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Senate | July 30, 2015 | Chamber | Senate Session

Full MP3 Audio File

Senate will come to order, Sergeant at arms will close the doors. Members will go to their seats. Members and guests of the gallery, will you please silent all electronic devices. Leading the Senate in prayer is the Reverend Peter Milner, Senate Chaplain. All members and guests in the gallery will please stand. Pray together, please bow your heads, pray with me. Lord I thank you for everyone standing in this room right now. Thank you especially for the senators that are serving. And we ask you to come now and blanket us with your presence, calm our thoughts, calm our hearts, hear us to serve. May you give us grace not to lay too much burden down on ourselves, but for our confidence to come from you. All the fitness that you require here of us poor travelers today is our need of you, quiet our pains, speak with us this day in Jesus' name, Amen. Senator Tucker is recognized for a motion Thank you Mr. President. The journal of Wednesday July 29th, 2015 has been examined and is found to be correct. I move that the senate dispense with the reading of the journal and that it stands approved as written. Without objection, the journal for July 29th stands approved as written. Leaves of absences are granted for Senators Brown, Barringer, Gunn, Meredith, Cook, Soucek, Apodaca and Berger. We have a nurse of the day those of you who are here, who need the services of a nurse, I would like to to introduce Nurse Diana McIntosh from [xx], North Carolina. She is at the rear of the chamber. We have a group of people who are visiting us today upon the motion of Senator Buck Newton of Wilson County. The Chair's happy to extend courtesies to the American Council of Young Political Leaders of the Japanese delegation. Members if you would please stand for recognition, we would appreciate it. We get right into our calendar. We have one item on the calendar which is third reading of House Bill 532. The clerk will read. House Bill 532, WC truck driver staff. Is their further discussion or debate? Mr President. Senator Brian, for what purpose do you rise. I want to speak on the bill. You have the floor. Mr President, ladies and gentlemen of the Senate, I did find out some additional information about this and it is a concerning shift in public policy that we are making. As we know, we are moving from a policy of covering virtually all truck drivers and the trucking industry who are driving under somebody else's DOT number. To now dumping them into the other statute, I provided to you which is what Senator Jackson said. 97-19 are the concerning parties, what is preferable probably to the industry. About 97-19 is a big loophole that is in that statute which is about halfway down which says that if a subcontractor provides to the contractor, it's the typical of insurance and somehow later lets that lapse or even cancels it and the contractor is not aware of that cancellation. Then the contractor is not liable under workers comp, and the subcontractor is liable which is probably why Senator Tucker sees in the industry what he sees.

Many of the subcontractors may or may not have their own insurance or assets sufficient to cover whatever the problem is even if they were to face civil liability. So, this is the situation that we face in general under that section and now we're dumping this population of truckers into that section where we know that is an industry where the drivers do face some significant risk particularly for fatal injury. The industry is also pushing the idea of this occupational accident insurance VS workers comp, and one of even the loopholes with that it is that it's much less much coverage and sadly is designed to pay them just beyond the number of weeks that the statute of limitation runs for workers comp. So that when that runs out and they found out that it is not really workers comp, it is too late for them to file workers comp. So, we really have a bigger issue than just the truckers to look at onto 97-19. However, this shift is a major change, it would be obvious that given the requirements of 97-19.1, the tracking industry of course is one of the most insured for workers compensation which I think the cost of which is their main complain and it's source of public policy decision we are making, I think is serious. I'm hoping that perhaps in the house, some more balance can be struck. It's so complicated that their is no easy fix for me even to propose or advocate at this point. But hope it hopefully in the house, someone of those options will be looked at. I still will ask that you vote no on the bill. Thank you members for listening. Is their further discussion or debate? Mr Chairman. Senator Tillman for what purpose you arise? I'd like to speak on the bill. You have the floor. The other day I said it to Senator Bryant's response was garbled. Senator Bryant you were not garbled, although it was a long and rambling response. Law is garbled. The law that you're referring to is what's garbled. So my apologies for saying that you were garbled, you know I thank the world of you. However, it's not clear and Senator Tucker make that clear, the law is not clear in this regard, and if we need to shore up something, we need to do it in the law. But right now, I'm certainly in favor of this bill because I do not believe in singling out any sector and making them the onus of everything that we're trying to do here. It is totally unfair to them, and if we need to fix down the road, and I think a lot of it does, have to do with whether you're a contract employer, or an employee, or whether you're working under a contract, or whether you're considered an employee. That I don't think has ever been cleared up, but as it stands