small play area for children; and adding boardwalks.

HB 945 - Rape Evidence Collection Kit Tracking Act

 The State Crime Lab is current with the testing of Rape Kits that were in their possession. However, there are thousands of Rape Kits located at local law enforcement agencies throughout the State. Rules and guidelines shall be adopted for agencies required to participate in the Statewide Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit Tracking System. Also, protocols shall be implemented, as well as rules and guidelines adopted, to ensure that previously untested sexual assault collection kits are trackable and entered into the System. Once there is clarification as to the number of Rape Kits that actually need to be tested, as well as any additional personnel or other items that will be necessary to do the testing, the Legislature can address the funding for this program.

HB 969 - Enhance Prison Security

 This Bill addresses the safety of employees working at the State prison system by addressing, among other things, malicious conduct by a prisoner. Our correction officers need to know that the Legislature recognizes the tough environment that they work in, appreciates the work that they do, and supports increased security for their safety.

HB 970 - World War II Heritage Cities

This Resolution supports the efforts for the United States Congress to designate at least one American city each year as an "American World War II Heritage City" and to select Wilmington North Carolina as the first city to be so designated. This Bill hit very close to home with me because my father, who retired from the Army Reserves as a Colonel, fought under General George Patton in World War II.

SB768/HB1021 - People First Language 2018

 This Bill updated the General Statutes of North Carolina by changing the phrase "mental retardation" to intellectual disability" and "the mentally retarded" to "individuals with an intellectual disability", as well as making other such amendments, as recommended by the General Statutes Commission.

The portion of SB 99, Appropriations Act of 2018 (Budget), entitled Modify Film Grant Fund

The guidelines were changed to allow smaller productions the opportunity to be eligible for funding and larger productions to get a bigger return on their local investment. I have continued to fight for the film industry ever since I went to the House in 2012, and hopefully this new legislation will increase the film activity in North Carolina.

HB 972 - Water Safety Act

 The provisions of this legislation that provided funding to address the GenX issue were also included in SB99.

 

I was appointed as a House Conferee to negotiate with the Senate concerning the following Bills:

SB 99 - Appropriations Act of 2018 (Budget)

HB 361 - Support Shellfish Industry

HB 717 - Judicial Elections Changes

 

I successfully lobbied to obtain funding for the following:

$7,500,000 for the new Fort Fisher Museum and Visitor Center.

$100,000 for roof repair at the Fort Fisher Aquarium.

$2,300,000 for the North Carolina Search and Rescue Program. 

 

 

Report on the 2017 Long Session

During the 2017 Long Session of the General Assembly, the Legislature completed the Budget for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 biennium, the governor vetoed it, and that veto was overridden by the Legislature. The Long Session subsequently recessed during the early morning hours of Friday, June 30. Also during the Long Session, I was a Primary Sponsor on the following bills that passed both the House and the Senate and are now law:
HB189 - Search & Rescue Name/Funds, was included in the Budget. This changed the name of the Urban State Search and Rescue Program, which was confusing to the Rural areas, to the State Search and Rescue Program. An appropriation for this Program will be addressed in the Budget.

HB228 - Postpone Assume Name Revisions. This Bill requires the Secretary of State to work with local Registrar of Deeds offices in order to develop, implement and maintain a state-wide data base for anyone doing business under an assumed name by December 1, 2017.

HB229 - General Statutes Commission Technical Corrections Bill. This Bill contains numerous technical corrections to various General Statutes as recommended by the General Statutes Commission, of which I am a member.

HB227 - Preserve Tenancy by the Entirety, was included in HB229. This amends the statute governing statutory construction to define “Husband and Wife”, “Widow”, and “Widower” to make the language gender neutral.

HB243 - Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention Act. This Bill is the first step of the Legislature implementing the appropriate law necessary to address the present crisis of opioid use and addiction in our State.

HB324 - Pilot Project to Treat Opiate Overdose, was included in the Budget. This Bill provides the necessary funding for the City of Wilmington to develop and implement a pilot project to establish a Quick Response Team to address the needs of opiate and heroin overdose victims who are not getting follow-up treatment.

HB460 - Economic & Job Growth for NC Distilleries, was included in companion SB155. This Bill allows a County or a City to adopt an ordinance allowing for the sale of malt beverages, wine, and mixed beverages beginning at 10:00 AM on Sunday persuant to the licensed premises’ permit. 

