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News & Updates

The Rural Center’s advocacy platform, Rural Counts: 10 Strategies for Rural North Carolina’s Future, presents a framework for creating a stronger rural economy in the context of a rapidly changing state. Within these strategies, the Rural Center will concentrate its advocacy efforts in 2019 on broadband, health care, and entrepreneurship.



Rural Counts team monitoring



Bill #






School Construction & Broadband Investment Act

Increases appropriations to the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund for 10 years in order to provide $2.1 billion to counties for school construction, $300 million to community colleges for capital costs, $4 billion for the university system and state agencies, and $15 million/year for broadband infrastructure expansion through the GREAT program.

Arp, Saine, Conrad

Ref to Rules

H387, S310

Electric Co-Op Rural Broadband Services

Allows Electric Membership Corporations to form and operate separate business entities to provide or support high speed broadband service.

House – Arp, Szoka, Lewis, Hunter;

Senate – Brown, Newton, Woodard

House – Ref to Energy& Public Utilities, then Judiciary, then Rules: Senate – Re-ref to Commerce & Insurance, then Judiciary, then Rules


Growing GREAT Rural Broadband Funding

Adds $15 million/year for 10 years from the State Capital & Infrastructure Fund to the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology Fund. Amends GREAT program elements including eligible projects, application requirements, & authority of the Broadband Infrastructure Office to amend applications.

Arp, Szoka, Saine, Barnes

Ref to Energy & Public Utilities, then Appropriations – IT, then Approps, then Rules


Save the Internet Act

Directs the Dept. of Justice to establish a process to certify Internet Service Providers & sets out requirements for ISPs.  Also appropriates $35 million to the GREAT program for grants – $30 million to serve underserved areas and $5 million to help close the homework gap.

Chaudhuri, Woodard

Ref to Rules



Authorizes cities and counties to build and lease facilities and equipment for broadband services. Leases must be to a non-governmental entity. Unrestricted funds, including taxes and grants may be used.  Sets out requirements for proposed construction.

Dobson, Lewis, Szoka, Corbin

Ref to Energy & Public Utilities, then Finance, then Rules


Expand GREAT Grant Program

Would allow municipalities and counties to receive broadband infrastructure grants from the GREAT program

deViere, Woodard, Foushee

Ref to Rules


Local Gov’ts/Broadband Service Infrastructure

Authorizes cities and counties to build and lease facilities and equipment for broadband services to increase adequate broadband services.

Burgin, T. Alexander

Ref to Rules



Bill #





H5, S3

Close The Medicaid Coverage Gap

Repeals prohibition on expanding Medicaid, sets criteria for individuals in the coverage gap, specified hospitals to pay for state share of expansion

Senate – Clark, Blue, Robinson; House – Adcock, Cunningham, Insko, Farmer-Butterfield

House – ref to Health, then Approps., then Rules Senate – ref. to Rules;

H464, S86

Small Business Healthcare Act

Revise the rules for trade groups/business associations to develop employee health insurance plans for businesses with fewer than 50 employees

House- K. Hall, Grange, Dobson, B. Turner

Senate-Bishop, Krawiec, Edwards, Hise

House- Ref to Commerce, then Rules Senate- Passed 3rd reading 3/13, to House, ref to Rules, then Health, then Insurance, then Rules

S143, H185


Modernizes nursing regulations affecting nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialists, & certified nurse anesthetists and expands the scope of these licensed nurses in delivering health care

Senate – Hise; House – Dobson, Lambeth, Stevens, Adcock

House – Ref Health, then Finance, then Rules


Opioid Prescription & Treatment Opt Out Act

Permits an authorized medical practitioner to issue a voluntary non-opioid prescription directive form for a patient.  Form is to specify the patient is not to receive an opioid.

