LEGISLATIVE REPORT - April 16, 2019
The General Assembly had a busy legislative week, with the Senate marking its bill filing deadline on Wednesday, April 3rd. The Senate has filed a total of 676 bills this session, and the House has filed a total of 626 bills, with its bill filing deadlines coming up on April 16th and April 23rd. Things are likely to get even busier as crossover, the date by which legislation must pass from the originating chamber to the other chamber, approaches. The 2019 crossover deadline is May 9th.
On May 1st teachers are planning a large rally at the General Assembly and since that is coming up soon, education bills have been popping up at the General Assembly. One such bill, House Bill 377, would reduce the number of tests given to students and passed the House by a vote of 110 to 2. The bill would eliminate state end-of-grade (EOG) tests in grades 3-8 in reading and math with shorter tests given throughout the year. It would also eliminate the state end-of-course (EOC) exams for biology, English and math for high school students.
Senate Bill 438, called the Excellent Public Schools Act of 2019, would change the state’s Read to Achieve program, which has had mixed results. Under the bill, K-3 teachers would develop individual reading plans for students who are not reading at grade level, the state would revise teacher training standards to promote early childhood literacy and the Department of Public Instruction would develop a model curriculum on reading.
A move is also afoot to encourage retired teachers to return in high-needs public schools. Senate Bill 399 would allow retired teachers to work at Title I schools or schools that receive a D or F on the State’s performance system without it impacting their retirement benefits. Under the bill, teachers could earn $35,000 to $40,000 a year and still collect their current pensions. Sen. Phil Berger is a primary sponsor of the bill, indicating it has some firepower behind it.
Finally, Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson and several Republican lawmakers made quite a bit of news when they announced legislation that would divert school supply money (no additional money provided just re-directing the money directly to teachers) from local districts, sending it instead to teachers in the form of an app called ClassWallet with $400 for each teacher to purchase classroom supplies.
That closely watched bill to slow State Treasurer Dale Folwell’s changes to the State Health Plan took another step forward. House Bill 184, which would create a commission to study the future of the State Health Plan, passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 75 to 36. The bill now moves to the Senate where its future is not certain.
Another hotly contested issue surfaced this week, as legislators debated a proposal to require law enforcement agencies to cooperate with Federal immigration authorities. The N.C. Sheriffs’ Association came out in opposition to House Bill 370, but the bill still was approved by the House. The new sheriffs in Wake and Mecklenburg counties both ran on platforms that included opposition to 287(g), a controversial partnership with ICE that enables law enforcement to check the legal status of inmates in county jails.
PRIVATE PROCESS SERVERS
SENATE BILL 507, Private Process Servers-Evictions. This bill to allow landlords to use private process servers for posting of the summons in an eviction case was introduced at the request of the Apartment Association of North Carolina. We have requested this legislation in various forms for several sessions and have made additional progress each session and feel very positive about our prospects this session. We are hopeful that we will finally be able to get this legislation approved into law. The bill would:
- allow the plaintiff to utilize a private process server (not required – may still use the Sheriff) in counties with populations of 250,000 or more residents, as of the most recent decennial federal census. This would impact the largest 7 counties in North Carolina: Mecklenburg, Wake, Guilford, Forsyth, Cumberland, Durham, and Buncombe;
- in these counties, after the summons is issued, at the election of the plaintiff, the clerk can either return the summons to the plaintiff or forward the summons to the sheriff for service;
- if the magistrate severs the claim for monetary damages pursuant to current statute, concerning where personal service was not achieved for one or more defendants, the plaintiff may extend the action in accordance to current statute, which authorizes summon extensions when any defendant in a civil action is not served within the time allowed for service, and specifies two methods for extension: (1) the plaintiff may secure an endorsement upon the original summons for an extension of time within which to complete service of process. Return of the summons so endorsed must be in the same manner as the original process. Such endorsement may be secured within 90 days after the issuance of summons or the date of the last prior endorsement, or (2) the plaintiff may sue out an alias or pluries summons returnable in the same manner as the original process. Such alias or pluries summons may be sued out at any time within 90 days after the date of issue of the last preceding summons in the chain of summonses or within 90 days of the last prior endorsement;
- change current statute regarding service of summons for summary ejectment by authorizing a process server to effectuate proper service upon the defendant for summary ejectment by mailing a copy of the issued summons and signed complaint to the defendant no later than the end of the business day of the next business day after receipt of the summons and complaint, or as soon as practicable at the defendant's last known address in a stamped addressed envelope provided by the plaintiff. Would require the process server to then deliver a copy of the summons together with a copy of the complaint to the defendant by
- affixing copies of the summons and complaint to some conspicuous part of the premises claimed and make due return showing compliance with the provisions in the form of an affidavit of service. Said affidavit must set forth the time, manner and date of service;
- with respect to service for summary ejectment proceedings in counties with 250,000 or more residents, define process server to mean any person over the age of 21 years who is not a party to the action, who is not related by blood or marriage to a party to the action or to a person who service is to be made, and who is hired by the plaintiff or the plaintiff's agent or attorney for the purpose of serving the summons and complaint for summary ejectment; and
if approved, would apply to actions for summary ejectment filed on or after October 1, 2019.
Introduced by Bishop, Edwards, and Nickel and referred to the Senate Rules Committee. NOTE: While a version of this bill has passed in the House in the past two sessions, the introduction of this bill by Republican and Democratic Senators from some of the most-affected counties is a very positive development.
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