HB467 - Agriculture and Forest Nuisance Remedies. This Bill limits the damage on private nuisance actions against agricultural and forestry operations. It is important to note that the Bill does not limit any damages for negligence, trespass, personal injury or strict liability. The Bill also does not limit any request for injunctive relief or punitive damages.

In addition, I was a Primary Sponsor on 8 different bills that passed the House and are pending in the Senate. Hopefully, those bills will be heard in the Senate during the 2018 Short Session.

Furthermore, I was a Primary Sponsor on other bills that are pending in the House that hopefully will be heard during the 2018 Short Session. 

Separate and apart from the above, I was very proud to be a part of the following Budget appropriations involving District 19:

Pilot Project to Treat Opiate Overdose
On behalf of the City of Wilmington, I introduced HB324 and persistently lobbied for the necessary funding for the City to develop and implement a pilot project to establish a Quick Response Team to address victims of opiate and heroin overdose. The Budget included $250,000 during the 2017-18 fiscal year and $250,000 during the 2018-2019 fiscal years for this purpose.

Fort Fisher Historic Site
On behalf of Fort Fisher, I asked and persistently lobbied for the Budget to include an appropriation of $5,000,000 for the construction of a new Visitor Center, parking lot and Maintenance Facility. With the support and assistance of Speaker Tim Moore and others, this amount was included in the Budget.

Film
The proposed Budget from the Senate included $15,000,000 in recurring funds for the Film and Entertainment Grant fund beginning in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. I explained to Speaker Moore that in order for film to resume as a viable business in North Carolina, the State had to (1) have a Grant Fund that offered a sufficient amount far in excess of $15,000,000 per year and (2) that this amount be allocated in the Budget on a recurring basis. I also persistently lobbied the Speaker to at least maintain the present $30,000,000 appropriation, and in addition, an increased amount to show that this State valued and wanted the film business here. At the end of the Budget negotiations, the decision on the amount of funding came down to Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and the Speaker. Speaker Moore successfully negotiated for $31,000,000 recurring funds to be included in the Budget beginning in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. 

 

Report on the 2016 Legislative Session

My personal highlight came on June 16 when I again was allowed the honor and opportunity to serve as the speaker of the House during the Session that day.


During the Session, I was involved in the following legislation:

HB38 - Judicial Efficiency/Effective Administration of Justice
(Davis, Lead Primary Sponsor)
I introduced this Bill, which had separate sections, during the 2015 Session.  It passed the House and was referred to the Senate.  No further action was taken during that Session.  I continued to work with the Mediation Network of North Carolina, the District Attorney Association and the Administrative Office of the Courts to come up with agreeable language to the Sections that dealt with criminal mediation in District Court.  During the 2016 Session, I included this language in a Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) to Senate Bill 508.  The Senate concurred with the PCS for this Bill and it was sent to the Governor for his signature.

HB171 - Modify Film Grant Fund
(Davis, Lead Primary Sponsor)
During the 2015 Session, I filed this bill and was able to successfully lobby through the budget process $30 million for the Film Grant in the budget for the 2015-2017 fiscal years. The funds were used in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.  When the Budget negotiations were taking place between the House and Senate during the 2016 Session, I made sure that the $30 million appropriation for the 2016-2017 fiscal years remained intact. 

HB436 - Unauthorized Practice of Law Changes
(Davis, A Primary Sponsor)
This Bill was introduced during the 2015 Session, passed the House, passed the Senate with additional language, was returned to the House, and no further action was taken.  During the 2016 Session, the House and the Senate came to an agreement, the Bill passed both Chambers, and it was signed by the Governor.

HB834/SB575 - NC/SC Original Border Confirmation
(Davis, The Primary Sponsor)
During the 2015 Session, I introduced HB834 and companion SB575 (same language) was introduced by Tommy Tucker in the Senate.  We had both been previously appointed by the Governor to the North Carolina/South Carolina Boundary Commission.  SB575 was amended in a PCS to include additional negotiated language, passed the Senate, came to the House, and I did not proceed any further on HB834.  I presented SB575 to the House Committees and on the House floor.  The Bill passed the House, passed the Senate, and was signed by the Governor.

HB976 - Enhance Oversight of Service Contracts/PED
(Davis, A Primary Sponsor)
During the interim between the 2015 and 2016 Session, I attended Program Evaluation Division (PED) Committee meetings where we heard presentations about and discussed State Service contract.  As a result of that PED study, HB976 was introduced during the 2016 Session.  The Bill passed the House, was sent to the Senate, and no further action was taken.  Hopefully, this legislation can be addressed again during the 2017 Session.

