Civitas Action 2017 Bills

A list of bills/votes from the 2017 legislative session used in our rankings.

House Votes

HB 3 Eminent Domain This bill would amend the state constitution to re-define the authorized use of eminent domain to “public use”, from the current “public use or benefit.” It would also require “just compensation” be paid to the landowner, the compensation to be determined by a jury upon request. Civitas believes in the protection of property rights and in limiting the means by which government infringes upon those rights. The conservative vote is yes. RCS #9 (104-9)

Roll Call Vote #9

Strengthen Savings Reserve Would require 15 percent of annual projected state revenue increases be set aside into the state’s Rainy Day Fund. This, along with other measures restricting the ease with which funds from the account can be appropriated, will better grow and preserve the savings reserved for difficult fiscal times. Civitas believes prudent, fiscally responsible measures such as this helps the long-term financial health of the state and protects taxpayers. The conservative vote is yes. House: 2R, RCS #7 (110-3) Senate:

Roll Call Vote #7

This bill would make it easier for physical therapists to practice by establishing a ‘compact’ between states, meaning that a therapist licensed in any of the states in the compact would be allowed to practice regardless of which state they are licensed to practice. This evades the restrictions requiring therapists to only practice in the state in which they are licensed. Civitas Action believes that professional licensure requirements create unnecessary barriers to people wanting to practice their profession, restricts competition and raises prices. The conservative vote is yes. RCS #32 (115-0)

Roll Call Vote #32

HB 100 "Restore Partisan Elections/Superior and District Court" would once again require District and Superior Court judicial candidates to go through a party primary, and would place party affiliation on the general election ballots. Civitas believes party affiliation provides important information for voters, and that greater transparency and information for voters improves the election process. The conservative vote is yes. RCS #72 (74-43)

Roll Call Vote #72

HB 436 would freeze for one year all local developer impact fees at current rates, and commission a study of the issue. Civitas Action supports this measure that avoids imposing rising costs on developers while studying the necessity and predictability of these fees. The conservative vote is yes. House: RCS 322 (100-19)

Roll Call Vote #322

House Bill 206, NC Cancer Treatment Fairness This bill requires that all health insurance plans that provide coverage for “intravenously administered or injected anticancer drugs” must also provide equal coverage for orally-administered anticancer drugs. The House approved the measure 90-22 on Monday. In short, this is another government-mandated health insurance service coverage. North Carolina already imposes 57 such mandates on insurance plans sold in the state, ranking NC among the top 15 states in that category. Estimates show these mandatory coverages have caused insurance premiums to rise between 20 to 50 percent higher than they would be without the mandates. Civitas Action opposes health insurance coverage mandates and believes consumers and providers should be free to agree on a wide selection of coverage levels that best suit the consumers’ needs, rather than government forcing consumers to pay for costly mandates they will never need. The conservative vote is no. House: RCS 208 (90-22)

Roll Call Vote #208

House Bill 819 would place on the November 2018 ballot an amendment to the state constitution recognizing individuals’ right to work without being forced to join a union. North Carolina already has right to work in its General Statutes, but this measure would greatly strengthen the right to worker freedom and make it far more difficult to circumvent or reverse in the future. Civitas Action supports the right of workers to be employed without being forced to join a union. The conservative vote is yes. House: RCS 346 (75-44)

Roll Call Vote #346

This bill creates limits on the “compensatory damages that may be awarded to a plaintiff for a private nuisance action where the alleged nuisance emanated from an agricultural or forestry operation.” In the case of a temporary nuisance, the damages would be limited to the fair rental value of the plaintiff’s property, while in permanent nuisance cases the damages would be limited to the fair market value of the property. Civitas Action supports lawsuit reforms, including those that place sensible limits on the amount that can be awarded in certain lawsuits. This grade is based upon the veto override vote. The conservative vote is yes. RCS 488 (74-40)

Roll Call Vote #488

Despite its name, this bill is anything but competitive or a solution. Most troubling is an entirely new program, the Solar Rebate Program on page 17 of the bill. This program is very similar to the expired tax credits NC was offering, except in this case instead of the taxpayer paying for them, it will be utility customers paying through their electric bills. Other provisions in the bill include: lifting the state’s ban on third-party leasing, promoting net metering, shortening the terms of contracts between utilities and “renewable” energy providers, and introducing a competitive bidding process for utilities soliciting proposals from “renewable” facility developers. While we can acknowledge aspects of the bill, like competitive bidding and shortening contract terms, may be beneficial to ratepayers, the troubling nature of the rebate program in particular creates concern enough for Civitas Action to oppose this bill. Civitas Action opposes government mandates and subsidies in any industry, especially in the energy industry which affects all businesses and citizens across the state. We urge our legislators to either kill this bill or take prudent and reasonable action and turn it into a study bill to make sure they get the legislation right. The conservative vote is no. House: 2R, RCS 585 (108-11)

