2015 Session Update

The North Carolina House and Senate adjourned until April 25, 2015 after a long, but successful legislative session.

North Carolina is on track for continued economic development and vibrancy. Reforms over the past five years are contributing to the current climate of economic growth and prosperity we see today. I am committed to serving the citizens of Harnett County by advocating for their interests in the legislature. 

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Education is the cornerstone of every community across North Carolina. Our educators teach, develop, and inspire our children. We must show them that we value their contribution to our prosperity. 

  • All teachers and employees will receive a $750 bonus by the end of Fiscal Year 2015. Legislators do not receive bonus.
  • Teachers will still receive step increase raises based on experience.
  • Starting teachers (0-4 yrs) will see a salary increase from $33,000/yr to $35,000/yr.

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Most folks get caught up in the details of tax reform. It's really quite simple. You should keep more of your hard earned money. You send your legislator to Raleigh to be a good steward of tax dollars. I try to do just that. We are continuing to look at ways to lower the tax burden on individuals. 

Personal Income Tax
Total Fiscal Impact:
FY 2015-16: ($117.3 m)
FY 2016-17: ($437.1 m)

  • Rate: Reduces tax rate to 5.499% in 2017 from the current rate of 5.75%
  • Standard Deduction: Increases standard deduction from $15,000 to $15,500 (married filing joint). This is often considered the zero percent bracket, meaning the amount on which you pay no taxes. 
  • Allow unlimited medical deductions on ‘Schedule A’ effective for 2015 tax year.

Corporate Income Tax
Total Fiscal Impact: FY 2015-16: ($1.9 m)
FY 2016-17: ($23.3 m)

  • Trigger: Repeals the sunset on corporate income tax rate trigger (the rate will drop to 3% when tax revenues reach $20,975 billion; the financial impact of this is already included in the Consensus Revenue Forecast).
  • Adjust bank holding company provision: reduce bank expense attribution level to 15%, repeal $11 million cap; effective for 2016 tax year.
  • Singles Sales Factor Apportionment: 3-year phase-in beginning 1/1/16 - Study Market Based Sourcing in Revenue Laws; Direct Department of Revenue to provide Revenue Laws Committee with proposed rules.
  • Bank privilege tax: Repeal bank privilege tax July 1, 2016.

Franchise Tax
Total Fiscal Impact: FY 2015-16: $0
FY 2016-17: $0

  • Increase minimum fee from $35 to $200, increase maximum tax on holding companies from $75,000 to $150,000.
  • Simplify Franchise Tax calculation.

Sales Tax
Total Fiscal Impact: FY 2015-16: $44.5
FY 2016-17: $159.5

  • Base Expansion: Expand sales tax base (effective 3/1/2016) to tax the installation, repair, & maintenance of tangible personal property. Tax will apply to items currently subject to the Sales tax including the installation of real property.
  • Distribution: Adjusts the distribution of $84.8 m in local option sales tax revenue.

Miscellaneous Proposals
Total Fiscal Impact: FY 2015-16: $0
FY 2016-17: ($8 m)

  • Historic Preservation Tax Credit as in H152, effective 2016, sunset 2020.

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Education is a fundamental necessity to developing individual potential. Education is about teaching children and helping them learn the skills that will propel them far in life. School choice is vital to the success of our children. Children learn in different settings and at different paces, and we should not hamstring our children by a one size fits all solution. The solution includes traditional public schools, public charter schools, homeschooling and even school choice through opportunity scholarships and parental choice. 

  • During the 2014-2015 school year, Opportunity Scholarships were awarded to 1,200 students attending 224 schools.
  • Over 1,100 of these students have reapplied, joining the 4,800 applicants for the 2015-2016 school year.
  • State budget reaffirms the General Assembly’s commitment to the Opportunity Scholarship Program.
  • Additional $6.8M in FY 15-16, for total of $17.6M.
  • Additional $14M in FY 16-17, for total of $24.8M.
  • 129% increase over biennium.
  • Will likely serve approximately 4,400 students.
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The compromise plan includes a responsible 3.1 percent spending increase, invests hundreds of millions of additional dollars in public education and other core priorities and shores up the state’s rainy day and repair and renovation funds by $600 million.

The budget increases early-career teacher pay to from $33,000 to $35,000 per year, fulfilling a promise made by state leaders last year. And over two years it preserves funding for driver education and for all teacher assistant positions supported in last year’s budget, requiring school systems to use the funds for those jobs.
 
The budget also invests an additional $705 million over two years for transportation needs, in part by ending a $216 million transfer from the Highway Fund to the General Fund and ensuring that money is finally spent on building and maintaining safe roads and bridges.
 
