MVA Monitor – May 29

NC Legislative Update

May 29, 2020

The General Assembly returned from the Memorial Day holiday and got back to work on the 2020 Regular Session. Tuesday ended with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees meeting jointly for a revenue forecast that was described as “grim.”

On Wednesday and Thursday, the House advanced a bill that would make numerous changes to the State’s election laws, some of which are in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and apply only to elections occurring in 2020. Legislation taken up by the Senate would allow restaurants and other establishments more leeway with respect to outdoor seating to help lessen the impacts of social distancing restrictions on the industry.

Issue Insights

State and Legislative Issues

State Budget

On Tuesday, fiscal analysts at the General Assembly presented the revised revenue forecasts to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. For the two years of the 2019-21 fiscal biennium, General Fund revenues are now forecasted to be $4.2 billion below previous forecasts, or a drop of about 8.4%. Similarly, revenues in the State’s transportation funds for 2019-21 is now expected to be $744 million below previous forecasts, or a drop of about 9.7%.

Later in the week, both Appropriations Committees began advancing legislation. The process was different this year, in that each committee advanced several proposals for specific funding priorities rather than waiting to address all priorities in a single, comprehensive budget.

Outdoor Seating

Under a bill passed by both chambers of the General Assembly on Thursday, bars could reopen, and restaurants could increase seating capacity by utilizing outdoor seating. In the case of bars, wineries, and distilleries, service would be limited to outdoor areas.

The bill easily passed the Senate. In the House, the vote was 65-53, with all Republicans present voting for the bill, and all but two Democrats voting against it. The Governor has indicated he is likely to veto the bill. This would set up another battle in the House where a veto override would require several Democrats that voted against the bill to change their votes.

Elections

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved a package of election reforms by an overwhelming majority. The bipartisan bill made several changes to election law, many of which are in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill would make it easier to request an absentee ballot, allow for additional forms of ID for voting and make it easier to renew some of those forms of ID, and ease the burden on counties by providing more flexibility with respect to poll workers.

MVA Public Affairs COVID-19 Resources

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