HB1023 - Municipal Service Districts/Statutory Changes
(Davis, The Primary Sponsor)
During the interim between the 2015 and 2016 Session, I attended Legislative Research Commission (LRC) meetings and chaired a Committee on Municipal Service Districts where we heard presentations about and discussed how the present legislation concerning these Districts might be improved.  As a result of that LRC study, I introduced HB1023 during the 2016 Session.  This bill passed the House, passed the Senate, and was signed by the Governor.

HB1043 - Zip Line and Challenge Course Safety/Sander’s Law
(Davis, Lead Primary Sponsor)
During the 2015 Session, I introduced HB39 (that passed both Chambers and was signed by the Governor) which directed the Department of Labor (DOL) to study the regulation of the operation of zip lines.  This was done during the interim between the 2015 and 2016 Sessions.  When the report was completed, I met with the DOL and the decision was made that I would pursue stand-alone legislation for the regulation of zip lines by the DOL rather than pursuant to existing Amusement Device legislation.
With the assistance of the DOL, I introduced HB1043.  The Bill was heard in the House Judiciary 3 Committee and received a favorable report.  Since the 2016 Session was coming to an end, I did not proceed any further.  I will address this Bill again in the 2017 Session.

HB1082 - Eliminate Use of Development Tiers
(Davis, Lead Primary Sponsor)
During the interim between the 2015 and 2016 Session, I attended Program Evaluation Division (PED) Committee meetings and Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global Engagement Oversight (EDGE) Committee meetings, wherein we discussed what legislation could be introduced that would adequately address how the State presently addresses economically distressed areas.  I chaired a PED Subcommittee that studied this issue in detail and recommended proposed legislation to the full PED Committee, which was approved.  During the same time, I was discussing this issue in the EDGE Committee and informing that Committee of what PED was doing. The EDGE Committee approved proposed legislation that took a different approach than the PED recommendation.  During the 2016 Session, I introduced HB1082 containing the language that had been previously approved by the PED Committee.  HB1029—Economic Development Changes & Study was also introduced containing the language that had been previously approved by the EDGE Committee.  Both of these Bills were referred to the Rules Committee so that all of the involved parties could meet in order to develop legislation that would contain language that was agreeable to everyone.  This was not accomplished because time ran out this Session.  Both Bills will be addressed again in the 2017 Session.

HB1083 - Wilmington/Ordinance Initiative & Referendum
(Davis, Lead Primary Sponsor)
At the request of the City of Wilmington, I introduced local HB1083 to clarify the submission of a Petition for proposed Ordinances to the City Council.  This Bill, which did not require the signature of the Governor, passed both the House and the Senate and was enacted.

Occupancy Tax Sub-Committee
As Chairman of the Sub-Committee of the Finance Committee, I worked with various legislators to being their respective Bills into compliance with the House Occupancy Tax Guidelines so they could successfully move forward.  Being in compliance is extremely important in preserving the integrity of the Guidelines.

House Conferee for the following:
1.      HB436—Unauthorized Practice of Law Changes
2.      HB1039—Omnibus Occupancy Tax Changes

2016-2017 State Budget Appropriations
With the assistance of Speaker Tim Moore, I was able to successfully lobby for a $1 million grant from the House of Representatives to the New Hanover County Board of Education to help with the planning and design phase for a Career-Technical Education (CTE) high school to be located on the north campus of Cape Fear Community College.

With the help of the various House Appropriations Chairs, Speaker Tim Moore and members of his staff, I was able to successfully lobby for $400,000 for advanced planning for a new Fort Fisher Visitor Center/Museum, which is an immediate outgrowth of the Friends of Fort Fisher Master Plan Initiative and sets them on a pathway to seeing a new 20,000 square foot facility in the foreseeable future. 

 

Report on the 2015 Legislative Session

My personal highlight came on September 16 when I was allowed the honor and opportunity to serve as the Speaker of the House during the Session that day.

 

During the Session, I was involved in the following bills:

HB3 - Eminent Domain

(Davis, A Co-Sponsor)

This legislation would provide that condemnation of private property would be prohibited except for public use. It passed the House and was referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate. Hopefully, this bill will be addressed in the 2016 Session.

HB38 - Judicial Efficiency/Effect. Admin of Justice

(Davis, Lead Primary Sponsor)

The seven sections of this bill were introduced as individual bills in the 2014 Session, each passed the House, each were referred to a Judicial Committee of the Senate, and each remained in their respective committee. I introduced all seven of these bills as HB38 during the 2015 Session. This bill passed the House and was referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate. This bill should be heard in the 2016 Legislative Session.

