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SECOND SPECIAL SESSION

April 10, 2016Press ReleaseInterim Committees Meeting

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Darren questions the bill sponsor about controversial House Bill 2 and how far it really goes.

March 26, 2016News Clip

In the question and answer between Rep. Jackson and the bill sponsor, Rep. Biship, you can see that House Bill 2 does a lot more than address bathrooms in Charlotte.  The new law does away with wrongful discharge lawsuits in North Carolina for reasons of sex, color, religion, race, age, disability, and natural origin.

Rep. Jackson provides a couple of real cases that will no longer have a case in state court.

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SPECIAL REDISTRICTING SESSION

February 21, 2016Press ReleaseCongressional Maps Redrawn

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THINGS ARE GETTING VERY BUSY.

February 6, 2016Press ReleaseRed Route and State Health Plan News.

February 8, 2016 eNewsletter

Volume 62

                           The Long Session May Be Over, But We Are Staying Busy.

            Even though the North Carolina General Assembly will not be back in session until the end of April, that does not mean nothing is going on.  In fact, the Speaker has appointed me to five non-standing committees that are meeting in between the long and short sessions.  I am serving as a member on: House Select Committee on Step Therapy, Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee, Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Capital Improvement, Committee on Regulatory and Rate Issues in Insurance, Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety, and as an advisory member of the Joint Legislative Elections Oversight Committee.   We have already begun meeting in most of these and I expect many more meetings to take place before coming back into session.

            I am also busy attending events out in the District, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebrations, Grand Openings, town board meetings, Chamber of Commerce events, etc.  House District 39 is a wonderful place and there is always something going on and something to do.

State Health Plan

            In the news last week were proposed changes to the State Health Plan for teachers, state employees, and retirees.  Many people (me included) were caught off guard by the proposed changes that were discussed at a meeting on January 26th and were scheduled for a vote on February 5th.  Legislators were contacted by many of their constituents with emails and calls.  Differing information was out in the public sphere and so many of my colleagues joined me in a letter to the SHP Board of Trustees asking for a delay in Friday’s vote and for someone to meet with us as a group to explain the different proposals, reasoning, and potential alternatives.  Here is the letter we sent:

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          On that same day, it was announced that the Board would only vote on some changes for the 2017 plan year, but would take no votes in regards to elimination of any types of plans or coverage.  http://www.wral.com/state-health-plan-will-put-off-discussion-of-controversial-changes/15314935/.  On Friday, I attended the Board’s meeting.  State Treasurer Janet Cowell announced that a controversial long-term cost savings proposal of cutting the 80/20 plan is "off the table" going forward.  Newer, lower premium proposals were also introduced.  There were six speakers that spoke during the public comment period, including representatives for SEANC, NCAE, Universities, SEIU, and the retirees.  I spoke last and, just as requested in the above letter, I asked for a delay on the controversial proposals and doing away with any no premium options and more cost shifting to plan members.  On a close vote, the Board agreed and pushed off these decisions until May 1.  You can read more about the meeting here.  I am very hopeful that this pause will give leadership at the General Assembly time to further explain what is meant by the directive to the SHP to achieve significant cost savings as well as to consider other alternatives than further shifting costs to our employees and retirees.  This problem was created by the General Assembly (not the State Health Plan Board) and ultimately the power to fix it lies with leadership.

RED ROUTE

The loud rejoicing rising over Garner last week, was the DOT decision not to recommend moving forward with the Red Route in the 540 project.  Mayor Williams is shown here in this picture with a map of the chosen combination of Orange-Green-Mint-Green Route.  You can read more about the decision in a story by WRAL.

NEXT STEPS:

          In order to select a Preferred Alternative for the project, the following steps will be completed:

     • Hold an interagency meeting to discuss the draft Preferred Alternative Report.

     • Interagency 30-day comment period for the draft Preferred Alternative Report.

     • Hold an interagency meeting to finalize the Preferred Alternative Report.

