NC House Republicans: 2020 Legislative Accomplishments
Supporting Military and Veterans
Scholarships for Children of Wartime Veterans (SB 560) – Increases the amount of scholarship funds available to children of wartime veterans attending a higher education institution in North Carolina.
Occupational Licensing Reform for Military Families (HB 1053) – Makes it easier for veterans, active-duty service members and their spouses to find work in North Carolina by reducing and streamlining occupational licensing requirements.
Military Stabilization Fund (SB 801) – Increases funds for the state’s military programs and activities by providing grants for local communities or military installations, updates to strategic planning, federal advocacy, and identifying measures to increase the military value of installations.
NC Military and Veteran Act (SB 230) – Allows two excused absences for military children to spend time with their parents before a deployment and expands in-state tuition and scholarships for veterans and their kids.
North Carolina Patriot Star Family Scholarship Program (HB 1105) – The Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 allocates $500,000 to the Patriot Foundation and $500,000 to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation to provide scholarships to children, spouses of veterans, and children of currently serving members of the military.
Delivering COVID-19 Relief
Bipartisan COVID-19 Working Groups – As soon as the coronavirus outbreak began, NC House lawmakers immediately got to work through a bipartisan Select Committee on COVID-19 that met remotely to identify immediate and long-term legislative responses to the developing crisis. This put North Carolina ahead of the game and on a path to success.
COVID-19 Recovery Act (SB 704) – Provides tax relief, streamlines unemployment access, increases health care flexibility and makes policy reforms in education and government operations to assist North Carolinians through the pandemic and economic shutdown.
Pandemic Response Act (HB 1043) – Provides nearly $1.6 billion in COVID-19 relief for small businesses, medical providers, education communities, and broadband connectivity. The bill also addresses both immediate needs, like purchasing personal protective equipment and expanding digital infrastructure needs, and long-term research and development to fight the virus.
Additional Coronavirus Relief Funds (HB 1023) – Provides $500 million more in coronavirus relief to local governments, community healthcare services, job retention grants, and programs for vulnerable populations. It also provides funding for school nutrition programs, hospitals, health clinics, group homes, and child advocacy centers.
Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 (HB 1105) – Provides $1 billion in remaining CARES Act funding to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes direct payments to North Carolina families of $335 to cover unexpected childcare costs, as well as increases in unemployment benefits, child care support, job grants, PPE, rural broadband funding, and internet connectivity for schools.
DMV Waiver for Teen Drivers (HB 158) – Temporarily waives the DMV road tests to allow teen drivers to receive their level two limited provisional license during the COVID-19 outbreak. The applicant still needs to meet all other requirements, including driver’s education and at least 60 hours of supervised driving. They must also pass a road test to obtain their full level three provisional license in the future.
Supporting Economic Recovery
Small Business Relief (HB 1043) – The Pandemic Response Act included over $125 million for the Golden LEAF Bridge Loan Program, which has provided North Carolina small businesses a lifeline to help “keep the lights on” while they wait for federal aid.
Tax Relief (SB 704) – The COVID-19 Recovery Act waived interest payments on state income and business taxes and adjusted tax filings to mirror the relief provided by the IRS so the federal and State income tax laws will continue to work in concert with one another.
Job Retention Grants (HB 1023) – Allocates $15 million for job retention grants to businesses and nonprofit organizations that retained at least 90% of its jobs during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, that demonstrate a COVID-19 related economic loss, and that did not participate in the federal PPP or Main Street Lending Program or the state small business assistance loan program. The Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 (HB 1105) provides an additional $45 million for the small business grant program.
Tourism Industry Support (HB 1043) – The Pandemic Response Act included $5 million to help stimulate travel, tourism and investment in North Carolina during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Safely Reopen Bars and Gyms (VETO) – Due to opposition from House Democrats, the override of Gov. Cooper’s veto of a bill to reopen bars and gyms failed to reach the 3/5ths requirement. This bill would have been a lifeline for these businesses and their workers. Our state was 1 of only 3 states where these businesses remained closed.
Safely Reopen Parks, Bowling Alleys, Arcades and Skating Rinks (VETO) – After preparing to reopen under Gov. Cooper's 'Phase 2' order, these small businesses were unexpectedly forced to remain closed. The General Assembly approved legislation to allow them to reopen, but the Governor vetoed the bill. Noticeably, 45 states had already opened bowling alleys.
Delay ABC Permit Fees for Businesses (SB 226) – Allows small businesses that are currently shuttered because of the Governor's executive orders to delay paying ABC permit renewal fees until 90 days after they're allowed to operate.
COVID-19 Liability Protections (HB 118) – Protects small businesses, non-profits, and individuals from unwarranted and excessive COVID-19 litigation – allowing them to relaunch and operate confidently.
