Last week the North Carolina House of Representatives voted to offer bonus pay for schools and teachers who best prepare students for highly competitive career and college programs. House Bill 968, called “Increase Successful CTE Participation,” would implement a bonus program for high school systems whose students participate in quality career-ready technical certification programs. The bill also exempts high school students from any fees associated with the certification. Finally, it requires program coordination with the North Carolina Department of Commerce to ensure that the programs are in-step with employer’s workforce needs.
Another bill, also designed to reward teachers and schools for outstanding work, passed the House on Thursday, May 9. The measure requires that increased student participation in Advanced Placement courses and International Baccalaureate Diploma programs be included in the award formula of the schools’ annual report card. The measure, House Bill 969, was added to a bill that establishes an A-F report card system for evaluating North Carolina schools. Both bills now go to the Senate.
The House also passed several measures last week designed to spur the state’s economy. Among them is a repeal of the inheritance or “death” tax, which eliminates a tax on estates valued at over five million dollars. The repeal has been requested over the years by family farmers and others small-business owners, who say that the tax jeopardizes their family companies as they move from one generation to the next. Supporters also say that repealing the tax provides additional incentives to those considering moving their family businesses to North Carolina. The bill now moves to the Senate.
Also passing the House last week was a measure that would curb illegal check cashing. Small check cashing businesses appealed to lawmakers, saying that they’ve often been left with the tab after thieves cash a check electronically, and then turn around and cash a paper check, essentially “double dipping.” When the check cashing company tries to collect from the bank, the check is returned and the legislation increases the penalties for cashing a worthless check, requiring that the same fees apply as would apply to passing any bad check. It now goes to the Senate.
The House also passed a bill that would keep insurance companies from charging more out-of-pocket fees for oral chemotherapy treatments than it does for intravenous medications. The NC Cancer Fairness Act would allow patients to receive the oral drugs, which have fewer side effects but are more expensive, for the same deductible as IV drugs. The bill now goes to the Senate.
Lawmakers in the House also considered the NC Taxpayer Bill of Rights in the House Government Committee this week. Passing the committee on Thursday, the measure would establish a mathematical formula to control the growth of state government, based on population and inflation. Supporters say it prevents lawmakers from overspending taxpayer money during prosperous years. The measure must go through the House Finance and Appropriations Committees before facing a vote on the NC House floor. If it passes by a three-fifths margin and both the House and Senate, the measure would have to be approved by citizens in a constitutional referendum in November 2014.