Finally, it contains a comprehensive tax reform package that reduces the tax burden on North Carolina families and small businesses by close to $400 million over the next two years and fully restores the state tax deduction for medical expenses. The plan also extends Historic Preservation Tax Credits.
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Medicaid is a complicated program that approximately 1.9 million North Carolina citizens depend on. Medicaid is a critical program and must be improved by making it less bureaucratic and more innovative so that millions of needy individuals and families across the state have access to quality healthcare. Medicaid has become too costly and complex for states to effectively manage. It is already the second biggest item in the North Carolina state budget and is projected to absorb as much as 80-100% of all state revenues if left unreformed. The effects of the escalating costs of Medicaid are currently being felt by North Carolina. Here are the basics of HB 372 Medicaid Transformation and Reorganization:

  • The program will shift from fee-for-service to full-risk capitated health plans operated by both provider-led entities and commercial insurers within eighteen months of federal approval.
  • Beneficiaries will be able to select from up to four prepaid health plans in any given region.
  • Creates an Innovations Center to provide technical assistance to providers to help them succeed in the new model.
  • This plan exempts dually-eligible beneficiaries, but directs DHHS to create a stakeholder committee to develop a plan for managing the health services of this group in need.
  • North Carolina will continue the public management of behavioral health services through Local Management Entities-Managed Care Organizations (LME/MCOs).
  • Medicaid is an important partnership between the state and federal government that offers funding for medical and health-related services for people with low income.
  • Begins the process of restructuring the State’s chronically troubled Medicaid program with a new focus on quality of care, access, patient satisfaction, and efficiency.
  • Will transform the State's current Medicaid and NC Health Choice to a new healthcare delivery model that allows competition between providers and commercial insurers to ensure budget predictability and high quality care to those in need.

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This is an opportunity and a responsibility to fix our crumbling infrastructure and not pass these burdens onto our children by continuing to delay capital investments that will grow North Carolina. This package does the following: extends the life of the State’s useful assets; ensures that financing aligns with the asset’s lifespan; focuses on areas that will boost State’s economic activity; partners with industry and university to continue the bond’s initial investment. Careful consideration went into selecting projects that would have a return on the investment.

  • Compromise $2 billion bond package that is designed to kick start critical projects across the State.
  • The approval of the bond will ultimately be up to the North Carolina voters, and will be placed as a referendum vote on the March 2016 primary ballot.
  • Takes advantage of historically low interest rates to begin projects we expect will need funding in the near future.

Details:

  • $980 million to upgrade science, engineering and business education facilities at 14 public university campuses and to support repairs and renovations at campuses statewide.
  • $350 million to the community college system to make improvements at every community college across the state.
  • $70 million to the N.C. National Guard to build and modernize needed regional readiness centers.
  • $8.5 million to a public safety training academy.
  • $309 million in grant and loan programs to improve water and sewer infrastructure in communities statewide.
  • $3 million to help build Local Handicapped and Disabled Veterans Parks.

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As North Carolina continues to come back from the recession, pro-growth policies are allowing businesses to expand and create new, good-paying jobs. Ensuring that North Carolina has a climate conducive to economic and job growth will always remain my top priority. Pro-growth policies have contributed to the private sector creating over 200,000 jobs since 2013. I want higher wages for all hardworking North Carolinians. North Carolinians who work in minimum wage jobs work hard to earn their paychecks. We should view minimum wage jobs as stepping stones for North Carolinians that provide important work experience and training. Pro-growth policies have improved North Carolina’s economy and job market - let’s continue on that path:

The North Carolina Unemployment Rate improved from a dismal 8.9% in 2012 to 5.5% in 2015. Since 2013, the private sector has been able to create 200,000 new jobs. North Carolina is one of the fastest growing economies in the country, ranked 15th in the nation by Business Insider.