     • Publish the final Preferred Alternative Report.

     • Announce the Preferred Alternative.

Other Notes.

Don’t Forget: New Building Bond on March Ballot

Voters statewide will decide during the primary in March whether North Carolina should borrow $2 billion for scores of government construction projects.  Read more here.  As you may remember, I voted in favor of the bond bill, which includes a new Engineering Building (seen above) and Plant Sciences Building at NCSU, a Vet/Food/Drug/Motor Fuels Lab in Wake County, and $12,595,127 for Wake Technical Community College for new construction, repairs, and renovations. To read more on the campaign in support of the bond click here: http://connect.nc.gov/  or against the bond, click here: http://againstthebond.com/.  Back in December, I spoke on a panel in support of the bond.  http://www.wcsr.com/Insights/News/2015/December/Womble-Carlyle-Hosts-NC-Lawmakers-Policy-Leaders-for-Government-Affairs-Presentation

                                                                                                                        No matter what your position is on the bond proposal, I hope you will turn out and vote March 15 and make your opinion known.

 Upcoming Events in District 39

  • Join the Town of Knightdale for another first. The Cupid Run will be held on Saturday, February 13th at Knightdale Station Park. The 5k walk/run will begin at 9:30am.  The Participant fee is $15. Don't forget to wear your Valentine's Day best.  Registrations will continue through race day after January 25th, but will not include a toboggan.  https://runsignup.com/Race/NC/Knightdale/CupidRun
  • Business After Hours in Zebulon| Dallas Pearce Realty.  Date: February 18, 2016.  Time: 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM EST. 
  • Art Exhibition: Thou Art Black Church.  A special art exhibition in the front lobby of Garner Performing Arts Center (742 W. Garner Road) will feature the art of Willie Bigelow, Wendy Dickerson (a big shout out to my neighbor!), Shawn Etheridge, Eric McRay, Jermaine Powell and LeGrant Taylor.  The art will be on display Jan. 15 through Feb. 29 and can be viewed Monday-Friday 1:30–5 p.m. and during events.
  • Garner Showcase of Talent.  2/27/2016.  Free shows Feb. 27 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.  Garner will prove once again that "we've got talent." Come see your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors in the spotlight. Make sure you're there for this Garner tradition--you just might see the stars of tomorrow before they make it big.

Contact Me

          When in session, I encourage folks to feel free to stop by my office (1013 Legislative Building) or send me an email at darren.jackson@ncleg.net if you ever need anything.  When out of session as we are until April 25, 2016, I encourage you to call the office to schedule an appointment if you want to meet.  If you prefer email, please include at least the city or area in which you live.  I would like to respond to all emails, but especially those from my district.  I look forward to hearing from and working with you. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve. 

            Also, if you find yourself looking for a job, don’t forget to check out the State Government Job Offerings now being advertised at:

                   http://agency.governmentjobs.com/northcarolina/default.cfm.

                                     You are receiving this newsletter because you have either provided me with your email address or sent my office an email over the last several months.  If you do not wish to receive future eNewsletters, please reply “unsubscribe.”**

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Session is Over.

October 3, 2015Press ReleaseAnd boy was it a long session.

October 5, 2015 eNewsletter

Volume 61

The Long Session is Over.

          The General Assembly officially completed this year’s work session after more than eight months on the job.  House Speaker Tim Moore gaveled down the session around 4:18 a.m. last Wednesday once legislators finalized a large “technical corrections” bill.   You can read more about the last, very long day here.

New Building Bond on March Ballot

           Voters statewide will decide in March whether North Carolina should borrow $2 billion for scores of government construction projects after the General Assembly gave final approval early Wednesday to a debt package and proposed referendum. With a final House vote of 93-20 just after midnight and now signed by the Governor, the bond proposal is now in the voter’s hands.   Read more here.  I voted in favor of the bond bill, which includes a new Engineering Building and Plant Sciences Building at NCSU, a Vet/Food/Drug/Motor Fuels Lab in Wake County, and $12,595,127 for Wake Technical Community College for new construction, repairs, and renovations.

