July 17, 2019

Legislative Update

The following is an overview of recent North Carolina General Assembly activity of interest to stakeholders of public education in North Carolina.

The North Carolina General Assembly is in the process of attempting to override Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of the budget. At this point in the House, they are likely a few votes short of the two-thirds necessary to override. In the Senate, they are one vote short. While the override is possible, it is looking more likely that some sort of compromise will need to be reached by the Governor and the General Assembly to resolve this budget impasse. The Governor is holding on to Medicaid expansion and Republicans have indicated that expansion of Medicaid is a non-starter. There have been attempts by House Republicans to move a lighter version of Medicaid expansion, called Carolina Cares, but at this point, Senate Republicans have not embraced the idea, and the Governor has not announced his support of this alternate measure. There was a motion in the Senate last week to adjourn on July 22nd and not return until late August. We are waiting on the House to see if that will occur. As we have stated before, if a final budget is not approved, then last year’s spending plan will remain as the budgetary document. However, House lawmakers did move a stop-gap spending motion ( House Bill 111) through its chamber that would fund school enrollment growth and match federal funds for certain programs. However, the Senate must approve this measure, and the Governor would need to sign it. At this moment, the fate of the House efforts is uncertain. There are many moving parts in the budgetary approval process, and they are subject to change. We will keep you posted as budget developments arise.

There were a few separate items that were heard and passed by the General Assembly last week.

S438: Excellent Public Schools Act of 2019 

This bill, which originated in the Senate and is now in a House committee, saw corrections to the language of the bill, but otherwise remains unchanged. This bill modifies the Read to Achieve program, targeting reading outcomes for 3rd-grade students.

S522: Low Performing Schools 

This bill changes how a school is identified as Low Performing for being included in the ISD (Innovative School District). Under the previous rules, the lowest-performing public school would be taken over by the ISD. The changes from S522 would allow a 1-year observation period followed by the qualifying school being placed on a Watch list and finally a Warning list before being taken over by the ISD.

S5: School Safety Omnibus.

This bill codifies existing statutes regarding school safety and seeks to create uniform policies throughout school districts and instructs the Center for Safer Schools to offer training for school personnel. This bill has been referred to the House Rules Committee.

For information about specific issues, please contact lobbyist@pencweb.org.

For more information about the North Carolina General Assembly, click here.
To identify and contact your legislators, click here.