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Legislators working in Raleigh and remotely via teleconference open another round of hearings this week on legislation to deal with the impact of COVID-19.
Last week, working groups from a House Select Committee on COVID-19 looked at potential legislation to adjust education requirements as well as the impact on the state’s economy, hospitals and health care system.
On Tuesday, two of the four main working groups will focus on maintaining government operations and shoring up the state’s economy.
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The House Continuity of State Operations Working Group will meet at 2 p.m. to hear from state corrections officials on risk reduction in the state prison system and reports from the N.C. League of Municipalities and the N.C. Association of County Commissioners on the impact to local governments, with audio available online. The materials for the meeting can also be viewed on the House website.
A memo to the House group from county commissioners called for state help with supplies, especially personal protection equipment, flexibility changes for personnel laws and changes to open meetings laws to allow greater remote participation for meetings.
Both county and municipal representatives are expected to seek help from the state in covering what are likely to be massive deficits caused by a sudden drop in sales tax revenue. Last year, local governments in the state received more than $3.5 billion in sales tax revenue distributions. Another $300 million was collected through occupancy and meal taxes.
Also Tuesday, a working group of legislators developing an economic support package will hear from Thomas Stith, North Carolina director for the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Scott Hamilton, president of the Golden LEAF Foundation, as well as representatives from the retail, travel, restaurant and hospitality industries.
A report for the meeting prepared by the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association estimates 350,000 restaurant workers and 23,000 hotel workers have lost their jobs so far.
The Economic Support Working Group meets at 10 a.m. Materials for the meeting are available online.
Last week, the group started work on legislation to make changes to the state tax code to conform with recently passed federal emergency legislation.
The group will also review needed changes to state budget laws in light of the shift in the tax deadline from April to July. The change moves some tax collections into the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
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All four House working groups are working on COVID legislation, but for now, it is unclear if the legislature will return before its scheduled start of the short session on April 24.
House and Senate leaders have said they are prepared to move on legislation earlier if necessary.
The General Assembly can be called into session by the governor or by a vote of three-fifths of its members.