Last Week in Raleigh
Items reviewed in our weekly Advocacy meetings with the NC Chamber of Commerce:
HB107 / SB114: DES COVID Modifications and Technical Changes
These are the companion bills we've been following that make modifications to unemployment insurance measures passed in 2020 COVID-19 relieve legislation. Among the changes would be to keep the base contribution rate for experience-rated employers at 1.9%, extend the deadline for federal COVID-19 unemployment relief until the end of 2021, and award businesses a tax credit for contributions made to the UI Fund payable under G.S. 96-9.92 and due for the calendar year 2020. LATEST ACTION: SB114 unanimously passed the Senate on March 10 and earned unanimous support on a Second Reading vote in the House on March 25. It has been calendared for further House consideration on Tuesday, March 30.
HB331/SB320: 2021 Unemployment Insurance Reform
These companion bills would make significant changes to unemployment insurance (UI) laws in NC, most notably by raising the maximum weekly state UI payment from $350 to $500 and expanding the maximum window of eligibility from 12 to 26 weeks. The NC Chamber recommends opposing these as they believe permanent changes to the state's UI system should be made with stakeholder input. If action is taken without that input, it could threaten the long-term integrity of the state's UI fund and create doubt about the ability to provide relief for out-of-work North Carolinians in the future. LATEST ACTION: HB 331 was referred to the House Rules, Calendar, and Operations Committee on 3/22. On 3/18, SB 320 was referred to the Senate Rules and Operations Committee
HB 384: FIBER NC ACT
This bill would provide additional taxing authority to counties and municipalities to pay for construction, maintenance, and operation of broadband. The NC Chamber opposes this measure as it would permit regulatory agencies the ability to directly compete with private sector entities and would lead to barriers on marketplace entry and permitting delays. Moreover, giving the government the ability to tax private companies to pay for the government's facilities is essentially asking private companies to fund their direct competitor. This new direct competitor would also control marketplace entry, location setting, regulations, and permits. The result would not be a level playing field for NC businesses, or an ideal outcome for consumers in underserved parts of the state. LATEST ACTION: HB 384 was filed on 3/24, and on 3/25 was referred to the House Energy and Public Utilities Committee.