right now, we need to fix this situation, and I'll thank Senator Jackson for doing his level best to make this fair to every sector. Thank you. Mr. President. Senator Jackson. Senator Newton, you have the floor. Thank you, Mr. President. I'll be brief members. I voted for this bill yesterday and I will vote for it again today, but I do want to make a couple of things I think clear and with all due respect to Senator Jackson, I'm very concerned that we are meddling in a incomplete way on very complicated set of laws. Senator Tucker is right about what goes on in the contract and trades. Senator Bryant is right about the things she has pointed out, there is some uniqueness to the trucking industry and how it has been treated. But one of the things from my own experience I want to share with this body is that this is not a complete picture. There are certificates and insurance which are demanded of some contractors which Senator Bryant said they sometimes quit paying on. One of worst things about it is often those certificates from insurance really don't insure anybody. There are there, they are certificate but they don't actually cover everyone. And I've dealt with that matter personally in my law practice on numerous occasion, related to worker's comp, in death casezs one of which where a gentleman was squished by a tobacco bell that weighed about 700 pounds as it came out of the back of the truck. These are real people with real injuries

that when they're not covered by worker's comp or some other form of insurance, become the taxpayer's burden and that's something that we need to think about carefully as we go forward because I think I understand the history of how this provision that we're appealing came about and that was to try to create a bright line so that there wasn't all this confusion. So there wasn't all this work for lawyers to do in the court room. Repealing it probably is going to give my colleagues a lot of work, a lot of pay days. I think this body generally would like to find ways to not have lawyers have lots of work to do. I think that's a reasonable goal actually when there's not a controversy, you don't need a lawyer and I think that's fine. But I do think that as we go forward you, we the members that follow me, will be facing this issue again. We will be needing to look at it carefully again. And there are some small things that could be done in the house such as making sure that these certificates and insurance actually cover someone and that there's notice in place when the insurance policies get cancelled or not paid. What's the point of having insurance, if it's not going to do anything? Now, if it's the policy of the state that we don't want people to be insured, then essentially what we're saying is that we want the taxpayers to cover, and regardless of party, I'm not sure that is what this body and this general assembly we really want to do. We do sometimes do things that later we say that was an intended consequence. I hope that's not what we do with this Bill. I hope that's not what it's going on but I will encourage you as members to think about this and the debate that we've had and as we go forward, they prepare to re-engage and see if we can continue to make this situation better, to encourage trucking and also to protect our tax payers. Thank you. Mr. President. Senator Jackson for what purpose do your rise? To speak on the Bill. You have the floor. Thank you, Mr. President. Members, I appreciate the vote yesterday, I am certainly still in need of favor of this. I would like to say Senator Bryant, you do have some valid points. Senator Newton you have some valid points as well, and I do hope that as we move forward in our legislative careers that we will look at this. We've done a lot things with workers comp in the last four to five years of trying to make it little more equitable to our surrounding states. North Carolina still is one of the most convoluted, confusing and I think it was designed that way, if you want my personal opinion speaking as a non lawyer that it was designed to be convoluted and confusing to the average public, on how our workers comp laws work. We are by far the most generous steel in the south east when it comes to workers compensation rules and so forth, even though we have made great strides in correcting it and trying to make more balance and ferral approach. Senator Bryant, I give you my word that if you'd like to sit down and let's work on 97-19, I'd be more than happy to do so with you, and Senator [xx] and Senator Newton, if you're still here. And we need to, we need to look at these things from time to time. There's a lot old rules and laws we really need look at and I think in what I've been trying to do, is just get our truck drivers or trucking industry, which is over regulated as it is. I mean, they are one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world, or especially in The United States. And, I think that's what we need to do, is to look at these things and see where the industries are really going as I say way up and beyond what our competitive states next to us are doing. And so with that I think passing this bill, sending it over to the house, maybe they'll work on it, maybe they'll not, I'm not sure. But, there is a lot of work still to be done, and workers comp and I'm willing to sit down and discuss that, to work with it and make it fair and [xx] for everyone, that I would ask that you continue to support this bill in the third reading. Thank you. Mr. President. Senator Rucho for what purpose do you rise? To speak on the Bill, please. You have the floor. We talked about these in couple of other meetings and Senator Jackson is absolutely correct. There has been a lot or work to try to provide sovereigncy to the workmans comp system.

