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Political Notebook: Bills from local lawmakers advance to other chamber

State lawmakers in Raleigh continue to push through their bills as filing deadlines and the end of the session draw near.

Lawmakers in the House have until May 11 to file public bills and resolutions with appropriations and finance stipulations, while both chambers must “cross over” their bills to the opposite chamber on May 13.

To date, Rowan County’s lawmakers have sponsored nearly 270 bills in the House and Senate, with at least 50 of those now sitting in the other chamber.

The following are bills that have advanced over the previous two weeks.

Rep. Harry Warren, R-76

• House Bill 103, implementing an automatic renewal clause and requiring a consumer who enters into a contract online be permitted to cancel the contract online as well, passed the House unanimously on April 28.

• H.B. 281, establishing the loggerhead sea turtle as the state saltwater reptile, passed the House unanimously on April 22.

• H.B. 295, requiring the Social Services Commission of the Division of Social Services to review policies and guidelines and submit a report to the Office of Administrative Hearings.

• H.B. 307, instituting a year-round daylight saving time for the state if authorized by Congress, passed the House 100-16 on April 22. A total of 15 Democrats and one Republican voted against the measure.

• House Joint Resolution 330, expressing the North Carolina General Assembly’s opposition to any federal action infringing upon the state’s authority to manage and administer elections, passed the House 67-50 along party lines on April 27.

• H.B. 370, or the “No Veteran Left Behind Act,” appropriates funds to The Independence Fund, Inc., to implement a pilot program expanding the Veterans Justice Intervention program by working with law enforcement departments in several counties and the city of Charlotte. The program helps justice-involved veterans suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues avoid incarceration by ensuring timely access to veterans’ services. It passed the House unanimously on April 21.

• H.B. 605, or the “Voters Right to Know Act,” requires the State Board of Elections to display voter education information on a placard at the entrance to each voting place during hours the site is open for voting and to establish a webpage providing additional information on election laws and primaries. The bill calls for the webpage to include a list of frequently asked questions and answers about voting, along with a toll free telephone number for voters to contact with questions during an election. The bill passed the House unanimously on April 28.

Rep. Wayne Sasser, R-67

• H.B. 93, requiring most health care providers to educate and offer a prescription for opioid antagonists before prescribing a schedule II controlled substance, cleared the House 114-2 on April 28. The two “no” votes come from two Democrats.

• H.B. 129, authorizing public and nonpublic schools in Rockingham, Stokes and Surry counties to establish attendance capacity for 2020-21 graduation ceremonies and allow them to align school calendars with the calendar of the local community college, passed the House on April 29.

• H.B. 222, designating the week beginning on the second Sunday in November as Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy Awareness Week and recommending local boards of education provide training for school personnel responsible for students with epilepsy, passed the House unanimously on April 22.

• H.B. 282, changing the regular municipal election cycle from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years for the city of Mount Airy beginning with the 2022 election, passed the House on April 22. The bill also extends the terms of the current mayor and commissioners for one year to implement thee new election schedule.

• H.B. 396, requiring Kannapolis City Schools and Cabarrus County Schools to open no earlier than Aug. 10 each school year, passed the House on April 28.

Rep. Julia Howard, R-67

• H.B. 86 increases the death benefit payable to the survivor of a serving member of the Legislative Retirement System to a lump sum of $50,000 and appropriates additional money to fund the increase. Under current law, the maximum benefit is $15,000. It passed the House 117-1 on April 15, with Warren casting the only vote in opposition.

• H.B. 92, allowing Davie County schools, Davidson County schools, Iredell Statesville School District, Lexington City Schools, Mooresville Graded School District and Thomasville City Schools to open no earlier than Aug. 10 each year, passed the House April 28.

Sen. Carl Ford, R-33

• Senate Bill 346, requiring the governor to have the agreement of the majority of the Council of State to exercise certain powers and establishing an expiration date for executive orders issued, passed the Senate 28-21 along party lines on April 27.

Gov. Cooper signs bill exempting COVID relief from determining income-based property tax exemptions 

Gov. Roy Cooper last week signed into law a bill that exempts COVID-19 funds from determining one’s property tax exemptions.

Rep. Julia Howard, a Republican representing Rowan and Davie counties, was the primary sponsor of House Bill 279, and Rep. Harry Warren, R-76, also backed the bill. It passed both the House and Senate unanimously on April 15 and April 27, respectively, and was signed into law on April 27.

Under current law, eligibility for the elderly or disabled homestead exclusion or homestead circuit breaker program must not exceed a certain income limit. H.B. 279 exempts extra credit grants and federal stimulus payments received as COVID-19 relief funds are not included in one’s income for determining eligibility for the exemption.

Additionally, the bill allows the state’s Revenue department to waive or prevent the accrual of interest on late tax returns. The IRS extended the federal income tax filing due date for the 2020 year to May 17. The bill also extends the statute of limitations and deadline set for requesting a refund. Normally, a taxpayer has three years to claim a refund.

Rowan Democrats to host Rep. Amber Baker during monthly breakfast meeting

The Rowan County Democratic Party on Saturday will hear from Rep. Dr. Amber Baker about the current legislative session in the General Assembly.

The party will virtually host its May breakfast session at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 8. Those wishing to attend must first register at www.mobilize.us/rowandemocrats/event/386658/.

Baker, an educator and Democrat representing Forsyth County, served as principal for more than a decade at Kimberley Park School in Winston-Salem. The local Democratic party credits her with improving numerous educational opportunities for children and families in her district.

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