Belk, Black, Dobson, White

Ref to Health, then Insurance, then Rules


Clarify Limited Immunity/Overdose Victims

Extends limited immunity from prosecution for certain drug offenses to person experiencing an overdose as well as a person who calls for medical assistance for a person experiencing an overdose. Specifies conditions for immunity to apply

J. Jackson,

J. Davis, Britt

Senate – passed 3rd reading 3/11, to House, Ref to Rules, then Judiciary, then Rules


Community Paramedicine Program/Funds

Establishes Community Paramedicine Program in DHHS to expand the roles of paramedics in providing community-based care.  Appropriates $700,000/year to establish the program in four sites and specifies programs in McDowell, New Hanover, and Wake counties be among the sites to receive funding.

Dobson, Grange, Blackwell, B. Turner

Ref to Health, then Appropriations-Health, then Appropriations, then Rules


Funds for Nurse-Family Partnership

Appropriates $4.7 million per year to DHHS to fund the Nurse-Family Partnership (a non-profit providing in-home nursing services to aid first-time mothers).

Corbin, Dobson, White, Jones

Ref to Health, then, Approps – Health, then Approps, then Rules

H212, S151

Break or Enter Pharmacy/Increase Penalty

Creates a criminal offense to break into a pharmacy to steal controlled substances or to possess or receive the stolen substance.

House – Sasser, C. Smith, Murphy, Horn

Senate – McInnis, Britt, J. Davis;

House – Ref to Judiciary, comm sub adopted and ref to Rules-Passed 3rd reading 3/18, to House, ref to Judiciary, then Rules;

Senate – Ref to Judiciary, comm. sub adopted and ref to Rules. Fav. rpt


Medicaid Work & Community Engagement Opp.

Would implement work and community engagement as a contingency to participate in the Medicaid program for most able-bodied adults between the age of 19 and 64.

Hise, Bishop, Krawiec

Ref to Rules


Establish Non-Opioid Treatment Alternatives

Directs providers to use non-opioid pain management care, if possible; directs HHS to create a uniform non-opioid directive form available to the public on the Internet; and establishes insurance coverage for non-opioid pain management care.


Ref to Rules


Modernize Medicaid Telemedicine Policies

Makes changes to Medicaid and NC Health Choice telemedicine and telepsychiatry policies to facilitate increased access to services

Dobson, White, Saine, Lambeth

Ref to Health, then Rules


NC Health Care for Working Families

Establishes the NC Health Care for Working Families Program and the Rural Access to Healthcare Grant Program. The Health Care for Working Families will be designed to provide coverage to citizens unable to afford health insurance. The Rural Access program will provide grants of up to $1 million for qualified applicants to improve access to health care in rural areas.

Lambeth, Dobson, Murphy, White

Ref to Health, then Insurance, then Rules


Increase Access to Telehealth Services

Directs changes to the state’s Medicaid and NC Health Choice to cover telehealth services and requires health benefit plans cover telehealth. Appropriates $1 million for a pilot grant program in 2 counties.

Saine, Lambeth, Dobson, Jones

Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development


Bill #






Small Business Development Fund

Appropriates $2.5 million to the Carolina Small Business Development Fund for loans to historically underutilized businesses


Ref to Commerce, then Approps – Gen Gov’t, then Approps, then Rules


Funding for Small Business Loans

Appropriates $3 million to the Carolina Small Business Development Fund to increase small business lending and business services.

McElraft, Floyd

Ref to Commerce, then Approps – Ag,NER, then Approps, then Rules


Small Business Income Tax Relief

Would allow small business (with receipts not to exceed $ 1 million per tax year) to deduct up to $50,000 of net business income

K. Hall, Saine, Barnes, Henson

Ref to Commerce, then Finance, then Rules


Small Business Venture Fund

Directs the State Treasurer to invest up to $100 million in small businesses (defined as those with annual receipts not more than $5 million) and provides that not more than one-third of the fund’s assets may be allocated to urban regions


Ref to Rules



One NC Funding for Small Business

Appropriates $5 million to Commerce for the SBIR/STTR Incentive Program and $5 million for Community Innovation Fund grants (aid for rural, small and medium-sized communities to transition to knowledge and innovation based economies).

House -K. Hall, Ross, Dobson; Senate – Gunn

House – Ref to Commerce, then Appropriations -AgNER, then Rules; Senate – Ref to Appropriations-Base Budget, then Rules


Small Business Capital Improvement Account

Allow small business to eliminate state income taxes on a portion of revenue used for capital expenditures. (Small business is defined as one with gross receipts for the taxable year not exceeding $10 million.)

Garrett, Searcy, deViere

Ref to Rules


Small Business Retirement Program

Creates 10-member legislative study committee on Small Business Retirement Options. Committee to look at 4 specific topics, including ways the State can reduce burden on small businesses that want to offer payroll deduction retirement savings options. To report by 3/31/2020

Hanig, Hardister

Ref to Pensioins & Retirement, then Rules


Micro-Business Development Loan Program

Will create a loan program in the Department of Commerce to provide loans to financial entities that will then lend financing to micro-businesses. The department is to determine the minimum level of funding needed to implement the program.

Alexander, Meyer, Ross

Ref to Commerce, then Finance, then Rules

Education and Workforce Development


Bill #






Building North Carolina’s Future

Will provide supplemental funding to address capital needs of local schools and community colleges, including $10 million for workforce training equipment

Brown, Harrington, Krawiec

Passed 3rd reading 2/20, to House 2/21, Ref to Educ K-12, then Pensions & Retirement, then Finance, then Rules


Education Bond Act of 2019

Will authorize a vote to issue $1.9 billion in bonds for capital improvements in education facilities. Funds would be used for grants for public school facilities ($1.5 billion), for community college facilities ($200 million) and for facilities in the university system ($200 million).

Moore, Johnson, Elmore, Horn

Passed 3rd reading 3/14, Ref. to Rules


NC Skills Gap Study

Requires the NC Works Commission to review and evaluate the state’s anticipated workforce demand and educational supply to meet that demand and report its findings and recommendations to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee.

Chaudhuri, McInnis, Gunn

Ref to Rules


Apprenticeship Tax Credit

Would authorize an income tax credit against the wages paid to qualifying apprentices


Ref to Finance, then Rules

Water and Wastewater Infrastructure


Bill #





H414, S320

Regional Water Systems & State Grants

Requires DEQ ensure that recipients of loans or grants to aid in regionalizing a water or sewer system have written agreements with each local government unit to be served. The LGC may aid in resolving disputes.  Provides that no funds may be disbursed until dispute is resolved.

House – Barnes; Senate – J. Alexander

House – Ref to State & Local Gov’t, then Rules; Senate – Ref to Rules



Water/Wastewater Public Enterprise Reform

Makes numerous changes in the oversight of “distressed units” of local governments’ water and wastewater systems

House – McGrady, Hanig

Senate – Newton

House – Ref Energy & Public Utilities, then State & Local Gov’t, then Finance, then Rules

Senate – Ref to Rules;

Agriculture & Natural Resources


Bill #






Expand Agricultural Outdoor Advertising

Grants an exception to the ban on advertising within 660 feet of the right-of-way for interstate or primary highways to promote bona fide farm property.  (Expands the exemption now limited to the sale of fruits and vegetables by growers or you-pick crops.)

Dixon, Strickland, Barnes, Conrad

Passed 3rd reading 4/3. To senate & ref to Rules


Food Commercialization Center Funds

Appropriations $3.15 million to Agriculture to match federal construction grant funding for the Eastern North Carolina Food Commercialization Center.

Humphrey, K. Smith, Murphy

Ref to State & Local Gov’t, then Approps – Ag NER, then Approps, then Rules


North Carolina Farm Act of 2019

Makes changes to various statutes, including adding provisions to address industrial hemp, outdoor advertising of bona fide farms, termination of unused utility easements, and amending the definition of agritourism.


Ref to Rules


Agricultural Manufacturing Tax Incentives

Defines “agrimanufacturing” and creates tax credits to incentivize the activities


Ref to Rules


NC State/BioPharma Funds

Appropriates funds ($6 million over 3 years) for NCSU to use to match federal grant funding for the innovation in manufacturing biopharmaceuticals collaborative effort.


