June 30, 2015
Much has happened since I last wrote to you on May 28, 2015.
The pro-life bill HB 465 is now law. Enhanced conscience protection for health care providers is effective immediately. The increased waiting periods after informed consent has been obtained from 24 hours to 72 hours will be effective October 1, 2015. Statistical reporting changes will be effective January 1, 2016.
Several initiatives regarding K-12 public education that passed the House are in conference with the Senate.
- Employee pay: Teachers and State Employees will receive a 2% raise in the House Plan. In the Senate Plan teachers receive an average 4% raise and other state employees zero. I do not agree with that.
- The Home budget includes differentiated pay based upon teacher leadership positions, hard to staff subjects and hard to staff schools. The Senate budget does not.
Several other budget initiatives address school choice:
- Each budget increases funding for Opportunity Scholarships from $10.8M to $17.6M. These scholarships provide school choice for low and moderate income families who switch from public to a private school up to $4,200 per year. These scholarships save taxpayers money. We are waiting for a North Carolina Supreme Court decision on this.
- Each budget increases funding for Special Needs Scholarships from $6,000 per year to $8,000 per year, and provide for payment of tuition at the beginning of the semester rather than as a reimbursement. These two changes make these scholarships much more practical for parents of children with special needs.
Over the Governor’s veto the Senate and the House passed SB 2, Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies. This is a strong statement for freedom. Last fall magistrates were threatened with loss of their jobs, and even criminal prosecution, for those who wouldn’t participate in marriage ceremonies to which they had sincere religious objection. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has mandated same sex marriage nationwide SB2 becomes even more necessary.
Some legislation I have worked on that involve local government interest:
- SB 88: Pole Attachment Disputes. I was the primary sponsor of the House version (HB 403) and managed the Senate bill. This act assigns pole attachment disputes to the North Carolina Utilities Commission from the Business Court. It also requires municipalities and certain membership corporations to permit communications service providers to use their poles, ducts, or conduits at just and reasonable rates and conditions pursuant to negotiated or adjudicated agreements. The bill passed both chambers unanimously.
- HB 201: Zoning Protest/Citizen Input. I am the primary sponsor. This bill amends the process by which city councils receive citizen input in zoning ordinance amendments. It repeals ¾ majority vote requirement triggered by a protest provision. Provides a formal method for citizens to petition the governing board for or against a rezoning. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Committee on Commerce today.
- HB 44: Local Government Regulatory Reform 2015. This reforms law related to local government including compliance requirements for “voluntary” regulations and rules; regulation of signage; riparian buffer reform; and zoning density credits to name a few. It is in a conference committee. Rep. Stam is a conferee.
On Thursday, June 25 Rep. Stam participated in a forum at Campbell Law School on the occasion of the 800th birthday of Magna Carta. Click here to read his manuscript.
On June 18 the US Supreme Court decided that Texas did not have to allow license plates for the sons of Confederate Veterans. The rationale is that specialty license plates are government speech. The effect for North Carolina is that we will soon have our “Choose Life” plates to support crisis pregnancy centers. After 4 years of litigation it is almost over. You will soon be able to order your plate.
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
Rep. Paul Stam
Speaker Pro Tem