It is very critical in any type of insurance program that you have the broadest base of quote, healthy people in the system so that the employers ultimately will not be plagued with a huge cost because of that, that's just broadening the risk which is how insurance works. And I think from what Senator Newton said about his colleagues being very happy with this passage, if Senator Apodaca would be here today, he would say we do not want Attorneys Re-employment Act established. And under the circumstances, it would be detrimental to change some of the actions that we've taken on workmans compensation and try to piecemeal this and take some people out of the system and actually weaken your base of people that are actually paying the cost and because of that I will be opposing House Bill 532. Before we go forward, I'd like records to reflect that Senator Rabon from Brunswick has been granted an excused absence for today. Further discussion, further debate. Mr. President. Senator Warren for what purpose do you rise? To debate the bill. You have the floor. Thank you Mr president, and I think my colleagues know sort of where I stand on this issue. Sometimes I think both republicans, and democrats were guilty of letting [xx] outrun the facts on a given bill, and I think that's been done a little bit in this case. As my colleagues know, I was kind of disappointed in the process of this, because over the past two sessions we have sort of created a precedent that because of the complicated nature of workers comp system, we have allowed that the interest groups to sort of get in a room, and hash it out and then and come out of the room with something that nobody is really happy with, but they can put their seal of approval on and that wasn't process that was engaged in on this particular bill. So, that's one of the reasons that I'm opposed to it, but I will grant that the bill before you is not as bad as the one that was filed. Now, some of the rhetoric that's been thrown about was tha,t we're righting a wrong that was done to the trucking industry. And of course it's true that they have a special statute that created a bright line for them because one of the problematic things in workers comp, is the determination of whether a person is actually an employee or an independent contractor. And there's a few occupations that lend themselves to this type of scrutiny trucking industry, taxi drivers, newspaper carriers, those types of things. One of the things that I remember Winkie Wilkins saying in my first session here was that a man with a memory is a dangerous thing in the legislature, and so I've done a little bit of research on this statute, and of course the first version of it passed in 2003. It had a republican co-sponsor in the House and then the second version of the second modification having a note six in both times there were House Bill and both times when they came to this body, they passed unanimously . So, in far from that probably the trucking industry at that time wanted more certainty and their litigation about determination whether a person who was driving for them, was an independent contractor or an employee, and certainly when the [xx] and [xx] of the world vote for a statute that's currently in place infact in anybody who was here during that time voted for this, Senator Tillman so. I know that Senator Brock wouldn't have voted for it, if he thought it was bad for the business at the time and so obviously as time goes by we could, certainly appropriate time to take a look at statute and see how they worked. One of the things that happens in the workers comp is it wants the statute to pass. There becomes a body of law that follows it in the court system so that the courts interpret the statute as we get along and they sort of, when questions arise they read between the lines and since that we would think, this is what the legislature intended and sometimes courts get it right and sometimes they don't. So, I think it's appropriate to come back sometimes and adjust statutes so that we actually tell the courts, this is what we meant. I think that that's when they were going negotiating this, that's what certainly the employee advocates were trying to offer to the trucking industry but the offers were rejected to the course and so here we are I guess just repeaing statute in total. I don't really know, I don't think any of us can predict what is going to happen and the workers comp [xx] as a result of this, time will

