By Cady Thomas
The House and Senate are scheduled to return May 4-6 for a brief session where no record votes are expected. The regular short session will begin May 18. During the short session, the General Assembly can only consider bills which passed out of their chamber of origin prior to crossover and bills related finance and appropriations, the state budget, redistricting and other select matters as laid out in the adjournment resolution SJR 748.
Will the Short Session be Short?
After coming off the longest long session in history, North Carolina politicos are trying to predict the length of the short session which begins May 18, a day after NC’s primary election. The last day of the state’s fiscal year is June 30, so that is a possible deadline. Senator Berger has hinted that he would also be okay with a continuing resolution of the 2021-2022 budget, which means the June 30 deadline is less relevant.
A continuing resolution of this year’s budget would leave spending levels even for 2022-23. However, there are additional funds that may need to be spent by the NCGA. These include the remaining federal funds appropriated to NC during the COVID pandemic and the $2 billion being sent to NC from the federal infrastructure bill. These could be done in “mini budget” bills which only address one area of the budget at a time.
Last week, Spectrum News/IPSOS released their polling results on issues before the NCGA during the short session: medical marijuana, Medicaid expansion, sports gambling. The poll surveyed nearly 1,200 registered voters in North Carolina with a +/- 4.2% margin of error.
Medical marijuana had the greatest support, while expanding Medicaid had the least opposition. Voters were divided on legalizing online sports betting with a quarter of the respondents undecided.
We expect that the NC Senate will take up the NC Compassionate Care Act which would make medical marijuana legal for people diagnosed with certain medical conditions. NC Health News shared more details in its article on April 20, 2022.
The Joint Legislative Committee on Access to Healthcare and Medicaid Expansion held their last interim meeting on April 26. The majority of the meeting focused on the state’s telehealth policies with some discussion increasing access and affordability of marketplace plans. Given the topics discussed by the Committee, momentum seems to be building towards an omnibus bill of health care reforms that may include Medicaid expansion.
Numbers as of April 27, 2022:
2,659,255 total cases
356 currently hospitalized
72% of adult population fully vaccinated, 62% of total population fully vaccinated
Other Important Items
The NCDOT named Joey Hopkins as the new chief operating officer. Mr. Hopkins has worked for NCDOT for 30 years, mainly in Division 5 but most recently as the chief deputy engineer in charge of planning. He now oversees the Division of Highways as well as the ferry, aviation, rail and integrated mobility divisions. Mr. Hopkins will also lead the planning and programming and communications offices.
The previous COO, Beau Memory, left NCDOT to become the executive director of the E-470 Public Highway Authority, which built and operates a 47-mile toll road on the east side of Denver, Colorado.
This week the Washington Post named NC Governor Roy Cooper a top 10 presidential candidate pick.
2022 NC Primary Elections
Early voting began April 28, for the May 17th primary. Races on the ballot include: The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the NCGA and the NC Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. Additionally, many voters will find municipal contests on their ballot due to rescheduled municipal elections.
Statewide news has focused on the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat of retiring Senator Richard Burr and the primary races for NC-11 where incumbent Madison Cawthorn faces a number of challengers, including current state Senator Chuck Edwards. If a candidate in either of these races does not reach 30+1% needed to secure their spot on the November ballot, a second primary may be held on July 26. Find your voting location here, or request your absentee ballot here.