Under the Dome

Dome: Gun bill clears House, heads to Senate

May 7, 2013 

As expected, the state House on Tuesday passed a bill that would allow people with permits to carry concealed weapons to bring their firearms into bars, restaurants that serve alcohol, college campuses and parks.

Approval of what is likely the major gun bill of the session – by a vote of 78-42 – came after lengthy debate on Monday and Tuesday. Democrats emphatically complained that the GOP leadership repeatedly thwarted their efforts to amend the bill.

Republicans used a legislative maneuver to table proposed amendments 12 times (including once for a Republican amendment). Before Tuesday’s session, Democratic lawmakers called a news conference to complain about the tactic limiting the debate.

House Minority Leader Larry Hall of Durham said House Speaker Thom Tillis and Rules Committee Chairman Tim Moore had gone back on their promise to allow full debate on the proposed amendments.

Rep. Deborah Ross of Raleigh said if Democrats used that tactic when they were in the majority it was a long time ago and on bills where the outcome was a close vote.

“When you have the votes to do whatever you want, allowing debate doesn’t hurt the ability of something to get passed,” Ross said. “When there has been a clearer majority with a clearer ability to get what you want, generally there has been more graciousness for the process and not shutting other people down.”

Tillis said on the House floor that he was allowing extended debate because of the tabled amendments.

The bill now heads to the Senate.

Insurance bill tweaked

A bill designed to make the state’s rate-making process for homeowners insurance more transparent and more understandable has been tweaked to address issues raised by the industry and the state Insurance Department.

One of the primary sponsors of House Bill 519, Rep. Paul Tine, a Democrat from Kitty Hawk, suggested the amended version that was adopted by the House Insurance Committee on Tuesday. The bill, which has bipartisan support, wasn’t put up for a vote.

Lurking in the background is simmering resentment among coastal residents, whose homeowners insurance premiums have been rising steeply – and, many say, unfairly. The industry contends that the specter of catastrophic damages from hurricanes justifies the increases, which were approved by state regulators.

The original bill was interpreted as requiring the N.C. Rate Bureau, which represents the insurance industry on rate issues, to use at least two computer models to calculate potential losses from hurricanes and other catastrophes. Computer models are no longer required under the amended bill, but if the Rate Bureau chooses to use a computer model it must use more than one.

Critics along the coast have complained about the computer models adopted by the industry for past rate requests.

The bill requires insurance companies to include in their premium notices to consumers a breakdown of the amount of the premium that stems from insuring against wind and hail damage and how much is related to coverage for fire, theft and other claims.

The bill also requires each rate request to include historical data dating back to 1987, broken down by territory, for losses arising from hurricanes. That provision, said Tine, aims to be an antidote to the different data currently cited by various groups in the debate over homeowners insurance rates.

No smokes around babies

Foster parents would not be able to smoke in their homes or cars in the presence of infants, under a bill that cleared a committee on Tuesday. Visitors would also be prohibited from smoking in the presence of a baby in foster care.

The state Division of Social Services would be required to enforce the law, banning smoking anywhere in a foster home where infants are cared for, and from any vehicle if an infant is in it.

House Bill 805 passed the House Health and Human Services Committee. It is sponsored by Rep. Tricia Cotham, a Democrat from Matthews, and Rep. Darren Jackson, a Democrat from Raleigh.

Its next scheduled stop is a House judiciary committee.

Staff writers Craig Jarvis and David Ranii

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