The issues lawmakers left on the table

Posted June 28, 2012
Updated June 29, 2012

— Leaders at the General Assembly plan to shut down their session for the year on Monday or Tuesday. Sine Die -- Latin for "without day" -- adjournment means lawmakers do not plan on doing any further work this year. 

This has been the first legislature in which Republicans controlled both the House and Senate since the late 1800s. And while the two groups of GOP lawmakers have been able to push through an aggressive agenda, they are leaving some items unfinished. 

North Carolina Legislature Building (4x3) Lawmakers to leave some items on table

Among the items that appear likely to be left undone:

SWEEPSTAKES: Lawmakers won't legalize video sweepstakes this year. Supporters of the idea say taxing the games could bring in a lot of revenue. But House Speaker Thom Tillis says they're out of time to take it up.

"There are a lot of legitimate questions raised about it. And as part of tax reform next year, I suspect that's something that we will look at at that time, but I don't see any of that moving for the remainder of this session," House Speaker Thom Tillis said.

While there has been some support for taxing and legalizing sweepstakes in the House, Senate Republicans do not support such a move.

RESTAURANT CARRY: A bill that would have allowed people to carry firearms into restaurants that serve alcohol has been hung-up in the Senate. The same bill would have required cities to allow concealed weapons on greenways.

Paul Meyer with the League of municipalities says that decision should be left up to local officials. He says many greenways connect playgrounds and athletic parks where guns are banned.

"We also had private property owners where we had easements for these greenways and those folks don't want to have guns on what is essentially their property," Meyer said. 

VOTER ID: Conservatives, including Republican candidate for governor Pat McCrory, have been calling for voters to be required to show identification when they go to vote. Lawmakers passed a strict photo ID requirement last year, but Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed it. The House has thus far been unable to override that veto. 

This year, House Speaker Thom Tillis had hoped to pass a compromise bill that would have allowed voters to use forms of ID other than photo IDs. That bill appears to be dead for the session. 

"The thought being that 44549 having some level of verification that someone is who they say they are is better than having none. 45:56 Frankly, we just weren't able to strike a balance," Elections Committee Chairman David Lewis.

The House could still try to override the veto on voter ID. Even if that happens, the measure would still be subject to approval by the U.S. Justice Department, which would delay the new rules from taking effect until after this Fall's election.

EDUCATION CREDITS: Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, R-Wake, had been pushing a bill to create a tax credit for companies that donate to a fund that would help low income students go to private schools. 

Public school advocates opposed the measure, saying it would siphon tax dollars away from public schools. Stam insisted the measure would benefit the public schools because it would take some harder-to-teach students out of public classrooms. And Rep. Marcus Brandon, D-High Point, said the measure would help students, particularly in minority communities. 

However, the measure failed a committee vote Thursday morning. Although Stam initially said he could use an little use parliamentary procedure to move the bill forward, it was unclear if he would do that Thursday evening.

RAISE THE AGE: A proposal to raise the age at which North Carolina teens can be charged as adults appears to have run out of steam this session. Senate Bill 434, backed by several Republican leaders, would have raised to 18 the age at which youthful misdemeanants (who make up more than 80% of teen offenders) could be processed and tried as adults. It was turned into a study bill tonight in House Rules. 

BAIL BONDS:  A bill that would have limited pre-trial release programs appears to be stuck back in committee for the duration of the session. The measure was sought by the bail bonds industry, but provoked a backlash form police, sheriffs and judges. 

MOST FAVORED NATION: Lawmakers had been looking at a bill that would that would keep BlueCross Blue Shield from demanding preferential treatment in their contracts with hospitals and doctors. It now appears time has run out on that bill. 

WAITING ON PERDUE: At this point, Republican leaders are waiting to see whether Governor Bev Perdue will veto the budget, or the fracking bill, or the racial justice repeal. She has to decide by Sunday, giving them a chance to override those vetoes before they leave town.


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