Personal Delivery Robots (SB 739) – Authorizes the use of personal delivery robots in North Carolina to be used for such things as delivering packages, takeout or medical supplies.
Unemployment Fraud (HB 1229) – Provides $2 million to strengthen the state’s Division of Employment Security to enhance its fraud and compliance alert systems, cybersecurity attack detection systems, and other reporting and documentation enhancements.
Increase in Unemployment Benefits (HB 1105) – The Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 increases all unemployment benefits by $50 per week, bringing North Carolina's average unemployment assistance to No. 2 in the Southeast without raising taxes on employers.
Extra Credit Grants for Families (HB 1105) – The Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 provides a one-time $335 in “Extra Credit" grant to families with children to help offset unexpected costs of school closures to parents. Those who did not file a tax return last year are still eligible and may apply for the program to receive their $335.
Expanding Rural Broadband
Growing G.R.E.A.T. (HB 387) – Invests another $150 Million over 10 years in the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program. The program provides matching grants to internet service providers and electric membership cooperatives that compete for funding to lower financial barriers that prevent high speed internet service expansion. This legislation also expanded the eligible counties (previously only Tier 1) to include projects in Tier 2 counties.
Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (G.R.E.A.T) Program (HB 1105) – The General Assembly created the G.R.E.A.T program in 2018 and appropriated $10 million for it that year. The program received $15 million in 2019 and $9 million earlier this year. With HB 1105 creating a special $30 million round of funding, the General Assembly has committed a total of $64 million to expand rural broadband.
Electric Co-Op Rural Broadband Services (SB 310) – Removes regulatory barriers to make it easier for the state’s electric cooperatives to use their existing fiber network to provide broadband services to rural areas. It also allows electric cooperatives to access federal broadband expansion funds and to form partnerships that will help serve rural areas that currently lack access to high-speed internet.
Satellite Broadband Grants (HB 1228) – Creates a grant program through the Department of Information Technology to encourage the expansion of satellite-based broadband service in underserved areas. The bill was included in Capital Appropriations/R&R/DIT/Cybersecurity (SB 212).
DOT Overhaul and Reform (HB 77) – Increases taxpayer accountability at DOT with stronger transparency measures, firm management oversight, and a restructured board with legislative appointees. It also balances the department's budget, modifies cash balance thresholds, and directs annual NCDOT audits by the State Auditor.
Supporting Agriculture, Disaster Recovery and Rural Development
Farm Act (SB 315) – Promotes and enhances the agriculture industry by easing burdensome regulations, supporting branding and marketing of North Carolina agriculture products and providing flexibility for farms to advertise and offer new agri-tourism services.
Storm Recovery Act (HB 200) – Provides more relief to victims of Hurricanes Dorian, Florence, Michael and Matthew, as well as funding for debris removal, infrastructure repairs and hazard mitigation projects. HB 1105 (Coronavirus 3.0 Act) also provided $44.5 million for hurricane recovery from the four major storms.
Rural and Underserved Communities Funding (HB 1043) – The Pandemic Response Act $50 million for rural and underserved communities for health provider grants, Medicaid assistance, enhanced telehealth services, critical services transportation, and health care security for uninsured.
NC Historic Tax Credits (HB 399) – Extends and expands North Carolina’s Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program, which has been extremely successful in helping rural communities revitalize downtowns.
Enhancing Public Safety
Conner’s Law (HB 425) – Enhances penalties for deadly assaults on law enforcement officers and increases the death benefit paid to the family of a fallen officer.
Require Cooperation With ICE Detainers (HB 370) (VETO) – Ensures state and local law enforcement cooperate with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and do not release criminal illegal immigrants back onto the streets.
Passenger Protection Act (HB 391) – Makes ride-sharing safer in North Carolina in response to the murder of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson by someone impersonating her Uber driver.
Standing up for Rape Victims Act (HB 29) – Allocates $6 million to clear the backlog of untested rape evidence kits throughout the state and puts in place new protocols to prevent any future backlogs.
Strengthening Child Abuse and Sexual Assault Laws (SB 199) – Puts in place historic reforms to further protect victims of child abuse and sexual assault. This includes expanding the duty to report child abuse, clarifying the right to revoke consent to sexual relations and extending the statute of limitations for a civil action for child sexual abuse.
Pay Raises for State Employees and Law Enforcement (HB 226, 126, 777, 609) – Provides an important pay raise to hardworking state employees and law enforcement officials and their families. This includes a 5% salary increase for state employees – the largest salary increase in more than a decade.
Truth in Caller ID Act (HB 724) – Cracks down on the growing problem of robocalls and scammers by creating new enforcement measures and penalties.
