Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Wednesday, July 16. Here's what's going on at the legislature and around state government:
BUDGET: After trading barbs much of last week and a one-sided House-only conference committee Monday, Senate and House leaders were back together Tuesday, and the Senate had a few concessions to make.
"The Senate is willing to take the lead to come to a compromise," Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, said as he unveiled the Senate's latest offer, which would narrow, but not eliminate, the gap between the two chambers on Medicaid and would cut a proposed 11 percent teacher salary increase to 8 percent.
There are still some sticking points, though. For example, in order to pay for teacher raises, the Senate would still cut third-grade teaching assistants. While second-grade assistants would keep their state funding for another year, their funding would be "non-recurring," meaning those positions would expire on July 1, 2015, if no other actions are taken.
House leaders are expected to make a counter-offer later this week.
Senate Rules (9 a.m. | 643 LOB): The Senate Rules Committee takes up the House's Medicaid reform bill. Senators had included their own Medicaid proposal in their version of the budget, but it has since been dropped as a point of spending plan negotiation. House leaders passed a measure that looked much like Gov. Pat McCrory's accountable care organization proposal. The Senate plan would have originally run the Medicaid system much more like an HMO, placing responsibility for controlling cost in one or a handful of big insurers. The News & Observer reports senators are preparing to introduce a second version of their proposal much closer to the House plan. WRAL.com will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on the homepage.
House session (Noon | House Chambers): House members are scheduled to vote on a bill repealing the Common Core standards for K-12 students. The Senate has already adopted the measure, so the House vote would send the bill to McCrory for his signature or veto. This would be the chamber's first full meeting in more than a week.
Senate Commerce (Noon | 1027 LB): The committee takes up a bill to allow small investors to participate in the crowd-funding of a new business. The measure has already passed the House.
Senate Finance (1 p.m. | 544 LOB): The committee has several measures on its calendar, including an adjustment to the JMAC incentives program. A bill that was originally drafted to repeal the estate tax is also on the calendar. However, the 2013 tax reform bill already eliminated the estate tax, so this bill at least seems poised to be gutted and amended.
Joint Program Evaluation (2 p.m. | 1228 LB): Reports scheduled regarding the child support services program and the Department of Administration's purchasing division.
McCrory (3 p.m.): The governor makes an economic development announcement at the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.
Senate session (3 p.m. | Senate Chambers): Senators are due to take up a bill that would require moped riders to carry insurance.
POWER: House Democrats are accusing Republican Speaker Thom Tillis of abuse of power for refusing to release funds for caucus staff and using parliamentary maneuvers to cut off debate. Minority Leader Larry Hall said Tuesday that Tillis "has decided to defund the House Democratic caucus." Hall, D-Durham, also said House Republicans have used "tabling" to cut off debate in the current session more than twice as many times as it was used by Democrats from 2001 to 2009.
AUTISM: Dozens of children with autism and their families converged on the legislature Tuesday, urging Senate leaders to vote on whether to require insurers to offer better coverage for the disorder.
MASKED: Wake County and state election officials emphatically rejected a request by members of Voter Integrity Project to stage a Tuesday photo shoot inside a polling place at the Millbrook Exchange Park that would have involved "a number of masked people lined up attempting to vote as unidentified voters."
CONGRESS: Pastor Mark Walker has bested Phil Berger Jr., the son of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, for the Republican nomination in the 6th Congressional District.
POETRY: North Carolina's established writers are unhappy that the governor chose the next poet laureate – a disability examiner for the state who has self-published two books – on his own instead of receiving the usual recommendations of a committee appointed by a statewide arts agency.
WATER: After years of delays, North Carolina regulators are moving to strengthen state water-quality standards to include tougher limits on toxic metals like those at issue following the recent coal ash spill into the Dan River. But environmental watchdog groups warned at a public hearing Tuesday that the proposed standards include loopholes that would still allow farms, industries and sewage treatment plants to pour too much pollution into waterways.
INSURANCE: North Carolina's top insurance regulator says a hearing for insurance companies to explain their request to raise the cost of homeowners coverage by an average of 25 percent won't come until October.
FRACKING: The public now has a chance to comment on proposed rules for regulating oil and gas development in North Carolina. Officials with the state Mining and Energy Commission are seeking public input and have opened a comment period which lasts until Sept. 15.