NCGA Preview: Week of January 31
Health care, property rights, and charter schools top agenda
By Sara Burrows | Carolina Journal
RALEIGH — As the second week of the 2011 General Assembly begins today, legislation expected to see action include bills to exempt North Carolina from the from the individual mandate of the federal health care reform bill, rein in forced annexation, and raise the cap on charter schools past the current 100-charter limit.
House Bill 2, the Protect Health Care Freedom Act, would exempt North Carolinians from any law compelling them to purchase either health care services or health insurance, or to enroll in a public health care program. The bill has 63 sponsors, all Republicans except for one unaffiliated.
House Bill 9, the Involuntary Annexation Moratorium, would put a hold on all forced annexations in the state until July 1, giving the General Assembly time to decide whether to outlaw the practice altogether. The bill would not stop annexations now under way.
House Bill 5, Kinston Annexation Repealed, would stop an annexation already in progress. It would nullify Kinston’s annexation ordinance adopted in 2009, protecting Lenoir County residents facing annexation from being forced into the city limits without their consent.
House Bill 8, Eminent Domain, would amend the North Carolina Constitution by clarifying that “private property shall not be taken by eminent domain except for a public use.” It states that economic development cannot be considered a public use. The bill also insists that “just compensation” shall be paid for property seized for public use.
In his latest Spotlight report, John Locke Foundation’s Director of Legal and Regulatory Studies Daren Bakst argues the bill’s language should be stronger, ensuring private property is not taken for private use of any kind, not just economic development.
Senate Bill 8, No Cap on Charter Schools, would remove the current cap (100) on charter schools, which has left thousands of students on waiting lists.
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, told Carolina Journal more charter school reforms — including moving administration from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to some other oversight body and guarantees of adequate charter school funding — may be added in the form of amendments or introduced as separate legislation.
The House plans to introduce other school choice legislation in February, possibly including tax credits for parents wanting to send their children to a private or non-district public school, said House Majority Leader Paul “Skip” Stam, R-Wake.
BILLS TO WATCH:
• H.B. 2, Protect Health Care Freedom, Paul Stam, R-Wake
• H.B. 3, Exclusionary Rule/ Good Faith Exception, Paul Stam, R-Wake
• H.B. 5, Kinston Annexation Repealed, Stephen LaRoque, R-Lenoir
• H.B. 7, Community Colleges/Opt Out of Federal Loan Program, Dan Ingle, R-Alamance
• H.B. 8, Eminent Domain, Paul Stam, R-Wake
• H.B. 9, Involuntary Annexation Moratorium, Nelson Dollar, R-Wake
• H.B. 11, No Postsecondary Education/ Illegal Aliens, George Cleveland, R-Onslow
• S.B. 8, No Cap on Charter Schools, Richard Stevens, R-Wake
KEY COMMITTEE MEETINGS:
A list of the regularly scheduled House Committee meetings is here.
• The House Finance Committee might hear H.B. 2 this week.
• The House Judiciary Subcommittee B will hear H.B. 3 Tuesday at 10 a.m.
• The House Education Committee might hear H.B. 7 this week.
• The House Judiciary Committee might hear H.B. 8 and H.B. 9 this week.
• The Voter ID Act, which would require voters to present identification at the polls, likely will be filed in early February, as it was returned to bill drafting last week.
• Rep. Glen Bradley, R-Franklin, plans to file his N.C. Farmer’s Freedom Act on Wednesday or Thursday. The bill basically would exempt North Carolina farmers from new federal regulations created by the Food Safety Modernization Act, S. 510, which was sponsored by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr. Farmers would be exempted from regulations only if their food were produced and sold within the state. The bill now has 21 sponsors. Bradley hopes to have 40 by the time it is filed.
To keep up with the most recent action taken on bills filed by the General Assembly, click here.
Sara Burrows is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.