HB39 - Labor/Up Amusement Device Penalties

(Davis, Lead Primary Sponsor)

Section 1 of this bill increases the penalties for the illegal operation of amusement devices. Section 2 of this bill directs the Department of Labor to study the regulation of the operation of zip-lines. This bill passed both the House and the Senate with unanimous support. It was signed into law by the Governor on July 16, 2015.

HB79 - Contempt for 50C/Scope of Stay for Appeals

(Davis, A Primary Sponsor)

This bill clarifies that a knowing violation of a Chapter 50C no- contact order is punishable by either civil or criminal contempt. It passed both the House and the Senate. It was signed into law by the Governor on May, 21, 2015.

HB102 - Utility Vehicles/Move-Over Changes

(Davis, Primary Sponsor)

Section 1 of this bill authorizes law enforcement officers, emergency personnel, and municipal and county employees to operate utility vehicles on certain public highways. Section 2 of this bill modifies the move-over law to include vehicles being used in the collection of refuse, solid waste, or recycling. It passed both the House and the Senate. It was signed by Governor on May 21, 2015.

HB103 - Joint Session/State of the Judiciary

(Davis, A Primary Sponsor)

This bill was identical to Senate bill 109, which invited the Honorable Mark Martin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, to address a Joint Session of the House and the Senate. Chief Justice Martin made this presentation in the House Chambers on March 4, 2015.

HB134 - Soliciting Prostitution/Immunity for Minors

(Davis, A Primary Sponsor)

This bill provided that a minor who is soliciting as a prostitute is immune from prosecution for the offense of solicitation of prostitution. It passed both the House and the Senate. It was signed by the Governor on August 5, 2015.

HB151 - Property Insurance Rate-Making Reform

(Davis, A Co-Sponsor)

This bill increases the fairness and equity of the property insurance rate-making process by providing for greater transparency regarding the role of catastrophe modeling in property insurance rate filings. It passed the House and was referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate. Hopefully, it will be addressed in the 2016 Session

HB152 - New Historic Preservation Tax Credit

(Davis, A Co-Sponsor)

This bill modified the historic rehabilitation tax credits investment program. It passed the House and was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means of the Senate. The language of this bill was included in the State Budget, which passed both the House and the Senate and was signed by the Governor.

HB156 - Legal Notices/Require Internet Publication

(Davis, A Primary Sponsor)

This bill would require a newspaper’s website publication, at no additional charge, on the same day that the notice appears in that newspaper. This bill passed the House and went to Committee on Finance of the Senate. Hopefully, this bill will be addressed in the Short Session.

HB158 - Jim Fulghum Teen Skin Cancer Prevention Act

(Davis, A Co-Sponsor)

This bill prohibited persons under 18 years of age from using tanning equipment. It passed the House and the Senate and was signed by the Governor May 21, 2015.

HB162 - Sudden Cardiac Arrest Education/Students

(Davis, A Co-Sponsor)

This bill requires the State Board of Education and local boards of education to educate those involved in school athletic activities on sudden cardiac arrest and modified the statutory provisions on concussion safety and emergency action plans. It passed the House and is in the Committee on Education/Higher Education of the Senate.

HB171—Modify Film Grant Fund

(Davis, Lead Primary Sponsor)

This bill modified the Film and Entertainment Grant Fund and requested funding. It was referred to the House Committee on Finance. Rather than proceeding any further, it was addressed in the Budget. A grant in the amount of $30,000,000 was established for each year of the next biennium, for a total of $60,000,000.

HB303 - Dispute Resolution Amendments

(Davis, A Primary Sponsor)

This bill amended the law regarding mediated settlement conferences in Superior Court, mediation in District Court domestic cases, and the regulation of mediators. It passed the House and was referred to the Committee on Appropriations/Base Budget of the Senate. This bill did not proceed any further and hopefully, will be heard during the 2016 Session.

HB308 - Clarify Reasonable Health Insur/LTC Ombudsman

(Davis, A Primary Sponsor)

This bill amended the laws pertaining to the medical support and health insurance coverage relating to child support and modified the long-term care ombudsman program to conform with Federal guidelines. It pass the House and the Senate and was signed by the Governor August 18, 2015.

