North Carolina NOW Legislative Update #13 – 26 April 2021
See whole report, with summary and listing of bills being tracked, at North Carolina NOW Legislative Update #13, 26 Apr 21
Never a dull moment at the legislature. This week a dispute between House Speaker Moore and a senior Republican legislator went public and culminated in Representative Julia Howard being removed as a senior finance committee chair. Great news on one of the many anti-Transgender person bills filed.
At issue was a bill backed by Speaker Moore to give tax relief to businesses that received loans from the Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Rep. Howard objected because she believed there was a conflict of interest because dozens of legislators, including Speaker Moore, would benefit from the proposed law. A Mecklenburg County lawmaker, Rep John Bradford, would receive an estimated benefit of $20,000. Rep. Howard also objected because businesses that received loans in 2020 would not benefit and neither would individuals who received increased unemployment benefits.
Rep, Howard refused to move the bill through the Finance Committee for two weeks. She caved under pressure from the Speaker and announced, “I was given orders from the Speaker that we would hear this PPP bill today.” The bill was amended in committee not to tax unemployment benefits received after 2020 as income. Speaker Moore later denied exerting pressure on Rep. Howard, but he did remove her from the Finance Committee and placed her on the Appropriations Committee. For more details, see https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article250812714.html.
In a statement, Speaker Moore, along with the Republican House leadership, claimed that the Republican caucus had voted to move the bill forward and that Rep. Howard was defying the will of her caucus by not moving the bill. The problem is that party caucuses meet behind closed doors, vote in secret, and have no legal standing in the legislature. In the statement along with other Republican House leadership, Speaker Moore stated: “While we respect different viewpoints, Committee Chairs must be willing to put personal agendas aside and move forward with the will of the Caucus.” Yet the reality clearly is that Committee Chairs must put their ethical convictions aside and move forward with the agenda of the Speaker.
GREAT NEWS! Sen. Phil Berger has announced that the Senate will not hear the bill (SB 514) that would prohibit doctors from providing gender affirming health care for trans youth under the age of 21. We are assured that this bill will not pass this session. See: https://apnews.com/article/legislature-north-carolina-legislation-phil-berger-bills-c4e3f7fd7fd569fa33961c193a27a165
See whole report at North Carolina NOW Legislative Update #13, 26 Apr 21.