Improving Health Care and Public Health
Healthy NC (SB 361) – Requires insurers to exempt patients from step therapy protocols under certain circumstances, granting them faster access to more effective medications. Step Therapy is a cost containment tool used by insurance companies. Step therapy, also known as “fail first,” requires patients to try one or more medications specified by the insurance company (typically a generic or lower cost medicine) to treat a health condition before accessing an alternative medication that is recommended by a patient’s physician.
Medicaid Funding Act (SB 808) – Invests more than $700 million to improve health care in North Carolina, including $463 million for the Medicaid Rebase to ensure health care is accessible to millions of low-income citizens. The legislation also sets a July 2021 start date for North Carolina's landmark Medicaid transformation, which is another step towards transforming North Carolina's once-broken Medicaid program from a fee-for-service system to what Secretary Mandy Cohen called "an innovative, whole-person-centered and well-coordinated system of care that addresses both medical and non-medical drivers of health."
Small Business Health Care Act (SB 86) – Expands access to coverage for working North Carolinians by allowing small businesses and independent contractors to pool together to offer affordable insurance options to employees.
Hospital COVID-19 Support (HB 1043) – The Pandemic Response Act provided millions to help North Carolina hospitals deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, including $65 million for rural hospitals, $15 million for North Carolina teaching hospitals and $15 million for a general hospital relief fund.
NC Medical School COVID-19 Research (HB 1043) – The Pandemic Response Act invested millions in North Carolina medical schools, including $29 million to UNC School of Public Health/NC Collaboratory, $20 million to Wake Forest University to expand an antibody study, $15 million to Duke University Human Vaccine Institute, $15 million to ECU Brody School of Medicine and $6 million to Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine.
COVID-19 Testing, Tracing and PPE (HB 1043) – The Pandemic Response Act allocated critical resources for health care facilities, providers and workers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including $50 million for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), $25 million to expand testing and contact tracing, $25 million for financial support for assisted living facilities, $5 million for community health centers, $20 million for enhanced public health capacity, $20 million for behavioral health and $1.5 million for prescriptions for uninsured. The Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 (HB 1105) also provided an additional $75 million for PPE and $34 million for testing and tracing.
Moving Education Forward
Teacher and Staff Raises (SB 818) – Gives every teacher and instructional support personnel a $350 bonus. It also encourages the Governor to provide a $600 bonus, including to noncertified personnel from a $94 million federal COVID-19 relief fund. Furthermore, the legislation provides teachers, instructional support personnel, and assistant principals with salary step increases based on years of experience. North Carolina now has the second-highest teacher pay in the Southeast after five consecutive pay raises provided by the Republican-led legislature. The State has moved ahead of 18 others in national educator pay rankings since 2014.
New School of Science and Math in Morganton (HB 1136) – Provides an additional $3.3 million to fund operations for North Carolina's new School of Science and Math in Morganton, NC. The school was scheduled to open in August 2021, but Gov. Cooper vetoed previous efforts to fund the campus so its first class is now scheduled for August 2022.
N.C. Promise Tuition (SB 814) – Provides $15 million in additional funding for the highly-successful N.C. Promise program, which is a policy enacted by the Republican General Assembly to guarantee $500 in-state tuition at three North Carolina colleges: Elizabeth City State University (ESCU), UNC Pembroke, and Western Carolina University.
Low-Income School Lunches (HB 1023) – A $500 million coronavirus relief bill that included $3.9 million to cover the 40 cents per lunch charged to students who qualify for a reduced price under the federal school lunch program. The bill also provides $75 for school summer nutrition programs and $7 million for schools to buy personal protective equipment.
School-Based Mental Health (SB 476) – Requires school systems to train their employees to recognize and respond when a young person indicates they are at risk of hurting themselves or may be suffering from other mental health issues.
Education and Transportation Bond (HB 1225) – Proposes $1.05 billion in bond funding for K-12 public schools, $600 million for the University of North Carolina system, $300 million for the State's community colleges, and $1.15 billion for the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Passed the House, but not the Senate.
K-12 Education COVID-19 Relief (HB 1043) – The Pandemic Response Act directed millions to North Carolina schools, including $75 million for school nutrition, $70 million for summer learning programs, $11 million to improve K-12 internet connectivity, $30 million to K-12 schools for computers and other electronic devices, $10 million for mental health and other student health services. $5 million for computers and other devices for school personnel, $4.5 million for cybersecurity at schools, $3 million for non-digital instruction for students with limited internet access, and $1 million to improve internet access by installing WiFi routers in school buses.
Higher Education COVID-19 Relief (HB 1043) – The Pandemic Response Act allocated $25 million for community colleges, $44 million for UNC System schools and $20 million for private colleges.
COVID-19 Education Waivers (SB 704) – The COVID-19 Recovery Act included several important policy provisions to help education communities, including providing school calendar flexibility and waiving end-of-year K-12 testing requirements and teacher and school administrator licensing requirements.
