NC Legislative Update | By Cady Thomas
Senate Transportation Chair Meetings
This week we met with Senator Tom McInnis, Senator Vickie Sawyer, and Senator Mike Woodard to discuss the benefits of the use by the NCDOT of Full-Depth Reclamation and concrete overlays. All three meetings were informative and positive. We will continue these discussions with the House Transportation Chairs after the NCGA’s spring break.
Bills and Legislation
Senate Transportation Committee
The Committee heard a presentation from State Auditor Beth Woods on her latest Audit of NCDOT. This audit was an audit of DOT’s internal audit of the “Highway, Planning & Construction Highway Division Contract PreAward Process.”
Her audit found that the NCDOT audit “did not comply with Government Auditing Standards.” Specifically, they found the following:
Audit conclusion was not supported by the findings,
Auditors did not relate the findings to the population and quantify dollar values (Wood Comment: by not giving the entire size of the contracts there is no way to determine how bad the issues really are),
Auditors did not use their risk assessment to establish the sampling methodology (Wood Comment: there should have been audits of each division, not all together),
Sampling methodology was not designed to obtain sufficient evidence,
Auditors did not document their consideration of information system controls,
Auditors did not document an overall assessment of audit evidence, and
Auditors did not extend audit procedures to determine if fraud occurred (Wood Comment: preparers of the audit were the same as those performing the duties).
Overall, her comments were that internal audits could fix all the issues she has highlighted in previous audits. The conversation then turned mostly to internal audits in general and less about this audit. Auditor Woods made clear that internal auditors are only as good as those overseeing them. We need more internal audit directors for those agencies and universities that have internal audit shops.
SB 351 – Be Pro Be Proud Pilot Program.
Legislation has been introduced by Senator Todd Johnson to being a program like the SC program that is working so well to educate students on workforce jobs. The bill appropriates $5 million in nonrecurring funds to implement the mobile statewide workforce development pilot program.
Governor’s Budget Released
On March 24 Governor Cooper released his budget proposal for the next biennium totalling $27.3 billion in spending. The transportation provisions begin on page 221 of the online version or 213 of the printed page numbers. The NC Senate will start the budget process this year and have already been meeting to discuss priorities. They will take Governor Cooper’s request under consideration during their process but are not limited by or required to address or fund his proposals.
House and Senate leadership quickly released statements expressing concern over the amount of spending but remained optimistic they could work with the Governor to get a budget this year.
Numbers as of March 25:
901,262 total cases
981 currently hospitalized
6.1% – percentage of positive tests each day
Governor’s Executive Order 204
As North Carolina’s COVID-19 trend lines continue improving, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 204 on March 23. This includes an end to the 11 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales for on-site consumption and it goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Friday. Capacity limits were also changed as follows:
Retail stores, salons, barbershops, museums and aquariums can resume operating at 100 percent capacity, provided they can maintain 6 feet of distance between customers.
Restaurants, breweries, wineries, gyms and amusement parks can operate at 75 percent capacity indoors and 100 percent outdoors.
Bars, conference centers and arenas can operate at 50 percent capacity both indoors and outdoors.
Gatherings can be up to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
The statewide mask mandate remains in place. More can be read on the order in this N&O article.
All NC Adults 16 and over can receive the vaccine starting April 7.
Other Important Items
NCDOT Employee Changes
The NCDOT has named Drew Cox as the new Division 6 Engineer covering Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Robeson, and Harnett Counties. He will oversee more than 360 employees and maintain more than 13,000 miles. Previous Division 6 Engineer, Greg Burns, is now the Easter Deputy Chief Engineer and will oversee 7 of the highway divisions, including Division 6.
Division 14 has also seen changes. Wanda Austin is the new Division Engineer, replacing Brian Burch who is the new Western Deputy Chief Engineer.
The NC General Assembly will not hold committee meetings or any voting sessions the week of April 5. We do not expect members to be in Raleigh at all that week.