RALEIGH — Another session of the N.C. General Assembly — this one especially short — should convene at noon Wednesday.
In an email last week, House Speaker Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, told House Republicans to expect to be in Raleigh for three days, starting Wednesday. And, says Moore in the email, expect to take up things such as judicial redistricting, veto overrides, regulation oversight, and film grants.
Lawmakers probably will attempt to overturn two of Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes — Senate Bill 16 and House Bill 56. S.B. 16 is a catch-all of deregulation, with Cooper taking issue over provisions rolling back water quality measures and revisions over water permits. H.B. 56 includes appropriations to address the GenX water contamination issue and a repeal of the Outer Banks plastic bag ban.
House Bill 162, or Amend Administrative Procedure Law, was introduced in February and tackles major regulatory reform. Most notably, H.B. 162 includes a provision preventing agencies from creating rules costing more than $100 million over a five-year period and allows for legislative review over any rule costing more than $10 million.
The Senate passed a motion to adopt a conference report for H.B. 162 in August before it stalled in the House. Lawmakers will have another chance during the special session to push forward the bill and may ultimately decide on a major shakeup of the regulatory scheme.
“Doing more to remove red tape and clear out overregulation would have greater beneficial effects for economic growth,” said Jon Sanders, the John Locke Foundation’s director of regulatory studies.
Another focus of the special session worth following is the discussion over the film grant program, which expires July 1, 2020. The Film and Entertainment Grant Fund, which started in 2015, provides a limited amount of funds for movies and television projects filmed in the state. The General Assembly has set aside $30 million in appropriations and $15 million in permanent funding.
The grant program replaced a longstanding open-ended tax credit for film production companies, allowing them write off expenses they incurred while making movies, television shows, or commercials in North Carolina.
The program has its fair share of supporters and critics.
“Third-party studies of state incentives for film productions consistently find that they don’t help the state’s economy or other industries. They basically just benefit outside film companies and current workers,” Sanders argues. “The film grant program is not ‘economic development’ for the state; it’s giving people’s money away to one particular industry.”
Sanders said a “fix” of the program that includes getting rid of the sunset date would be an “abdication of responsibility.”
“The best thing to do with a bad idea is not adopt it. The next best thing is at least be open to rethinking it. That’s what a sunset does,” Sanders said.
Moore’s email offered a preview of other potential agenda items, including an appointments bill, a fix for the attorney general’s criminal appeals, and a fix for laws regarding driving while impaired and the statute of limitations.