The General Assembly adjourned the 2018 short session Friday, June 29, without the Senate moving HB340|Separation Allowance in a committee.
“We are very disappointed first and foremost that fire fighters were not given an open hearing in a Senate committee on the bill,” said PFFPNC Political Director Josh Smith. “The House initially had the same concerns the Senate had over the $300 million overall cost to municipalities but Speaker Tom Moore gave us an opportunity to make our case in that body’s committees to show savings to municipalities, and we changed hearts and minds. We were not given that privilege in the Senate, and it’s very disappointing.”
PFFPNC lobbyists pressed senators all the way until the end, including a conversation with Senate Pensions/Retirement Committee Chair Andy Wells (R-Alexander/Catawba) on Thursday afternoon, and he reiterated that he was not opposed to separation allowance but wants to find a state funding mechanism that would assist municipalities in funding the benefit.
Sen. Wells said he welcomes PFFPNC to meet with him in Hickory in the interim leading up to the 2019 legislative session. He would include the NC League of Municipalities, the organizer and chief messenger in opposing separation allowance for fire fighters.
Other offers to work with PFFPNC on separation allowance in the interim including Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham/Guilford), Rules Chairman Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick/New Hanover/Pender/Bladen) and Se. Trudy Wade (R-Guilford).
Smith said he appreciates the offers to work with the Senate on their funding concerns, and he commits PFFPNC to that process. However, Smith reserved his greatest appreciate for the House, specifically Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) and Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), who worked tirelessly to find legislation to amend with separation allowance until the gavel fell on Friday.
PFFPNC will follow up on this story and a 2017-2018 wrap up in future Legislative Briefing newsletters.