Last week was so hectic, with legislators in and out of meetings and sessions to secure the votes for House Bill 142 — the repeal of HB2, that legislators seemed exhausted this week even with looming bill-filing and crossover deadlines. Most activity occurred in committees where legislators pushed their bills through committees with the goal being to get the bills ready for votes on the House floor.
And that was what I was about. HB449 [Henderson County/Law Enforcement Training Center] came out of a State and Local Government Committee and passed on a voice vote. The bill was requested by Henderson County, and it makes it easier to build the proposed Law Enforcement Training Center if the county decides to go forward with that project on the Blue Ridge Community College campus. HB449 is a bill that is similar to the bill we passed last year to expedite the building of other projects on the community college campus, HB956 [Henderson County/Community College Projects].
Another bill that moved was HB375 [School Cal. Flex./CC] which passed the House by a vote of 100 to 8. The bill would allow the alignment of the public school calendar with the community college calendar as long as public schools don’t open before August 15. While the House would probably vote to repeal the school calendar law and let school boards establish whatever calendars that they want, the tourism industry is a strong supporter of the school calendar law, and the Senate has resisted any changes to the calendar law.
I’ve generally opposed calendar flexibility bills, but I would like to see some compromise on the issue. My sponsorship of HB375 does not reflect any fundamental change on my part on the issue; I just think we need to find a way to resolve the issue, and one way to do that is to resolve one issue at a time. The nonalignment of the public school calendar and the community college calendar is one of the issues that needs to be resolved. While the bill passed with a huge majority on its second reading, there was an objection to taking the vote on the third reading on the same day, and the bill will come up for the final vote next week.
While many bills were moving quickly to the floor, bills were still being filed in the House. I filed a bill to create a new type of corporation — a benefit corporation or a “B Corp.” HB616 [North Carolina Public Benefit Corporation Act] would have North Carolina join over thirty other states in authorizing a type of for-profit corporation that can explicitly do charitable work. There are many B corps that do business in North Carolina. For example, New Belgium Brewing Company is a Colorado B Corp with its east coast site in Asheville. Most B corps are closely held corporations that want to make a profit but whose sole purpose is not making a profit. As a former camp owner, I wish this type of corporation had been around when I ran that business since I wanted to make a profit, but I was also about doing charitable work related to kids.
Sometimes “companion bills” are filed for bills filed in the other chamber. I filed HB624 [Uniform System Development Fees for Water] in direct response to the Carthage decision which found certain fees charged to developers by municipalities to pay for new roads, sidewalks, and similar development-related improvements were unconstitutional. The bill is a companion to Senate Bill 641, a bill which Senator Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson) cosponsored. The bills came about when senators and representatives heard from various counties and cities that they were facing huge exposure to suits from developers seeking refunds for impact fees that were charged in the past. For my district, it is not a huge issue, but Hendersonville immediately rolled back its ordinance allowing for impact fees after the Carthage decision. My reason for working on this issue is that I think counties and municipalities need to be able to pass along the costs of new infrastructure to the developers, so long as the fees are used for that purpose and not used simply to run the local government.
Next week is a short week. The legislature will not have votes for a few days around the Easter holiday, but then we’ll return for a wild ten days as legislators push to keep their bills alive by getting a positive vote on their bill before April 27, the crossover deadline.