Today @NCCapitol (5/23): Skeleton sessions meet as Senate prepares budget
Posted May 23, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Friday, May 23. Here's what's going on at the General Assembly and elsewhere in state government.
SKELETONS: The state House is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. and the state Senate at 9:30 a.m. for skeleton sessions. No legislation is heard during such sessions, when only a few lawmakers show up to say the Pledge of Allegiance, make announcements and adjourn. There are no public legislative committee meetings scheduled.
Lawmakers are not scheduled to meet on Monday, Memorial Day, but will be back to work on Tuesday.
BUDGET: Senate leaders are getting close to rolling out their version of the $21 billion state budget.
Senate Budget Chairman Harry Brown, R-Onslow, said top leaders hoped to put the finishing touches on their initial proposal Friday, giving staffers time to finish drafting the bill before holding budget committee meetings "sometime in the middle of the week, and probably vote it out sometime late next week."
That timeline fits with the expectations of Senate staffers as well as House Speaker Thom Tillis, who said his chamber expected to receive the state Senate's budget late next week.
TEACHER RAISES: As the Senate readies its budget, the North Carolina Association of Educators raised complaints about the budget plan put forward by Gov. Pat McCrory. About 1,500 veteran teachers wouldn't see any pay raise under a plan McCrory has proposed in his 2014-15 budget, the teachers group said Thursday. Eric Guckian, McCrory’s senior adviser on education, said that the budget plan "simply funds the current salary schedule in its current form" and said that experienced teachers would be eligible to earn more under the Career Pathways for Teachers program that McCrory recently proposed.
MCCRORY: The governor is scheduled to make an economic development announcement at 9:30 a.m. in Tobaccoville. The announcement is scheduled to take place at an RJ Reynolds facility and is widely expected to concern the expansion of the company's e-cigarette manufacturing operation.
"I believe, within the next two days, three days, you will hear of an announcement of a new industry, not a new industry, not new in name to us, but a new opening of a factory in North Carolina that will provide about close to 300 new jobs for us," Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie, said during debate on a tax bill this week. That bill sets an excise tax on e-cigarettes that is low relative to that paid for traditional cigarettes.
FRACKING: Senators have sent the state House a measure that would require the state to start issuing permits for a natural gas drilling process known as "fracking" in the summer of 2015. Before sending the bill over, senators did lower penalties for state officials who released confidential information related to fracking chemicals and increased to $1 million the bond a drill operator needed in order to work on a well.
REGULATORY REFORM: Senators gave tentative approval to a bill designed to cut down on unneeded regulations Thursday, but not before putting some legislative trickery on display. The Senate will take a final vote on the measure next week before sending it to the state House.
GOOLSBY: Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, and his investment firm, Empowered Investor, have agreed not to offer investment advice under the terms of a agreement reached with the Secretary of State's Office.
CHIEF VINDICATED: Fifteen months after the state Department of Public Safety fired Tony Asion as chief of the State Capitol Police, a judge has said that officials had no grounds to take such action. In his first public statements since Administrative Law Judge Donald Overby issued his ruling, Asion said Thursday that he feels vindicated and now has a chance to move on with his life.
ANNIVERSARY: The North Carolina House met in the historic State Capitol chambers Thursday to honor the 220th anniversary of the establishment of a permanent seat of state government in Raleigh. Before 1788, the House – and its predecessor, the House of Burgesses – met in different cities around the state. In 1788, they voted to select a central site that would become the seat of state government.
FILM: "Gov. Pat McCrory has proposed changes to North Carolina's film tax credit program that his administration says would cost the state much less than the one set to expire at year's end," the Associated Press reports. The plan was outlined in the governor's budget bill filed in the state Senate on Thursday.