Ref to Approp, then Ed, then Rules


Rural Development Funding & Technical Assistance


Bill #






Reconstitute Various Boards & Commissions

Re-establishes boards abolished by court action, including the Rural Infrastructure Authority, Clean Water Management Trust Fund Board, Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Board

McGrady, Torbett, Ross, Harrison

Ref Judiciary, then State & Local, then Rules



Expand Eligibility for Utility Account

Would change the definition of “economically distressed county” to a county ranked as one of the 87th highest in the annual economic tier rankings. (Currently only those counties ranked as one of the 80 poorest performing – tier 1 or tier 2)

House-Boles, McNeill

Senate – McInnis;

House – Ref. to Commerce, fav rpt. to comm sub, ref to Energy & Public Utilities, w/d and re-ref to Finance, then Rules

Senate – Ref to Rules;


Study Military Economic Zones

Study creating military economic zones around communities hosting military installations, including methods of incorporating existing economic development programs.

D. Davis, Brown, Perry

Ref to Commerce & Insurance, fav rpt to comm. sub. and ref to Rules


Disaster Area Building Rehabilitation Tax Credit Bonus

Modifies provisions of the historic structure rehabilitation tax credit and creates a new bonus for rehab of certified historic structures located in disaster areas. Extends sunset of the tax credit to 2030.

Ross, Bell, Warren, Adams

Ref to Commerce, then Finance, then Rules


Create an Additional 5 Tier System

Adds 5 “enterprise tiers” to the current 3-tier economic development system (designates those as “development tiers”). New tier system will use the same rankings.

Edwards, Gunn

Ref to Rules


Study of Localities on Unit Assistance Lists

Calls on State Treasurer to study and make recommendations regarding local governments with repeated issues requiring assistance from the LGC. Requires a report on the findings and recommendations by 2/2020

D. Davis, Steinburg, Britt

Ref to Rules


Omnibus Rural Investment Act

Includes provisions for a rural broadband plan, a change in the matching requirements for parks, funding ($340,000) for a pilot small farms to healthier schools program, the NCHFA to revise its scoring formula for tax credits to aid rural affordable housing, and $1.5 million to Golden LEAF to provide grants for water/sewer infrastructure and broadband

Smith, Clark, D. Davis

Ref to Rules

Other Bills of Interest


Bill #







Eminent Domain

Authorizes vote on constitutional amendment to limit the use of eminent domain to “public use” and specifies “public use” can include communications facilities, natural gas distribution and transportation facilities

House – D. Hall, Lewis, Goodman, McGrady; Senate – B Jackson, Britt, Sanderson

House – Passed 3rd reading 2/27; Senate – Ref to Rules


Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission

Establishes 11-member Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission to prepare plans for state legislative and federal legislative districts

House- McGrady, Reives, Hardister, B. Turner

Ref Redistricting then Rules


The FAIR Act

Authorizes a vote on a constitutional amendment to establish a nonpartisan redistricting process

McGrady, Reives, Hardister, Stevens

Ref Redistricting, then Rules


Prohibit Ed. Funds Allocated by Tier

Prohibit using economic development tiers to allocate funds from the Need-based Public School Capital Fund

Majeed, Alexander

Ref to Educ-K-12, then  Approps-Capital, then Approps-Educ, then Approps, then Rules


Nonprofit Sales Tax Exemption

Adds a new sales tax exemption for tangible personal property, digital property, and services for nonprofit hospitals, 501c-3 organizations, volunteer fire departments and EMS, qualified retirement centers, university-affiliated nonprofits, and for over–the-counter drugs purchased to carry out the work of a hospital. Specifies the types of sales covered by the exemption and sets an aggregate cap.

D. Davis



Appropriations Bills

Bill #






2019 Appropriations Act

Future bill for appropriations


Ref to Appropriations, then rules


2019 Appropriations

Future bill for appropriations


Ref to Appropriations, then Rules

S103, 109, 128

2019 Appropriations Act

Future bill for appropriations

B. Jackson, Brown, Harrington

Ref to Rules

Click here to download a PDF of the Rural Counts legislative tracker.