Update on the General Assembly in North Carolina – October 2021 # 2 | Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP

Kilpatrick Townsend’s Government Relations team represents a wide variety of clients from many industries and levels of government, with an emphasis on the North Carolina General Assembly. Below is an update on what’s going on at the NC General Assembly this week.

Welcome, Fritz Vaughan

North Carolina Government Relations is pleased to announce the addition of Fritz Vaughan to our team. Fritz brings over fifteen years of legal and political experience to helping a wide variety of clients achieve political and business goals at all levels of government, with a particular focus on the United States Congress and federal agencies.

Prior to joining the firm, Fritz was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs at the Treasury Department, where he led the Treasury Department’s Office of Legislative Affairs and strategy for Congressional engagement on a variety of matters, including issues related to the Treasury Tax, banking and finance, contributed, BSA / AML compliance, international currency sanctions and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). He has been involved in the adoption and implementation of mostly bipartisan legislation that is central to managing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). . Fritz was also responsible for developing, managing, and executing the ministry’s congressional strategy for all prudential requests and other high profile issues, and prepared the secretary and other senior leaders for numerous pre-congressional hearings and briefings. Fritz is the recipient of the “Secretary of the Treasury’s Exceptional Service Award”.

Prior to joining the Treasury Department, Fritz was Senior Counsel to the US House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, where he oversaw all policies, laws, and hearings related to capital markets, securities, and investment matters. In remarks to the House of Commons, then Chairman Jeb Hensarling paid tribute to Fritz for his role in negotiating the JOBS and Investor Confidence Act of 2018 (“JOBS Act 3.0”) – a bipartisan package of 32 bills that House 406-to-4 adopted. Additional government and political experience for Fritz includes working in the Office of Intergouvernemental Affairs in the White House and in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy of the Office of Management and Budget during the second term of President George W. Bush as well as working on several presidential campaigns.

In addition, Fritz previously practiced law in the offices of another international law firm in New York City and Washington DC, where his practice focused on commercial and securities disputes and regulatory investigations and other corporate governance matters. He was the clerk for the Honorable Loretta A. Preska, Chief Judge, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern Borough of New York. While studying at the University of Georgia School of Law, Fritz was Editor-in-Chief of Georgia Law Review, Volume 46. He received his bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University.

Budget update

Budget negotiations between the governor and the legislature continued this week. The Republican leadership received a counter offer from Governor Cooper on Wednesday. Specific details of the proposal will remain confidential. Senate President Pro Tempore Berger (R-Rockingham) only said: “We still have differences, we will try to resolve them.” Governor Cooper has indicated that he is still working to grow Medicaid and invest in solid basic education and teacher increases. We expect the House and Senate leadership to work on their counter-offer over the weekend.

Energy legislation

Governor Cooper and the Republican and Democratic leadership of the House and Senate announced an agreement on key energy laws last Friday. The bipartisan compromise went through the legislature this week. H951, Energy Solutions for North Carolina, looks very different from the version that passed the house in July (shrunk from 50 to 10 pages). The main provisions of the bill include:

  • Calls on the NC Utilities Commission to take all reasonable steps to achieve a 70% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from public electricity companies by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050;
  • Calls on public utilities to use 50 percent securitization to shut down coal-fired power plants;
  • Authorizes the Commission to apply “performance-based regulation” to public utility companies operating in the state. This means an alternative tariff design approach that includes the decoupling of income from electricity consumption, one or more performance incentive mechanisms and a multi-year tariff plan; and
  • Helps ensure reliable energy supplies by maintaining the vertical integration model for public utilities with a utility commission that has solid regulators and discretion.

The Senate passed the bill on Wednesday with 42 votes to 7. The House of Representatives voted 90 to 20 for approval on Thursday. We expect the governor to sign the measure soon after it reaches his desk.

Reassignment process

The redistribution officially started this week. Legislators began drawing new maps for all of the state’s legislative and congressional districts. The House and Senate redistribution committees met separately to clarify preliminary issues and outline the further process. The Senate published 16 possible maps of different district groupings, which were then divided into one to six seats depending on the population in each group. The house looked at 8 possible cards in different circle groupings. Each chamber will use these cards as a starting point for the redistribution process.

All legislators and citizens have four map drawing terminals available during the week. The terminals are open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Terminal availability can be extended to nights and weekends if necessary. The aim is to vote on the final cards in the next two weeks.

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