NCSBA Legislative Agenda – January 15, 2021

2021 Legislative Session Opening Day

Wednesday, January 13 marked the beginning of the 2021 legislative “long” session. NC representatives and senators gathered in their respective chambers for noon session, during which ceremonial proceedings took place and chamber rules were filed. This legislative biennium’s opening day looked much different from those in previous years, with nearly all lawmakers wearing masks and families being restricted to the gallery above each chamber.

Following the November 2020 elections, the NC House Republican majority increased from 65 Republicans and 55 Democrats to 69 Republicans and 51 Democrats. The NC Senate went from 29 Republicans and 21 Democrats to 28 Republicans and 22 Democrats. Although Republicans maintain their majority in the state legislature for this biennium, the party still does not hold a veto proof majority over reelected Democratic Governor Roy Cooper. With all legislators present, it would take 72 House votes and 30 Senate votes for a successful veto override.

Both Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, were unanimously reelected to their leadership positions. In a statement condemning last week’s violent attacks on the US Capitol, Senator Berger emphasized the importance of legislators assuming good faith on all sides in the midst of disagreement. House leadership also called for unity, with Speaker Moore calling Wednesday a day to “mark a new beginning for North Carolina.”

Speaker Moore indicated some of his legislative priorities, including COVID-19 relief and getting students back on track in school. Other reported priorities include economic development and broadband internet. Additionally, legislators will focus on the distribution of the federal government’s most recent $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, of which NC is estimated to receive $1.6 billion for K-12 public education. Both chambers have adjourned until January 27.

 

Local Bill Filing Rules

During Wednesday’s legislative session, both chambers adopted their rules of operation: House Resolution 1 and Senate Resolution 1. Two rules that school districts should take note of are Rule 31.1 in the House and Rule 40.2 in the Senate, both of which set deadlines for local bills. If a local bill is needed this legislative session, the proposed bill must be submitted to legislative staff for drafting by:

  • February 25 in the Senate
  • March 3 in the House

A legislator must file a local bill by:

  • March 11 in the Senate
  • March 25 in the House

Contact your legislative delegation soon if a local bill is needed.

 

School Construction Bond

According to a report from WRAL News on January 14, Governor Cooper plans to recommend to the General Assembly a statewide bond for school construction and other state infrastructure needs. Governor Cooper also pledged to borrow $250 million for broadband access. The Governor made these announcements during a meeting with the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. “You’re never going to find better interest rates,” Governor Cooper told commissioners. “This is the time.”

According to WRAL News, the initial Senate response to the Governor’s bond proposal was promising. “If the state’s revenues take a big hit, then a bond may make sense for one-time expenditures like infrastructure projects,” Pat Ryan, spokesman for Senate leader Berger, said in an email Thursday. “The Senate will consider the options once our revenue picture becomes clearer.” Speaker Moore and the House were supportive of a school construction bond in the 2019-2020 biennium, but the Senate favored a pay-as-you-go approach. Neither option moved forward due to the budget stalemate last session.

 

House Committee Chair Appointments

On Wednesday, Speaker Moore announced House committee chair appointments. Education-related appointments are listed below. We also listed the House Appropriations Committee chairs because they oversee the overall budget process. These chairs decide how much the State will spend on salary and benefits, capital, IT, and subcommittee budgets like education. We will provide full committee appointments when they are released.

Education Appropriations Committee Chairs

  • Jon Hardister, R-Guilford
  • John Torbett, R-Gaston
  • Pat Hurley, R-Randolph

Education, K-12 Committee Chairs

  • Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke
  • John Torbett, R-Gaston

Education, Community Colleges Committee Chair

  • Pat Hurley, R-Randolph

Education, Universities Committee Chair

  • Jon Hardister, R-Guilford

Appropriations Committee Chairs

  • Donny Lambeth (senior chair), R-Forsyth
  • Jason Saine (senior chair), R-Lincoln
  • Dean Arp (senior chair), R-Union
  • William Brisson, R-Bladen, Sampson
  • Dana Bumgardner, R-Gaston
  • Jeff Elmore, R-Alexander, Wilkes
  • John Faircloth, R-Guilford
  • Kyle Hall, R-Rockingham, Stokes, Surry
  • Larry Strickland, R-Harnett, Johnston

 

Senate Committee Appointments

Last week we shared Senate leader Berger’s intended committee appointments for the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee and the Senate Appropriations on Education Committee for the 2021-2022 legislative biennium. (See appointments for those two committees below.)

Additionally, Senator Berger released his intended committee appointments for the Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee. The chairs of this committee are listed below because of their prominent role in the overall budget process. These chairs decide how much the State will spend on salary and benefits, capital, IT, and subcommittee budgets like education. Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee Chairs:

  • Brent Jackson, R-Duplin, Johnston, Sampson
  • Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston
  • Ralph Hise, R-Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Yancey

Senate Education/Higher Education Committee:

  • Deanna Ballard (chair), R-Alleghany, Ashe, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes
  • Michael Lee (chair), R-New Hanover
  • Lisa Stone Barnes, R-Johnston, Nash
  • Kevin Corbin, R-Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain
  • David Craven, R-Guilford, Randolph
  • Amy Scott Galey, R-Alamance, Guilford
  • Michael Lazarra, R-Jones, Onslow
  • Tom McInnis, R-Anson, Moore, Richmond, Scotland
  • Dean Proctor, R-Alexander, Catawba
  • Norman Sanderson, R-Carteret, Craven, Pamlico
  • Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell, Yadkin
  • Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake
  • Don Davis, D-Greene, Pitt
  • Valerie Foushee, D-Chatham, Orange
  • Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford
  • Joyce Waddell, D-Mecklenburg

Senate Appropriations on Education Committee:

  • Deanna Ballard (chair), R-Alleghany, Ashe, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes
  • Michael Lee (chair), R-New Hanover
  • Ted Alexander, R-Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln
  • Kevin Corbin, R-Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain
  • David Craven, R-Guilford, Randolph
  • Norman Sanderson, R-Carteret, Craven, Pamlico
  • Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake
  • Don Davis, D-Greene, Pitt
  • Valerie Foushee, D-Chatham, Orange

 

Reopening of Public Schools

NCSBA has been maintaining a chart containing each LEA’s reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year. We know that many school districts’ plans are constantly changing, so please let us know if our chart does not reflect your district’s most updated reopening plan information. Click here to access the chart.

 

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Agenda – January 15, 2021