By Cady Thomas
NCGA in Raleigh
The NCGA was back in Raleigh this week for their last mini session of the year. They were expected to adjourn sine die but were unable to do so as the adjournment resolution passed in November did not allow for that and the Senate was not in town to pass a new one. The NCGA will hold no vote sessions every three days until the end of the year. They will return January 11, 2023 for the ceremonial opening of the 2023-24 Biennium with the action starting two weeks later.
While here, Speaker Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Berger highlighted some issues that the legislature will address in the 2023 session. Those include doing redistricting in late-June or early-July, state employee pay increases; potential gun storage safety legislation; medicare expansion, and infrastructure safety.
On December 6 the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Moore v. Harper case from NC brought by NC Republican legislative leaders. They are asking the Court to ban state-level judges from ruling state laws that affect federal elections are unconstitutional. The lawyers representing Moore argued that checks and balances have always been in place and need to remain. The hearing has garnered national attention because it will affect how Congressional maps are drawn across the country.
During the hearing, there was a great deal of chatter on twitter trying to predict how each Justice would vote – read the full transcript here. A decision is expected in the spring.
Bills and Legislation
NC TEN Commission
Last week, the NC TEN Commission, a group of stakeholders led by Senator Vickie Sawyer, met for the final time this year to vote on which transportation revenue items should be considered by legislators in next year’s session. The conversation centered around four areas of revenue changes: registration fees, user fees, sales taxes, and technology fees. The NC Chamber continues to be encouraged by engagement the NC TEN Commission is garnering from leaders, including Senator Berger.
The North Carolina House Select Committee on Advancing Women in STEM passed a set of recommendations last week to help educate, recruit and retain more women and minorities in STEM professions. One recommendation was to encourage “public school units, North Carolina community colleges, and the constituent institutions of The University of North Carolina to emphasize STEM education and engage with companies and organizations to provide mentoring and STEM enrichment opportunities and activities for their students and STEM educators.” Others were for the NCGA to appropriate $1 million to public schools to create more awareness of STEM fields and $5 million to be spent on “targeted grants to programs … that have a proven track record of providing the skills, experiences, and critical enrichment opportunities necessary to build a strong, qualified STEM workforce pipeline”.
Numbers as of December 14, 2022:
3,300,138 total cases
708 people – 7 day average of those hospitalized
73% of adult population fully vaccinated, 63% of total population fully vaccinated
COVID Funds Report
Throughout the pandemic the federal government awarded lots of money to NC. This included $1.35 billion to state and local Governments, $826 million for health related issues, $664 million for public services, $478 million for education, $208 million for business relief and recovery, $36 million in individual relief, and $21 million for infrastructure improvements. You can find a good summary of the funds used here. And more detail from the NC Pandemic Recovery Office at this link.
Cases in NC are up 13% this week over last to the highest weekly total since late-September. Hospital admissions were up 8%. NCDHHS says North Carolinians are not getting booster shots at the rate needed to fight the omicron variant.
The NC Labor Commissioner announced last week that he will not seek a second term in office. In making the announcement at the Council of State meeting he said “After much soul searching I’m announcing that I will not seek re-election … nor will I be a candidate for any office in 2024”. Dobson has been an elected official for the last 14 years in three different offices.
As the new Congress is preparing for the 117th Congress, many votes on leadership are being taken. US Congressman Patrick McHenry will search as Chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee. US Congresswoman Virginia Foxx is being talked about as the next chair of the House Education and Labor Committee. US Congressman Richard Hudson has been selected as the Chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee.