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Legislative Update: NC Chamber Advocacy Beyond the Budget

As budget negotiations proceed, the NC Chamber’s advocacy team is working daily to engage with key lawmakers and ensure major items on your 2021 legislative agenda move forward in the budget. These priorities include franchise tax reform, transportation and infrastructure modernization, broadband development, educational continuity, workforce revitalization, and small business support.

Of course, the Chamber isn’t only focused on the budget; when lawmakers are in town, we’re always on the lookout for new openings to advance the ball for job creators. Here are a few of the priorities our team is fighting hard to address beyond the budget:

Supporting value-driven health care:

The health challenges created by COVID-19 have only reinforced the need to enhance access to high-quality, lower-cost health care options for employers and their workers.

  • Recently, the NC Chamber put our support behind Senate Bill 85, which aims to simplify health care administration and reduce costs for employers while expanding options for employees by broadening the definition of hospital service corporations and allowing these entities to offer vision service plans in addition to their primary coverage offerings. The bill passed the House unanimously – with one amendment – after earning unanimous support from the Senate earlier this session. The Senate will need to concur with House changes before the bill heads to Gov. Cooper’s desk.
  • Another Chamber-supported health care bill, Senate Bill 228, was just recently signed into law after passing the General Assembly. It will expand coverage options and promote lower costs for small businesses by allowing them to offer exclusive provider benefit plans (EPOs) to their employees.

Streamlining remote business:

The pandemic forced many businesses to find new ways to conduct vital operations remotely, but it also accelerated existing trends toward a digital world; trends that will only continue to exert greater impacts on the future of work – and the needs of business.

  • House Bill 776 is currently being decided by House and Senate conferees after the House voted not to concur with the Senate’s changes to the bill. It would give job creators in our state much-needed freedom to conduct remote online notarization. The NC Chamber is working to ensure the bill passes in a form that gives North Carolina employers the same high degree of flexibility over online notarization afforded to job creators in many of our competitor states.
  • The Chamber also put strong support earlier this session behind House Bill 320. The bill, signed into law several weeks ago, gives corporations and certain other business entities in North Carolina the necessary flexibility to conduct shareholder meetings and other important items of official business remotely.

Removing artificial impediments on job creation:

It’s always important to guard against unnecessary regulatory and legal restraints overburdening job creators – but it’s absolutely vital when we’re battling back from a pandemic.

  • House Bill 103 – now in a conference committee after the House voted unanimously not to concur with Senate changes – would, in its Senate-amended form, implement a multitude of onerous changes related to certain automatically renewing consumer contracts entered into in North Carolina. These changes would impact job creators in multiple industries. The NC Chamber team is currently engaged with aligned advocates to ensure these problems are addressed in the final version of the bill.
  • Senate Bill 357 is a bill impacting North Carolina laws related to third-party litigation funding that is still active in its chamber of origin. It was amended recently to include harmful changes that would open new avenues for certain entities to fund abusive litigation in the state. The bill raises the very real potential for more frivolous lawsuits targeting employers as well as higher costs across our tort system. After taking time to vet the impacts of recent changes, the NC Chamber stands opposed to Senate Bill 357 and will be engaging with lawmakers to ensure these concerns are addressed.

The NC Chamber team is honored to have the support of businesses across our state as we help blaze the pro-growth path forward for North Carolina. We look forward to sharing our progress on these priorities and others in the coming days.