Raleigh, N.C. — By holding off from doing TheWrap@NCCapitol on Thursday night, we can provide you with updates to two important stories: Former Sen. Fletcher Hartsell has reached a plea deal in his long-running campaign finance case, and the "Toonces bill" is no more.
Hartsell, R-Cabarrus, who didn't seek re-election last fall, has been under investigation for several years for alleged improper use of his campaign funds. He has agreed to plead guilty to federal tax and mail fraud charges in the case.
Rep. Garland Pierce, D-Scotland, said pushback against his proposal that people who drive with pets in their laps should receive a traffic citation prompted him not to move forward with the legislation. Rather, he plans to use the bill to seek a study of distracted driving issues.
On Thursday, the House passed legislation calling for an amendment to the state constitution that would limit the ability of state and local government to take private land for public uses and a second bill that would give school districts more flexibility to meet class size mandates in elementary schools.
Also in the House, Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, has filed two bills that would crack down on illegal immigration. One would withhold state funds from cities that refuse to enforce immigration laws and the second would allow people to sue cities if they believe they aren't enforcing immigration laws.
Meanwhile, the Senate gave preliminary approval to a measure that would reduce the size of the UNC Board of Governors from 32 to 24 members. It is set for a final vote next week and would then become the first legislation this year to go to Gov. Roy Cooper.