This Week At NCGA: Legalize Happy Hour, allow permits by mail & email, more bond issue transparency

This Week At NCGA: Legalize Happy Hour, allow permits by mail & email, more bond issue transparency

February 18th, 2023

It was a heavy week of work at the North Carolina General Assembly, with dozens of bills filed, a host of committee meetings and floor votes on a variety of legislation.

A bill introduced Monday in the General Assembly would roll back another of the state’s alcohol-related laws that some call “antiquated”.

House Bill 94, ABC Laws/Local Sales Option, is a measure with a bipartisan backing that would make Happy Hour legal at bars and restaurants across the state.

But the proposal, which failed to gain approval last year, gives local cities and counties the final say about Happy Hour. And it would require establishments to obtain a $100 permit.

Other legislation moving forward included Medicaid expansion, several gun-related measures, and a constitutional amendment referendum to elect the state school board.

And economists project a $3.25 billion state government surplus, along with a 10.7 percent revenue increase this fiscal year.

An amended version of H41, “Hotel Safety Issues, was cleared by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and was sent to the Rules Committee.

It’s a second attempt to amend state law that changes protections for people who are temporarily living in hotels or motels that’s being sought by the lodging industry. It also adds campgrounds and RV parks to the statute.

A similar bill was vetoed by Governor Roy Cooper last year.

The Associated Press reports the bill is intended to address the increasing numbers of families or low-income people that are using hotel rooms or campsites for long-term lodging during an affordable housing shortage.

If the House passes H41, due to the differences with its companion bill, SB 53 which the Senate passed last week, the differences will have to be negotiated and approved before it heads to the governor.

House Bill 132, Govt. Agencies/Delivery of Permits, co-sponsored by Rep. Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort), will let state and local government agencies send permits by U.S. Mail or email at the request of applicants.

It gives applicants the option to pick-up their permits in person, but does not allow the government agency to require it. And the judicial and legislative branch of government would be exempt from the new law.

Senate Bill 99, Bond Referendum Transparency, builds on an amendment passed last year to the state’s laws on local government bond issues that increases information shared with voters.

The latest proposal would require additional disclosures on bond applications, approval orders, and the ballot. That includes the amount of interest that would be paid during the length of the bond, the amount property taxes will increase to pay the bond’s debt service, and how much of two-thirds bonds capacity is available for the current fiscal year.

Companion bills House Bill 107 and Senate Bill 48, are the latest effort to roll back Certificate of Need requirements which give the state final say over 23 separate types of medical care in North Carolina, from medical facilities and equipment purchases, to the number of hospital beds and emergency transport, Center Square reports.

The House measure is sponsored by Rep. Kidwell, while Sen. Bobby Hanig (R-Currituck) and Sen. Norman Sanderson (R-Pamlico) are co-sponsors in the Senate.

House Bill 128, Electric Vehicle Highway Use Equalization Tax, sponsored by Rep. Kidwell and others, would charge a 1.2 cent tax per mile traveled over a calendar year starting in 2025.

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