NC Updates provided by Connie Wilson, CRMCA NC Lobbyist
CRMCA Legislative Update – January 14, 2020
Following the recent Duke Energy coal ash litigation resolution, we’ve been meeting with legislators to provide updates on the beneficiation units. This has also been a good opportunity to raise awareness about issues that may surface over the next several years – particularly relating to the remaining coal ash ponds and future demand for coal ash and reprocessed fly ash.
Legislators reconvened for a brief session on Tuesday, January 14th to consider limited bills. Rumors initially suggested that the Senate would consider overriding Governor Cooper’s budget veto. However, during the one-day session, the Senate lacked enough votes for a successful veto override, so the bill was removed from the calendar and wasn’t heard. As planned, both chambers successfully passed a bill that provides additional $2.4 million in funding to support a state scholarship for children of wartime veterans.
With the March 3rd primarily quickly approaching, legislators have been busy fundraising for the 2020 elections – taking a brief respite from fundraising efforts during the January 14th session. Now, they’ll resume campaigning until late April. The NC General Assembly will begin the short session of the biennium on April 28th, when legislators may address a range of matters, including considering bills that remain in conference, pursuing certain bills introduced in the long session, and adjusting appropriations as necessary. In the meantime, we will continue meeting with legislators and key staff to offer updates and concerns on behalf of the concrete industry.
As we consider our 2020 legislative goals, it’s important to reflect on 2019. Legislators in leadership positions determine the fate of legislation, including which bills move. Numerous bills that were bad for employees and employers were introduced during the 2019 long session. Most were not heard or were modified before passage. Two perfect examples are bills proposing to repeal the ban on public employee unions – HB 710 and SB 575 – which did not progress this year, and will not during the 2020 short session. Because states that have strong public employee unions typically see the formation of unions cross into the private sector, the NCGA’s leadership to prevent these types of bills from passing is not taken for granted by the business community. Legislation that would enact equal rights amendments was also introduced last year, but legislative leadership understands the complicated implications these bills would impose onto businesses – such as a rise in lawsuits. Fortunately, North Carolina employers have been shielded from these burdens for now, but shouldn’t let any guards down.
SC Updates provided by Ben Homeyer, CRMCA SC Lobbyist
2020 Legislative Kickoff
The 2nd regular session of the 123rd SC General Assembly will begin at noon on Tuesday January 14th. Session will run for a minimum of five months.
Once again energy is expected to dominate the General Assembly’s time. Last year it was Dominion Energy’s buyout of SCANA and this year it will be the potential sale of Santee Cooper. The issue will most likely stretch well into the spring if not beyond. The industry is watching this not only because numerous companies are within Santee Cooper’s service area but because Santee Cooper is a major source of fly ash within South Carolina
A major issue area which will dominate the session and would affect the industry as a whole include, tax reform which will include discussions on reducing the top marginal tax rate from 7%, potential sales tax changes, business license tax changes, The business license tax bill is getting a major push from the business community. The bill as written would have both process changes as well as potential financial changes. The Sales tax bill will be closely monitored. As written, it is detrimental to the industry as it would remove the sales tax exemption that is currently on mixer drums.
Other areas which will be discussed this year are how to appropriate the state budget which currently has a $1.8 billion surplus over the 2019 budget. Education reform will remain a priority after the Senate failed to pass the House-passed reform package to the floor for debate in 2019. Teacher pay and testing reform have consistently been points of contention in previous years, the fetal heartbeat bill, tort reform as well as singular items such as hands-free cellular driving requirements, workforce development, and CDL increases will be discussed.
We are continuing to meet with SCDMV about the new road user fee payments. The agency has been making changes to adopt practices that were in use by the SCDOR who previously collected the payments. Issues such as depreciation, when payments are due, as well as removal of local government are all being worked out.
Finally, 2020 sees the entire General Assembly up for elections. All 170 seats will be up come November. At this time only a couple of House members have stated they will not be returning. It is expected that all races in Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley County will be contested this year. Filing takes place in mid-March with primaries in June. Should any questions arise about candidates and education about requests for support please let me know.