The Raleigh Report
Rep. Susan Fisher
February 18, 2018
The General Assembly has adjourned until May after a very unusual 35 day session to start 2018. During this time, only one substantive bill was passed, HB 90.
HB 90: Class Size Chaos, Pre-K Waiting List, Election Shenanigans, and Atlantic Cost Pipeline Fund Seizure
HB 90 is a bill about many things, some good and some bad. All of these issues getting lumped together are about one thing: politics.
First, let’s look at the good. The legislature created a problem several years ago by requiring local schools to lower class sizes in early grades but not providing enough money to do it. HB 90 begins to fix that problem. It took months of public pressure from parents, teachers, and school officials, but, finally, Republican legislative leaders started to do the right thing. We will now see if they continue to do the right thing.
Standing with our students means providing funds for both lower class sizes in early grades AND enhancement teachers in subjects like art, music, and physical education. This bill begins to do that. More funding will be required in future years. State support of local areas in building new classroom space will be needed. This is, however a good start and I support this part of the bill.
The second valuable part of HB 90 is additional funding to eliminate the waiting list for pre-K education. Again, this is the Republican legislature, finally getting around to fixing a problem it created a few years ago. North Carolina used to lead the country in pre-K! Now we routinely deny services to eligible kids. It is nothing short of shameful.
HB 90 provides money to address the waiting list. The money does not kick in until 2019-2020, and that is years too late. We will see if it is enough to eliminate the waiting list that we will have by that time. It is, however, progress from the majority Republicans after years of neglect and I support it.
The third part of HB 90 deals with the State Board of Elections. The State Board of Elections is in charge of administering elections across the state. What does this have to do with pre-K or class size, you ask? Nothing! But the NC Supreme Court just overturned the Republicans’ attempts to undermine Governor Cooper’s authority to administer elections. So Republicans are using the class size bill as cover to insert language designed to get around the court’s ruling. I oppose this part of the bill and I hope the courts will strike it down.
The final part of HB 90 deals with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Governor Cooper negotiated a $58 million voluntary contribution from the pipeline developers to the State of North Carolina to pay for environmental remediation and economic development efforts in the counties impacted by the pipeline. Republicans are using HB 90 to attempt to seize this money and embarrass Governor Cooper. If they succeed, the contract providing the $58 million will be breached and the money will likely never be used for environmental or job creation projects. I oppose this part of the bill and I hope the courts will strike it down.
HB 90 is a complicated bill with many moving parts. I voted “No” because the bill is likely unconstitutional and it is one big political stunt. We need to fix the class size chaos caused by the Republicans. We need to eliminate the pre-K waiting list caused by the Republicans. We need to respect the NC Supreme Court’s ruling tossing out the GOP law upending the State Elections Board. We need to protect and preserve the $58 million which areas impacted by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline need for environmental projects and economic development. We need solid governance, and that is not HB 90.
No Action on GenX and Water Contamination
After months of stalling, Republican legislators failed to agree on any proposal to give state environmental experts more resources and more tools to protect clean drinking water in North Carolina. This failure came even though we had weeks of legislative session in which to get something done.
The problem of emerging compounds, like GenX, and how they impact our drinking water, is a difficult one. Many states are currently dealing with this. It is a bigger problem for North Carolina, because we are trying to tackle this new water quality crisis after years of funding cuts to state water quality experts and programs.
Common sense tells you it is time to reverse this course and begin to restore state water quality resources, but Republican legislators remain deadlocked on the basic idea of providing additional resources to our state officials. Now we will have to wait until at least May, to do what should have been done months ago.
NC must do a better job educating workers to land firms like Amazon, Cooper says
NC Requiring New Steps To Reduce GenX Emissions
Lawmakers leave town after passing class size fix measure
Our Opinion: Class-size funding comes with catch
News & Record
EDITORIAL: Does Berger even care about GenX?
Our View: Senate GenX response is a dangerous fraud
Other News Items
Thank you for your continued interest in state government. I hope you will contact me if I can be of help.
Keep in touch,