Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Thursday, July 17. Here's what's going at the legislature and elsewhere in state government.
THE HOUSE: The state House will meet at 9 a.m. for a no-vote skeleton session. House Speaker Thom Tillis said it was possible but "not likely" there could be a House floor session on Friday.
NO WHITE SMOKE: While budget discussions continued behind closed doors Wednesday, lawmakers did not announce a budget breakthrough.
PENSIONS: The Senate's Pensions and Retirement Committee meets at 8:30 a.m. and will take up a measure aimed at curbing "pension spiking," the practice of driving up a public official's salary late in the year so he or she can get a bigger monthly check once retired. A measure that passed the House would not prohibit the practice but would force cities, counties and state agencies to pay more toward the retirement system to compensate for the last-minute boost in benefits.
MEDICAID: The Senate Rules Committee will meet at 9 a.m. to take a second look at the chamber's Medicaid proposal. The measure, which drew fire from health care providers almost as soon as it was unveiled in the committee on Wednesday, looks similar to the draft Medicaid reform plan senators included in their budget earlier this year, although it does make some adjustments that bow to elements of the House proposal. However, on the big points, the Senate sticks to its guns, calling for a move to "full capitation" – industry speak for placing all of the risk for an especially expensive patient on doctors and insurers – by 2016, four years ahead of the House timeline.
FLOOR SESSION: The full Senate is scheduled to meet at 10:30 a.m. Among the bills on it calendar:
- A new sales tax proposal would give counties more leeway to raise sales taxes but would ban them from using that revenue to meet education and transportation needs at the same time.
- A package of criminal law changes that decrease the penalty for possessing drug paraphernalia related to marijuana use and raising the penalties for committing an assault in retaliation for work carried out by law enforcement. That new retaliation measure, as one increasing the penalties for supplying a cellphone to an inmate, respond to the recent kidnapping of a Wake County prosecutor's father.
- A measure that would allow the state Department of Transportation to give local police agencies permission to permanently install license plate monitoring devices in state-owned rights of way.
BE ON THE LOOKOUT: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, told his colleagues to be on the lookout for a meeting Thursday, but as of 5 a.m., there was not yet a Finance Committee meeting on the Senate calendar. Also, it is possible there could be another open negotiating session between the House and the Senate.
COMMON CORE: A bill that sponsors say repeals the Common Core K-12 education standards, but in reality calls for something a rewrite of the state standards that could use much of the existing rules, has been sent to Gov. Pat McCrory, who says he will sign it.
MOPEDS: The Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would require moped owners to register their vehicles with the state and carry liability insurance. After the 36-11 vote, the measure heads back to the House, which had dropped the insurance requirement from the bill before approving it last month.
CROWD FUNDING: North Carolina residents would be able to invest small amounts in new in-state ventures through crowd-funding under a bill that cleared the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday. The measure, which has already cleared the House, would allow most companies to raise up to $1 million in capital – $2 million if they have undergone a financial audit – through "unregistered securities." Essentially, companies would be able to sell shares, mainly online, directly to small investors rather than through the stock market.
Wordsmiths are hacked off at McCrory,
who named a local poet for glory,
it turns out her verse,
the pros found adverse,
And now the Laureate is a worry.
COAL ASH: "Federal and state authorities reached a milestone recently in calling at least a temporary halt to coal ash removal efforts linked to this winter’s Dan River spill," reports the Greensboro News & Record. "Officials suspended those efforts after removing about 3,000 tons of mixed ash and sediment from three, sandbar-like deposits along the river and from water treatment plants in two, downstream Virginia cities, Danville and South Boston."