Yesterday was the Ides of March. For many years tax returns were due on March 15th. That had to change when tax preparation became so complicated that nobody could do it by then. This was also the day Julius Caesar was assassinated “Et tu Brute.” Next Sunday is the Vernal Equinox. So this seems an appropriate time to report to you what is happening in the Assembly.
HB3 amends the State Constitution to protect private property from abusive condemnations, limiting them to public uses or public utilities. I am optimistic this may be considered by the voters in a referendum next year.
Two weeks ago the House considered and passed two quite controversial bills:
The House version of Senate Bill 20 stabilizes the gas tax for the rest of the year at $.36 /gallon. This is a temporary tax rate decrease followed by a temporary tax rate increase followed by whatever we are able to agree to going forward in 2016. We have a crisis. With the low price of oil and the improved gasoline efficiency of cars, without taking some action, road construction, maintenance and repair will be drastically curtailed. I voted yes.
House Bill 117 “NC Competes Act,” was a bill I opposed. There were some good features in it (site infrastructure and a change in tax law with regard to the single factor /sales tax apportionment). But the heart of the bill was several hundred million dollars of targeted tax incentives to lure companies to come to North Carolina. I have always opposed that. You can read my basic argument on that at http://paulstam.info/2005/06/
I am the primary sponsor of an Omnibus Criminal Justice procedure bill, HB 173. We have worked on that with all sides of the criminal justice system, about 50 “stakeholders”. Our goal is to change the culture so that there is not a one or three year wait between arrest and disposition of criminal cases. There is not much deterrence in a system where a guilty defendant can stretch it out for years and not much justice when an innocent defendant has to wait years to clear his or her name. Tomorrow will be the first hearing.
On Wednesday, HB108, Building and Site Development will have its first hearing in Commerce. It provides for site infrastructure, primarily to assist rural and semi rural counties so that they have a “pad ready” site to attract business. This is a loan from one level of government to another that will be fully secured. It is not a giveaway to the business that will ultimately be there.
On Thursday, I hope to have the first hearing on HB201 to repeal the super majority effect of zoning protest petitions. These petitions will still be heard and considered by a Town Council, but will not give them the antidemocratic effect of allowing one or two council members to block the right of the property owner and a majority of the council to determine the appropriate use for property.
I am working on several other measures to protect life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness as set out in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. I will report on these to you next time.
If you have questions about legislation you can always call me or my legislative staff. Anne Murtha handles constituent issues 919-733-2962; Gregg Sinders covers all educational issues 919-715-2644; Jamie Lassiter covers criminal justice issues, court issues, pro-life issues and liberty issues 919-733-2614; Don D’Ambrosi covers land use, environment, regulatory reform and local government 919-733-2962.
With best regards, I am
Speaker Pro Tem