  • HB 108 Building and Site Development provides infrastructure primarily to assist rural counties with development of "pad ready" sites to attract outside investment.
  • HB 152 New Historic Preservation Tax Credit offers tax credits to rehabilitate income-producing historic structures. This is a great tangible way we can encourage towns and cities to develop their existing resources.
  • HB 909 ABC Omnibus Legislation will allow distillery permit holders to sell spirituous liquor distilled on premises to visitors of the distillery for consumption off the premises. 
  • HB 405 Property Protection Act codifies and strengthens NC trespass case law to better protect property owner's rights.
    • Codifies and strengthens North Carolina trespass laws to better protect property owners.
    • Protects owners, in all industries, against those who gain access to their property illegally to engage in activities that go beyond permissions given by the owner.
    • Guards against corporate espionage and organized retail theft.
    • Holds conspirators (those who encourage or assist) jointly accountable for actions.
    • EXEMPTS: whistleblowers, law enforcement, and press.
  • HB 117 NC Competes Act gives North Carolina the economic development tools needed to entice outside businesses to come here, and encourage in-state businesses to expand and create jobs.
    • Allocates $20M continuous funds available for new commitments to invest in growing jobs in North Carolina. The bill increases the amount of JDIG funds available for new agreements by making $15M for high yield project. This is expected to translate to $500M in new investment and 1,750 new jobs for North Carolina.
    • Exempts passenger air and commercial air carriers from paying sales tax on jet fuel. Prior to this legislative action, North Carolina had the 5th highest jet fuel tax in the country, putting the state at a competitive disadvantage to retain and/or expand air services. Thirty five other states also exclude commercial jet fuel from tax.
    • Data Center Infrastructure Act: Under current law, data centers pay 1% ($80 cap per article) privilege tax in lieu of a sales tax on certain equipment purchases if certain conditions are met: (i) $150M investment in Tier 1 or (ii) $225M investment in Tier 2 area over a 5-year period; $250M investment over 5 years to be exempt from sales tax on electricity. HB-117 creates an additional sales tax credit for data center equipment and electricity if $75M is invested over a 5-year period.
    • Allows the Department of Revenue to better prevent tax fraud by requiring employers to submit information on employee wages by January 31st. This will allow the Department to match employee wage data with returns being submitted, and better detect refund fraud and identity theft. Other states have implemented similar prevention language that has saved their respective states hundreds of millions of dollars.
    • A shift to a single-sales factor, which was included in the first edition of HB-117, was incorporated into the state budget compromise that was signed into law last week.
  •  HB 81 Expand 1%/$80 Rate for Mill Machinery expanded tax policy and would allow certain companies engaged in the fabrication of metal work to qualify for the 1% / $80 privilege tax that applies to purchases of certain machinery and equipment.

Today, companies have global choices of where to set up shop. We need the right tools to get businesses to invest here, employ here, and grow here.

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HB 373 Elections

North Carolinians want fair elections that ensure privacy, transparency, and legality. It is my goal to improve the real and perceived integrity of our elections and ensure that each person who wants to vote can vote once, and those votes will cumulatively determine our elections. North Carolina is a dynamic, changing state, and we believe our state should play a larger role in electing presidential candidates.

  • Moves all presidential, statewide, and local primaries to March, with the upcoming primary held on March 15, 2016. Prior to this legislation, North Carolina’s primaries were held in May of each election year. This decision will save counties around $10 million.
  • Delegates will now be awarded in a winner-takes-all format. This will maximize North Carolina’s importance in the selecting of the party presidential nominees.
  • Candidates will now receive a three-week window of time, December 1 – December 21, to file essential election paperwork.
  • Formally recognizes affiliated party committees.
    • Move mirrors national party structures, for example – the partnership between the National Republican Party (RNC) – which manages the national platform and presidential race, and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) – which manages the House of Representatives caucus races.
    • Allows for added transparency in political fundraising and contributions.
    • These affiliated party committees will be subject to the same laws and limitations that political committees are currently subject to under law.

Additional Election Changes

HB 8 Court of Appeals Election Modifications

  • Requires judicial candidates to list their party affiliation on ballots. People are not any more or less partisan because they have to list their party affiliation on the ballot.

HB 836 Elections Modifications

  • Authorizes new ballot technology to ensure that there is a paper ballot record of all votes cast electronically.
  • Counties still needing to transition away from touch-screen voting machines are granted one more year to comply.
  • Offers a Reasonable Impediment Provision for voters who can verify they have a significant or unforeseen circumstance for not having valid photo ID in time for Election Day.

The Details:

  • Portions of this bill deal with new election technology that has been approved by the State Board of Elections. This new technology also makes sure there is a paper ballot record of votes.
  • Counties previously required to transition away from touch-screen voting machines; HB-836 extends comply-by date by one year to 2019.
  • Reasonable Impediment Provision: option given to voters who do not have a photo ID in-time for Election Day. Any voter can complete an affidavit of reasonable impediment and vote a provisional ballot that will ultimately be counted, so long as the vote has his voter registration card or HAVA document and swears as to his identity.
    • The voter will complete the affidavit of Reasonable Impediment under penalty of perjury.

The following reasons justify reasonable impediment, and will be listed on the affidavit form:

    • Lack of transportation
    • Disability or illness
    • Lack of birth certificate or other documents needed to obtain a photo identification
    • Work schedule
    • Family responsibilities
    • Lost or stolen photo identification
    • Photo identification applied for but not received by the voter voting in person
    • Other reasonable impediment:
      • A further brief written identification of the reasonable impediment shall be required, including the option to indicate that State or federal law prohibits listing the impediment.
      • A space for the voter to provide the last four digits of the Social Security number and the voter’s date of birth will be included on the reasonable impediment affidavit.

 

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