Legislative roundup

McCrory to sign bill replacing Common Core education standards

July 16, 2014 

A compromise bill repealing and replacing the state’s Common Core education curriculum passed the House on Wednesday and is on its way to the governor, who says he will sign it into law.

The House passed the legislation 71-34. The Senate approved it last week.

“I will sign this bill because it does not change any of North Carolina’s education standards,” Gov. Pat McCrory said in a statement. “It does initiate a much-needed, comprehensive and thorough review of standards. No standards will change without the approval of the State Board of Education.”

The legislation creates a commission to rework the state’s math and language arts requirements. House and Senate members kept reworking the proposal, but finally ended up with a version close to what the Senate wanted.

Rep. Craig Horn, a Republican from Weddington, said the bill “melds the two versions quite well.” He said the state would be able to craft a curriculum best tailored to North Carolina.

Rep. Tricia Cotham, a Democrat from Matthews, said she has been involved in the Common Core debate for years, and that it has taken a political turn by focusing on President Barack Obama.

“Why are we really doing this and what is the real reason?” Cotham said. “Is this really to better education or is this more political in nature? I worry this is more political.”

Staff writer Craig Jarvis

Crowdfunding endorsed

A crowdfunding bill that would permit North Carolina startups and small businesses to publicly solicit investments from the public – including over the Internet – won the endorsement of a state Senate committee.

The bill, HB 680, which last year was overwhelmingly passed by the House, moves to the Senate Finance Committee after winning the backing of the Senate Commerce Committee by a voice vote on Wednesday. No committee member spoke against the bill.

The bill is similar to the crowdfunding provisions in the federal JumpStart Our Business Startups Act, which became law in April 2012 but has yet to be fully implemented by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“The bill before you has been used as a model in 14 or 15 other states,” Rep. Tom Murry, a Morrisville Republican and a bill sponsor, told his fellow lawmakers.

The bill would enable businesses to raise up to $1 million a year from investors who could invest up to $2,000 each. The fundraising cap would rise to $2 million a year for businesses that have audited financials.

Accredited investors who have an annual income of at least $200,000 or a net worth of $1 million wouldn’t face a $2,000 cap on their investments.

The Senate added a provision that would boost loans to small businesses in the state’s rural and distressed counties that wasn’t considered by the House. It would provide a tax credit to insurance companies that bankroll Community Development Entities that provide loans of up to $7 million each to small businesses in distressed and rural counties. To receive the tax credit, the investment pool would have to total $208.3 million.

Staff writer David Ranii

A stay on workers comp

A controversial provision to take away medical benefits from workers in the U.S. illegally was dropped Wednesday from a new version of a bill on criminal law changes.

Sen. Thom Goolsby, a New Hanover Republican, said the issue was “better dealt with in the long session.”

Under the provision, workers would not have been eligible for workers compensation if they used fake documents to get hired and employers could show they were tricked.

Critics of the provision said it would allow employers to ignore obviously false documents, drop a protection that shields businesses from lawsuits and lead to unpaid hospital bills.

Staff writer Lynn Bonner

Moped riders lose out

The Senate passed HB 1145 requiring moped riders to register their vehicles and have liability insurance despite concerns from opponents that it raises transportation costs for those can least afford it.

Supporters of the bill argued that it was needed to reduce the cost to taxpayers when accidents occur because it holds moped drivers to similar liabilities as drivers of other vehicles.

Moped owners would have to pay a $15 registration fee, be able to provide a certificate of origin of the vehicle and buy insurance for the vehicle.

Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Democrat from Durham, introduced two amendments that sought to ease the financial burden, including one that delayed the insurance requirement for an additional year. Both amendments failed. The bill now goes to the House for concurrence.

Staff writer Georgia Parke

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