My legislative agenda
Last week was the General Assembly’s “crossover” deadline. This is a somewhat artificial deadline the legislature sets as a way to pare down the number of bills that will be considered. For the most part, any bill that isn’t a spending bill has to pass at least one chamber by this deadline to have a chance at becoming law.
I am a primary sponsor of 35 bills this session. That’s a lot of bills. I want to share some information on a few of my bills that made it through the House this week.
H687 Public Schools Testing Schedule. Schools currently have to complete all of their End of Grade tests within the final 10 days of the year. Under this bill, school districts would be able to petition the State Board of Education for a broader testing window – up to 20 days. School districts might seek this flexibility for any number of educational reasons. For example, a school district that has a high number of students with disabilities, whose tests take extra time and require individualized staff assistance, will be able to accommodate these students’ needs.
H607 Allow Protected Consumer Security Freezes. Can you imagine having your child’s identity stolen and their credit trashed…but not knowing it until they try to sign up for a college loan? That has happened in North Carolina. This bill would allow parents to place a credit freeze on their child’s social security number. It would allow the same protection for any adult who has a legal guardian, such as someone who is disabled or incapacitated.
HB126 Mortgage Origination Support Registration. This is a pretty simple bill that sets up a process for mortgage processors and underwriters to register with the State Banking Commission without having to become mortgage brokers. The bill would bring North Carolina into compliance with existing federal laws. It includes a provision for registration fees that has a sliding scale based on the size of the business and would make the registration process self-financing.
H817 Enact Uniform Law on Adult Guardianship. What happens if you are acting as a guardian for an aging parent but want them to go live with your sibling in another state? With this law in place, North Carolina will join 40 other states that have adopted a uniform process for transferring adult guardianship across state lines.
H816 Study the Needs of Working Caregivers. There are an increasing number of working adults acting as caregivers for aging relatives. The demands of caregiving can sometimes pull those workers away from their jobs. Under this bill, the legislature would begin to study which laws can be amended to support caregivers. One example might be to allow workers to use accrued sick leave for their caregiving responsibilities. Another might be to allow workers to take four hours of unpaid leave time each year, as they can do currently in order to attend parent-teacher conferences at their child’s school.
None of these are law yet. They all must receive support from the Senate and Governor before being enacted. The school testing bill seems unlikely to pass, as it has already been referred to the Senate’s Ways and Means committee, which hasn’t met for over 10 years and is generally a burial ground for bills. The other four bills seem to have a chance. That is probably in part because I worked with Republicans on all of them. Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) sponsored H126 and H607 with me. Rep. Rena Turner (R-Iredell) sponsored H816 and H817.
Of the other 30 bills that didn’t make it to the Senate thus far, several still have a chance through the budget process or by adding them to another bill as an amendment. However, many of them are now likely dead or never even had a chance. Under Republican control, many Democratic bills never even get a hearing, no matter what they propose. I could write a much longer column on the lessons I have learned so far on how a bill can be killed. But for now, I’m happy celebrating those that are still alive over in the Senate.
Graig Meyer is the State Representative for House District 50, covering portions of Orange and Durham Counties. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.