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2020 NC General Assembly Short Session Summary

During this historically short session, the General Assembly passed legislation dealing with COVID relief efforts, NC Department of Transportation funding and governance, Medicaid’s transition to managed care.


HB 118 – COVID-19 Liab. Safe Harbor
Status: Signed by the Governor (July 2)

Bill Summary

This bill strengthened the liability protections included in SB 704 and extended the time period for which the limited liability applies.

Bill Specifics 

  • All businesses are protected from claims arising from contraction of COVID19.
  • Does not provide immunity for any act or omission amounting to gross negligence, willful or wanton conduct, or intentional wrongdoing.
  • Requires all businesses to provide notice of actions taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on their premises. This notice can be on a website.
  • Does not require notice on premises owned by an individual that are not used in operating a sole proprietorship.
  • Applies to claims arising up to 180 days after the expiration or rescission of Executive Order No. 116, issued on March 10, 2020.
  • This protection does not apply to workers compensation claims.


HB 1023 – Coronavirus Relief Fund/Additions & Revisions
Status: Enacted

Bill Summary

Provides additional funding through federal coronavirus relief funds and makes other policy changes necessary due to the pandemic.

Bill Specifics

  • Secured another $10 million in funding for tourism.
  • Extends the emergency notarizations and waiver of the Good Funds Settlement Act provisions included in SB 704 from August 1, 2020 to March 1, 2021.


HB 1057 – WC/COVID-19 Front Line Coverage/Funds
Status: NO ACTION (Likely Dead for Remainder of Session)NC REALTORS® OPPOSED

Bill Summary

This would have expanded workers’ compensation coverage for essential employees that were generally required to continue their normal duties during a pandemic.

Bill Specifics

  • Current law maintains the burden of proof on the employee in all workers compensation claims in North Carolina.
  • The bill created a rebuttable presumption that if these employees contracted COVID-19 it was likely contracted at work, making them eligible for workers’ compensation.


HB 1208 – Funding for Workforce Housing Loan Program
Status: Enacted
REALTOR® Stance: Priority 

Bill Summary

Provides annual appropriation for the Workforce Housing Loan Program through the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency.

Bill Specifics

  • The Workforce Housing Loan Program provides loans for qualifying low-income housing development construction or rehabilitation.
  • Provides $20 million in nonrecurring funds to be used during the 2020-21 fiscal year.
  • Appropriations were moved from other funds with unused money.


SB 212 – Capitol Appropriations/R&R/DIT/Cybersecurity
Status: Enacted

Bill Summary

This bill funds various capital repairs and renovations for state agencies and universities. It also makes changes related to funding and administering capital projects as well as makes other state agency policy changes.

Bill Specifics

  • Section 10 of this bill secured a permanent change to the definition of the year-round school calendar to prevent schools from skirting the school calendar law enacted in 2004.


SB 704 – COVID-19 Recovery Act.
Status: Enacted

Bill Specifics

  • Sections 2.10 and 2.11- School Calendar Changes
    • Schools will start Aug. 17th this year.
    • Prevented this from being Aug 10th
    • Prevented an optional 2 week “catch up” class from starting Aug 3rd.
    • Language was added to strengthen the definition of year-round schools to prevent schools from getting around the calendar law by calling themselves year-round because they offered summer school.
  • Section 4.1 – Emergency Video Notary
    • Allows notarizations to be considered “in-person” for purposes of the law if they are done via a video conference technology.
  • Section 4.12 – Good Funds Settlement Act
    • Provides for the temporary waiver of the requirement that all recording of a deed occur prior to disbursement of funds in a real estate transaction when the register of deeds office is closed and not accepting document filings in any format.
    • Closing funds cannot be disbursed prior to recording unless all of the following conditions are met:
      • The office of the register of deeds is located within the emergency area under G.S. 166A-19.20, is closed to the public as a result of the declaration of emergency, and is unable to accept documents for recording by any method, including in-person or electronic recording.
      • The lender’s closing instructions authorize disbursement of closing funds prior to recording.
      • All parties agree in writing to waive the requirement of G.S. 45A-4 and the acknowledge all of the following:
        • that the recordation date may not be known on the date of closing;
        • that they are aware of the risks and implications of proceeding with disbursement of closing funds and, if applicable, transfer of possession of property prior to recordation;
        • that after disbursement of closing funds and prior to recordation, no party to the transaction will take any action to impair the quality of the title in law or equity; and
        • Any other terms the parties or the closing instructions require as a condition of disbursement of closing funds prior to recording.
      • The settlement agent must:
        • comply with all conditions of the closing instructions;
        • procure a commitment of title insurance providing for title insurance that includes indemnity coverage for the gap period between the date of disbursement of closing funds and the date of recordation of the necessary documents;
        • update the applicable title from the date of the preliminary title opinion to the time of disbursement using those public records reasonably available to the settlement agent on the date of disbursement. and
        • hold in a fiduciary capacity until all deeds, deeds of trust, and any other required loan documents that are to be recorded.
  • Section 4.14 – Limited Liability
    • Limits liability for landlords and vacation rental managers from claims people got COVID-19 from their apartments or vacation rentals.



