It’s not easy to find a silver lining in the legislature’s dealings this year, but there wereseveral terrible ideas that lawmakers either spiked or didn’t get around to enacting. Hereare five bullets we dodged.


A jury-duty bill was gutted in the last week of the session and replaced with
a proposal to pull state funding for schools and roads from municipalities
that served as “sanctuary cities” for undocumented immigrants, effectively
punishing students and citizens if their towns and cities were seen as too
welcoming to the unwelcome. The Senate passed the bill, but the session was
adjourned without a vote in the House.


The same day the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the legislature’s
gerrymandering of Wake County commission and school board districts,
Senator Tom Apodaca tried to force through a bill to create single-member
districts for the Asheville city council; currently, all members are elected
at-large. In something of a surprise, this proposal was voted down by the House
after Democrats and Republicans questioned the bill’s legality and whether or
not it was right to vote for a bill that legislators from Asheville opposed.


Senate Republicans tried to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in
November to cap the state income tax at 5.5 percent, which would have tied
the legislature’s hands whenever the next economic downturn came and likely
exacerbated the gap between rich and poor. The cap never received a vote in
the House.


A vehicle-emissions bill was gutted and replaced with language that would
have eliminated and barred any regulations costing $100 million or more over
five years, without taking into account the possible financial benefits (e.g., from
public health savings) from that regulation. The bill would have “endanger[ed]
future commonsense regulation to protect clean air and water because it
only allows consideration of costs, not benefits or savings,” Wake County
Commissioner John Burns told the INDY last month. Thankfully, it died.


Four Republicans who represent counties where a total of two refugees have
settled during the last decade introduced a bill aimed at making it easier for
municipalities to reject refugees and harder for cities like Raleigh, which has
taken in more than twenty-five hundred refugees during the same period, to
give them a home. The bill would have allowed counties and municipalities
to request a “moratorium” on refugees, while cities that want to welcome
refugees would have had to hold a public hearing, adopt a resolution, and get
approval from the director of the state’s Refugee Assistance Program. This one never got a committee hearing