Roll Call Vote #585

This bill subjects body piercings to the same state regulation and licensing requirements as tattoos. Mainly, body piercers would be required to obtain a license to practice, and also comply with sanitary inspection requirements currently applied to tattoo parlors. Body piercing is currently not subject to any such regulations. Civitas Action opposes government-imposed professional licensing that imposes unnecessary costs and barriers to entry on people wanting to earn a living in their given trade. The stated reason for this bill is consumer safety, but the increased barrier to entry and resulting higher prices for “licensed” body artists will likely cause more body piercings to take place in the black market. The conservative vote is no. House Vote Only House: 2R, RCS #396 (113-4)

Roll Call Vote #396

Senate Bill 257 The conference committee “compromise budget” (SB 257) includes significant tax cuts, holds spending growth under TABOR measures, creates an ambitious school choice program and continues to prudently set aside money into the state’s savings reserve. The budget also continues the scheduled increases in investments of the Opportunity Scholarship Program and addresses perhaps the state’s largest fiscal challenge by eliminating state health benefits for retired state employees for those hired after Jan. 1, 2017. While acknowledging the negative aspects of this budget, most notably the corporate welfare (e.g. film grant funds) and millions in pork spending, Civitas Action believes that on net the good outweighs the bad, and Gov. Cooper was wrong to veto it. Therefore, the conservative vote to override Cooper’s veto on the budget is yes. House and Senate Votes House: VO, RCS #765 (76-43)

Roll Call Vote #765

Senate Bill 223 Exclude Tiers 1 & 2 from JDIG Cap This bill would waive the current annual cap on JDIG grants in cases in which one of the grantees is considered a “transformative project” or if the project in wholly located in a Tier One or Tier Two county. JDIG is the Job Development Investment Grant program, which doles out taxpayer funds to companies meeting certain criteria. Civitas Action is against corporate welfare programs that give taxpayer dollars to select companies. Forcing taxpayers to subsidize businesses in unfair, especially given the fact that some of those taxpayers may be subsidizing their competition. The practice of corporate welfare also empowers politicians at the expense of citizens and invites political corruption and cronyism. The conservative vote is no. House: 2R, RCS #889 (99-10)

Roll Call Vote #889

Senate Joint Resolution 36, Convention of the States. The resolution would authorize the North Carolina legislature to apply to the U.S. Congress for a calling of a Convention of the States to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Article V of the Constitution provides for such a convention to be called upon the application of two-thirds of the states. The purpose of the convention would be to propose amendments “that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.” Civitas Action supports measures to restore balance between the power of the federal government and states’ rights. The conservative vote is yes. House: 2R RCS #871 (53-59) Senate: 2R RCS #176 (29-20)

Roll Call Vote #871

Senate Votes

This bill would once again require District and Superior Court judicial candidates to go through a party primary, and would place party affiliation on the general election ballots. Civitas believes party affiliation provides important information for voters, and that greater transparency and information for voters improves the election process. The conservative vote is yes. RCS #12 (32-15)

Roll Call Vote #12

This bill would place on the November, 2018 ballot a vote to change the state constitution’s current cap on the income tax rate of 10% down to 5.5%. The current flat personal income tax rate is 5.499% and the corporate income tax rate is 3%. Civitas Action believes in strongly protecting North Carolina taxpayers against future legislatures’ desire to raise taxes to fuel their spending habits. The conservative vote is yes. Senate: 3R, RCS #20 (36-13)

Roll Call Vote #20

Would require 15 percent of annual projected state revenue increases be set aside into the state’s Rainy Day Fund. This, along with other measures restricting the ease with which funds from the account can be appropriated, will better grow and preserve the savings reserved for difficult fiscal times. Civitas believes prudent, fiscally responsible measures such as this helps the long-term financial health of the state and protects taxpayers. The conservative vote is yes. Senate: 2R, RCS #49 (49-0)

