Today @NCCapitol (7/15): All roads lead to Rules Committee

Posted July 15, 2014

State budget

— Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Tuesday, July 15. Here's what's going on at the legislature and around state government. 

ALL TALK: At a House conference committee meeting Monday, negotiators reported no progress on the biggest issues dividing the House and Senate budget plans.Senior Budget Chairman Nelson Dollar said House and Senate subcommittees have made substantial progress in resolving differences in several budget areas, but not in education and Health and Human Services – the two most critical areas of dispute.

Only two Senators, both Democrats, showed up to the House-led hearing Monday afternoon, although Republican Senate leaders did suggest they were working on a new proposal to offer the House. 

ON THE RADIO: Gov. Pat McCrory took to the airwaves in Charlotte on Monday to suggest that a closed-door sit-down my be the key to bridging House and Senate budget differences. After all, he said, it worked for the 2013 tax reform bill. 

"I brought major legislative leaders into a conference room in the old State Capitol building ... and basically locked the door and brought in some bologna sandwiches in and said, 'We're not leaving here until we get it resolved.' I may have to do the same thing here with this," McCrory said during an hour-long appearance on WFAE.

WRAL Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie spoke to the station later in the day to sum up the action, or lack of it, on the budget. 

THE CALENDAR: The state House is scheduled to hold a no-vote skeleton session Tuesday. However, House Speaker Thom Tillis told reporters that he has notified members that there could be floor votes as early as Wednesday.

On Tuesday's schedule:

Senate Rules (9 a.m. | LB 1027): The Senate Rules Committee will serve as the clearinghouse for most remaining Senate legislation. "Hopefully, we're going home soon," Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca said Monday night. There are three House bills on the committee calendar, but there's no guarantee that they will not be stripped and replaced with other language. 

Senate Rules is tentatively scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. every day the Senate is in session this week. 

Senate Finance (10 a.m. | LOB 544): The committee is loaded up with mostly local bills dealing with annexations, charter amendments in the like. 

Autism Speaks news conference (12:30 p.m. | 3rd-floor auditorium): Advocates will press the Senate to take up a bill that would require insurance companies to cover certain services for children with autism. The measure has already passed the state House and is closely associated with Tillis, who wore an autism support button in more than one campaign commercial. 

Senate session (2 p.m. | Senate floor): Senators will hold a skeleton session at 9:30 a.m. so bills can be bounced between committees throughout the day. The main working session for the Senate will take place at 2 p.m. Although there are no bills on the calendar as of the night before, that could change. 

DUKE: Customers of Duke Energy Progress are fired up about another issue – delays in when payments are posted. It wasn't the customers' fault, yet it triggered late fees. WRAL’s 5 on Your Side received complaints on the issue after a story a few months ago about Duke Energy Progress suddenly charging higher deposits based on late payments.

PLATES: Republicans in the North Carolina legislature want the nation's highest court to review a ruling barring the state from issuing anti-abortion license plates unless they provide a similar option to pro-abortion rights motorists. Lawyers for Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger Sr. petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court Monday to decide whether a 2011 law creating a state "Choose Life" license plate is constitutional.

ELECTIONS: A harsh intra-party fight for a clear shot at an open North Carolina congressional seat that's played out with claims of cronyism, lying and incompetence wraps up Tuesday, along with about three dozen other primary contests that lacked a clear winner in May. Republican voters in the 6th Congressional District will choose between Baptist minister Mark Walker of Greensboro and Phil Berger Jr. of Eden, the Rockingham County district attorney and son of the powerful state Senate leader. In Wake County, Republicans will choose their nominee for district attorney.


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