Representative Susan Fisher
N. C. House of Representatives
Raleigh, North Carolina 27601
The Raleigh Report From the Office of Representative Susan Fisher March 20, 2009 Governor Perdue released her proposed budget for 2009-2011 this week and as expected made many deep cuts. The governor’s proposal would cut at least 20 government programs, close seven prisons and result in the loss of hundreds of jobs.
The governor also made it clear that education would continue to be her priority. Her proposed budget would actually increase per pupil spending in North Carolina , just as she promised to do in her State of the State address. While neither the University of North Carolina campuses nor the community college system would see an increase in funding, the Governor’s budget would target money to boost financial aid and to help train students of all ages for work in emerging fields. Like the governor, I remain committed to providing every child in North Carolina with a world class education that will enable them to compete in the global economy. Education is the key to North Carolina ‘s long-term economic success.
Aid from the federal stimulus package will play a major role in shoring up North Carolina ‘s expected $3.4 billion budget shortfall. Among other things, federal money will be used for much needed transportation projects and will help increase education spending by $350 million over the next two years. You can get more information about her budget proposal by visiting: http://www.governor.state.nc.us/budget.aspx.
Thank you as always for your interest in your state. Please contact me if I can be of any assistance.
Two pieces of legislation that would strengthen the penalties for violations of child labor laws were approved in the House this week. House Bill 23 would double the fine for first-time violators of the state’s child labor law from $250 to $500 and create a $1,000 penalty for further violations. The bill would also authorize the NC Department of Labor to fine a company up to $14,000 for workplace safety violations that injure a worker younger than 18, which is double the amount of the current maximum fine. There are regulations in place that bar young workers from performing a host of hazardous jobs, and this legislation is meant to act as a stronger deterrence against employer violations.
House Bill 22 would enhance youth employment protections by requiring the Commissioner of Labor to report on youth employment enforcement activities. The objective of the legislation is to enhance the safety of children in the workplace by making more information on workplace violations available. Both bills now go to the Senate for consideration.
A bill that would create a process to set aside an order of paternity has received approval in the House and is now headed to the Senate. House Bill 307 would authorize trial courts to set aside an order of paternity and to set aside affidavits of parentage (after 60 days) if the order or affidavit was entered as the result of fraud, duress, mutual mistake, or excusable neglect, and genetic tests establish that the reported father is not the biological father of the child. If the court sets aside the order, future child support obligations of the putative father would be excused.
Legislation that would make improvements to North Carolina ‘s absentee voting laws has been referred to the Committee on Election Law and Campaign Finance Reform (HB 614). The bill is especially intended to improve the ability of military and overseas voters to cast timely ballots. If favorable, the bill will then go on to the Committee on Homeland Security, Military, and Veterans Affairs.
The Treasurer’s Governance and Transparency Act of 2009 received a favorable report from the Committee on Pensions and Retirement, and now goes to the Finance Committee. The legislation (HB 556) would expand the membership of the State Treasurer’s Investment Advisory Committee by adding two additional members of the general public.
An act to provide for four-year staggered terms of office for members of the Legislative Ethics Committee received unanimous approval in the House this week. If enacted, the legislation (SB 136) would also amend the timing of ethics training for legislators based on the recommendations of the Legislative Ethics Committee. Currently, legislators and legislative staff must complete ethics training within three months of their election or appointment, and this bill would change that time period to two months.
A bill that would authorize some counties to establish pilot programs to serve as models for affordable health insurance has been approved by the Insurance Committee. House Bill 212 now goes to the Committee on Commerce, Small Business, and Entrepreneurship.
Legislation that would allow local mental health officials to inspect licensed facilities is now pending in the House. The bill (HB 576) would allow representatives authorized by the area director to conduct such inspections and to keep information obtained in the course of the inspection confidential. Previously, the law allowed only representatives of the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct such inspections.
Legislation that would require health benefit plans and the State Health Plan to cover hearing aids and replacement hearing aids has been referred to the Committee on Health. If found favorable by the Committee on Health, the bill (HB 589) will go to the Committee on Insurance, and if favorable there, the bill will go to the Committee on Appropriations.
Legislation that would expand the mill rehabilitation tax credit passed its first reading in the House on Monday and has now been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Small Business, and Entrepreneurship (HB 592). If favorable, the legislation will then go to the Committee on Finance. Essentially, this legislation would allow a taxpayer, who incurs at least $3 million in redevelopment expenses with respect to a redevelopment site, to take a tax credit equal to a percentage of the redevelopment expenses. The bill would also set forth procedures and limitations on taking the credit.
Legislation that would increase the Disabled Veteran Property Tax Homestead Exclusion passed its first reading in the House on Monday and has now been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Small Business, and Entrepreneurship (HB 594). Under current law, the first $45,000 of the appraised value of the residence is excluded from taxation, and this bill would increase that amount to $65,000. If favorable, it bill will go to the Committee on Finance.
Legislation that would create a Joint Legislative Study Committee on High-Speed Internet in Underserved Urban Areas is pending in a House committee. The bill (HB 595) would direct the committee to examine the availability of high-speed internet access in low-wealth areas of the state having a population of 100,000 or more according to the most recent federal decennial census.
Two nursing groups visited the General Assembly this week, the NC Association of Nurse Anesthetists and the NC Nurses Association. Thank you to members of both of these groups and to the nurses across our state for the work you do in our communities and your dedication to health care.