NC NOW Legislative Update #7, GOP Overreach ICE and Medicaid Bill Issue– 18 Mar 19

See whole NC NOW Legislative Update #7.18Mar19 here.

In 2018, voters in North Carolina’s biggest counties elected seven new sheriffs who campaigned on pledges to no longer work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) because their practices have become increasingly brutal under the Trump administration.  The will of the voters was clear.  But this week Republicans filed a bill (HB370) that would force sheriffs to cooperate with ICE or face fines of up to $25,500 per day.  This bill is yet another example of the conservative Republican majority in the legislature attempting to force its agenda on urban counties that elect more moderate to liberal Democrats to local offices. This bill has the support of Republican leadership; Governor Cooper has not stated a position.  For more information, see

Sign from Tuesdays With Tillis protest against ICE taking children. Photo Credit: Michael Eisenberg

The drive to expand Medicaid hit an unexpected hitch this week.  Expanding Medicaid is a priority of Cooper’s legislative agenda, and companion bills (SB3/HB5) have been introduced in both the House and Senate.  But hopes for passage of a bill during this session (2019-2020) were crushed through a rookie error by a freshman legislator. 

During floor debate of SB86, freshman Senator Kirk deViere moved an amendment that contained the language of SB3/HB5 in an attempt to include Medicaid expansion in this bill.  His amendment was tabled, an action that brought on unintended consequences. 

Senate Rule 53 stipulates that “after a bill has been tabled or failed to pass any of its readings, the contents of such bill or the principal provisions of its subject matter, shall not be embodied in any other measure.”  Since the language of Senator deViere’s amendment is identical to the language in SB3/HB5, the tabling of his amendment will prevent the Senate from considering SB3 or HB5 (Medicaid expansion) this session.  But even though Medicaid expansion cannot pass as a separate bill this session, Democrats maintain that it could be included in the budget since other measures that technically violate the rules of the House or Senate have been included in past budgets. For more information, see:

A frequent question is how to determine if a bill introduced in the legislature actually has a chance of passing.  There are some signs that give clues about whether a bill should be taken seriously or not.   Some legislators introduce what are called “run on” bills; that is, bills that have no chance whatsoever of actually passing (the legislators don’t even try), but when it comes time for re-election the legislator piously says he/she introduced a bill that would appeal to a partisan special interest.   A bill that is introduced session after session by the same legislator without ever going anywhere is probably a “run on” bill.

To gauge a bill’s chance of passing, the first thing to do is to check out is who is supporting the bill.  If the bill has only a few sponsors from the ideologically extreme end of either party, odds are good that it is DOA.  Alternatively, if the bill is part of the agenda of the minority party (in this case, Democrats) and its only sponsors are members of the minority party, chances for passage are not good. 

On the other hand, if a bill is sponsored or supported by a member of the majority leadership team or a committee chair, chances of ultimate passage are very good.  An effective committee chair can direct a bill to his/her own committee or to a committee where it will receive a positive reception.  Since committee chairs can decide whether or not to hear a bill (not hearing a bill effectively blocks it for good), no legislator with bills to pass wants to unnecessarily alienate a committee chair.

Bills that go directly to a Rules committee with no other committee assignments have generally received the kiss of death. 

This article discusses this topic with specific examples of bills introduced this session, and points out that the media too often plays up extreme bills that in reality have virtually no chance of passing:

See whole NC NOW Legislative Update #7.18Mar19 here.


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