Perspective North Carolina General Assembly Update | November 5, 2021
Kilpatrick Townsend’s Government Relations Team represents a variety of clients across many industries and in all levels of government, with a focus on the North Carolina General Assembly. Below is an update on the activity at the NC General Assembly this week. Please feel free to contact a member of the team with any questions or visit our website to learn more about our Government Relations practice.
This week, the House and Senate gave final approval to the new Congressional and State legislative maps. The Congressional map, S740, would likely result in a delegation of 10 or 11 Republicans and three or four Democrats. The current Congressional delegation includes eight Republicans and five Democrats. North Carolina picked up an additional Congressional seat due to population growth recorded by the 2020 Census. The State Senate map, S739, and State House map, H976, give Republicans the likelihood to maintain the majority in the NC General Assembly. They also include a number of districts that would pair two incumbent legislators in the same district, also referred to as “double bunking.” All three maps passed both chambers along party lines.
Redistricting maps do not go to the Governor for approval. A lawsuit was filed last week challenging the legislature’s process for drawing the new maps. We expect more litigation challenging the fairness of the maps to emerge in the coming weeks.
There is still no agreement on a final budget compromise that could be supported by the Governor, House, and Senate. Governor Cooper sent a counter offer back to the legislature last week. While the Governor and the legislature agree on “the vast majority of the budget,” Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) stated the counter offer contained two alternatives that House and Senate leadership could not say yes to, and it appears they remain very far apart on those items. It is likely the legislature may move forward with their own proposal to send to the Governor for consideration if a consensus is not reached in the next week.
The House Commerce Committee met on Thursday to consider S688, Sports Wagering. The bill would authorize, regulate, and tax sports betting in North Carolina and previously passed the Senate earlier this year. House bill sponsor Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) said the bill could pass this session or serve as a precursor to legislation next session.
Ches McDowell addressed the committee on behalf of the NBA, PGA Tour, and MLB. He was quoted as saying, “This bill solves a sports integrity problem. It does not create a sports integrity problem. Right now in North Carolina, someone can place a bet offshore. We don’t know that bet happens. They’ve caught multiple fraud schemes around the country by legal and regulated sports betting. When you know who places the bets, what bets are being placed, you’re able to track it and see what’s unusual. When it’s a wild west free-for-all offshore market, we don’t know. So for sports integrity, this is a bill that’s absolutely needed.”
Ultimately, the bill passed the House Commerce Committee 12-4 by a show of hands and was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. The measure passed the Senate in August with a final vote of 26-19. Read more…
Federal COVID Funding
The Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations appointed a Subcommittee on Use and Distribution of Federal Covid Funding. The Subcommittee held its first meeting on Wednesday and heard three presentations. One presentation from Dr. Justin Lessler, an epidemiology professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, focused on the impact COVID-19 has had on North Carolina, including transmission, control measures, and what the future might look like. The Subcommittee also heard presentations on the State’s economic forecast, keys to economic recovery, and the basics of the American Rescue Plan Act. The Subcommittee is expected to meet again to hear more presentations and allow for more questions from legislators.