This week at NCGA: Medicaid expansion, medical marijuana, legislator salaries, pet leases

It was a monumental week at the North Carolina General Assembly, as lawmakers reached a long-awaited compromise to allow for expansion of Medicaid and the Senate moved forward a bill that would legalize medical marijuana.

The Medicaid deal brokered between the House and Senate also includes changes to the state’s Certificate of Need laws that limit the number of medical facilities in North Carolina. But it will also be tied to the state budget, and its not known yet if other controversial legislation that Republicans want to move on such as changes to North Carolina abortion laws, could end up in the spending package they send to the governor.

That could lead to a veto showdown between the GOP-led legislature and Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, who is scheduled to give his State of the State address Monday evening.

The state Senate gave final approval last week to a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to people with cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions. The House failed to move on a similar proposal in 2022.

Here’s a look at other what else happened last week in Raleigh:

Sen. Bobby Hanig (R-Currituck) is making another attempt to change the state’s official mammal in memory of an advocate for waterfowl and wildlife conservation from Hyde County.

Senate Bill 183, the Brandon Marshall Act of 2023, is named for the Engelhard resident who was a very experienced hunter and shared a passion for hunting with his family, friends and others by guiding hunts and mentoring others with an interest in outdoor recreation.

Marshall died in a 2021 accident at a waterfowl impoundment while hunting with his son.

“Marshall spent a good amount of his time educating people about the beauty and majesty of black bears, who are native to North Carolina,” Hanig said. “It only seems fitting that the state mammal be a black bear in his honor.”

Hanig introduced the same bill last session while a member of the House, but it failed to move forward. Under the proposal, the black bear would replace the gray squirrel which was designated the state mammal in 1967.

Hanig is a primary sponsor of Senate Bill 188, Local Governing Boards/Compensation Equity Act, that would raise legislators pay.

“The current base salary of a General Assembly member in either chamber is $13,951,” Hanig said. “It is true that North Carolina legislators get paid $104 per day to cover meal and lodging expenses while in Raleigh, it should be noted that the base salary and per diem as they currently are were established back in 1992 with no adjustments for inflation since.”

“I want to help do right by our legislators and ensure they are appropriately compensated for the hard and dedicated work they give to the people to North Carolina,” Hanig said.

The bill would also cap the amount county commissioners and town/city council members are compensated at the same rate as members of the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 190, introduced Wednesday by Hanig, would raise salaries of current workers in the Department of Labor and Division of Occupational Safety and Health and also help with recruiting new employees.

“I believe that increase in salary for these dedicated workers is necessary and well earned, and in turn will help all people of North Carolina through their continued hard work,” Hanig said.

Companion legislation has also been filed in the House (HB 84).

House Bill 228, sponsored by Rep. Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort) and three other lawmakers, makes a number of technical corrections, clarifications and adjusts administration of the state’s tax laws.

Senate Bill 172, introduced Wednesday with co-sponsorship by Sen. Hanig, would allow ABC Stores to sell gift cards, and also allow redemption of cards sold at other stores that are not in the same county or town ABC Board jurisdiction that have a written agreement.

House Bill 252, “Multijurisdictional Property”, sponsored by a bipartisan group of representatives, would give a landowner who has a parcel that is covered by more than one jurisdiction for planning and development the right to designate which local government unit has coverage if there is no mutual agreement in place.

“After that designation is made, and with the approval of the designated local government, the landowner may enter into an agreement with one or more other local governments for any part of the development, including utilities; annexation for utility access; if applicable, all development phases on the land; and other services offered,” according to the bill text.

House Bill 153, which would allow the use of a tribal enrollment card issued by a state or federally recognized Indian Tribe to be used to purchase alcohol and tobacco, cleared the House American Indian Affairs committee on Thursday and was sent back to House Rules.

House Bill 216, Expansion of Aviation Sales Tax Exemption, was introduced on Wednesday.

It would broaden the sales and use tax exemption on aviation parts and accessories to include all planes with a takeoff weight of 2,000 pounds or more. The exemption currently only applies to aircraft with a takeoff weight of between 9,000 and 15,000 pounds.

House Bill 255, Regulate EV Charging Stations, would codify that no one can park in an electric vehicle charging station parking spot unless they are not connected to the charger, and sets the fine for violations at $100. The bill also lists standards for signage of the charging spots.

A group of Democratic lawmakers are sponsoring House Bill 243 that would end the state’s longstanding ban on public employees have collective bargaining power. That measure was assigned to the House Rules committee, where it will likely remain.

House Bill 225, End Predatory Pet Leasing, was introduced this week in response to a growing practice where where a customer enters into a contractual agreement requiring monthly payments in exchange for leasing to own a dog or cat.

“Scrutiny on this process has increased due to customers being misled into entering a pet leasing arrangement instead of a loan arrangement, being charged exorbitant fees, and either not owning the pet at the end of the payment schedule despite paying in excess of
the value of the pet or having the pet repossessed by the financing company upon failure to make a payment in accordance with the terms of the lease,” according to the bill text.

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