Today @NCCapitol (5/22): Celebrating an anniversary and pushing ahead with fracking
Posted May 22, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Thursday, May 22. Here's what's going on at the General Assembly and elsewhere in state government.
HISTORIC HOUSE: State Representatives will meet in the historic state Capitol Building in honor of the 220th anniversary of the legislature's first meeting in Raleigh. In addition to giving a nod to history, the House is expected to give tentative approval to a sales tax clarification needed before people start renting houses for the U.S. Open golf tournament this summer in Pinehurst.
The House Session is scheduled for 11 a.m., and WRAL.com plans to carry it live. Check the Video Central box on the homepage.
BOUNCED: The resolution does try to sober up history a bit.
"Whereas, in 1788, the Constitutional Convention decided that the State's capital should be located within 10 miles of Isaac Hunter's plantation in Wake County," reads the initial draft of the House resolution recognizing its 220th anniversary.
According to the state library and Department of Cultural Resources, it was not so much the plantation as Isaac Hunter's tavern that was the epicenter of the search for a new permanent home for North Carolina's capital city. According to several accounts, the tavern was both a geographically convenient stop for many travelers and served a pretty good Cherry Bounce, a popular alcoholic beverage of the time.
SENATE STAYING: Senators will not bounce up the street for their session. The historic capitol does not have many of the modern conveniences, including the electronic voting system that helps clerks keep up with the votes on amendments and legislation. Regulatory reform heads for Senate floor Senate hits gusher with quick approval of drilling bill
Two major bills are on the Senate's plate. After tentatively granting approval Wednesday to a measure that would allow natural gas drilling permits to be issued in 2015 versus 2016, Senators are expected to grant final approval Thursday, sending the bill to the state House.
Senators are also expected to vote on a package of regulatory reforms, from changing parking fines for handicapped spaces to changing when polluters can be charged for spills.
COMMITTEES: Legislative committees scheduled to meet include:
SENATE JUDICIARY 1 (10 a.m.): The committee is scheduled to take up a package of measures that would adjust when and how certain businesses could be sued. Many of the measures have been pushed by national pro-business groups but raised eyebrows when first vetted on Tuesday as lawyers said several of the measures were duplicative and confusing.
HOUSE RULES (10 a.m.): The committee is scheduled to sign off on Gov. Pat McCrory's appointments for state controller and a new member of the Industrial Commission. Also, committee members will look over a measure designed to ensure the annual possum drop celebration on New Year's Eve is able to go forward.
HOUSE BANKING (10 minutes after session): The committee will take up a measure titled, "Conform Pledge of Joint Account Laws."
THE GOVERNOR: McCrory will be in Charlotte. He is scheduled to attend a North Carolina Heroes' Fund lunch.
ELECTIONS: The State Board of Elections is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. to certify the results of the May 6 primary.
JUVENILES: Late Wednesday, the state House passed a bill allowing 16- and 17-year-old misdemeanor offenders to be considered juveniles. Currently, anyone 16 or older is treated as an adult in the criminal justice system, a situation that proponents of the measure say turns foolish mistakes into lifetime handicaps. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
BRAWLEY BRAWL: This much is clear: Rep. Robert Brawley, R-Iredell, will no longer participate as a full-fledged member of the House Republican caucus. House Republicans held a vote of no confidence on Brawley on Tuesday evening. "Effectively, it removed me from the caucus," Brawley said. He has been a vocal critic of House Speaker Thom Tillis.
CARBON MONOXIDE: "Responding to last year’s deaths at a Boone hotel, North Carolina lawmakers are proposing to broaden and clarify laws on carbon monoxide alerts in hotels and other lodgings," according to the Charlotte Observer.
TILLIS TALKS: House Speaker Thom Tillis made an appearance Wednesday before the state’s chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a small-business advocacy group. Although he mentioned his U.S. Senate campaign only once, and obliquely at that, it was a clear subtext for many of his remarks.
TAXES: The tax bill dealing with electronic cigarettes and privilege licenses for cities was approved a second time by the state House Wednesday, sending the measure to the Senate.
TROLLS: The House Commerce Committee approved a bill that would give North Carolina companies recourse against patent trolls. It now goes to a judiciary committee.
ENERGY: Natural gas pipeline expansions may be in the works for North Carolina in the next few years as leaders weigh long-term energy plans, officials said at the North Carolina Energy Policy Council meeting Wednesday morning.
MARIJUANA: A state lawmaker wants to put the issue of medical marijuana before North Carolina voters as a proposed constitutional amendment. Rep. Kelly Alexander, D-Mecklenburg, filed House Bill 1161 on Tuesday calling for a referendum on the November ballot to legalize the cultivation and use of marijuana in North Carolina to treat more than two dozen "debilitating medical conditions," from cancer and Lou Gehrig's disease to incontinence and sleep apnea. Constitutional amendments are extremely difficult to pass, requiring super majorities in both the state House and Senate before going to the voters.
PUBS: A Wilmington lawmaker has filed a bill that would allow bars to operate as normal businesses rather than quasi-private clubs.