NC General Assembly Begins Traditional Short Session
The North Carolina General Assembly reconvened this week with the more traditional “short session.” Legislators met from April 28-May 2 in what was termed its “COVID-19 session” where it approved bipartisan COVID-19-related legislation and recessed until this week. It enacted SB 704 (COVID-19 Recovery Act) which contained several important provisions initiated, or supported by, NCHBA. Those included:
- Extend Effective Date of 160D
- Extend Certain Local Government Development Approval
- Good Funds Settlement Act Revision
- Allow Soil Scientists to Evaluate, Inspect and Approve On-Site Wastewater Systems Projects During the Coronavirus Emergency
- State Agency Regulatory Flexibility
- Time-Limited Civil Liability Immunity to Essential Businesses
- Rejected Unfavorable Changes to Unemployment Insurance
Working in conformity with COVID-19 safeguards this week, your legislative team attended committee meetings and answered questions from legislators on the state of our industry. Despite the challenges of lobbying under social distancing, wearing face masks and daily temperature checks, your team’s presence was noted favorably as we were among the few lobbyists in attendance.
Despite the COVID-19 challenges, several issues are moving forward that are important to the home building industry. Senate Bill 720 (GSC Conforming Amends/2019 Land Use Changes), introduced by Senators Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson), Andy Wells (R-Catawba) and Don Davis (D-Pitt).
This bill integrates our land-use regulatory changes which were enacted last year and are currently in effect into a new Chapter 160D which is a consolidation of the current planning and zoning provisions in city and county statutes and was enacted as Part 2 of our land-use bill. For the last four months, NCHBA has spent many hours worked closely with the General Statutes Commission and other stakeholders to accomplish this task. The principal sponsors of last year’s bill enacted into law, Senators Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Sam Searcy (D-Wake) are co-sponsors of SB 720.
On Tuesday, Senate Bill 720 was heard in the Senate State and Local Government Committee where it received an unanimous favorable report. It is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee next Tuesday.
While several bills have been filed relating to workers’ compensation, one is particularly troubling. House Bill 1057 (WC/COVID-19 Front Line Coverage/Funds) would create a presumption that an employee who contracts COVID-19 did so on the jobsite. This burden-shifting is a serious threat to the continued viability of of our no-fault workers compensation system.
While the bill has superficial appeal and appears to be an effort to assist frontline medical personnel and first responders, it also includes workers from any industry which was designated by the Governor as “essential” which includes the construction industry. Existing workers’ compensation laws already allow workers to recover if they can prove it is more likely than not that they contracted COVID-19 at the worksite.
NCHBA has been a leader in the coalition of business and local government associations which was formed to oppose this bill. This coalition has worked hard to educate legislators on the unintended impacts arising from this legislation. Due to those efforts, more than 16 original co-sponsors of the bill no longer support it and have removed their names from the bill.
As Memorial Day approaches, we express our sincere appreciation to those brave men and women who sacrificed their lives to allow us to protect the freedoms that we enjoy but often take for granted.
Legislator Of The Week
Senator Chuck Edwards (R-Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania)
Senator Chuck Edwards is a primary sponsor of Senate Bill 720 (GSC Conforming Amends/2019 Land Use Changes), which is the final step in NCHBA’s five-year process to improve land-use laws in North Carolina. Thank you Senator Edwards for your support of our state’s home building industry!