HB403 - Pole Attachment Compensation

(Davis, A Co-Sponsor)

This bill modified the State’s regulation of pole attachments and provided guidance in resolving disputes regarding compensation for pole attachments. It was referred to the House Committee on Judiciary I. It did not proceed any further. Hopefully, this bill will be heard in the 2016 Session.

HB436 - Unauthorized Practice of Law Changes

(Davis, A Primary Sponsor)

This bill further defined the term “practice law” for the purpose members of the public from serious harm resulting for an unauthorized practice of law by a person who is not a trained and licensed attorney. It passed the House. It passed the Senate with additional language. When the amended bill returned to the House for consideration, it was referred to the House Committee on Judiciary I and did not proceed any further. Hopefully, this bill will be heard in the 2016 Session.

HB487 - Community Paramedicine Pilot Project/Funds

(Davis, A Co-Sponsor)

This bill would reduce health care expenditures for emergency services and hospital stays by establishing a community paramedcine pilot project. This bill was referred to the House Committee on Health and did not proceed any further. Hopefully, this bill will be heard in the 2016 Session.

HB665 - Honor State’s Veterans

(Davis, A Co-Sponsor)

This House resolution honored the State’s veterans by expressing its appreciation for their service to our State and Nation. It was unanimously passed on April 15, 2015.

HB708 - Preservation of Historic/Heritage Trees

(Davis, A Co-Sponsor)

This bill directs State Departments, Boards, Commissions, and Agencies to give consideration to a tree designated as historic or heritage by a City or County prior to taking any action that may harm the tree. It passed the House and referred to the Committee on Ways and Means of the Senate. Hopefully, it will be addressed in the 2016 Session.

HB780 - Study/Economic Impact of Jones Act on NC

(Davis,A Co-Sponsor)

This bill directed the Legislative Research Commission to study the economic impact of the Jones Act (requiring all domestic coast-wide trade in the United States be carried on vessels built and flagged in the Country) on North Carolina. It passed the House and was referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

HB834 - NC/SC Original Border Conformation

(Davis, Primary Sponsor)

As a Governor’s appointee to the North Carolina/South Carolina Boundary Commission, this bill would make legislative changes to facilitate the work of the Boundary Commission in confirming and re-establishing the original boundary existing between the states of North and South Carolina. This bill was referred to the House Committee on Rule’s. Since the South Carolina Legislature is still negotiating with the North Carolina Legislature concerning the specific language in this bill, it did not proceed any further. When negotiations have been finalized, I will make any necessary changes to this bill and proceed accordingly.

House Conferee for the following:

1. HB117—NC Competes Act

2. SB378—Increase Punishment/Misd. Death by Vehicle

3. HB531—Omnibus Occupancy Tax

Sales Tax Distribution

This proposed Senate legislation would have changed the formula as to the amount of sales tax that would have been kept locally. This would have been financially devastating to the governments of New Hanover County, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. I strongly opposed any such change. Budget negotiations between the House and the Senate resulted in the elimination of the proposed distribution and left the present distribution intact.

Removal of “The Rocks’’

This proposed Senate legislation would have removed the Southern Component of the New Inlet Dam near Zeke’s Island. I resisted such a removal without a proper study having been conducted to determine any negative impact to this environmentally rich and sensitive area. Budget negotiations between the House and the Senate resulted in a study to be conducted that will analyze the costs and benefits of removal of that Southern Component.

Occupancy Tax Sub-Committee

As Chairman of this Sub-Committee, I worked with six different legislators to bring their respective bills into compliance with the House Occupancy Tax Guidelines so they could receive a favorable report and move forward. Being in compliance is extremely important in preserving the integrity of the Guidelines.

SB 519--Amend Child Custody Laws

This bill enacted a new G.S,.50-13.1 declaring the legislative policy relating to child custody and required the court in a child custody proceeding to consider certain factors and make specific findings of fact relating to those factors. While I was not a sponsor of this bill, I worked with the bill sponsor in drafting the final language that passed both the House and the Senate and was sent to the Governor for his signature on September 30, 2015

SB374—Repeal the Requirement That a Holder of a For-Hire Coastal Recreational Fishing License Maintain a Log Book Summarizing Catch and Effort Statistical Data and to Forbid the Department of Environment and Natural Resources from Entering into a Joint Enforcement Agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

While I was not a sponsor of this bill, I worked with the bill sponsor to change the original language to the language contained in bill title above. This bill passed both the House and the Senate and was signed by the Governor on 8/5/15.

 

From the 2014 Short Session:

From the 2013 Long Session:

 

 


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