The House adopted its permanent rules (House Resolution 481) just before heading home for Easter break. Technically, we are still in session next week, but no votes will be taken and no committees will meet. Most members will probably not come to Raleigh, although the House Appropriations chairs, including me, will be working on the budget.
One change in the permanent House Rules related to the number of bills that each member can file. The temporary rules, which were the rules from the 2013-14 session, allowed each member to file up to 10 bills, not including local bills. Democratic members wanted the bill cap to be removed or be set higher, and Republicans in the majority agreed to a compromise on that issue and now the new bill cap is 15 bills.
Having filed the Eminent Domain bill [HB3] and a blank Appropriations bill [HB101] previously, this week was the week for me to finally start filing bills on which I’d been working since the session started. My bills filed this week are:
HB532 [Hard Apple Cider Growlers]: A bill to allow the sale of hard cider in a refillable container known as a growler. One can already buy beer in growlers, and this simply allows for the sale of hard cider in growlers.
HB533 [Modify PUV Exceptions to Disqualification]: A bill to continue the deferral of taxes on land acquired by a land trust, if the land is going to continue to be used as a farm or kept as woodlands.
HB534 [North Carolina Benefit Corporation Act]: A bill that creates a new type of corporation — a benefit corporation. A “B Corp” is a for-profit corporation that is allowed to do charitable work; the corporation does not have to be run strictly to make a profit.
HB545 [Information/Guidelines Re: Eating Disorders]: A bill that, if enacted, will result in parents being provided information about eating disorders as part of the information routinely provided by school systems.
HB553 [Ordinances Regulating Animals]: This bill will restrict local governments from regulating livestock, including cows, chickens, and horses. Buncombe County recently passed an ordinance that tries to set a standard of care for livestock, and this bill makes clear that responsibility lies with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The bill is an attempt to ward off a spate of local ordinances that could set different standards for housing, feeding, and caring for livestock. The bill specifically doesn’t restrict local governments from using their police powers to deal with issues relating to public safety or health. In other words, a city could address an issue where horses weren’t being properly fed and were emaciated.
HB554 [Protect Public from Dangerous Wild Animals]: This bill is intended to protect the public from certain dangerous wild animals that some people seem to feel they can keep as pets. So the bill wouldn’t allow animals such as lions, tigers, bears and other predators to be kept in captivity unless the animals were needed for educational or some other similar purpose.
HB571 [Implementation of Carbon Dioxide Regulations]: The bill directs the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources to develop a state implementation plan to comply with the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from stationary sources, such as power plants. Surprisingly, this bill is supported by industry and environmental groups, since everyone recognizes that the State needs to work on its plan even as it challenges EPA’s authority to promulgate the carbon dioxide rules.
Still in the works are bills relating to insurance coverage for autism, craft breweries, making epinephrine available for camps, restaurants and similar establishments, and toxic-free children’s bedding. Surprisingly, there are also some bills, generally environmental bills, that some colleagues want me to handle, but I’ve made no commitments. When there was a 10 bill limit, I could honestly say that I had reached my 10 bill limit, but now with the bill limit raised I don’t have that excuse for not taking the lead on some of those bills.
Of course, the problem will be my capacity to work on all of these bills while doing my work as an Appropriations Chair. I’m the lead sponsor on a lot of bills, and I’m also one of several committee chairs who expect to spend most of late April and early May doing nothing but working on the budget.
The cross-over deadline this year is Thursday, April 30. That means that for my bills to be eligible to pass in 2015, I’ll need to get the House to act on them before the end of the month. The last three weeks of April are going to be nuts with House members trying to meet the cross-over deadline at the same time that many of them, including me, are working on the budget.