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Updates from extra Special Session in the House

The General Assembly gathered in Raleigh today for the second day of its Special Session to handle emergency matters related to the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew and wildfires out west. Both the House and Senate passed the Disaster Recovery Act of 2016 between yesterday and today. The bill now goes to Governor Pat McCrory to be signed. It was announced, after the Senate's passage of the bill, that an additional special session would be held to take on any matters legislators wanted. While it is not yet known what matters will be taken up, there have been rumors about limiting the powers of incoming Governor Roy Cooper. We will be reporting updates as news comes in. Reporter Liz Bell will be covering the Senate, and reporter Alex Granados will be covering the House. Stay tuned for updates.

Editor’s Note: Most recent news is at the top. Scroll down for updates from earlier in the session.


Wednesday, December 14

Update: 7:50 PM

We are done for the day. House back in session 10:30 AM tomorrow. Many committee meetings to take up various pieces of legislation.

Update: 7:37 PM

Filing deadline has been extended to 7:45 PM.

Update 7:30 PM

Another bill just filed would “clarify” the role of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The bill gives the superintendent the power to appoint a local school district superintendent as an advisor to the State Board of Education. Previously, the governor made the appointment.

The bill also appears to strengthen the role of the superintendent in general. We will have more analysis on this bill later in the week. Mark Johnson, a Republican, recently won the election over incumbent Superintendent June Atkinson, a Democrat.

Also, the bill appears to require Senate confirmation of Governor-Elect Roy Cooper’s cabinet appointments.

Speaker Moore just extended the bill filing deadline to 7:35 PM, saying there are a couple more bills on the way.

Update 7:10 PM

Another bill filed would give a $1,000, one-time holiday bonus to state employees, including teachers, on January 31, 2017.

Update 7:07 PM

House bill filing deadline has been extended to 7:30 PM.

Update: 7:02 PM

A couple more education-related bills filed in the House. One would give flexibility to local school districts on when in the year school starts and stops, and another would “modify the maximum average class size requirements and individual class size requirements for kindergarten through third grade.”

The second bill simply modifies a piece of language from a budget provision in the short session that set caps teacher-to-student ratios in K-3.

Originally, language in the bill said:

“The average class class size for kindergarten through third grade in a local school administrative unit shall at no time exceed the funded allotment ratio of teachers to students in kindergarten through third grade”

This bill appears to have amended that to say:

“The average class class size for kindergarten through third grade in a local school administrative unit shall at no time exceed the funded allotment ratio of teachers to students in kindergarten through third grade by more than three students.” (Emphasis added by author)

Another piece of language was revised to say that “at the end of the second school month and for the remainder of the school year, the size of an individual class in kindergarten through third grade shall not exceed the allotment ratio by more than six students.” The original language in the revised budget bill said “three” instead of “six” students.

These are the class size requirements mandated by the General Assembly.

  • Kindergarten: One teacher per 18 students
  • First Grade: One teacher per 16 students
  • Second Grade: One teacher per 17 students
  • Third Grade: One teacher per 17 students

Update 6:44 PM

There will be no further votes tonight, according to Speaker Moore. Committee assignments will be made for filed legislation, and the House will likely reconvene tomorrow at 10 AM.

Update: 6:42 PM

A bill was just filed in the House related to charter school funding. It seeks to “clarify the eligibility of charter schools for certain state funding to improve or maintain roads, driveways, entrances, and parking facilities used by school buses for transporting students and to make other changes to state law concerning requirements for road improvements adjacent to schools.”

One of the main sponsors of the bill is Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake.

Update: 6:36 PM

Speaker Moore is addressing the constitutional protest that House Democrats voiced earlier. He said he conferred with legal counsel. Basically, he said that the argument of the protest was incorrect and nothing untoward happened in the convening of the Special Session.

Update: 6:32 PM

House session is finally underway.

Update: 6:26 PM

A just filed House bill — House Bill 6 — would allow the Republican Lieutenant Governor, Dan Forest, to nominate the state’s Chief Information Officer, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly. Right now, the CIO is a gubernatorial pick.

Update: 6:22 PM

Still waiting for the House session to start an hour and 22 minutes after it was supposed to get going.

Update: 5:40 PM

A bill entitled, the Regulatory Reform Act of 2016, just recently filed for the Special Session, covers a lot of regulations, including this one about schools:

“To Encourage Recycling in Public Schools. – Local boards of education shall encourage recycling in public schools and may develop and implement recycling programs at public schools. Local boards of education shall comply with G.S. 160A-327.”

Update 5:34 PM

Senate filing deadline has been pushed to 7 PM as well.

Update: 5:16 PM

(Photo Credit: Alex Granados)
(Photo Credit: Alex Granados)

Session was supposed to start 16 minutes ago. Nary a representative in sight.

Update: 4:01 PM

The House will reconvene at 5. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said no votes will be taken at that time, but that some legislation may be referred to committees. He did say that votes on some legislation may come at some point tonight, however. The deadline for the House to file legislation for this Special Session is 7 PM.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.