News, Special Session

Senate Republican files school bond bill; rewrite to come?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, R-Jones, Onslow

It remains to be seen whether a Wednesday filing by Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, a Jacksonville Republican, can be taken at face value or—as North Carolina legislators have done in the past—is simply being used as a placeholder for other lawmaking.

A Policy Watch phone call to Brown’s office was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon, hours after GOP leaders in the N.C. General Assembly surprised many by calling for another special session.

The previous special session, called to draft a hurricane recovery package, had a clear agenda, but most stakeholders Wednesday were unclear what to expect from the new session, although GOP legislators began telling reporters in the afternoon that it would likely address the authority and appointment powers of the new, Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper.

Among the first bills filed in the new session, though, Brown’s Senate Bill 2 ostensibly deals with a federal, zero-interest loan program called Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) geared toward school infrastructure. The modifications included in Brown’s introduced bill would open the program, which is administered by the State Board of Education, to additional uses such as teacher training.

It would also prioritize funding for low-wealth counties “determined to have greater economic distress.” For more information on QZABs, go here.

However, as was the case throughout the day Wednesday, there was little information available about the bill at the legislature, leading some to suggest that the wording in the draft could be replaced with perhaps more controversial rule-making.

Senate leadership has yet to assign Brown’s bill to a committee. We’ll continue to follow as more information becomes available.

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