|UPDATE ON INTERIM ACTIONS
It has been several weeks since I have given you an update. Interesting things have happened so far during the interim, especially in our special sessions.
On October 5, the House passed HB 717 Judicial Redistricting & Investment Act with a vote of 69-43. This bill addresses the need for correcting imbalances and lack of resources that have resulted from population increases and a general lack of attention to the efficiency of judicial districts across the State for about sixty years. Rep. Justin Burr of Stanly County worked diligently on this bill, traveling all across the State to meet with judges and District Attorneys to learn their concerns and needs for a more efficient judicial system in the State. His work should be appreciated. Of local concern to my constituents, I worked with Rep. Burr to add one Superior Court Judge, one District Court Judge and two new Assistant District Attorneys to the Cabarrus district through this bill. I really appreciate Rep. Burr’s willingness to hear from our judges and District Attorney Roxanne Vaneekhoven, as well as from us Legislators in the district, and to address our concerns as he has done. I was glad and proud to support this bill. Now, we are waiting for the Senate to act on it in the next special session, which will convene on January 10.
Under Republican leadership, we have been working for the last several years to reduce bureaucratic red tape on businesses in our State through regulatory reform. SB 16 Business Regulatory Reform Act of 2017 was another step in that process. It had passed the House 94-19, and Gov. Cooper had vetoed it. The Senate and House both overrode the veto. The vote in the House on Oct. 5 was 70-42. I was one of the 70.
There has been an ongoing effort to free local governments from having to put certain public notices in newspapers and simply publish them through electronic media. There is no consensus on this; so it has been difficult to do. So a local bill for Guilford County, SB 181 Electronic Notice – Guildford County, was offered this year. The House passed this bill by a close vote of 58-87 on October 5. I voted for it. It is now law in that county. We’ll see how that goes and possibly move the effort forward elsewhere in the State later.
The Electoral Freedom Act of 2017, HB 656, was one with which I had some problems because I felt it lowered standards too much. I did not vote for the bill originally. The conference report made it even worse, in my estimation, by reducing the percentage required to avoid a primary runoff from 40% to 30%. I vehemently disagree with this provision. So I voted no on the conference report on Oct. 5. However, we were told that we will have an opportunity to correct this in the January special session, and a lot of my constituents wanted the original bill to be passed. So on October 17, I voted to override the governor’s veto, and it was overridden in the House by a vote of 72-40.
In addition to these matters, I am serving as an Advisory Member on the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Education and the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Emergency Management. There are some very serious matters for both of these committees to consider. I’ll try to tell you more about that later, but there may be some things I cannot discuss.
The matter of Legislative Redistricting within the State is still a bit uncertain. We are waiting on the courts to finish their rulings on the maps adopted by the Legislature. I voted against these maps because they are unconstitutional. Our State Constitution calls for us to redraw the maps after each census. This year is four years early. There are other objections being raised by the Democrats. I particularly object to the changes made in Cabarrus and Rowan Counties because the lawsuit against the existing districts did not mention those. Therefore, there was no justification for changing them. It remains to be seen where all of this will end. For now the court has ordered that a master map maker from California should redraw our maps. I have heard that he has completed that redrawing, but I have not yet seen the result. I’ll let you know more about this as the matter progresses.
For now, I wish you the Lord’s great blessings and a very Happy Thanksgiving.
Rep. Larry G. Pittman, North Carolina General Assembly, House of Representatives, 1010 Legislative Building,
16 W. Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601-1096, 919-715-2009, firstname.lastname@example.org