HB 1200 – Foreclosure Prev.Grants/Rental & Utility Asst.
Status: Pending

Bill Summary

Provides funding for grant programs to assist with the payment of rent, mortgages and utilities for those with financial hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bill Specifics

  • PCS not online
  • Gives the Housing Finance Agency $200 million to help tenants pay rent, mortgagees pay their mortgage, and all pay for their utilities for up to 9 months from March 1 through December 31, 2020.
  • Must have a direct correlation with COVID as reason for inability to pay.
    • HFA directly pays the landlord or mortgagor.
    • There are some limitations on who can apply based on income levels and cost of housing.

This bill is eligible for consideration when the NCGA returns in September and we will be advocating for funding through the interim.


HB 1224 – Pandemic Emergency Asst.: Restaurants/Lodging
Status: Pending

Bill Summary

Provides funding for grant programs to assist restaurants and lodging facilities that suffered financial hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bill Specifics

  • Secured a change which will be included when the bills are heard in committee to ensure vacation rental management companies can take advantage of any relief funding for lodging facilities shut down by COVID-19.

This bill is eligible for consideration when the NCGA returns in September and we will be monitoring it through the interim.

More Details



2019-Present: North Carolina is currently operating on the 2018 fiscal year budget, supplemented by a series of single-issue funding bills enacted in 2019 and 2020.

The governor vetoed the legislature’s 2019 budget on June 28, 2019, and both chambers were unable to override the veto in advance of this year’s session. The pandemic tabled any efforts to seek an override as the budgeting priorities shifted.

The economists at the legislature’s Fiscal Research Division and the governor’s Office of State Budget and Management work together to agree to a “consensus forecast”. For the two fiscal years (2019-2020, 2020-2021), the current revenue shortfall is expected to be $4B. We anticipate a revision on the projected shortfall after the July 15 tax returns are calculated.


Numbers At-A-Glance

NC Annual Budget ~$25B
Surplus Due to No New Budget $1.7B
Possible Shortfall ~$4B
Rainy Day Fund $1.6B
CARES Fund Total to NC $3.6B
CARES Fund – NC Current Spend $3.048B ($552M remaining)



Governor Cooper (D) & The Budget: The governor is required to offer a budget recommendation to the legislature for consideration in long session (odd-numbered) years. There is some thought Governor Cooper may release a recommended budget mid to late July and call the legislature into special session.

The legislature is not required to pass a budget in the short session, but by signing several appropriations bills the last few weeks likely signals there will not be a comprehensive budget.



The NCGA passed HB 77 which overhauled the NCDOT governance structure and 2020 budget. A link to the full bill can be found here and a link to a brief summary here.

No additional money from the General Fund was appropriated to balance the budget, rather dollars within the existing budget were reallocated and the Build NC Bonds funds were extended. The goal is to get existing projects restarted while setting up a structure to prevent spending overruns in the future by giving the NCDOT Board more financial oversight.

This legislation was allowed to become law on July 6 without the Governor’s signature following the 10-day waiting period.



The legislature quickly passed two bills to address most of the immediate COVID-19 related issues. SB 704 (Summary) and HB 1043 (Summary) were enacted within the first two weeks of session and were a product of bipartisanship.

In the last day of session, HB 1023 (Summary) was passed to address the remaining issues related to COVID-19 hurdles and provide extensions to provisions in the original legislation.

All of these bills have been enacted.

Be Epic. Be an NC REALTOR®.