THE RALEIGH REPORT
July 24, 2017
The NC General Assembly convenes next Wednesday, August 3, for the first of three scheduled special sessions in 2017. The July 3 adjournment resolution left the door wide open for actions we could take; but other than an announcement by Speaker Tim Moore that August 3 and August 4 will be voting sessions, no other information has been released.
A leading House Republican told me that at least six of their members are out of state and will not attend this first special session. It takes three fifths of the members present and voting to over-ride a gubernatorial veto. If all 120 members are present, 72 votes are needed for an over-ride. If 114 members are present, the over-ride threshold is 69 votes. It appears now that Republicans will have only 66 members present and voting. If they donít veto the bills in the August session, how long do they have to over-ride the Governor's vetoes? Thatís a good question. There is no provision in the state constitution or in House Rules, other than adjournment sine die, that establishes a deadline for the General Assembly to over-ride a gubernatorial veto.
In 1996, North Carolina gave the Governor the right to veto bills, the last state in the nation to do so. In 2006, Governor Michael Easley became the first North Carolina governor to veto a bill. In the 2011- 2012 session, Republicans held a majority in both chambers for the first time since 1870 but they did not have the three-fifths voted needed to over-ride a veto. Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed several bills that were high priority items for Republicans. House Republicans needed 72 votes to over-ride. They had 68 votes; Democrats had 52 votes. Rather than trying to recruit support from Democrats, they created a "veto garage," a place to park vetoed bills until they could over-ride on their own. When enough Democrats were absent that Republicans controlled three-fifths of the members present, they placed the bill on the calendar and took the vote. This year, Republicans will probably use the "veto garage" again and August business will be limited to hearing conference committee reports for bills that need House and Senate reconciliation or bills that are still eligible to be heard. Any bill Governor Cooper vetoes can be brought up for an over-ride vote anytime until we adjourn sine die in 2018.
The General Assembly passed more than 100 bills during the last days of the session. Governor Cooper has researched and signed or vetoed the most important. On Thursday, July 27, he will sign a bill I filed this year in response to a constituent request and a tragic death in Charlotte resulting from miscommunication. HB 84, Driverís License/Deaf or Hard of Hearing Designation, authorizes the Division of Motor Vehicles to put a symbol on the driver's license of a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, on the electronic record for that driver's license and/or on the electronic record of the vehicle's owner. It also requires additional specialized training for all law enforcement officers who make traffic stops to help them identify and communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Now, when a law enforcement officer stops a motorist, the officer will pull up an electronic record that indicates the disability and have the skills needed to communicate with the driver. The bill does not call for a symbol on the license plate to prevent creating a cue that might put deaf and hard of hearing people at risk.
I'm a primary sponsor of two other bills Governor Cooper signed in 2017. For several years, I have worked with Dr. Alan Stiles, UNC School of Medicine, to pass HB 283, Telehealth Fairness Act. The bill detailed when physicians could use remote TV or Internet connections and be reimbursed by health insurers to interview, diagnose, or order medications or treatments for patients remotely. The issues were complex; stakeholders resisted compromise. This year, I asked Rep. Donny Lambeth (R, Forsyth Co.) to be first primary sponsor. Thanks to his leadership, the bill passed this year with a new title: DHHS Recommend Telemedicine Policy. The bill directs DHHS to convene stakeholders to study and recommend a comprehensive policy that can be passed into law in the 2018 short session. That bill will help expand top rated health care into the rural parts of the state.
Finally, with Speaker Tim Moore and Reps. Darren Jackson and Greg Murphy, I was a primary sponsor of HB 921, Honor UNC Men's Basketball 2017 Championship. The entire team with Coach Roy Williams and his staff came to Raleigh on May 3 to receive the honors, our thanks and our congratulations. For a few wonderful hours, we were all Carolina Blue.
How to Engage
It's tough to keep track of what is happening. Here are some ways to stay involved.
1. Call me or my legislative assistant Gina Insko at 919-733-7208 or email me at Inskola@ncleg.net with How can I get involved in the subject line.
2. Follow us on Twitter at @verlainsko and Facebook at Verla Insko.
3. Visit ncleg.net where you can see bills, listen to session, and see daily calendars.
4. Help us spread the word on social media or by forwarding this newsletter and other alerts or key news items.
As always, thank you for your support of my work in Raleigh as your representative. Please let me know of your position on issues, your suggestions for legislation and your requests for help.