Political diary: Rowan lawmakers vote in favor of bill limiting governor’s emergency powers – Salisbury Post

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Rowan County’s three Republican lawmakers at NC House last week voted in favor of a bill to limit the extent of the governor’s power in a declared emergency.

Bill 264 was introduced by Representatives Keith Kidwell, R-79; Destin Hall, R-87; John Bell IV, R-10; and Timothy Moffitt, R-117. Both Representatives Harry Warren and Wayne Sasser, who represent Rowan County, signed the bill as co-sponsors.

The bill, called the Emergency Powers Accountability Act, creates a definition of “Council of State agreement” under the current North Carolina Emergency Management Act, and adds it as a provision for government action taken. during a state of emergency declared by the State. The bill requires the governor to obtain majority consensus from the Council of State within 48 hours of contacting all members before exercising any power or authority that requires agreement. An example described in the bill includes the governor’s use of contingency and emergency funds “as necessary and appropriate for National Guard training in emergency preparedness.”

The bill also allows the state of emergency to expire by the governor or by law within seven calendar days, unless the Council of State obtains a majority of agreement. No extension may exceed 30 days without additional agreement. These restrictions apply to statewide declarations of emergency, which must include at least 67 counties.

The bill would also prohibit the governor from issuing the same statement, or a substantially similar statement, for the same emergency if the council’s agreement is not granted.

In addition to the Governor, the Council of State includes the Lieutenant Governor of the State, the Secretary of State, the Auditor, the Treasurer, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Agriculture. , the labor commissioner and the insurance commissioner. The current council consists of four Democrats and six Republicans.

Warren and Sasser, in addition to Rep. Julia Howard, a Republican representing Rowan and Davie counties, voted in favor of the bill on March 31 when it passed the House 69-50, entirely in party favor. . The bill was referred to the Rules of the Senate Committee on April 1, but has not yet been placed on the agenda for first reading in the Senate.

Sasser told the Post he believed it was a fair bill because it would apply to any governor in the future, regardless of the letter behind his name.

“Just because Democrats have the governor’s mansion now doesn’t mean it’s not a fair bill,” he said. “No one should be a dictator to impose policy for (13) months now… This is not how executive and legislative (branches) are put in place.”

If passed, the bill would come into force when signed and would apply to the exercise of powers during the state of emergency on that date and thereafter. The bill also states that if approval is not granted within two days of the effective date, any power exercised that requires such approval will expire.

Similar legislation was discussed during the 2019-2020 legislative session. This bill, Senate Bill 105, was ratified but was ultimately vetoed by Cooper in July 2020. A waiver of the veto by lawmakers would require at least 72 votes of support, or three-fifths of all. voting members of the chamber, if all 120 members of the chamber were present for a bypass vote.

Bill to require schools to offer summer recuperation program pending Cooper’s signature

A bill requiring schools to offer a summer recovery and enrichment program after the end of the current school year, passed unanimously by the House and Senate last week. He is now awaiting the signature of Governor Roy Cooper.

House Bill 82, or Summer Learning Choice for NC Families, requires each local school administrative unit, or LEA, to offer the program separately from the 2020-2021 school year, and prioritize students at risk of failure. school due to accumulated learning losses. throughout the pandemic.

The bill asks the State Board of Education to set aside a portion of the $ 1.44 billion in public funds allocated to public school units to address learning losses and return to in-person teaching for the program. summer. In addition, instruction must be provided for at least 150 hours or 30 days throughout the program, not including the compulsory lunch service and the period of physical activity.

The bill also requires schools to report by October the results of the program and the number of students who have participated.

“It’s the least we can do,” said Rep. Wayne Sasser, a Republican representing Rowan and Stanly counties. “It was a difficult year for everyone, but it was probably more difficult for the school children.

Senator Tillis co-sponsors the PPP extension law of 2021, enacted last week

Biparty legislation signed last week and co-sponsored by Senator Thom Tillis will help small businesses maintain access to paycheck protection program repayable loans for at least two more months.

The 2021 PPP Extension Act extends the deadline for applying for loans to May 31 and gives the Small Business Administration an additional 30 days to process pending applications.

In 2020, more than 129,000 PPP loans were distributed to businesses in North Carolina for a total of more than $ 12.2 billion. And so far this year, more than 72,000 loans have been distributed for a total of more than $ 4.2 billion, according to data from the SBA. The program reports that 7.5 million loans totaling $ 687 billion were made to small businesses in the United States in 2020, of which $ 3.1 million totaling nearly $ 196 billion in 2021.

The bill passed House 415-3 and included opposition from representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) And Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky vote against the measure.

Once the legislation was presented to the Senate, Tillis joined with five Republicans and eight Democrats in signing as co-sponsors of the legislation.

“I was proud to support the inclusion of the Paycheck Protection Program in the CARES Act last spring, and the program saved millions of jobs so Americans could still receive a paycheck during the pandemic. “Tillis said in a statement. “As we continue to make progress in vaccinating Americans and getting back to normal life, these extra two months will allow any small business that needs help to receive it until the end of May.”

The bill has been approved by nearly 100 organizations, including the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Tillis supported the PPP when it became law as part of the federal CARES law in 2020, and supported the inclusion of $ 284.5 billion in the federal COVID-19 relief program in December. Under this law, small businesses employing 300 workers or less that suffered a loss of gross income of 25% or more between comparable periods in 2019 and 2020 due to COVID-19 became eligible to apply for a second PPP loan. with discount. Small business owners who did not receive a PPP loan in the first round are also eligible. And following the adoption of the American Rescue Plan in March, an additional $ 7.5 billion in funding was added to the program, making larger nonprofits with multiple P3 eligible locations on one base per location.

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