Political Notebook: Gov. Cooper signs four bills supported by Rowan lawmakers, vetoes another

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Gov. Roy Cooper last week signed bills supported by state Reps. Wayne Sasser and Harry Warren, but he vetoed one sponsored by Sen. Carl Ford.

Cooper, a Democrat, signed House Bills 344, 629 and 734, all co-sponsored by Sasser, a Republican representing Rowan and Stanly counties. H.B. 344 clarifies the process for local government units imposing and collecting system development fees by requiring a water or wastewater public utility to be solely responsible for the income taxes due on taxable contributions.

H.B. 629 makes clarifications for conditions in which physician assistants or nurse practitioners can prescribe a controlled substance. Before the bill was signed into law, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners at facilities that advertise pain management services needed to consult with the supervising physician before prescribing medication. The new law limits that consultation to facilities primarily prescribing narcotics for pain treatment.

H.B. 734 makes changes to laws aimed at preventing the operation of unlicensed mental health facilities as well as those governing the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill outlines felony crimes for operating an unlicensed facility and allows telehealth appointments during the first and second exams following an involuntary commitment into a mental health facility.

All three bills supported by Sasser passed both chambers almost unanimously, with one “no” vote cast on two of the bills.

Cooper also signed H.B. 272, led by Warren, a Republican representing parts of Rowan County. That bill implements a stricter cap for when lead is determined to be a poisoning hazard for children and pregnant women — lowering it from 15 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion.

“This legislation takes a key step in protecting children and families from harmful lead exposure,” Cooper said. “We must continue improving water quality in North Carolinians by helping communities invest in water and wastewater systems using North Carolina’s unprecedented share of federal funding in the American Rescue Plan.”

The bill was passed unanimously in the Senate, and with only one “no” vote cast against it in the House.

Cooper vetoed Senate Bill 116, which was sponsored by Ford, a Republican representing Rowan and Stanly counties. That bill called for North Carolina to withdraw from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program agreement that provides an additional $300 per week for unemployment insurance claims until Sept. 6, and exclude $10,200 of unemployment insurance benefits received in 2020 from the state’s taxable income for taxpayers with an adjusted gross income below $150,000.

Additionally, the bill would have allowed an income tax deduction for individual and corporate taxpayers who paid for expenses using a loan forgiven under the Paycheck Protection Program for the 2020 and 2021 tax years only.

“Unemployment is declining with more people getting vaccinated and into the workforce as North Carolina has strengthened work search requirements for those receiving benefits,” Cooper said. “The federal help that this bill cuts off will only last a few more weeks and it supplements North Carolina’s state benefits, which are among the stingiest in the country. Prematurely stopping these benefits hurts our state by sending back money that could be injected into our economy with people using it for things like food and rent. I support strong efforts to make more quality childcare available and to provide businesses with funds for hiring bonuses and the bill falls short on both of these.”

The bill passed the House with a vote of 66-44 and 26-22 in the Senate, all along party lines.

Gov. Cooper signs order establishing standards for student athletes’ compensation of and name, image and likeness use

Gov. Roy Cooper last week signed an executive order establishing rules and standards for how student athletes in North Carolina’s colleges can be compensated for use of their name, image and likeness.

The order was signed Friday, just one day after the National Collegiate Athletic Association began allowing student athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness. The new rules come after a wave of such laws across the country and the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that the NCAA’s restriction of certain benefits for student athletes violate anti-trust laws.

North Carolina joins at least 24 other states in enacting similar laws or executive orders. Cooper’s order is intended to set a standard for individual institutions to use as they formalize their own policies and procedures.

“Treating these athletes fairly and uniformly will help our state remain a competitive and desirable place to get educated and compete,” Cooper said.

The order calls for policies to be consistent with Title IX and for no impact to a student athlete’s scholarship eligibility. Some restrictions are outlined, with the governor stating no post-secondary institutions may compensate student athletes and that any signed deals must comply with the North Carolina Athlete Agent Act and federal laws.

Further, the order states post-secondary institutions can, but are not required to, prohibit student athletes from receiving compensation or entering into agreements that conflict with any of the school’s contracts. Additionally, schools are permitted to impose reasonable limitations or exclusions on eligible products and brands in a student athlete can enter into an agreement with if that brand or product is found to be against the values of the institution.

Other regulations allow schools to limit the compensation for such deals, ensure a student athlete’s name, image and likeness use is commensurate with fair market value and establish reporting and disclosure requirements of compensation and contract agreements. The order also calls on schools to provide educational workshops on time management and budgeting.

The executive order will remain in effect until superseded by any state or federal laws.

Rowan County Democrats to host UNC-Greensboro associate professor, former state Senate candidate at July 10 breakfast

The Rowan County Democratic Party will host University of North Carolina-Greensboro associate professor Jen Mangrum at its upcoming virtual breakfast on July 10.

Mangrum, previously an elementary classroom teacher for more than a decade, is expected to discuss the state’s public schools and related issues. Mangrum ran against Senate Leader Phil Berger, a Republican, in 2018. And in 2020, Mangrum was the Democratic nominee and challenger in the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction race.

The breakfast will begin at 10 a.m., and those interested in attending can register at mobilize.us/rowandemocrats/event/399409.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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