Dear North Carolina Public School Advocate: Get Ready For “Local Bills”

If you remember back in 2018…

When Rep. Bill Brawley of Mecklenberg County first championed HB 514, he promoted a bill that allowed for cities to use property tax money to fund local schools. It also allowed for some select cities and towns to establish their own charter schools with enrollment preference for their citizens using taxpayer money. And because it was a local bill, it did not require the governor’s approval; therefore, Gov. Cooper could not issue a veto.

The “select” cities were predominantly affluent parts of Mecklenberg County and the bill was what many correctly deemed an attempt at legal resegregation.

Later in that same year during a special session of the North Carolina General Assembly to supposedly iron-out details for the new Voter ID amendment, a Technical Corrections Bill called SB 469 removed the provision for the original HB 514 that stipulated its “local bill” status.

That “local bill” was then rolled into a bigger piece of legislation that would remove the “local” tag and make it statewide.

We are about to see a lot of local bills for reopening and legislating public schools without the checks and balanced of a governor’s veto.

From the UNC School of Government:

Found on page 10:

Constitutional Limits on Local Acts
Article II, Section 24 of the North Carolina Constitution limits what subject matters can be
addressed by local act. Any local act enacted in violation of this constitutional provision is void.
The subject matters that are constitutionally prohibited from consideration in a local bill are:

(1) Relating to health, sanitation, and the abatement of nuisances;
(2) Changing the names of cities, towns, and townships;
(3) Authorizing the laying out, opening, altering, maintaining, or discontinuing of highways,
streets, or alleys;
(4) Relating to ferries or bridges;
(5) Relating to non-navigable streams;
(6) Relating to cemeteries;
(7) Relating to the pay of jurors;
(8) Erecting new townships, or changing township lines, or establishing or changing the
lines of school districts;
(9) Remitting fines, penalties, and forfeitures, or refunding moneys legally paid into the
public treasury;
(10) Regulating labor, trade, mining, or manufacturing;
(11) Extending the time for the levy or collection of taxes or otherwise relieving any collector
of taxes from the due performance of his official duties or his sureties from liability;
(12) Giving effect to informal wills and deeds;
(13) Granting a divorce or securing alimony in any individual case; and
(14) Altering the name of any person, or legitimating any person not born in lawful wedlock,
or restoring to the rights of citizenship any person convicted of a felony.

The only limit on what a local bill can do to schools is redraw district lines.

Everything else is on the table.

In light of the failed veto override of SB37 that occurred in Raleigh last night, we are about to see a lot more of these.