Reform Bill: Could Polluters Avoid Fines?

          A measure approved hours before we went home early Wednesday could shield environmental

Violators from fines if they report themselves to the state.  The measure, part of a regulatory reform bill, does two things.  It lets facilities avoid fines if they report and correct violations found during internal reviews, called audits, of their compliance with environmental rules.  The bill also lets facilities keep the results of those audits private in most cases.  Supporters argue that the bill is intended to improve compliance and has the support of the Department of Environmental Quality. Opponents and environmental advocates say it will weaken the ability to police polluters.  I voted against the changes.  You can read more about the bill at this link:

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article37182042.html

Autism Bill Passes

             Insurance plans will now have to cover certain treatments for autism under a long-stalled bill that cleared the NCGA last week.  Measures like Senate Bill 676 have been popular in the House over the past four years, passing several times with overwhelming support only to stall in the Senate.  This year, senators agreed to move an autism insurance bill, seemingly ensuring its passage in June.  Coverage would be capped at $40,000 per year and would be covered for children only through their 18th birthday, limitations advocacy groups had previously agreed to.   Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, the state's largest insurer, had signed off on the bill.

         Back in June, there was a last-minute disagreement over how the bill was worded and whether or not it would jibe with federal parity laws for mental health.  For three months, the measure has sat untouched in the House Rules Committee.  As the session drew to a close last week, lawmakers and lobbyists backing the measure worked to get it moving again.  Then last Monday, House Speaker Tim Moore pulled the measure out of the Rules Committee and put it before the full House for a vote.  An amendment put forward by Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, addressed the health care parity question.  "It's really important that we adopt a bill and put this in place because the early treatment of autism makes all the difference in the world," McGrady said.

Read more at https://www.autismspeaks.org/advocacy/advocacy-news/north-carolina-passes-autism-insurance-reform-legislation

Final Tally on Bills I Sponsored.

         HB 273 is a bill to clarify that DWI offenses are not eligible for conditional discharge or expungement was signed by the Governor on July 16, 2015 and is now law.  The effective date is December 1, 2015. While the bill was pending in the Senate, I added some language at the request of our local District Court Judges and District Attorney that should save a significant amount of DWI court time and allow for more prosecutions each and every week.

          HB 307 was a local bill requested by the Town of Zebulon.  It would change the way the Town of Zebulon can use certain fees it collects with the development of land. Since it was a local bill, upon passage in the Senate on June 29th, it automatically became law at that time.

         HB 341 (Controlled Substances/Nbomb) is also now law.  This legislation will add Nbomb to the controlled substance list as a schedule one controlled substance. NBomb is a synthetic LSD like substance, often marketed as “legal” or “natural” LSD.  At least 20 people have died from using the substance nationwide.  These synthetic drugs are mostly made in China, have no known legitimate purpose, and the chemical companies are constantly altering the compounds to stay one step ahead of the law. I personally had never heard of Nbomb until it was brought to my attention last year.  You can read the story that served as inspiration for the bill here.   You can also read more about the final passage of the bill from the Independent and from WRAL.

          H659 (Controlled Substances/Update Precursor List).  This bill updates the Controlled Substance Act to list additional precursor chemicals used to manufacture illegal substances.  The bill also directs the Joint Legislative Commission on Justice and Public Safety to study the current State and federal law regarding the authority for State agencies to schedule controlled substances without legislative action and the procedure for that scheduling or rescheduling.   This is an attempt to continue our fight against Meth abuse and prepare for the next wave of designer drugs.  This bill was signed by the Governor on May 21st.

     I also have a few bills that passed the House, but have not yet passed the Senate.  HB 31 requires that after a defendant has lost their license for a driving while impaired conviction, upon reinstatement of their license, they must have a restriction on their license for three years requiring that no alcohol be in their body while driving.   HB 32 amends the Habitual Driving While Impaired statute to make the third offense in ten years a felony. Both bills are non-controversial and passed the House with overwhelming bi-partisan support.

