Today @NCCapitol (6/17): Senate to rip House spending plan; medical marijuana oil bill on tap
Posted June 17
Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning, and welcome to The Wrap @NCCapitol for Tuesday, June 17. Here's what's going on at the legislature and around state government.
BUDGET: Senate leaders formally rejected the state House's $21.1 billion budget proposal Monday night and have set up two days of committee hearings to detail exactly how bad they think it is.
The differences are headlined by a $250 million gap between what Senate leaders believe will be needed to fund the state Medicaid insurance program for the poor and disabled and what House leaders set aside. As well, senators disagree with the House's projection that the state can increase lottery revenues by more than $100 million to pay for teacher raises.
"I'm just not sure what the thought process in the House was on that," said Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, the senior budget chairman in the Senate.
Brown expressed particular concern that, at the same time the House wanted more money from the lottery, an amendment written by Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, R-Wake, would limit how and where the state-run gambling enterprise could advertise. "It just kind of muddied that whole piece up in our opinion," Brown said.
He said that Medicaid and education funding issues had to be cleared up before lawmakers move on to reconciling any other part of the budget. Asked about House Speaker Thom Tillis' contention that the budget differences could be bridged by the end of this week, Brown deadpanned, "I would say not."
Senate budget subcommittees will begin meeting at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, and Brown said they could work for much of the day sifting through the House's state budget proposal. It's worth noting that the Senate did not use its subcommittees when drafting its own plan but are now firing them up to cast a critical eye on the House budget.
On Wednesday, the full Appropriations Committee will meet specifically to take on the Medicaid and lottery funding issues.
THE GOVERNOR: Gov. Pat McCrory's public schedule has two event on it Tuesday. Shortly before 10 a.m., he is due to speak at the Grifols grand opening of its North Fractionation Facility in Clayton. Around lunch time, he will speak to the North Carolina Association of Realtors Legislative Forum at the Sheraton Hotel in Raleigh.
THE HOUSE: The state House will meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday and is scheduled to take up a handful of bills, including one designed to clarify the legal standing of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in an attempt to end litigation over a management structure lawmakers put in place last year.
THE SENATE: The state Senate will meet at 3 p.m. and has a handful of mainly non-controversial measures on the calendar, including one designed to speed up the process of approving new charter schools. Senators gave that bill initial approval on a 49-0 vote Monday night.
COMMITTEES: The General Assembly posts a complete legislative calendar on its website but here are committee hearings and other events @NCCapitol will be watching Tuesday.
- Senate Budget Subcommittees (8:30 a.m. | Various Rooms): Senators will meet to review pieces of the state House budget plan.
- Undocumented graduation (9:30 a.m. | Lawn behind the legislative building): Advocates will hold an "undocumented graduation" to bring attention to the state's 35,000 undocumented students in K-12 who will not be eligible for in-state tuition to attend North Carolina community colleges or universities.
- House Education (10 a.m. | 643 LOB): The committee will review a bill meant to clarify the rights of student organizations.
- Senate Agriculture and Environment (11 a.m. | 544 LOB): After reviewing the bill Monday, the committee could vote on a package of new regulations to govern coal ash ponds in the state.
- Senate Commerce (11 a.m. | 1027 LB): The committee meets to take up the House version of a bill reorganizing the Commerce Department. Each chamber has passed different versions of the same bill. Senators included a film tax credit when they passed their version, House lawmakers did not.
- House Transportation (Noon | 643 LOB): Lawmakers will take up bills that would require moped drivers to carry insurance and allow citizens to renew their drivers licenses over the Internet.
- House Health and Human Services (15 minutes after the full House session adjourns | 544 LOB): Lawmakers take up a bill that would legalize the use of oil made from marijuana to treat certain childhood diseases.
COAL ASH: Senators got their first look Monday at a bill aimed at closing dozens of coal ash ponds across North Carolina in 15 years, and several said more work needs to be done before the proposal is put to a vote. The Senate Agricultural, Environment and Natural Resources Committee plans to continue refining the bill on Tuesday, and it could reach the Senate floor by the end of the week.
"I think we're going to be setting the trend for the rest of the country when dealing with coal ash," said sponsor Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, adding the legislation contains the strictest regulations for ash ponds in the U.S.
Video parodies protests from GOP legislators' viewpoint ARRESTS: Hundreds of legislative protesters on Monday tested the limits of a new court order uprooting rules that they said were designed to keep them at bay – and the result was 19 arrests. Signs and shouting aplenty, the protesters streamed onto the second floor of the General Assembly rotunda just outside the golden doors of the Senate chamber. They also spilled over onto the third floor as they prayed, sang and chanted their displeasure at GOP-led policies they say are extreme and immoral.
CONFIRMED: The state Senate on Monday gave final legislative approval to Charlton Allen's nomination to sit on the six-member Industrial Commission, despite criticism of his views on the minimum wage and questions about his extracurricular activities as a college student and law student. Senators voted 31-18 to confirm Gov. Pat McCrory's pick to sit on the panel that resolves disputes over workers compensation claims. The vote was mainly along party lines, with all Democrats voting against and all but one Republican – Sen. Tamara Barringer, R-Wake – voting for the pick.
MARRIAGE: More than a dozen clergy members on Monday delivered petitions containing about 30,000 signatures to the state Department of Justice building, calling on Attorney General Roy Cooper to stop defending North Carolina laws that prohibit same-sex marriage.
CHARTERS: From the Charlotte Observer: "North Carolina charter officials said Monday they believe most of the state’s 25 new schools approved to open this fall can be ready, even though most of them fell short of the requirements by the end of May. A report presented to the North Carolina Charter School Advisory Board showed that only six had met all the requirements in a May readiness report – a new feature designed to head off problems such as the ones that recently forced Charlotte’s StudentFirst Academy to close after only eight months."