LEGISLATIVE REPORT - October 11, 2019
After a drawn-out long session, it appears that the legislature is beginning to take steps towards adjournment. In a press conference last week, Senate Leader Phil Berger addressed the Senate’s plan for the remainder of session. Sen. Berger explained that we can expect to see numerous non-controversial mini budget provisions, such as funding for historic tax credits, DOT, Raise the Age implementation, Community Colleges, and rural broadband moving through the legislature now. Sen. Berger wishes to continue to work on a compromise with Senate Democrats to over-ride the Governor’s veto of the budget, but if he cannot work out a compromise or muster the votes to override the veto, he will continue to push single budget items through until no later than October 31st, at which point Sen. Berger plans to adjourn.
Sen. Berger believes the legislature is still far from expanding Medicaid, but he continued to express interest in holding a special session on health care access and coverage in order to have a thorough and thoughtful discussion on the matter and to also discuss alternative ways to improve our current health care system.
Sen. Berger also suggested that the Senate may return after the candidate filing period to consider the budget override if they haven’t already done so, in order for Senate Democrats to vote their conscience without fear of retaliation from their own party or the governor. Finally, Sen. Berger made it abundantly clear that the Senate override vote will not be a surprise like it was in the House. Senate rules requires 24 hours’ notice before voting on a veto override and Sen. Berger plans to adhere to that rule.
Aside from mini budget bills, few other bills have been moving as of late. Among these bills are the controversial Duke bill and the Regulatory Reform bill. The Duke bill, which went to conference committee and returned with the study language removed (see below), was adopted by the Senate with a vote of 26-16. The conference report has yet to be heard on the House floor. In addition, the annual Regulatory Reform bill was passed by both chambers and then vetoed by the governor last month. The governor cited public health and safety concerns as cause for his veto, specifically with language regarding trash valet services and septic system permits.
On Wednesday, Speaker Moore announced that the House will not be holding any votes next week, and the Senate has followed suit. The next working session is expected the week of October 21st where we expect some additional mini-budgets and a wrap up of the session.
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