           H631 (Notice Before Automatic Contract Renewal).  Under current law, when a consumer enters into a lease or other contract, there can be an auto-renewal clause as long as it is disclosed conspicuously in the contract.  Under this bill, an automatic renewal for a period in excess of 30 days shall be unenforceable unless no less than 15 days nor more than 30 days prior to the automatic renewal the person, firm, or corporation providing the products or services provides written notice to the person receiving the products or services that the contract will automatically renew unless the person cancels the contract.    This idea was brought to me by a small business owner in the district.  It passed on a 113 to 0 vote in the House but has yet to be considered in the Senate.  Any bill that passed at least one chamber in the long session is eligible to become law next year.

New Laws Effective October 1st.

TANNING: The Jim Fulghum Teen Skin Cancer Prevention Act, named for a former Wake County lawmaker who pushed the bill prior to his death, prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from using a tanning bed.

DISTILLERY SALES: North Carolina distilleries are now allowed to sell one bottle per person per year to tourists who visit the manufacturing plant. The measure was aimed at boosting tourism and helping local distillers of liquor products promote their brands. Although this law technically went into effect earlier this year, new Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission rules went into effect Thursday.

PAROLE: Senate Bill 675 allows state parole officials to review cases every two years, rather than once a year, for inmates who were convicted of sexually violent offenses. This measure was put in place to cut down on the number of hearings victims and their families need to attend.

AUTOCYCLES: New rules clarify how three-wheeled autocycles should be regulated are now in effect.

SUNDAY HUNTING: New rules governing Sunday hunting will allow some shooting of deer on Sundays.  Hunting is still prohibited between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and there are restrictions on how close to a church hunters can come.  Also, in Wake County and other counties with more than 700,000 residents, Sunday hunting remains prohibited.

RIGHT TO TRY: Terminally ill patients are now able to access experimental treatments not fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Upcoming Events in District 39

▪The Zebulon Woman's Club and the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce are hosting a candidate's forum at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Zebulon Rotary/Woman's Club Building, 405 West Sycamore St., Zebulon. Attendees and candidates are invited to meet and greet at the conclusion of the forum, which will give citizens an opportunity to ask candidates more direct questions on a personal basis.

▪ WakeUpWake County will host a candidate meet and greet for candidates in municipal elections in Knightdale, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell and Zebulon, at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15, at Knightdale Town Hall, 950 Steeple Square Court, Knightdale. The candidate event is intended to educate voters prior to municipal elections on Nov. 3.

▪The Wendell Fire Department will hold its annual meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, at Station No. 1, 2960 Wendell Blvd., Wendell. The meeting will include the election of members to the board of directors.

▪Wendell United Methodist Church is holding a 5K race to raise money for its food pantry. This year's race will begin at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17. Packet pick-up starts at 1:30 p.m. Runners of all paces, walkers and strollers are welcome. Register online at wendellumc.org, or mail your registration to Wendell United Methodist Church, PO Box 1925, Wendell, NC 27591.

Contact Me

         When in session, I encourage folks to feel free to stop by my office (1013 Legislative Building) or send me an email at darren.jackson@ncleg.net if you ever need anything.  When out of session as we are until April 25, 2016, I encourage you to call the office to schedule an appointment if you want to meet.  If you prefer email, please include at least the city or area in which you live.  I would like to respond to all emails, but especially those from my district.  I look forward to hearing from and working with you. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve.

            Also, if you find yourself looking for a job, don’t forget to check out the State Government Job Offerings now being advertised at:

http://agency.governmentjobs.com/northcarolina/default.cfm.           

*Note: You are receiving this newsletter because you have either provided me with your email address or sent my office an email over the last several months.  If you do not wish to receive future eNewsletters, please reply “unsubscribe.”**

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