This week, the House of Representatives advanced a slate of Senate bills that were mostly noncontroversial, dealing with everything from technical changes affecting the Department of Insurance to the regulation of deer secretion for hunters. Most of the focus this week was on redistricting, while top legislative budget writers continue to negotiate with the Governor. This week we also learned who will be replacing the late Rep. Dana Bumgardner, who passed away earlier this month. Former Gaston County Commissioner Donnie Loftis was appointed by the Gaston County Republican Party to fill Bumgardner’s unexpired term representing the 109th House District in southeast Gaston County.
The COVID-19 case count continues to decline but remains deadly. As of this morning, in the state of North Carolina, there were 3,003 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 1,763 individuals hospitalized, and sadly, 17,696 confirmed deaths. There have been 11,483,183 doses of the vaccine distributed in NC, which is about 71% of the total adult population.
As we all continue to feel the effects of the global pandemic and adjust to a new normal, we want to highlight a few ways our clients across North Carolina have worked to support residents and make this time a little easier for those throughout the state. Read more about what our clients are doing to help by clicking here.
For more information on COVID-19 in North Carolina, click here to visit the Department of Health and Human Services website, and be sure to stay up to date on the latest federal guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by clicking here.
The budget negotiation saga hit another milestone this week when Republican legislative leaders sent a budget counteroffer to Democrat Governor Roy Cooper on Tuesday. They also sent the counteroffer to the Democrats in the legislature who voted for the original budget. This comes after several weeks of confidential negotiations between the legislature and the Governor on topline spending and policy issues. While the specifics of the counteroffer have also been kept under wraps, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) told reporters Wednesday that the latest negotiations focused on raises for teachers and state employees, but not Medicaid expansion. Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), Chair of the Appropriations Committee, said in an interview Wednesday that the counteroffer included raises closer to the House’s proposal than the Senate’s. The House wanted an average raise of 5.5% over the next two years.
There are additional items under negotiation too, including policies in the budget that restrict the power of the Governor and Attorney General, digital literacy, and allocation of federal money from the American Rescue Plan which was signed by President Biden in March. Still, negotiators remain optimistic. Both Cooper and legislative budget writers have said this week that they remain hopeful a budget compromise can be reached within the next couple of weeks.
Over the last two weeks, legislators on both sides of the aisle have redrawn Congressional and legislative district maps on public terminals in the General Assembly. Every ten years, after the decennial census numbers are released, district lines are redrawn to ensure proportional representation in every district. Because of population growth over the last decade, North Carolina is picking up an additional 14thCongressional District. There will not be any additional legislative districts, but districts surrounding urban areas will be changed to accommodate where population has grown the most.
Next week, the House and Senate Joint Redistricting Committee will hear public comment on the publicly available maps in Raleigh, across the state at East Carolina University, Central Piedmont Community College, UNC Wilmington, and Caldwell Community College.
On Wednesday, House Rules Chairman Rep. Destin Hall (R-Catawba) told members to expect House-drawn maps soon. House Speaker Moore (R-Cleveland) said he expects maps to be finalized in two or three weeks.
Upcoming Legislative Meetings
Monday, October 25
3:00PM Joint Redistricting Committee