tell. I think is probably fair to say that is going to be fewer [xx] recovered, there's going to be injuries that occur to the people who were not covered and there will be more litigation which means more work for attorneys. So to debate this issue I think it will also means adjudication of [xx] will probably be extended for several years when a truck driver does finally claim. So, just wanted to make a few points on that I think, the underlying problem of the workers comp system and while we're actually seeing premiums declining in North Carolina that the real problem is that medical costs are skyrocketing and when the workers are injured then that plays out in workers comp system. So, thank you for your time. Mr. President. Before we hear from someone else, the chair apologizes to the gentleman from Burke for addressing him by his first name. Senator Brock for what purpose do you rise? Speak to the bill. You have the floor. Thank you Mr. President. Since been called about we thought before in 2006, I've tried to go back over that time to find out why we voted that way. And looking at probably what happened were some news story wheresome independent operators were hurt on the job. One of the stories I think was in your district Senator Daniel. Someone threw a rock off a bridge, went in to a truck, hurt a truck driver. And I think that was probably a knee jerk reaction by the General Assembly voting on it that way, and most time is how appropriate that we talk about it this way, because many times when people run off the road, they over correct and flip the car over. And this way, I think this was the case for when the general assembly looked at this single out trucking for that, because of something that happened one day. And as Senator Tucker said that this is not what happens in the real world. So, attorneys in the general assembly and those that make a living from this might be a pretty good idea to put it in there to helps guarantee some jobs, but since the lawyers we're talking on the Bill, I just read from my transportation law journals about twenty some pages talking about the differences that we have between different states. In those that have worked in logistics and talk about it, and I know Senator Tucker we talked about transportation that going in to other states and since you live in a border county [xx]. And when you are looking at the logistics companies and what they have to deal with, even this national transportation, law journal says that the conclusion. They are not trying to say which state is better. If just saying as someone who is getting involved with this, you need to find out where your products are going and how you need to set it up. So when we made the correction in 2006, for what we thought was a correction, maybe was an over correction. And Senator Jsckson says we need to take a good study and take a look at it and he pledge to work with people and I think that's what we need to do. Because one thing that we have here in North Carolina is our location, and when we are within 500 miles of 50% of United States population, on the greatest market in a world, we need to do everything we can to make sure we have these jobs come in and out of our state and make sure they stay here but we are making that little tougher. That truck can go up to Virginia, it can go down to South Carolina. It can move just a little bit further, and that's what's going to cost the problems with, for job's here in North Carolina, [xx] for legislation. Further the discussions, further debate. Senator Tucker for what reason do you rise? Mr. President, a motion. We have had ample debate on this bill and it seems like it's going to continue. This morning, we were supposed to get out of here kind of early today. I make a motion that we would move this bill to Tuesday, August 4th. Calendar please. Without objection, so ordered. That brings us to to the completion of the calendar. Before we dismiss, it's customary and certainly in order that we acknowledge the good work that our Senate Pages have done this

week and thank them for attendance. And Pages, we thank you for being here and we hope that this week has been meaningful to you and that you'll come back and see us again. Mr. President. Senator [xx] for what purpose do you rise? To send forward a conference report out of order? You may send forward your conference report. Clerk will read. Conference Report from the President of the Senate. Conference Report, a bill to be entitled an Act to Amend the Law of [xx] the State Planning and juduciary to Amend the Uniform Trust Code and Established Uniform Powers of Appointment Act. Calendar. Notices and announcements? Mr. President. Yes, Senator Rabon, for what purpose do you rise? Point of personal privilege. You have the floor. Thank you. I know that Senator Tucker said a short day, we might want to get home for the weekend. But every once in a while something happens that will trigger an old man to stand up and try to talk to the younger people especially. As far as I'm concerned from what I've seen in history, we are a nation that's about to run amuck in a world that's about to run amuck, and a lot of things are pushing that and I believe that one for the things is this pensions or political correctness. To me political correctness is a [xx] of the truth, not a prevayor of any kind of truth. Not too long a ago the University of California came out and had a seminar for their instructors that dealt with terms not to say because it was offensive to people. None of the terms was it's offensive to someone to say that