While NASW-NC works to finalize our session list of bills we lobbied for and against this legislative session on behalf of the social work profession, here is a great overview from Lynn Bonner of the News and Observer (link to article online can be found here).
The legislature ended the long session having enacted changes to the tax code, education and health. Legislators had the option to do more. Here’s what was accomplished and what was left to gather dust. Any bill that passed at least one chamber in the long session is eligible to become law next year.
What they did:
Extended sales taxes to repairs, maintenance and installation of equipment on cars and other personal property, effective on March 1. Most of the revenue will be distributed to 70 suburban and rural counties.
Dropped the income tax rate from 5.75 percent to 5.499 percent in 2017. The standard deduction increases.
Put on the March ballot a referendum on borrowing $2 billion for UNC and community college buildings, parks and water and sewer projects.
Entered same-sex marriage debate by letting magistrates and registers of deeds staff who oppose same-sex marriage opt out of performing marriage ceremonies or issuing licenses.
Overhauled Medicaid by launching the state on a path to privatizing the government health insurance for the poor, elderly and disabled.
Eased voting requirements to allow people without photo ID to cast provisional ballots.
Tried to lure companies by increasing the cap on Job Development Incentive Grants from $15 million a year to $20 million a year. The cap is $35 million a year for companies that would add at least 1,750 jobs. $30 million went into the film grant fund.
Ended the renewable energy tax credit. The state’s 35 percent incentive was one of the most generous in the nation. It expires Dec. 31.
Took on people in the country illegally by restricting the forms of valid ID used by noncitizens and banning “sanctuary cities.”
Limited food stamp use by preventing the state from using federal waivers that allow nonworking, healthy adults to qualify for food stamps.
Overhauled regulations, allowing companies to conduct voluntary internal environmental audits where results cannot be used in civil or administrative proceedings.
Added a three-day waiting period for women seeking abortions and requires doctors to send ultrasounds to the state Department of Health and Human Services for abortions that occur after the 16th week of pregnancy.
What they didn’t do:
Take power away from local governments to pass nondiscrimination ordinances, or require companies they contract with to pay a living wage to employees working under the contracts, or pass ordinances governing housing or rental practices. The late-appearing provisions crumbled under fierce opposition and questions about their scope.
Pass TABOR, a proposed constitutional amendment to cap the personal income tax at 5 percent and tie budget growth to inflation and population increases.
Repeal Certificate of Need laws requiring hospitals to get state permission to expand or add certain types of new equipment remain intact.
Publicly debate The Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Most of the debate over was kept behind closed doors in caucus meetings.
End state-supported driver’s education. The state budget keeps funding it.
Curb businesses’ misidentification of employees. An attempt to stop companies from treating employees as if they are independent contractor stalled.
Ensure transparency in UNC president search. Sidelined an attempt to make the finalists for UNC president known to the public.
Shift a portion of education dollars from traditional public schools, such as federal grants, to public charter schools.