The General Assembly met for longer than usual last week as they prepared for Easter break. While the Appropriations Committee chairs in both the House and Senate will continue to meet on budget priorities, most members will not be in Raleigh this week.
Regarding bill activity, let’s start with Senate Bill 387, the “Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021.” The Senate has led the charge in this area under Senate President Pro-Tempore Phil Berger and it has been an ongoing effort to remedy the achievement gap in middle and high school students by better preparing students in grades K-3. The business community as represented by the Raleigh Chamber has long been a supporter of educational advancements at the K-3 level and we will continue to advocate for important initiatives that move us closer to achieving the workforce goals that employers require. The bill moved quickly through the General Assembly with almost unanimous support in both the House and Senate last week, and has been presented to Governor Cooper for his consideration. We expect he will sign the bill into law.
Another important education legislation, House Bill 82 also moved through the General Assembly last week. Commonly known as the “Summer Learning Choice for NC Families”, the bill attempts to address the learning losses by students falling behind due to COVID-19 school closures. At-risk students require (and deserve) innovative approaches to bring them back to educational standards that we all support. HB 82 is an attempt to accomplish that goal by allocating resources for summer school attainment. The bill passed the House and Senate last week and was presented to Governor Cooper for his consideration. We anticipate he will sign this bill as well.
Finally, for Senate Bill 114, this is an important piece of legislation. The bill prevents an increase in SUTA (State Unemployment Tax Act) assessments by keeping state UI tax treatment on employers unfettered from pandemic causes. North Carolina has continued the promise to NC employers by not raising an otherwise across the board tax during a period of which employers were losing employees by no fault of our own. This is an important change into NC law. The new tax rate will now drop to 4.9 percent, effective April 1.
To learn more about our GA priorities, track legislative bills, or to read our blog posts, you can visit our webpage or follow us on Twitter @RcgaJ, @tierra_rcga, or @raleighchamber.