Politics & Government

Schools in areas damaged by storm can waive 20 attendance days, NC leaders agree

State political leaders on Tuesday crafted disaster-relief legislation aimed at quickly moving millions of dollars to ensure compensation for school employees and allow schools to waive up to 20 school days in the hardest-hit counties.

Flexibility on voter registration and polling places damaged in the storm are also part of the recovery plan.

A joint House and Senate committee unanimously approved the legislation — House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 2 — followed by unanimous approval in the full House and Senate.

The $56.5 million in relief is just the first step in what is expected to be months or years of recovery efforts. Legislators plan to return on Oct. 15 for additional funding consideration after state agencies are able to assess how much more money will be needed.

Throughout Eastern North Carolina, schools have been unable to reopen and more than two dozen are still operating in states of emergency.

“We’ve got a lot of problems, no question,” Sen. Harry Brown, a Republican from Jacksonville who is the chief budget writer in the Senate, said in a committee meeting. “This is just the beginning of a lot of what we’re going to do.”

Legislative leaders and Gov. Roy Cooper, who is expected to approve the legislation, said they are in agreement about Tuesday’s funding. Legislators said it was the quickest storm recovery response in recent memory.

Cooper is a Democrat and Republicans control the legislature.

“It’s always good to see partisanship and some of the crazy divisions we let ourselves get into have been put aside for everybody to work together,” House Speaker Tim Moore said on the House floor. “This special session is an example of that.”

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All of the money approved for disaster-relief on Tuesday will come from the state’s rainy day fund.

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