2013 N.C. General Assembly Issue Tracker
The General Assembly returns to work on Jan. 30 and will tackle a number of issues ranging from constructing the annual budget to tax reform and voter ID. This page will keep track of the most high profile issues, linking to stories and bills, and updating their status on a regular basis. Issues will be added as they come up throughout the session.
A proposed rewrite of North Carolina's tax system could eliminate state income taxes but expand sales taxes. STATUS: Senate leaders unveiled the outlines of a tax reform proposal on May 7. There is still no formal bill, but top leaders say they wish to cut sales, income and corporate income taxes.
House and Senate lawmakers have filed bills that would break a lease signed between the state and the city of Raleigh for the 325-acre Dorothea Dix campus in Raleigh. City leaders argue the state is reneging on a properly executed deal. Lawmakers say they are getting a better deal for the state than the agreement hastily signed by Gov. Bev Perdue on her way out of office. STATUS: The full Senate passed the measure to tear up the Dix campus lease on March 26. The measure is now in the hands of the state House.
Legislative leaders are uncertain what, if any, legislation related to firearms will move this year. STATUS: The state House voted Tuesday, March 26, for a bill that would exempt concealed handgun permits from the state's public records law. That measure now goes to the Senate. The state House passed a broad gun policy bill on May 6. The bill has two basic sections. One section, favored by law enforcement, increases penalties for gun-related crimes and requires faster reporting of those with mental health problems to a national database of used for background checks. More controversial sections of the bill allow those with concealed handgun permits to carry their weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol and leave them in the trunk of their car when driving onto a college campus. The measure is now pending in the state Senate.
While North Carolina has a small budget surplus, Republican lawmakers say they hope to trim more spending from state government. STATUS: Gov. Pat McCrory has turned in his proposed budget to the General Assembly. The state Senate will now draft a spending plan. The current budget expires on June 30.
Lawmakers say they will push through a bill that will require voters to show photo ID at the polls. STATUS: The State House passed a Voter ID bill on April 24. The bill is now pending in the state Senate.
Both Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis say "regulatory reform" will be a big part of their agenda this year. The pair say they want to cut down on excessive regulations that hurt businesses. STATUS: Several broad regulatory reform bills have been filed. House and Senate lawmakers could not agree on a final version of a bill that would replace members of several state boards and commissions. A new version of that measure is now on the move. Also, several bill that would call on agencies to do away with administrative rules are moving through the General Assembly.
Group homes for the mentally ill and special care units for Alzheimer's patients both face funding issues that have the potential to require many patients to move. Lawmakers have said they will fix both problems with a single bill. STATUS: The Alzheimer's issue may not be repaired by legislation. The state Senate has revised a House-passed measure to provide stopgap funding for group homes. The bill now includes funding for Alzheimer's special care units. The Senate passed that bill on Thursday, Feb. 21, and it was passed by the House on a concurrence vote Tuesday, Feb. 26. Gov. Pat McCrory has signed the bill and it has become law.
Lawmakers will have the final say on whether "fracking," the common name for a group of practices that involves using horizontal drilling and explosives to drill for natural gas, becomes legal in North Carolina. STATUS: Senate Bill 76, setting fees and allowing the state to issue permits for fracking, has bee approved by the Senate. It is now pending in the House Commerce Committee.
Constitutional amendments setting limits for top legislative leaders, making the state Superintendent of Public Instruction an appointed position, curbing the use of eminent domain, and on other topics have been filed. If passed by the legislature, an amendment goes to a vote of the people. STATUS: An amendment that would restrict the government's use of eminent domain has cleared the state House and is awaiting action in the Senate.
Despite a state Supreme Court ruling upholding a ban on the games, sweepstakes machines continue to operate across the state. Lawmakers must decide if and how to regulate them. STATUS: A bipartisan group of House members has filed a measure to legalize and tax the games. However, the Senate Rules Chairman says there is "no appetite" for legalization bill in his chamber.
House lawmakers have passed HB 156: The Honest Lottery Act. The bill that restricts where and how the lottery could advertise. The bill would also require more disclosures regarding the odds of winning. The measure is now pending in the Senate.
A plan to repay North Carolina's unemployment debt could mean fewer benefits for laid off workers. STATUS: This bill was signed into law on Tuesday, Feb. 19.
North Carolina will have to decide whether to run a health insurance exchange or expand Medicaid in response to the federal Affordable Care Act. STATUS: The Senate approved a bill prohibiting Medicaid expansion or state involvement in health exchanges on Tuesday, Feb. 5. The full House gave final approval to the measure on Feb. 14. Senate lawmakers rejected the House version of the bill. However, Sen. Tom Apodaca said that a conference committee has met and resolved the differences. That measure has been approved by the House and Senate and signed by the governor. It is now law.