America is the land of opportunity. I want you to know that America is the land of opportunity. If that weren't true, I wouldn't be here and the people in this room wouldn't be here and the people in Washington wouldn't be where they are. We have all the opportunity in the world if we take the personal responsibilty to take advantage of the opportunities that are there. Now, I found out this morning [xx] and New Hampshire's are connected with 60 terms, the students are not allowed to say. One of those because of circumstances is to say I am an American, folks in the balcony, all you young people and all you Senators, I am American and I am proud to be American and everyone should be that way and you should be also. Do not let anyone ever tell you when your [xx] that America is the greatest thing that ever happened on Gods green earth. I want you to carry that with you. I want everyone to carry it with them. We are on a path I started why the first time when we first came out of the [xx] and Nazi Germany. There is no difference between all [xx], you have got to be careful. Protect your feelings by standing up for them, especially you have the right to say what you want. Thank you very much. Senator Woodard for what purpose of your rise? For a brief moment of personal privilege, Mr. President. You have the floor. Thank you Mr. President. Ladies and gentleman, it's been a pleasure this session for me and I suspect, for many of you to get to know and to work with my seatmates Senator Jane Smith. She's proven herself to be a thoughtful and capable legislator and she's become a friend and colleague. Helpful to know, she was the first democratic senator to get a bill passed this session and I have had the opportunity to see her work with the good people of Robinson and Columbus county and I can assure you she is providing first rate constituent service. Well Senator Smith's going to be celebrating her birthday this weekend. So, I hope on your way out this morning, you'll stop by and offer her best birthday wishes and join me now in wishing her birthday and many more. And many happy to returns of the day. Senator Luther for what purpose do you rise? A brief matter on the personal privilege. You have the floor. Thank you Mr. President and I'll be brief. I appreciate your words. I mean from the true American hero, I think the young people should understand that that's

a very sincere statement that you've made and they need to take it to heart considering the sacrifice and the work that you've done to protect this great land and the freedom of speech. But I rise because I want to take just a moment to thank the pages this week. In particular, I would like to thank my son who's been a page this week. Thomas, I'm not sure where Thomas is standing or where he's sitting. There he is, he's slipped in behind me. He's been rotating around but I just want you to know if he was ready and I hope everybody's going to stick around for his rendition of the old north state. He's been practising hard all week long and I just want to say it's too bad, it's not April the first, so I can say April fools. Thank you son for your service, and I hope you had a good week and I have certainly enjoyed getting to meet all of you friends this week. And I think they have done a admirable job. Thank you Mr President. Mr President. Senator Brock for what purpose do you rise? Brief moment of personal privilege. You have the floor. Thank you Mr President. I just want to rise today, and say thank you to my interns, that would be leaving today. Thank you who standing in the back, is a [xx] has [xx]. There's a new program through North Carolina State, [xx] for agricluture leadership. And they've worked in different parts of government through this past year whether it was from the executive branch to Department of Agriculture. They could hear a legislative branch, farm bureaus in a different sectors of agriculture in North Carolina. I think it's a great program. It's brand new and it's amazing, outstanding. Young people are involved with this and Senator Jackson we know that the agriculture will be in their hands in the not-too-distant future and it's real good that we have him here and the other intern, Matthew, has taken a position up in Washington, DC. He'll be leaving in over a week but technically this is their last day. So, I just want to say thank you, and thank you for putting up with one of the meanest bosses, and Judy's not here to say that about herself. She's listening, so I'm going to catch it when I get back. Thank you guys. Are they leaving or escaping? Is there further business to come before the Senate? Mr. President. Senator Tarte, for what purpose do you rise? A moment of personal privilege. You have the floor. Thank you. I just want to elaborate on Senator Newton's comments that he recognized the awards of Senator Rabon and I would request that his words be spread across the journal. But to point out, I don't know if some of us returned from last session when Senator [xx] read a lot of Senator and [xx] war record. For the pages here and those in the gallery, to recognize those who give the ultimate sacrifice and service to our country, Senator Soucek and Senator Daniel who are both Westpoint graduates, there are those in a number in this Chamber that have served in the military. But what I want you to notice when you leave the Chamber today, if you get an opportunity, look at the lapel Senator Rabon's jacket, there's a small metal bar. It's a military service ribbon. It represents the Silver Star, Silver Star's been in place since the first world war. We've had over 15 million men and women serve in our military. The silver star is the 3rd highest decoration you can be awarded. It's for gallantry in action against enemies of United States in combat. That is an amazing thing. We always hear always the phrase ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things. My grandfather was awarded two silver stars during World War II, and I had a opportunity after he passed away my grandmother gave me the citations for what he did they will bugle the mind what this people have done. Senator Rabon, Cornal Rabin time was decorated with the Silver Star during the Vietnam war. What he has done is truly a role model for this country. His word should be taken to heart. Our freedom is our greatest asset that we have, it is what make us great and I want you to recognize this people who have served in the military, and more importantly to take the heart, the words of great American, and my friend Cornal and Senator Rabon. Thank you Sir. This is the

beginning to sound like the last day of session. Mr. President. Oh, how I'd wish. Senator Lee for what purpose do you rise? Moment of personal privilege. You have the floor. I have to correct something Senator Newton said. First, you don't always need lawyers when there's a dispute. They are transactional lawyers like myself and Senator Barringer that help you avoid a dispute. So please continue to call us. Is that a commercial? It is. Seriously, I wanted to stand up and and let you know, this is the perfect excuse for me since my son Miles is here serving as a page this week, I want to thank my family publicly. I haven't had the opportunity to do that and this is the perfect excuse that I have. Many of you know that my wife and I have four children and Miles is actual the oldest of four. Our youngest is eight, and our youngest has had a series health issues throughout his whole life, and it has caused our children not to have to grow up a lot faster than they probably would have otherwise. And it has caused my wife and I to be absent at certain times for our other three more taking care of our youngest. And now because of public service, they find that I'm gone again. It's really hard, and some folks ask me the hardest part of it. It's not the law practices, it's not sometimes frustration that come along with something in the senate or legislature or in campaigning. A hardest part is missing a time at home, whether to the cross games, or wrestling matches, it's difficult. And, I want particularly thank Miles because he is our oldest and he helps my wife a lot, and when he turns 16 in a little less of a year, he is going to help her even more by driving all the kids to all of the things, they needed to give it to, it is not easy. I know lot of people in this chamber deal with exactly the same thing. But this was my perfect opportunity to stand up and publicly thank my son and the rest of my family, especially my wife. Thank you. Further notices and announcements. Senator Alexander for what purpose do you rise? To see if Senator Smith will answer a question. Senator Smith, would you yield to a question? I'm not sure. It may depend on what the question is. Would you give. Go ahead senator Alexander. Senator Smith could we ask which birthday this is for you ma'am. Yes, I'm as old as dirt, I will be 69 on Sunday. Happy 69th birthday. Thanks. I will think it's a good thing Senator Alexander that you're way on the other side of the floor from Senator Smith after asking that question. Further notices and announcements. Hearing none, the chair recognizes Senator Tucker for a motion. Thank you Mr. President. Members, there has been the case lately we've had a session at 1:30. It's really administrative session which we'll have another one on Monday at 1:30, so we'll adjourn to 1:30 and then we will have a voting session Monday night at seven o'clock, like we have in the past. Mr. President, I moved that the senate do now adjourn subject to the standards stipulation set forth and senate rule 24.1 ratification of bills, the appointment of conferees and the pursuit[ of house messages to reconvene on Monday, August 3rd, 2015 at 1:30 PM. The motion is that the senate do now adjourn. Subject to the stipulation stated by Senator Tucker to reconvene on Monday, August 3rd at 1:30 PM seconded by Senator Smith who is going to celebrate her 39th birthday this weekend. All in favor will please say Aye, Aye. All opposed say No. The senate is adjourned.