Old North State Report - February 24, 2017
After a relatively slow start to this year’s session, the legislature began to pick up speed this week. Joint appropriations subcommittees met to start reviewing the state agencies, last year’s budget, and ongoing initiatives. Legislative leaders also released a calendar outlining the schedule for the budget process to unfold over the next few months, concluding before the end of the fiscal year in late June:
A bi-partisan group of centrist representatives introduced House Bill 186 (“Repeal HB2/State Nondiscrimination Policies”) as a potential compromise this week. Essentially, the legislation would repeal HB2 while allowing towns and cities to pass nondiscrimination ordinances with a few limitations, including that they would not be allowed to regulate bathroom access in private facilities. The bill has 19 co-sponsors with 14 Republicans and five Democrats. Most of the GOP supporters are from urban or suburban districts. Reaction to the bill has been mixed: Governor Cooper said he still wants a full repeal; Senate Republicans adopted a “wait and see if the House acts” approach; several business and trade associations endorsed the efforts while advocacy groups on both the left and right opposed it:
Governor Cooper and legislative Republicans battled on a number of fronts this week, including the state’s appeal of a voting rights lawsuit and who deserves credit for teacher pay raises. Probably the most contentious fight, though, stems from a bill passed in December requiring Senate confirmation of the Governor’s cabinet nominees. The provision is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit. Republicans have now subpoenaed Larry Hall, the former House minority leader and newly-designated Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs, after being asked to appear before the Senate Commerce Committee three times.
Expect more fireworks between the two sides as the session progresses. Tensions have run high since November’s closely contested gubernatorial election and December’s special sessions. The fate of HB 2 and the dividing line between executive versus legislative authority hangs in the balance. The Governor and the General Assembly may find common ground in a few areas but continued court fights with an eye on the 2018 legislative elections appear to be the safer bet at this point.
The articles published in this newsletter are intended only to provide general information on the subjects covered. The contents should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers should consult with legal counsel to obtain specific legal advice based on particular situations.