Senate Overrides Governor’s Veto Of Budget

As expected, Governor Cooper formally vetoed the conference report on the state budget on Wednesday, which set the stage for a veto override vote in the Senate on Thursday. After a brief debate the Senate voted along party lines to override the Governor’s objection. The House is expected to follow suit early next week.

The Governor and legislative leaders were simply unable to bridge the large philosophical divide on spending priorities. The budget conference report contains a finance provision that will now allow for RMI repair contractors who pay sales tax on materials for an RMI project to pay the sales tax at the retail level and obtain credit for the sales tax collected from the homeowner on the entire project which must be remitted to the Department of Revenue. This provision was something our members had asked for over the past year and its insertion into the conference report was one of NCHBA’s top priorities for the session.

As previously reported, another of NCHBA’s top session priorities, HB (948 Building Code Regulatory Reform), passed the House by a vote of 98-1 last Friday. Our mission this week was to move the bill toward passage by the Senate. Along with two of the bill’s primary sponsors, Representatives Mark Brody (R-Union) and Dennis Riddell (R-Alamance), we met on Tuesday with representatives of the League of Municipalities and the Association of County Commissioners who desired some changes in the bill. We were able to negotiate some tweaks in the language which resulted in these organizations no longer opposing the bill.

Simultaneously, we engaged Senators Tommy Tucker (R-Union), Tom McInnis (R-Richmond) and Andy Wells (R-Catawba) to take the lead on the bill in the Senate and to help us get the bill calendared. Yesterday, Senate Rules Chairman Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) moved the bill out of the Rules Committee and over the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee. With the support and cooperation of Commerce Committee Co-Chairmen, Senators Rick Gunn (R-Alamance) and Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland), we anticipate the bill will be heard in that committee early next week. After approval there, it will likely need a stop in the Senate Finance Committee, which Senator Tucker co-chairs, before reaching the Senate floor. See the following summary for a comprehensive look at this important bill here.

Another of NCHBA’s friends, Senator Trudy Wade (R-Guilford), has taken the lead on another regulatory reform bill which contains a provision that would require the NC Building Code Council to provide an exemption from energy efficiency codes for residential garages. HB (573 Business/Regulatory Changes) passed the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee on Thursday. Specifically, the bill directs the Council to provide an exemption for detached and attached garages located on the same lot as a dwelling from any requirements in the energy efficiency standards contained in the residential and energy conservation codes. This provision will save builders significant sums in unnecessary energy requirements for the non-living space. Another section of the bill directs the Environmental Management Commission to adopt rules to reduce the setback requirements between wells serving single-family homes and most types of septic tank systems from 100 feet to 50 feet. This will allow builders to build on smaller lots.

Senator Trudy Wade (R-Guilford) presents HB 573 Business/Regulatory Changes in the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee on Thursday.

These are not expected to be the only regulatory reform bills this session. NCHBA has traditionally worked closely with the leadership in the development of provisions contained in past regulatory reform bills.

Last week, NCHBA participated in a business coalition in support of SB 470 (Personal Injury Bankruptcy Trust Claims). This legislation arose from abuses by plaintiff lawyers suing companies for asbestos exposure in state court without having first filed claims with the various asbestos bankruptcy trust funds to which the plaintiff may be entitled to make a claim. This legislation requires the disclosure of trust claims paid for asbestos related injury if the plaintiff choses to sue in state court for the same injury. The House voted 79-30 to adopt the bill and the Senate concurred in the House action by a vote of 42-5.

With the anticipated override of the Governor’s budget by the House early next week, the primary purpose of the session will have been accomplished. Adjournment of the session will shortly follow. Since there remains little time to move legislation, the scramble to have eligible bills heard is in full swing. NCHBA will continue to work hard to get our key issues across the finish line.

Bills On The Move

HB 931 UI Technical Changes; Passed the House, Sent to the Senate

HB 948 Building Code Regulatory Reform; Moved to Senate Commerce and Insurance

SB 711 NC Farm Act of 2018; Passed 2nd reading in the Senate

HB 573 Business/Regulatory Changes; Passed Senate Commerce and Insurance

SB 758 Build NC Bond of 2018; Passed Senate; Referred to House Finance

Legislator Of The Week

Representative Pat McElraft (R-Carteret, Jones)

Representative McElraft is a vocal supporter of home builders in the NC House of Representatives. The North Carolina Home Builders Association thanks Representative McElraft for all of her hard work to keep housing affordable in NC.