The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

February 6, 2013

Local legislators get 18 bills into hopper

The Daily Southerner
John H. Walker

ROCKY MOUNT — Four bills in the House and 14 in the Senate are either sponsored or co-sponsored by either State Rep. Joe Tolson (D-23) or State Sen. Clark Jenkins (D-3).

The General Assembly reconvened last Wednesday and faces a deadline of April 3 in the House and March 13 in the Senate for filing local bills.

Four bills introduced by Tolson have been referred to committees:

• H23 — Digital Learning Competencies School Employees (Referred to Committee on Educaion);

• H29 — Methamphetamine Offense Penalties (Referred to Committee on Judiciary Subcommittee C);

• H44 — Transition to Digital Learning in Schools (Referred to Committee on Education), and

• H45 — Internet Access for Public Schools (Referred to Committee on Education, if favorable, then to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education).

If passed and signed into law, the rules put in place by H23 would take effect in the 2017-2018 school year. The legislation directs the State Board of Education to develop digital competency standards to provide a framework for schools of education, school administrators, and classroom teachers on the needed skills to provide high-quality, integrated digital learning. The requirements include 34 digital competencies and related required professional development.

The second piece of legislation makes significant changes to G.S. 90-95 (d1)(1), G.S. 15A-1340.16D and G.S. 15A-1340.17(e) and (e1) by increasing the penalties for a variety of methamphetamine offenses.

The act creates the offense of possession of pseudoephedrine if the defendant has a prior conviction for the possession or manufacture of methamphetamine — and increases the penalty when children, disabled persons or the elderly or present.

G.S. 15A-1340.16D would enhance the sentence if the offense resulted in serious injury to a law enforcement officer, probation officer, parole officer, emergency medical services employee, or a firefighter.

Under this legislation, the minimum sentence would be increased by 24 months.

Also, if the offense is committed with a minor under age 18 present or a disabled or elder adult, 24 months would be added to the minimum sentence as part of G.S. 15A-1340.17(e) and (e1).

If a person is convicted of the offense of manufacture of methamphetamine under G.S. 90-95(b)(1a) and it is found as provided in this section that the offense is committed with a minor under age 18 present or a disabled or elder adult, 48 months shall be added to the minimum term as specified in G.S. 15A-1340.17(e) and (e1).

The penalties are cumulative.

H44, the Transition to Digital Learning in Schools bill, would provide for the transition from funding traditional textbooks to funding digital learning in public schools. His bill stems from a recommendation by the Legislative Research Commission Study Committee on Digital Learning Environments in Public Schools.

The Internet access bill would provide for “an inventory of infrastructure to support robust digital learning in the public schools and an inventory of Internet access in all North Carolina counties. His bill also stemmed from the Legislative Research Commission Study Committee on Digital Learning Environments in Public Schools.

In order to implement the provisions of the bill, $100,000 would be appropriated from the General Fund to the Department of Public Instruction for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

The bill also directs he Department of Commerce to conduct a survey of  currently available and planned  community broadband connectivity and identify ways to assist in  the expansion of readily accessible internet in all North Carolina counties. The department’s report to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee and to the  Joint Legislative Committee on Information Technology is due by Dec. 1.

A total of 14 bills carry Jenkins’ name, either as primary sponsor or a co-sponsor, including one that would permit local school districts to allow some public schools employees to possess guns on campus.

It's called the Public School Protection Bill and is sponsored by Sen. Stan Bingham, (R-33) and co-sponsored by Jenkins and eight other senators.

The measure would create "school safety marshals," who are certified through the state's criminal justice, education and training standards commission. The training would include the use of firearms, focusing on their use in a crisis situation that may involve unarmed bystanders.

Even if the law is passed, it will not be mandatory and the final decision would rest with the individual school districts.

Other bills carrying Jenkins’ name include:

• S8 — Increase Fine for Vehicle Removal (Referred to Committee On Finance) — This raises the fee for removing an unauthorized vehicle from private property from $100 to $150.

• S11 — Establish Organ Donation Month (Referred to Committee On Rules and Operations of the Senate) — This bill would designate April as Organ Donation Month and would be referred to as “Duffy’s Law,” in honor of Christopher Duffy Collins of Burlington.

In 2002, Collins was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease that destroyed his kidneys, and, by 2005, he was having dialysis nine hours every night. Unable to work he lived with his parents where they lovingly cared for him through it all. Neither of them met the compatibility requirements to donate one of their own kidneys, and there were no other family members who were able to help.

He was placed on the official waiting list for organ transplants but time was against him and he died at 28.

• S16    — Revoke License for Passing Stopped School (Referred to Committee On Judiciary II) — GS 20-217 would be amended to include six months’ revocation of driver’s licenses for a misdemeanor, two years for a Class I felony and three years for a Class H felony. This would be effective on Dec. 1.

• S18    — Amend Locksmith License Act Raise Fee Ceiling (Referred to Committee On Finance) — This would increase a variety of license fees for locksmiths, including raising the cost of a new, renewal or apprentice license from $100 to $300. Additionally, all advertising conducted must include the license number.

• S19    — Building Contracts Local Business Participation (Referred to Committee On Commerce) — This would require bidders on public building contracts to demonstrate they made a good faith effort to recruit participation by locals.

• S21    — Permanent License Plates for Churches (Referred to Committee On Rules and Operations of the Senate) — This ac would provide for permanent license plates for vehicles used in regards to church transportation.

• S23    — Tobacco Free Community Colleges — (Referred to Committee On Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources) — Would require community colleges to adopt written policies in regards to the prohibition of the use of tobacco products on and in all school-owned property no later than Aug. 1, 2014. It also directs the schools tto adopt and implement tobacco bans on/in all property and at all events.

• S25    — Hunting & Fishing Active Duty Military (Referred to Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources) — For the purpose of licenses, would allow any active duty personnel outside the state to be considered residents for purpose. If a favorable report comes out of Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources, it would be re-referred to Finance.

• S28    — Gun Permit Information No Publication (Referred to Committee On Judiciary II) — This legislation would define concealed handgun permits and pistol purchase permits as not a public record under G.S. 132-1. While the information would be closed to the public the law would require the sheriff shall keep a book, to be provided by the board of commissioners of each county, to keep a record of all licenses or permits issued under this article, including the name, date, place of residence, age, former place of residence, etc., of each such person, firm, or corporation to whom or which a license or permit is issued.

The records would be available to law enforcement agencies, as well as for court proceedings.

Four other bills — S7, S15, S35 and S40 — would honor the late Sen. Don East, the late Sen. Jean Rouse Preston and the late Sen. Ed Jones as well as honoring the Town of Conway on is 100th anniversary.

Information about bills before the General Assembly may be found at  www.ncleg.net and selecting legislation.