Today @NCCapitol (6/10): House budget unveiled as Senate continues work on lawsuit curbs

Posted June 10, 2014

The state Senate meets on Monday, June 9, 2014.

— Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Tuesday, June 10. Here's what's going on at the legislature and around state government. 

LATE NIGHT AT THE LEGISLATURE: A group of 15 protesters were prepared to get arrested Monday in order to make a point about education funding in North Carolina. Instead, they got a meeting with Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. The impromptu hour-long discussion ranged over funding for teacher assistants, why proposed pay raises in the Senate budget were tied to tenure and the Read to Achieve requirements for third-graders. 

WRAPPING UP: Monday's edition of The Wrap @NCCapitol did not tape until late in the evening. Reporters Laura Leslie and Mark Binker summarized Monday's action at the state capitol, including Berger's sit-down with protesters. 

FILM INCENTIVES: A bill that would reorganize the Commerce Department and create a new film incentive program passed the state Senate Monday night{{/a}}. After getting debated and receiving an initial approval last week, there was no discussion Monday before the 38-7 vote. 

That was the only vote of substance taken on either the House or Senate floors Monday. 

NC Legislative Building Lawmakers working through their priorities HALFTIME: If lawmakers stay true to their word to adjourn by the end of this month, they are halfway through this summer's short session. A quick check shows that the General Assembly has checked two major priorities off its to-do list but still has six major bills – including the budget, a bill to repeal Common Core and a measure to regulate coal ash – on its agenda. 

HOUSE BUDGET TODAY: House leaders will roll out their budget at a 9 a.m. news conference. At 10 a.m., the House's six main budget subcommittees are scheduled to take up their individual sections of the spending proposal. Those meetings are scheduled to go on until 3 p.m. in some cases. 

Although the chamber's top budget committee chairmen have been working on the plan over the past two weeks, they have said little about their proposal except that it will differ from the Senate on key areas such as Medicaid reform.

The Associated Press is reporting the House education plan would give public school teachers a 5 percent raise without revoking tenure rights, a controversial feature of the Senate bill. 

House leaders say they expect the full Appropriations and Finance committees to handle the bill Wednesday, with a first floor vote due Thursday afternoon. A final floor vote on the budget bill will come on Friday, possibly just after midnight. 

Then the real heavy lifting begins. Leaders from both chambers will try to reconcile the House, Senate and governor's spending plans in a single compromise bill. 

BLAKE: Former state Sen. Harris Blake died Monday at age 84. The five-term Republican was from Pinehurst and was remembered by Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, as someone who put his mark on the area's economy both as a businessman and political leader.

Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, recalled a meeting during which lawmakers were discussing making plastic water bottles subject to a deposit that could be redeemed. To make a pilot program go smoother, the story goes, the state was going to designate a church as "an official redemption center."

"Sen. Blake, without batting an eye, said, 'Well, isn't that what a church is anyway?'" Apodaca recalled, drawing chuckles from fellow lawmakers. 

THE GOVERNOR: Gov. Pat McCrory has one public appearance on his calendar. He is due to speak at the A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh late in the morning.

TODAY'S CALENDAR: The General Assembly has a full legislative calendar on its website. Here are the meetings @NCCapitol will be keeping an eye on: 

HOUSE BUDGET PRESS CONFERENCE (9 a.m. | News Conference Room): House Speaker Thom Tillis and senior budget writers are expected to outline their tax and spending plan.

SENATE JUDICIARY I (9 a.m. | 1027 LB): Senators will once again take up a bill aimed at curbing lawsuits against businesses. The measure has draw scrutiny from lawyers on the committee, who say that many of its provisions are duplicative of current law or are confusing. Chairman Buck Newton, R-Wilson, says the committee will take a number of amendments on the measure today. 

