Under the Dome

Dome: Auto insurance bills pass Senate, head to House

From Staff ReportsApril 18, 2013 

The Senate passed a pair of automobile insurance bills Thursday that could save some drivers money.

Both bills passed easily – unlike a House bill that changed how premiums are determined and failed to make it out of committee.

The Senate bills were approved in committee Wednesday and brought before the full Senate Thursday. One lets insurers offer special discount packages – something that is popular in other states but has not been allowed under current law. The other bill changes the language in existing law to keep older drivers from having to pay unintended surcharges.

The state’s current law doesn’t allow insurers to charge higher rates based on a driver’s age, but they can based on experience. So drivers with less than three years of driving experience pay more. The unintended consequence is that older drivers without proof of their experience get charged the same rate as 19-year-olds. The bill passed Thursday removes the words “inexperienced driver” and allows a surcharge for drivers “under the age of 19.”

The bills now go to the House.

Hagan acts on tax depreciation

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan on Thursday introduced a bill to promote new construction and investments in property at restaurants, offices and other commercial properties. The measure would increase access to capital by permanently extending the 15-year tax depreciation for leasehold improvements, restaurant improvements and new construction, and retail improvements.

Current law sets the tax depreciation period at 39 years. Since 1996, Congress has temporarily extended the 15-year depreciation period.

Hagan was joined by seven Republican senators and six Democratic senators.

“As a restaurant owner, I make frequent improvements to keep up with normal wear and tear,” Frank Scibelli, CEO of FS Food Group in Charlotte, said in a statement. “A 39-year schedule makes no sense in today’s business environment, and I’m pleased Senator Hagan is working to make this needed change.”

Making a statement

Repealing the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law, requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance, conducting universal background checks for all private firearm transfers, limiting the size of ammunition magazines. Those are some of the provisions in a bill filed Wednesday by four House Democrats in a comprehensive gun-control bill that, they acknowledge, has no chance of passing.

But, co-sponsor Rep. Paul Luebke of Durham said, it carries a message.

“We worked hard to put together a bill that covers about every issue we feel ought to be involved to have a safer North Carolina,” Luebke said Wednesday afternoon.

HB976 counters proposals in several pending bills and would rewrite current law.

It proposes to restrict the use of deadly force in self defense to your home. Current law allows it in your car and elsewhere.

It would also require guns be kept locked up if there are minors in the house, require county sheriffs to report to the federal background-check database when gun permits are denied, revoked or not renewed, and direct the state treasurer to divest the pension fund of any gun stocks. Lost or stolen guns would have to be reported.

Along with Luebke, the sponsors are Rep. Pricey Harrison of Greensboro, Rep. Verla Insko of Chapel Hill, and Rep. Alma Adams of Greensboro.

There are more than three dozen gun bills pending; nearly all of them would loosen restrictions on firearms.

“We don’t have any illusions about passage,” Luebke said. “But we felt it was important to put a number of good provisions in one bill that can serve as a model for those concerned about gun safety. A lot of my constituents would like to see a bill filed.”

Staff writers Rob Christensen, Craig Jarvis and Lynn Bonner

Send tips to dome@newsobserver.com.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service