Today @NCCapitol (5/27): A nighttime tax hearing, dropping possums and more on legislative calendar

Posted May 27, 2014

— Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Tuesday, May 27. Here's what's going on in state government.

THE SENATE: There are no bills on the calendar for when the state Senate convenes at 5 p.m. 

At 7 p.m., the Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to take up the omnibus tax law bill passed by the House last week. As senators prepare to roll out their budget, this is an important first step. While the budget describes how the state will spend its $21 billion budget over the next year, the finance package projects how much money will be available to spend. 

THE HOUSE: The state House will meet at 4 p.m. and take up a number of bills, including one measure meant to clear the way for the annual Brasstown Possum Drop on New Year's Eve and bills meant to confirm Gov. Pat McCrory's choices for state comptroller and a member of the Industrial Commission. 

MORAL MONDAY ON TUESDAY: Lawmakers were off for the Memorial Day holiday, so the protesters who make up the "Moral Monday" movement shifted their events to Tuesday this week. The group, lead by the state NAACP, says they plan "to lobby our lawmakers directly to repent for the harm inflicted by their ideological choices." Activities begin at 12:30 p.m. on the mall area behind the Legislative Building.

COMMITTEES: Among the House Committees meeting are: 

House Education (10 a.m. | 643 LOB): Four bills are on the committee's calendar, including a measure to better keep track of military-connected students in the public school system and a bill that would require school systems to provide the keys and floor plans of all schools to local police and sheriff's departments. 

House Insurance (1 p.m. | 1228 LB): The committee has one bill on its calendar. As currently written, that measure would deal with when insurers could set prices for certain vision care services. 

House Judiciary B (3 p.m. | 421 LOB): Bills dealing with patent trolls and violations of the state's ignition interlock program for drunken drivers are on the calendar. 

House Public Utilities (15 minutes after the state House session ends | 643 LOB): There is no agenda for this meeting, which was scheduled, canceled and rescheduled via the legislature's electronic notice system this weekend. 

ALSO ON THE CALENDAR: The North Carolina Charter Schools Advisory Board will meet via conference call from 9 to 11 a.m. Members will discuss and vote on proposed changes to the charter application and charter application process. To listen, call 712-432-1500 and enter the following participant access code when requested: 797890#.

CITIES: Local governments suffered a double blow in Raleigh last week, as state lawmakers passed bills that limit their power to raise money and control land use. Republican legislative leaders say the limits are needed because some local governments have abused their powers, but city and county leaders say they feel like they're under siege.

Moral Monday protest Sit-in ensues after Tillis declines to meet protesters ON THE RECORD: This weekend's "On the Record" took a break from politics and featured Clarence Williams and Leonard Peebles, who have worked at Capitol Broadcasting Company for more than 80 years combined. {{a href="video-1'}}They talked about returning to Vietnam decades after having fought there{{/a}}. 

THE PRESIDENT: From the Associated Press: 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Aiming to diversify and strengthen the nation's technological workforce, President Barack Obama is hosting the White House's annual science fair with an emphasis on the achievements of girls and women and with new initiatives to improve science, technology, engineering and math education.

Obama was to announce Tuesday new assistance to train teachers, help for low-income students and a mentoring program in seven cities across the country.

The White House says Obama will announce a new $35 million Education Department competition for teacher training programs as part of his goal to train 100,000 educators in science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM.

He will also announce and expansion of AmeriCorps to help teach STEM to 18,000 low-income students this summer and a national STEM mentoring project in seven communities: Chicago; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Allentown, Pa.; Indianapolis; the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina; and Wichita, Kan.

Teacher Salary MapTEACHER SALARIES: The Washington Post published a map this weekend that shows "the estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools" for every state in the country. North Carolina ranks in the bottom five on the graphic. 

BEASON: Donald Beason, the high-profile lobbyist who became embroiled in the scandal that sent former House Speaker Jim Black to prison, has once again been cleared of illegally lobbying. In 2013, Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway threw out a $30,000 fine levied against Beason by the Secretary of State's Office. State officials claimed Beason had failed to properly register in connection with his work to relax North Carolina's "Buy America" law. An appeals court ordered Ridgeway to reconsidered his ruling to take into account a broader swath of state law. Ridgeway issued that new ruling last week, writing, "The court now further finds and concludes that there is no evidence of record that the Petitioner, through direct communications or activities with a designated individual ... engaged in influencing or attempting to influence legislative or executive action." 

GRANT: North Carolina is getting more than $4 million to build housing and other benefits for homeless veterans. Gov. Pat McCrory announced the federal grant Monday. The $4.2 million will be used to transform an unused state building in Butner into the Veterans Life Center.

