1. Omnibus Economic Development Improvements – This bill introduced by Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover) and Rep. Rodney Moore (D-Mecklenberg) would restore the Film Incentive and Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits. House Bill 89 also calls for the the state Earned Income Tax Credit to be re-established, which ended in 2014.
2. Disapprove MEC Oil and Gas Rules – This measure is intended to slow down the fracking process and would disapprove of the Mining and Energy Commission’s proposed fracking rules that relate to setback distances from residences and our waterways, as well as waste disposal. House Bill 76 has been referred to the House Committee on Commerce and Job Development.
3. Dropout Prev. & Recovery Pilot Expansion – Senate Bill 84 – Senator Jerry Tillman’s Bill would require the State Board of Education to establish a three-year Dropout Prevention and Recovery Pilot Program involving charter schools. The idea is to assess whether charter schools are more effective at re-engaging students (and increasing the graduation rates) by offering flexible scheduling and self-paced learning options. Existing charter schools would be able to apply to to participate in the pilot.
4. Curbside Voting ID’s – If you thought the omnibus voter ID bill of 2013 covered it all, you were mistaken. Senate Bill 49 would extend the need for a photo ID to those individuals who use curbside voting – typically the elderly or those with a physical handicap. If signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory, this measure would take effect January 1, 2016.
5. North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act – House Bill 78 would permit the medical use and cultivation of marijuana in North Carolina. The bill reads:
Compassion dictates that State law should make a distinction between the medical and nonmedical use of cannabis. Hence, the purpose of this Article is to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, and their physicians and caregivers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties, and property forfeiture by allowing the beneficial use of medical cannabis in a regulated system for alleviating symptoms caused by debilitating medical conditions and their medical treatments.
Rep. Kelly Alexander‘s bill was given an “unfavorable” report in 2013 and died with no debate by state lawmakers. Will new leadership in the state House and the change in public opinion about marijuana’s medicinal benefits change the bill’s fate this year? Stay tuned.