Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Friday, July 18. Here's what's going on at the legislature and around state government.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY: Neither the House nor Senate have any committee meetings or floor sessions scheduled Friday. Staff members and key lawmakers are continuing to work toward compromises on the budget and other lingering items.
MCCRORY: Gov. Pat McCrory's office has not given notice of any public events.
LINGERING: The denizens of the Legislative Building have been spoiled in recent years by quick adjournments and early predictions this session would be over weeks ago. While people around the state may be waiting on the outcomes of key policy items, the fact lawmakers are still in session is not, of itself, crucial.
"Nobody cares," said Steve Greene, a political scientist at North Carolina State University.
Even the estimate that it costs $50,000 extra a day to keep lawmakers in session doesn't seem to scare up intense resistance.
HARD CORE: North Carolina has invested tens of millions of dollars to implement the Common Core academic standards that could eventually be abandoned in public schools statewide. State lawmakers on Wednesday gave final approval to legislation calling for the controversial standards to be repealed and replaced by standards drafted by a new state commission. McCrory has said he plans to sign the bill. The repeal effort was backed by angry parents – mostly conservatives – who said the national English and math standards aren't appropriate.
MEDICAID: Despite a chorus of protests, including the governor's, Senate leaders are moving ahead with a plan to restructure the state's Medicaid system.
OH, POSSUMS: Animal rights advocates maintain that legislators improperly granted a regulatory loophole to a Clay County business last month to allow it to conduct its annual Possum Drop on New Year's Eve. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and several Wake County residents filed suit Thursday against the state to void House Bill 1131, which exempts Clay County from any state wildlife regulations regarding "the capture, captivity, treatment, or release" of possums for one week each year – Dec. 26 to Jan. 2.
Poet laureate no more
We hardly knew ye.
VOUCHERS: Taxpayer money for private or religious school tuition may start flowing to North Carolina families before a judge rules whether the program is legal. The state agency in charge of the Opportunity Scholarships late last month advanced to Aug. 15 the date it planned to distribute tuition funding to families of students who won a lottery. That date is a month earlier than the North Carolina State Educational Assistance Authority previously projected and a week before a scheduled court date intended to debate the law's constitutionality.
SURRENDER: As the district attorney awaits a final autopsy report before deciding whether to file charges in the death of a newborn found buried in a backyard, people involved in an earlier case that led to North Carolina's safe surrender law say young mothers always have options. North Carolina's safe surrender law allows a mother to give up her newborn, up to the age of 7 days, to a responsible adult and not face abandonment charges. The bill came about after a dead newborn was found in the Macon County landfill in February 2000, resulting in a second-degree murder conviction for the mother, who served seven years in prison.