Dozens Of Bills Advance At Capitol

Apr 29, 2015

Credit NCGA

Policymakers at the General Assembly are pushing through dozens of measures with a Thursday deadline looming.

On Tuesday, Representatives pushed through about 30 measures. Most of the bills now heading to the Senate passed following little contention or debate, and with overwhelming support. Among the proposals:

School Boards Keep Power To Sue

The House defeated a measure yesterday that would've prohibited school boards from suing county boards of commissioners over school spending fights. House Bill 726, sponsored by Rep. Susan Conrad (R-Forsyth), would've made commissioners' decision over budget issues final, leaving mediation as the only option. Conrad and other supporters of the bill argued that spending millions of dollars on litigation is not a smart use of taxpayer money. She used an example in Union County, where school board members brought a $9 million suit and won $91 million. The case was eventually overturned, but the legal bill was $2 million, she said. Opponents, which included Democrats and Republicans, argued that allowing school boards to sue commissioners ensures a system of checks and balances. They also contended that the potential law could lead to even more lawsuits from irate parents and PTA members who would look to sue the school board or state. The final vote was 52-66.  

A Possible Change To How Schools Are Graded

State lawmakers are looking to tweak the way public schools are awarded an A through F grade. Public schools in North Carolina are given a grade based on two things: How well students perform and how much growth they make over time. The House chamber passed a bill yesterday to give equal weight to both measures. Currently, 80 percent of the grade is determined by student performance and 20 percent student growth. Many teachers, principals and other school leaders have argued that the current scale unfairly measures poor schools that make notable progress. Most of the schools that got Ds and Fs had large populations of students who receive free or reduced priced meals. The House's proposal is now before the Senate.

Additionally, House legislators advanced a ban on powdered alcohol, confirmed a new State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) Director and made revenge porn a felony. That's posting intimate pictures from a previous relationship, to the Internet.

On Wedensday, policymakers are expected to take up a plan that would ease gun restrictions.  House Bill 562 would prohibit doctors and psychiatrists from asking patients in writing whether they own or have access to guns. It would also allow citizens to sue local governments trying to restrict the right to carry concealed weapons.

Legislators have until early Friday morning to endorse and send, or crossover, plans to the other body. Any legislation that doesn't advance is effectively dead.