Friday, February 23, 2007

Other Legislative Highlights 02-23-07

This week I introduced House Bill 332, with 90 co-sponsors, which would appropriate $10 million for the Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. This fund has been historically underfunded and as a result we have missed out on accessing millions of federal matching dollars, while we are losing farmland at the fastest rate in the country. I also joined Rep. Paul Luebke in introducing House Bill 291, which directs the state treasurer to divest companies doing business in the conflict-wracked African nation of Sudan. Treasurer Richard Moore has already undertaken an effort to divest in several companies involved in this war-torn region.

Below are other bills that have been introduced in the House or Senate during the last week:

v House Bill 274, the Street Gang Prevention Act, would increase criminal penalties for gang violence as well as providing $150,000 to the Department of Justice for the creation of a statewide criminal street gang member database and $10 million in grants for gang violence prevention and intervention programs.

v House Bill 283 would increase the pension for former firefighters and rescue squad members.

v House Bill 341 would provide that the state Supreme Court’s “proportionality review” of any death penalty case should include all similar capital cases reviewed on appeal, not just those that resulted in a death sentence. This is an important first step towards reform of the administration of the death penalty

v Senate Bill 215 would require a deposit on beverage containers that could be returned to redemption centers for deposit refunds as a way to reduce litter and encourage recycling.

v Senate Bill 208 would issue up to $500 million in bonds for grants and loans for wastewater and drinking water projects if voters approved the borrowing in a statewide referendum this November.

v Senate Bill 222 would make it a felony to rob someone using the appearance of a firearm.

v Senate Bill 242 would establish a uniform procedure for state tax refund claims.

v Senate Bill 296 would continue in-state tuition for dependents of members of the armed forces if the uniformed person is killed in combat or while on active military duty while assigned to a North Carolina unit.

The news this week regarding Speaker Black's state-level charges is troubling and disappointing. We hope that these improprieties are behind us with his resignation from office. I pledge to continue to work for more reforms that will restore the public's confidence it its government.

I am pleased that so many of you feel free to contact me to let me know how you feel about the issues that are being debated by the North Carolina General Assembly and the challenges you and your family are facing each day. By continuing to work together, we can make a difference in Guilford County and all regions of North

Carolina, to provide a better place to live, work, and raise a family.



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