School Safety (SB 5) – New school safety initiatives include a statewide app that lets students report potential threats anonymously, improved training for school resource officers, the creation of local threat assessment teams and more mental health support personnel.
Testing Reduction Act (HB 377) – Eliminates and streamlines numerous standardized tests in North Carolina public schools to create a more balanced approach that prioritizes instructional time in the classroom.
Rehire High-Need Teachers (SB 399) – Addresses North Carolina's teacher shortages by allowing retired teachers to work in high-need schools without jeopardizing their retirement benefits.
Repeal Tuition Surcharge (SB 225) – Repeals the tuition surcharge at UNC System schools for students who take more time to finish their bachelor’s degree. The surcharge has had an unintended impact on veterans, transfer students and non-traditional students.
Economics and Financial Literacy (HB 924) – Requires high school students to pass a financial literacy course prior to graduating to help them better understand the basics of managing finances - like credit cards, car loans and mortgages.
Teaching Fellows Program (HB 1096) – Expands the number of NC Teaching Fellow institutions from 5 to 8, representing a diverse selection of institutions.
Hold Harmless Provision (HB 1105) – The Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 delivers on a top public school priority of holding education funding levels "harmless," regardless of expected drops in enrollment. The "hold harmless" funding policy was cited by education leaders as the most important measure lawmakers could take to support North Carolina schools.
Child Care Support (HB 1105) – The Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 allocates $8 million in grants to help working-class parents offset child care costs, as well as $35 million for child care centers to help them keep their doors open and $20 million for community-based organizations like YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs so they can help facilitate remote learning.
Expanding School Choice (HB 1105) – The Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 increases the eligibility threshold for Opportunity Scholarships, which provide grants to low- and middle-income families to send their children to the school that best fits their needs. Democrats have fought for years to end the program.
Landmark Criminal Justice Reform
First Step Act (HB 511) – Encourages rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders by providing courts discretion in sentencing instead of imposing ‘mandatory minimums.’ The legislation is similar to landmark criminal justice reform of the same name signed into law by President Donald Trump in 2018.
Second Chance Act (SB 562) – Allows individuals to have certain nonviolent misdemeanor and felony convictions expunged from their criminal records after their sentences have been completed.
Education in Prisons (HB 463) – Makes it easier for people in prison to further their education and ultimately secure a good-paying job upon release. The bill also allows flexibility in the types of educational opportunities that are offered in order to keep up with changing job markets.
Task Force on Justice, Law Enforcement, and Community Relations – NC House Speaker Tim Moore announced a new bipartisan Task Force on Justice, Law Enforcement, and Community Relations following the death of George Floyd and protests across North Carolina.
Raise the Age funding (HB 1187) – Supports the implementation of North Carolina’s criminal justice reform to ‘Raise the Age’ of juvenile jurisdiction.
Improving Election Security
Bipartisan Elections Act (HB 1169) – Prevents mail-only elections, tightens oversight for absentee voting, provides funding for the 2020 elections and prohibits sending unrequested ballots to voters. This is an important bill that will help improve confidence in our election results while addressing the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Combat Absentee Ballot Fraud (SB 683) – Enhances penalties for absentee ballot fraud and creates new crimes for selling or receiving payment for returning completed absentee ballot request forms.
Remove Foreign Citizens from Voting Rolls (SB 250) (VETO) – Removes foreign citizens from voting rolls to protect the integrity of North Carolina elections.
Coronavirus Funding (HB 1105) – The Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 provides $5 Million to help promote and ensure safe access to in-person voting during the pandemic.
Ensuring Constitutional Protections and Good Government
Born Alive Act (SB 359) (VETO) – Ensures newborn babies – regardless of the circumstances of their birth – receive the same medical care and legal protections provided to all newborns.
Second Amendment Protection Act (HB 652) (VETO) – Allows concealed carry permit holders to lawfully carry on the grounds of a place of worship that also serves as educational property, as long as such possession does not take place during any time of school curricular or extracurricular activities. Six House Democrats who originally supported religious worshipers' right to protect their congregations switched their votes to instead support the Governor's veto, even though similar protections in Texas saved lives this year.
Clarify Emergency Powers (SB 105) (VETO) – Reins in the Governor's unilateral powers in a statewide emergency. The bill requires the Governor to get bipartisan buy-in from the Council of State before closing businesses or exercising other emergency powers. Gov. Cooper has shut down businesses, closed schools, and severely limited the lives of North Carolinians through his executive orders. He has made these decisions without the requirement to even consult with any other elected official. The bill was vetoed and upheld by House Democrats.
Amend Administrative Procedure Laws (HB 590) – Ensures more government regulations are reviewed to justify their existence by changing the periodic review process so that all rules under review are either repealed or subjected to the rules-adoption process again.