HOUSE BUDGET SUBCOMMITTEES (10 a.m. | Various Rooms): The six state House budget committees begin meeting at 10 a.m. will carry the Health and Human Services budget live – check the Video Central box on the homepage for a link. Check the legislative calendar for a full rundown of rooms.

SENATE GOVERNMENT (Noon | 1124 LB): The committee will take up a number of bills, including a measure to allow the use of red light cameras in Fayetteville. 

SENATE SESSION (2 p.m. | Senate Chambers): The state Senate will convene at 9:30 a.m. but not meet right away. The early start will allow for the flow of bills between different committees. The Senate floor session is scheduled for 2 p.m., and the only measure on the calendar is a resolution honoring former member Zeb Alley. 

SENATE FINANCE (1 p.m. | 544 LOB): The Senate Finance Committee is due to take up a number of bills that all appear related to local government. 

HOUSE SESSION (3 p.m. | House Chambers): The state House has a handful of bills on its calendar, including final votes on measures to adjust the state's unemployment insurance program and the chamber's own version of the Commerce Department reorganization measure. 

HOUSE EDUCATION (15 minutes after the House Session Ends | 643 LOB): The committee will be screening candidates for vacancies on the State Board of Community Colleges.  

NOTED: A group of child advocacy organizations will hold a lobby day at the General Assembly, with presentations beginning behind the legislative building at 10 a.m. "Parents, children, youth, law enforcement, child care providers and concerned citizens will come together at the state legislature to remind policymakers that our future prosperity depends on the well-being of today’s children and youth," according to a news release.

Autism Speaks will conduct lobby day activities on the Bicentennial Mall across Jones Street from the Legislative Building at 10:30 a.m. 

Sikorsky helicopter NC will keep trying to unload unwanted helicopter CHOPPER: North Carolina was unable to unload a state-owned helicopter after receiving no bids for the aircraft in an eBay auction, but the Department of Transportation will keep trying.

CONTRACTS: The Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee voted Monday to ask State Auditor Beth Wood to investigate whether the Department of Health and Human Services is complying with state laws governing non-competitive contracts. That's after a preliminary study by the legislature's Program Evaluation Division found that only 10 of 143 of single-source contracts at DHHS since 2010 appear to have gone through the review process required by state law. Legislative staff will take up a review of personal services contracts across all state agencies at the same time the auditor focuses on DHHS. 

WATER: "A judge on Monday struck down as unconstitutional the 2013 law that would transfer control of the city water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District," the Asheville Citizen-Times reports. "Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. found that the law violates a prohibition in the state constitution against 'local' laws on certain subjects, 'lacks a rational basis' and calls for an 'unlawful taking.'"

CHARTERS: "The company that runs three charter schools in southeastern North Carolina is refusing to release detailed salary information to the Star News," the Wilmington-based newspaper reports. "The Roger Bacon Academy, which operates Charter Day School in Leland, Columbus Charter School in Whiteville and Douglass Academy in Wilmington, released the total costs of employee salaries for each of its schools rather than individual employee salaries." State law says the charter schools are public schools and that employee salaries are public record.


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  • juliomercado Jun 10, 2014

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    According to several studies including the highly regarded CREEDO report by Stanford University, Charters do NOT outperform their public counterparts. As a matter of fact with the exceptions of very specific small demographics, they do worse. The same report finds similar results from private schools. NC should not be spending a dime on any school that isn't held to the exact same standards as the public schools. Otherwise, the opportunity for political graft is very real.

  • Michael Iantosca Jun 10, 2014
    user avatar

    No public funds should go to any charter school that isn't fully transparent to the public with it compensation just as public schools have to be. Without that, Charters become nothing more than fronds for funneling our tax dollars to private individuals and corporations and create a new channel of corruption.

  • archmaker Jun 10, 2014

    "continues work on lawsuit curbs" does this mean that they will stop passing those bills that only serve to create more jobs for nc lawyers?

  • dirtydozen431 Jun 10, 2014

    What have 'cubs' done to get sued.