The North Carolina General Assembly is coming down the home stretch of the short legislative session hoping to be finish up the remaining legislation to bring the session to a close before the July 4 weekend.
Local House Representative Graig Meyer said in an interview Wednesday afternoon that “the final week of a legislative session is always rushed.”
He added, “The fact that we’re coming up on the Fourth of July weekend is adding some pressure, both in terms of people wanting to be done so that we can go home for the holiday and not have to come back but also because it’s going to be a good time to run bad legislation because it will be a really dead media cycle.
“And so I think there’s a number of things moving with the hope that some stuff can get done by Friday and not receive a whole lot of press attention.”
Meyer on rumored changes coming to HB2:
We know that the governor was here today to meet with all of the Republicans in the legislature and to talk about a possible second approach to House Bill 2. But we also know that they have not engaged with Equality North Carolina nor with Democratic leadership.
And so they’re not really going to move forward with anything that would repeal House Bill 2 or create additional discrimination protections for gender identity or sexual orientation.
So whatever they come out with is going to be a carefully crafted political ploy to try and make it look like they fixed the problem without actually providing any type of real discrimination protections.
Meyer on HB100:
Right now, that anti-immigrant bill does not seem to be at the top of the list of priorities for the House. And my hope is that we will take care of the top priorities and finish up and adjourn without House Bill 100 ever coming back to us for a concurrence vote and we can just let it die with the end of session.
Meyer on the light rail spending cap:
That’s going to be set in stone for this budget. We’re not going to be able to defeat the budget and, at this point in the process, there’s no way to amend that.
I think what that provision shows, in part, is that the light rail project is a very expensive project. There’s no way to get around that. And if it is going to move forward, it’s going to require significant financial commitment from the General Assembly. And clearly there is hesitance in the General Assembly to provide that level of support. And this is one way to signal that the money that would be necessary is not likely to be forthcoming with the current legislative leadership.
That can raise some questions about leadership and what’s the direction of the General Assembly and the extent to which it would support a public transportation project like that. But it also means that our local leaders are going to have to have some hard conversations about what type of transportation projects do we want to fund with the funding that we have available if we’re not going to get the money that will be required from the General Assembly for a light rail project. Maybe there’s ways to open that up and think about, ‘Are there other solutions that could meet the needs of the community besides the light rail?’
Meyer said he was concerned with other items in the budget, including provisions regarding water quality in Jordan Lake.
Meyer said the Republicans were touting the raises that will be given to teachers in North Carolina, but he said the budget has additional cuts to the UNC System and Department of Public Instruction.
“They managed to get a raise for teachers by nickel-and-diming everything else in schools,” Meyer said.
Meyer said his other major concern was proposed legislation regulating coal ash cleanup in North Carolina.
You can listen to the full interview with Meyer below: