North Carolina lawmakers have been busy considering program-specific budget bills and urgent policy changes to make during the short session, and are still aiming to adjourn by early July. In the coming weeks, they’ll be determining how to allocate more of the $2 billion of remaining federal COVID relief funds that the state must spend by the end of the year. The legislature has been waiting for additional federal guidance about how the remaining state funds may be used. Therefore, the news that this guidance may not arrive until at least July has led to what seems like an unclear path for assigning federal dollars at this point. While bills allocating federal relief funding continue to be heard, everything is subject to change at a moment’s notice.
Below are bills of particular interest:
- COVID-19 Liab. Safe Harbor (HB 118): Efforts to protect businesses from litigation as they reopen are ongoing. This bill would provide protections for one year after the end of the executive order for reopening companies. This does not include gross negligence. HB 118 will be heard in Senate Judiciary Committee this week.
- COVID-19 Economic Recovery Grants (SB 848): This would allocate federal CARES Act relief funds to help businesses in our state during the pandemic and to grow business investments in North Carolina after the pandemic. Senate Finance Committee approved this bill last week, and it will be heard in Senate Appropriations next.
- Education & Transportation Bond Act of 2020 (HB 1225): Subject to a vote of the qualified voters of NC, this legislation would provide $3,100,000,000 in general obligation bonds for capital outlay projects and repairs and renovations of public school facilities, community college facilities, and the University of North Carolina facilities. It also includes $1.5 billion for public transportation infrastructure projects, including construction and renovation of highways, roads, bridges, and 17 related road infrastructure. This currently sits in House Appropriations Committee.
- UI Program Integrity/Temp. ABAWD Time Waivers (HB 1229): As unemployment benefit claims rise around the country, numerous states have reported unemployment insurance claim fraud resulting from international rings. This bill appropriates $2 million to enhance cybersecurity and strengthen unemployment insurance program integrity. It has passed the House and the Senate, but must be approved by the House again after changes were made in the Senate.
- COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave (HB 1046): This bill would mandate that North Carolina employers provide, for the period from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, two weeks of paid sick leave for each full-time employee and the equivalent hours of a typical two-week period for each part-time employee, provided certain COVID conditions are met. This bill will not move this year. Depending on election results in November, it might have a greater possibility of passage next year.
We’ve been speaking to legislators and policy advisors about issues facing the ready mixed concrete industry, including transportation funding concerns and diamond grinding slurry disposal practices and barriers. It’s also important for them to hear your stories relating to these concerns.
We are looking forward to holding virtual meetings during Concrete Week (July 13-17) with lawmakers and NC DOT. During these sessions, we’ll have the opportunity to hear first-hand updates and ask questions. Be on the lookout for details – you won’t want to miss it!