Roll Call Vote #44

SB 325 Billion Dollar Middle Class Tax Cut - This bill reduces income taxes for virtually all taxpayers and provides tax relief to North Carolina businesses. Estimates project that total tax savings will exceed $1 billion in the next biennium, and grow in size in future years. Changes include: a reduction in the personal income tax rate from 5.499% to 5.35%, an increase in the standard deduction; and cuts to the corporate income tax and a lowering and simplification of the state’s franchise tax. Civitas Action supports reductions of the tax burden on individuals and businesses in order to scale back government’s intrusion of our lives, and to create more job opportunities and economic growth. The conservative vote is yes. Senate: RCS 54 (35-14)

Roll Call Vote #54

This bill would repeal the ability of the state government to withhold association dues from employee paychecks in order to pay association membership dues. For years, NCAE and other association groups of state employees have utilized state government resources to withhold money from their members’ paychecks in order to collect membership dues. Civitas Action believes this is not a proper function of the state government, which is using taxpayer dollars. The conservative vote is yes. Senate: RCS 151 (32-17)

Roll Call Vote #151

The resolution would authorize the North Carolina legislature to apply to the U.S. Congress for a calling of a Convention of the States to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Article V of the Constitution provides for such a convention to be called upon the application of two-thirds of the states. The purpose of the convention would be to propose amendments “that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.” Civitas Action supports measures to restore balance between the power of the federal government and states’ rights. The conservative vote is yes. Senate: RCS 176 (29-20)

Roll Call Vote #176

House Bill 467 Agriculture and Forestry Nuisance Remedies This bill creates limits on the “compensatory damages that may be awarded to a plaintiff for a private nuisance action where the alleged nuisance emanated from an agricultural or forestry operation.” In the case of a temporary nuisance, the damages would be limited to the fair rental value of the plaintiff’s property, while in permanent nuisance cases the damages would be limited to the fair market value of the property. Civitas Action supports lawsuit reforms, including those that place sensible limits on the amount that can be awarded in certain lawsuits. This grade is based upon the veto override vote. The conservative vote is yes. RCS 193 (30-18)

Roll Call Vote #193

Senate Bill 257 The conference committee “compromise budget” (SB 257) includes significant tax cuts, holds spending growth under TABOR measures, creates an ambitious school choice program and continues to prudently set aside money into the state’s savings reserve. The budget also continues the scheduled increases in investments of the Opportunity Scholarship Program and addresses perhaps the state’s largest fiscal challenge by eliminating state health benefits for retired state employees for those hired after Jan. 1, 2017. While acknowledging the negative aspects of this budget, most notably the corporate welfare (e.g. film grant funds) and millions in pork spending, Civitas Action believes that on net the good outweighs the bad, and Gov. Cooper was wrong to veto it. Therefore, the conservative vote to override Cooper’s veto on the budget is yes. House and Senate Votes Senate: VO, RCS #352 (34-14)

Roll Call Vote #352

House Bill 589, Competitive Energy Solutions for NC Despite its name, this bill is anything but competitive or a solution. Most troubling is an entirely new program, the Solar Rebate Program on page 17 of the bill. This program is very similar to the expired tax credits NC was offering, except in this case instead of the taxpayer paying for them, it will be utility customers paying through their electric bills. Other provisions in the bill include: lifting the state’s ban on third-party leasing, promoting net metering, shortening the terms of contracts between utilities and “renewable” energy providers, and introducing a competitive bidding process for utilities soliciting proposals from “renewable” facility developers. While we can acknowledge aspects of the bill, like competitive bidding and shortening contract terms, may be beneficial to ratepayers, the troubling nature of the rebate program in particular creates concern enough for Civitas Action to oppose this bill. Civitas Action opposes government mandates and subsidies in any industry, especially in the energy industry which affects all businesses and citizens across the state. We urge our legislators to either kill this bill or take prudent and reasonable action and turn it into a study bill to make sure they get the legislation right. NOTE: After the original version of the bill was approved by the House (and votes graded by Civitas Action), a conference substitute bill was created. The original substitute bill was deemed “neutral” by Civitas Action, but changes to the substitute moved the bill closer to the original House version (changes such as shortening the wind energy moratorium and increasing the solar mandate). As such, Civitas Action graded the Senate vote on the updated conference bill. (Civitas Action will retain the original House vote as the graded vote because more votes were cast.) The conservative vote on both versions of the bill is no. House Votes on original bill, Senate vote on Conference substitute House: 2R, RCS #585 (108-11) Senate: ACR, RCS #523 (36-4)

Roll Call Vote #523