Bills on parade! Your legislators at work

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by Brian Clarey, Jordan Green, Anthony Harrison and Sayaka Matsuoka

There’s more to holding office than just getting elected.

After running the stump-speech circuit and grinding through election night, our elected representatives in the General Assembly then must go forth and govern.

That means they file bills — lots of them, but some more than others. By our count, Ralph Johnson and Pricey Harrison, both Democrats from Guilford filed more than 300 bills with a state House that’s become indifferent to their causes. Conversely, Phil Berger, Republican of Rockingham, lent his name to just six bills — though in his role as Senate president, he has a hand many, many pieces of legislation.

They also vote on these bills, some of them more controversial than others.

It’s not always pretty, and it doesn’t always seem fair, but this is how the sausage gets made.

SENATE

Forsyth County

SEN. JOYCE KRAWIEC (R-FORSYTH, YADKIN), DISTRICT 31

Joyce Krawiec
Sen. Joyce Krawiec

About the district: D-31 covers the suburban/rural doughnut of Forsyth County, including parts of Lewisville, Clemmons and Kernersville, along with affluent, Republican-leaning neighborhoods like Buena Vista on the west side of Winston-Salem and portions of Ardmore and areas around Baptist Hospital in the southwest. The district also covers the entirety of Yadkin County.

Terms: 1

Bills: 79, 16 as primary sponsor

Highlights:

SB 373 — Repeal Map Act

Ends state Transportation Department’s ability to designate corridors for future highway development while placing limitations on development but not immediately condemning the property and compensating the owners. The legislation would relieve property owners in the path of the future Winston-Salem Northern Beltway, who have endured deteriorating values for decades as the road project underwent repeated delays.

SB 505 — Revoke Consent/Intercourse

Provides a legal mechanism for a woman to withdraw consent during vaginal intercourse such that a criminal defendant is understood to be acting by force and against the will of the other person if they continue the act.

SB 622 — UAS/No LEO Surveillance of Private Property

Prohibits police drones from photographing gatherings of persons on private land.

SEN. PAUL A. LOWE JR. (D-FORSYTH), DISTRICT 32

Sen. Paul A. Lowe Jr.
Sen. Paul A. Lowe Jr.

About the district: D-32 covers almost all of Winston-Salem, with the exception of a carve-out of affluent, Republican-leaning neighborhoods like Buena Vista along the Country Club Road corridor, along with more liberal-leaning areas of Ardmore in the city’s southwest quadrant. The district trails Business 40 to the east and picks up the heart of Kernersville.

Terms: Appointed this term to fill vacancy

Bills: 60, 18 as primary sponsor

Highlights:

SB 39 —  Minimum Wage/Inflation Increases

Raises the state minimum wage annually to reflect the increase in the cost of living, as measured by the US Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index.

SB 204 — Reenact Film Credit

Restores the film tax credit, forgiving 25 percent of qualifying expenses of a film production or episodic television series. Productions must spend a minimum of $250,000, and credits are capped at $20 million.

SB 329 — Economic Development/Renewable Energy Credit

Extends a tax credit of 35 percent for renewable energy development through the end of 2019.

SB 584 — Poverty Task Force

Establishes a Statewide Poverty Task Force tasked with developing a coordinated, integrate and ongoing approach to poverty reduction by identifying targets.

Guilford County

SEN. PHIL BERGER (R-GUILFORD, ROCKINGHAM), DISTRICT 26

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger

About the district: Berger’s piece of the state covers the entirety of Rockingham County, with a few fingers dipping into northern Guilford. A handful of precincts carve out territory in the northwest quadrant of Greensboro.

Committee assignments: Senate president pro tem

Terms: 8

Bills: 6, 5 as primary sponsor

Highlights:

SB2: Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies

Allows magistrates to refuse to perform weddings if they have a “sincerely held religious objection.”

S703: Medicaid Transformation

It’s a healthcare plan of sorts that shifts the Medicaid system from a fee-based operation into a managed-care risk pool.

SEN. GLADYS ROBINSON (D-GUILFORD), DISTRICT 28

Sen. Gladys Robinson
Sen. Gladys Robinson

About the district: Robinson’s minority-majority territory covers about two-thirds of Greensboro, extending into central High Point.

Terms: 3

Bills: 66, 13 as primary sponsor

Highlights:

SB 96 — Deadline to Complete State Alzheimer’s Plan

“An act requiring the department of health and human services to complete the strategic state plan for Alzheimer’s disease by a date certain.” No specific date is mentioned.

SB 103 — Notice to Vote Absentee Ballot w/o Voter ID

The act requires election officials to inform people who don’t bring ID to the polls that they can petition for an absente ballot.

SB 198 — Persons Under 18 in Confinement Facilities

This segregates juveniles from adults in the jail and prison system.

SB 585 — Create HBCU Advisory Board (with Lowe)

“An act to create the Historically Black Colleges and Universities advisory board.”

This is a separate board for the HBCUs that fall under the UNC System.

SEN. TRUDY WADE (R-GUILFORD), DISTRICT 27

Sen. Trudy Wade
Sen. Trudy Wade

About the district: Trudy Wade’s new district begins in the northeast corner of Guilford County and wraps entirely around Greensboro, circumventing central High Point and picking up a few Greensboro precincts in the northwest.

Committee appointments: Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources (co-chair); Appropriations on Natural and Economic Resources (co-chair); State and Local Government (vice-chair)

Terms: 2

Bills: 20, 17 as primary sponsor

Highlights:

SB 36 — Greensboro City Council Changes (with Krawiec)

“An act to clarify the form of government, method of election, and determination of election results in the city of Greensboro.” This is the infamous bill that restructures Greensboro city government.

SB 66 — Amend Environmental Laws 2015

“An act to amend various environmental laws.” This bill puts us in an interstate mining compact with other unnamed states.

SB 94 — Education Simplification Amendment

This makes sweeping changes to the way we administrate public education in the state by abolishing the state Board of Education and creating a Dept. of Education that falls under the executive branch.

SB 210 — Notice Publication by Counties and Cities

Allows cities and counties to post public notices on the internet, as opposed to paid-circulation newspapers.

SB 453 — Regulatory Reform Act of 2015

This is huge bill, some of it innocuous — it repeals a law making it illegal to use indecent language on public highways, for instance. But it touches on legislative appointments, state-issued cell phones, small business, criminal justice, motor vehicles, education and energy. There’s a whole section on “environmental self-audit privilege and limited immunity,” and another that repeals environmental reporting requirements.

SB 480 — Uniform Political Activity/Employers

Teachers can’t run for office or work on political campaigns.