Rep. Jonathan Jordan’s Weekly Newsletter: Legislative Wrap-Up, NCGA Adjourns

Published Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 10:15 am

North Carolina General Assembly Adjourns

Around 4:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, the North Carolina House of Representatives wrapped up all legislative business for the 2015 “long session.”

”It has been a long and tiring session,” stated Representative Jordan. “However, I feel we have been able to accomplish a lot of positive things for the citizens of North Carolina, and specifically my constituents in Ashe and Watauga counties.”

Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) stated, “We were able to uphold many promises that we made to the people of North Carolina early in the year, including – raising starting teacher pay, increasing support to our schools, implementing pro-growth policies, cutting bureaucratic waste and red tape, and putting more money back into the taxpayer’s wallet.”

Short session will convene April 25, 2016.

Environmental Impact Legislation

Jordan

Jordan

For the past several weeks, Representative Jordan worked on legislation that would protect the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The bill would have limited polluting asphalt industries from building within two miles of the Parkway. Unfortunately, the bill did not survive the House Rules committee during attempts to get the legislation to the House Floor for a vote.

In another action to protect our natural resources, Rep. Jordan did vote against House Bill 765. “After much work by House conference members, the vast majority of problematic environmental provisions placed in H765 by the Senate were corrected, modified, or mitigated,” stated Rep. Jordan. “Unfortunately, all of these changes had to go through a conference committee, and not a House Committee with input from the public. That’s an issue for me.”

”H765 did contain many good and positive changes, and was supported by the NC Chamber of Commerce,” added Rep. Jordan. “However, in this instance, the good did not outweigh the bad, and I cast my vote with the dozens of constituents who took the time to contact me with their concerns.”

Legislative Wrap-up

There are many pieces of legislation that are ongoing, and will be continued into the short session. Although they were not completed yet, they are a top-priority for 2016.

House Bill 882: a bill containing protections for homeowners, and more clearly defined roles of their Home Owners Associations.

House Bill 847: a bill providing protections for families with critically ill children.

House Bill 880: a bill that would provide the ability for hospital police to keep detainees in their custody, removing the burden from local law enforcement.

Legislative Accomplishments

Throughout this lengthy session, there were many moments where Representative Jordan was able to sponsor and support great legislation. Here are a few of the highlights of the session:

House Bill 879: a bill spearheaded by Rep. Jordan that provided much needed reforms to the juvenile justice code.

Protected Watauga County from a loss in sales tax revenue.

Supported an increase in sales tax revenue for Ashe County.

Supported the compromise budget plan which included a responsible 3.1 percent spending increase, invested hundreds of millions of additional dollars in public education and other core priorities and shored up the state’s rainy day and repair and renovation funds by $600 million.

Salaries and Benefits:

Allocated $313 million in the first year alone for compensation increases to state employees, including a $750 bonus for all teachers and state workers.

Offered experienced-based step increases to teachers, assistant principals, principals, State Highway Patrol troopers, clerks and magistrates.

Set aside funding for pay raises to community college employees.

Allocated funds for a 3 percent market-based salary increase for all sworn members of the State Highway Patrol and raises starting salaries from $35,000 to $36,050 per year.

Education:

Increased early-career teacher pay from $33,000 to $35,000 per year, fulfilling a promise made by state leaders last year. And over two years it preserves funding for driver education and for all teaching assistant positions supported in last year’s budget, requiring school systems to use the funds for those jobs.

Increased funding for public education by more than $530 million in the first year alone.

Enhanced textbook and digital learning resources funding to ensure that students across the state receive the tools they need to succeed.

Fully funded teaching assistant positions at the 2014-2015 level and includes language to protect those jobs.

Taxes and Economic Development:

Supported a comprehensive tax reform package that reduces the tax burden on North Carolina families and small businesses by close to $400 million over the next two years and fully restores the state tax deduction for medical expenses. The plan also extends Historic Preservation Tax Credits.

Cut the personal income tax rate to 5.499 percent beginning in 2017 from 5.75.

Increased the standard deduction, or zero percent tax bracket in 2016 – ensuring taxpayers married filing jointly pay no state personal income tax on their first $15,500 of income.

Provided new local tax revenue to support education and economic development in counties with insufficient local sales tax dollars. The additional local revenue must be used to support public schools, community colleges or economic development in those counties.

Other Areas:

Invested an additional $705 million over two years for transportation needs, in part by ending a $216 million transfer from the Highway Fund to the General Fund and ensuring that money is finally spent on building and maintaining safe roads and bridges.

Provided $225 million over two years to begin the process of restructuring and reforming the state’s chronically troubled Medicaid program.

Laid the groundwork to give voters the opportunity to pass a $2 billion bond referendum to support improvements across the state.

Adjusted fees at the Division of Motor Vehicles for the first time in more than a decade to support additional transportation needs. The change in fees will be more than offset by the major tax cuts also found in the budget.

Implemented the governor’s recommendation to establish a more efficient state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and provides close to $1.7 million to support military installations.

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