WRIGHT: Former North Carolina Rep. Thomas Wright was released from prison Monday after spending more than six years behind bars for mishandling charity contributions and fraudulently obtaining a $150,000 loan. Wright left a minimum-security prison in Wilmington around 6:30 a.m., state Department of Public Safety spokesman Keith Acree said.

MEDICAL EXAMINERS: "Gov. Pat McCrory and lawmakers are promising a review of North Carolina’s troubled medical examiner system following an Observer series showing that examiners conducted thousands of faulty investigations into suspicious deaths,"reports the Charlotte Observer

VAPOR JOBS: R.J. Reynolds is creating 200 jobs at a plant in Tobaccoville for production of electronic cigarettes. The company is not receiving any state incentives for the jobs or investment in plant facilities, reports WRAL TechWire.

NOTED: "The Veterans of Foreign Wars leadership blistered Sen. Richard Burr after the North Carolina Republican penned an open letter late Friday impugning the staff of veterans groups for not calling for new leadership at the Department of Veterans Affairs," reports the newspaper, Roll Call. The newspaper published an excerpt from the VFW's letter on this website, which included: 

“The VFW staff you chose to rebuke and whose principles you have questioned walk the walk. They’ve been there, done that and some of them have the scars to show for it. Collectively, those same staff members have among them more than 47 combat deployments. This includes deployments to Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Their awards include four Purple Hearts, sixteen Air Medals, Bronze Stars and a variety of other awards. Some rely on VA for their health care and residual treatment associated with their military service. They understand firsthand the problems existing within the system because, unlike the majority of people, they’ve been willing to do what others won’t. Senator, that is exactly why we find your personal attack so disgusting."


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  • "Screen Name-8/20" May 27, 2014

    They need tape over their eyes and ears too, cause they're totally clueless as to how they're being used for this by nothing more than a political party, who cares nothing about the issues and everything about making the other political party look bad. sigh

  • "Screen Name-8/20" May 27, 2014

    And as for the Possum Drop, quit wasting time and taxpayer dollars on that stupid abusive issue already.

    Enlightened folks KNOW you should never do anything to an animal you wouldn't do to a child. Those that don't seem to know that need to some serious enlightening.

    God appointed us the Caregivers of those of the animal kingdom - not their users or abusers, their Caregivers - to forever give care to them and their needs.

    Dropping (or lowering) a possum or any other animal from any height in an acrylic box so they can clearly see how far they're being dropped from is not only "use" (and I believe "abuse) of that animal, were it done to a child, everyone (with even half a brain) would be raising Cain, and everyone with half a brain should be raising Cain about this too.

  • teleman60 May 27, 2014

    Why not invest the $4.2 million grant on the Dix property? Any homeless Vets would be closer to acquaintances in Raleigh than they will in BUTNER - AT A PRISON facility! That's what unused building's are in Butner.

    They possum issue only strikes to the true nature of the majority NC legislators. Anyone that thinks this is amusing has a PROBLEM but that should be evident FROM ANY LEGISLATION the NC GA has passed in the last 2 years.

    Motorcycle Abortion - hunting with silencers - voter suppression - taxcuts causing $400 million budget shortfalls - gutting the DENR and so much more.

  • Rod Runner May 27, 2014
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    View quoted thread

    Teachers poorER did though. And if they really wanted to prove it was the Democrats that made it all happen, then why not throw the teachers some awesome raises and say "it's for the children!"

    You can't really point the finger at Democrats when you continue to do the same or worse.

    I'll just point my finger at Democrats and Republicans and demand they fix the problems.

  • Rod Runner May 27, 2014
    user avatar

    How many jobs will saving the annual possom drop create?

    I honestly don't care if they drop a possom or not, a possom scared me when I was a child and I have no love for them.

    But is this that important for the State legislature to be getting into this year?

  • euimport1 May 27, 2014

    possum drop to the top of the list! all else pales by contrast. how can this even be on any list??

  • Michael Hart May 27, 2014
    user avatar

    ah Yes, the Possum drop! what's more important than that? Maybe Jobs!, Jobs! Jobs!.....

  • Terry Watts May 27, 2014
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    View quoted thread

    IN 2006, we were ranked 27th for teacher pay. Then the economic crisis hit, and teacher's did not get a raise (same as everyone). When Bev tried to give a raise, the GOP led GA did not allow it. Since then we have fallen to 49th. Yes, teachers have always been poor. But pointing the fingers at the past and the Dems is just willful ignorance of the facts and of current reality.