2006 Legislative Session Report

December 5th, 2006 by

I was principle sponsor of:

Enforcement of Power of Attorney encourages acceptance of authority granted under powers of attorney, providing ways to prove that powers-of-attorney are valid. SL 2005-178.

Adjust Adoption Procedure where the birth father is not really involved. SL 2005-166.

Swift Creek Management Plan/Standing to Enforce clarifies the procedure for those adversely affected by a violation of the Swift Creek Management Plan. SL 2005-7.

Register of Deeds-Certifications passed the House but became law as part of a companion Senate bill. Then changed to a much needed correction of the law concerning Notary Publics. SL 2006-59.

I was one of four sponsors of:

Homeowner Association Amendments, SL 2005-422, which changed the law in dozens of ways-many clarifying and improving procedural protections for homeowners:

  • Capping late fees on assessments and capping attorneys’ fees in uncontested actions
  • Reducing the maximum fine that may be imposed from $150 to $100
  • Providing owners notice before attorneys’ fees and court costs may be assessed and allowing the owner 15 days from the date of the mailing to pay without the attorneys’ fees and court costs
  • Prohibiting payments to any officer or member of an association’s board unless the payments are made for services and expenses on behalf of the association and given prior approval by the board
  • Requiring executive boards to provide homeowners an opportunity to attend and speak at meetings
  • Requiring associations to maintain detailed records and to provide access to owners
  • Limiting restrictions on the display of the flag

HB 1439 Exclusionary Rule- The Good Faith Exception is needed and will be studied by the Legislative Research Commission. Murderers and Rapists need to be separated from their loopholes.

HB 2730 Tax Credits for Children with Special Needs- This is one of my priorities for 2007.

Towards the end of session Conference Committees are formed to help the House and Senate agree on the text of bills that are being held up due to disagreements. Generally the conferees are those who have been most active in shaping the bill. I was assigned to several conference committees including: SL 2005-460- Driving From/Leaving the Scene of an Accident; SL 2005-329- No Lasers Pointed at Planes; SL 2005-408- Consumer Credit Counseling/Debt Management; SL 2005-456- Amend Lobbying Laws; and SL 2005-455- Amend Fisheries Law. As well as HB 1048 DWI which provides for improved detection of impaired drivers; improves methods of determining how underage drivers obtain alcohol; changes procedures for investigating, arresting, charging and the judicial processing of impaired driving offenses. And HB 1323 Establish Innocence Inquiry Commission which reviews claims of factual innocence by evidence not previously presented.

2006 Budget

I voted against the 2006 BUDGET which spends $18.9 billion this year (2006-2007) of state funds. Why?

  1. This Budget includes $1.67 billion dollars in new spending (2006-2007 over 2005-2006) – a 9.7% increase in spending. This figure does not include as “spending” credits to the “Rainy Day” reserve. If this budget had increased by the sum of population increases plus inflation it would have increased by about 5.65% (TABOR) and the surplus could have been used to straighten out future structural deficits.
  2. The budget continues to spend and accrue hundreds of millions of dollars in ineffectual and discriminatory corporate giveaways, like the Bill Lee Act, JDIG, the ONE North Carolina Fund and the Cigarette Export Tax Credit. The Bill Lee Act has been thoroughly discredited by our own studies and defies sound economics. This budget adds another $10 million in new giveaways (Section 12.8).
  3. State Employees received miniscule pay raises for the last 5 years while other employees received normal raises. This year’s 5.5% pay raise is much better but doesn’t make up for 4 years of attrition. Once again state employees are being unfairly discriminated against – compared to other employees who will receive an 8% raise this year.
  4. There are over $497 million of recurring expenses paid for by nonrecurring revenues in the budget. You don’t buy groceries with an inheritance from your great aunt. This treatment of nonrecurring revenue is a recipe for future structural deficits. I calculate: $1,045,000,000 in 2007-2008 $1,163,000,000 in 2008-2009
  5. Fiscal staff has estimated that the unfunded liability for retired state employees’ health insurance premiums is about $13.5 billion. To amortize this over 30 years would cost about $1.5 billion per year. This budget takes no steps to resolve this structural problem.
  6. The budget continues part of the same “temporary” tax rate increases that I voted against in 2003 and 2005 – higher sales tax and income tax rates. Since these higher rates are set to expire in 2007 the budget is fundamentally flawed because it funds recurring expenses with nonrecurring revenue. And higher sales taxes are not deductible against your federal income taxes so they cost you 20% in higher federal income taxes.
  7. Priorities not met. Pork still there. The House budget included full funding for Early Intervention Services. These services are for disabled children from birth to 3 years old. But the conference report shortchanges these children by $7.3 million. That was not from a shortage of funds – not with a 9.7% increase in spending. The conferees even have $10 million in new pork projects in Section 12.8.
  8. There is no real cap on the gas tax. First, the budget leaves in place the additional tax that was added January 1, 2006. Next, the “cap” expires June 30, 2007. The only effect of the provision is to prevent announcement of an increase next October – right before the elections.

Of course, all budgets have some good items and some bad. But in deciding how to vote on the final package it is the basic structure that must be considered.


HB 2213 Eminent Domain amends the constitution so land cannot be taken for economic development. Eighty- seven other Representatives joined me on this bill. Last summer the U.S. Supreme Court decided (in Kelo v. New London, Connecticut) that local government could condemn private property and transfer it to someone else for economic development. The hue and cry around the county spread like wildfire. This bill reverses Kelo permanently for North Carolina. It also requires prompt payment of just compensation and requires trial by jury in all condemnation actions as a matter of constitutional right (as do 49 other states), rather than by statutory grace.

The Assembly failed to address the State Marriage Amendment (HB 55) which was signed by a majority of House members. Leadership of the House and Senate refused to allow us to vote on the question: Whether North Carolina will allow polygamy and same-sex marriage or deny recognition to out-of-state marriages?

The writer represents Southern Wake County in the North Carolina House of Representatives