Saturday, February 17, 2007

Other Legislative Highlights

I filed HB205 with Rep. George Cleveland which would repeal the out-of-state tuition exemption for athletes and scholars in the UNC system which had been quietly slipped into the 2005 Budget. This provision will cost NC taxpayers more than $5 million a year in subsidies to out-of-state athletes in the UNC system. I can see no public policy objective achieved by this provision, and will push for its repeal.

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

o House Bill 150 would change from Oct. 16 to Aug. 31 the deadline for a child’s fifth birthday in order for the child to attend kindergarten that fall.
o House Bill 179 would appropriate $2.15 million over two years to provide $10,000 bonuses to teachers of students with behavioral and emotional disabilities.
o House Bill 183 would ban cell phone use by school bus drivers
o House Bill 184 would exempt from state income taxes the compensation paid to a member of the armed forces on active duty.
o House Bill 192 would issue $250 million in bonds to help provide affordable housing.
o House Bill 213 would allow local government employees to return to work without losing retirement benefits.
o Senate Bill 124 would authorize local governments to regulate smoking in public places.
o Senate Bill 132 would establish an act to protect children from sexual predators, including expanded definitions of sexual activity, increased penalties for sexual exploitation of minors, requiring minors to have parental permission to put private information on social networking sites, and obligating film processors to report finding any images showing sexual conduct by minors.
o Senate Bill 156 would limit the length of legislative sessions.
o Senate Bill 161 would require student-athletes at public schools to undergo random tests for performance-enhancing drugs.
o Senate Bill 163 would establish a special insurance pool for chronically ill patients who don’t have access to affordable coverage.
o Senate Bill 168 would move North Carolina’s presidential primaries from May to the first Tuesday in February beginning in 2008.
o Senate Bill 171 would require students to attend school through age 17, up from 16, beginning in 2009; and through age 18 beginning in 2011, unless they graduate from high school at an earlier age.
o Senate Bill 179 would increase penalties and take other steps to strengthen prosecution of Medicaid fraud

The news about former Speaker Black’s admission of guilt brings a sad end to a once distinguished political career. However, I, as your elected representative, am even more committed to strengthening finance and campaign reform statutes. I am grateful for your support as I continue to make ethical reform a priority.

As I’ve said many times before, I hope you will continue 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 working together, we can make Guilford County and all regions of North Carolina a better place to live, work, and raise a family.



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