Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Monday, July 21. Here's what's going on at the legislature.
THIS WEEK: Remember how the legislature started last week working to forge a budget deal between the House and the Senate and resolve conflicts on other major bills – such as the measure to set requirements for coal ash cleanup and a bill for long-term Medicaid reform – that were key priorities?
It's much the same song this week, with the Senate kicking into gear Monday and the House due back at work on Tuesday. The $21.1 billion state budget is still up in the air, as are the coal ash and Medicaid bills.
FULGHUM: Rep. Jim Fulghum, R-Wake, died Saturday evening after a short battle with cancer. The 70-year-old was a first-term state representative who until recently was running for the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake. Rep. Fulghum dies after short battle with cancer
"The residents of Wake County were lucky to have Dr. Fulghum represent them. His leadership as a legislator was second only to his compassion and expertise as a doctor serving his constituents and the state of North Carolina," House Speaker Thom Tillis said Sunday in a statement. "He was a friend who will be missed by me and our entire chamber, and my deepest sympathies go to his family and friends during this very difficult time."
Last week, Wake County Republicans replaced Fulghum in the Senate District 15 race with local businessman John M. Alexander Jr., president and chief executive of Cardinal International Trucks.
CALENDAR: Here is some of what @NCCapitol will be keeping an eye on Monday.
MCCRORY (1:30 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. | Greensboro): Gov. Pat McCrory will be in Guilford County along with Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos and Medicaid Director Dr. Robin Cummings. The trio will hold a Medicaid roundtable with local health providers and then tour Moses Cone Hospital.
HOUSE SESSION (4 p.m. | House Floor): This is scheduled to be no-votes skeleton session.
SENATE FINANCE (5:30 p.m. | 544 LOB): Senators are due to tweak a tax bill that had been scheduled for a floor hearing on Thursday. The measure, as currently drafted, would have allowed counties to raise their sales tax either for education or transit projects, but not both. Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, a chairman of the committee, said on Thursday the measure needed several amendments before it moves forward. WRAL.com will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on the homepage.
SENATE SESSION (6:30 p.m. | Senate Floor): The Senate is scheduled to vote on its version of a long-term Medicaid reform plan, which had drawn opposition from doctors, the governor and others. The chamber is also expected to take up a handful of other measures, including one that would allow police departments to put license plate scanners on state transportation rights-of-way. WRAL.com will carry the session live.
State 'disappointed' with Raleigh talking points in latest Dix offer DIX: A lawyer McCrory says the administration is "disappointed" in Raleigh's most recent offer to buy the Dorothea Dix property, saying Mayor Nancy McFarlane and others are ignoring the state's desire to hold on to a portion of the 307-acre campus for a new Department of Health and Human Services campus. "Given your most recent offer, it appears that, despite our best efforts to negotiate in good faith with the City, we seem to be moving further apart," McCrory general counsel Robert Stephens wrote in a letter dated July 18. Despite that apparent disappointment, the state made a pair of counteroffers in an attempt to break the impasse in negotiations.
POPE REDUX: The Washington Post gives the profile treatment to Art Pope, McCrory's budget director and financier of conservative causes.
COAL ASH: Most of the Duke Energy coal ash that spilled into the Dan River in February will stay there, creating a rift between regulators and river advocates over the cleanup," reports the Charlotte Observer.
LOTTERY: It may have taken more than two decades for the North Carolina General Assembly to enact a lottery, but it is now an attractive moneymaker in the eyes of state lawmakers. Despite legislatively imposed restrictions on advertising, there is still room to grow, says lottery Executive Director Alice Garland.
MEANWHILE, IN THE U.S. SENATE RACE: U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan stumped on behalf of a bill to require employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception on Friday, while on Saturday, Tillis, her Republican opponent, rallied the GOP faithful in Wake County. The pair have agreed to three debates this fall, although Tillis wants more. There's been no shortage of campaign commercials in the race, including one we fact-checked this weekend on whether Hagan wants a "carbon tax."
OIL AND GAS: The Obama administration is reopening the U.S. Eastern Seaboard to offshore oil and gas exploration, approving seismic surveys using sonic cannons that can pinpoint energy deposits deep beneath the ocean floor. Friday's announcement is the first real step toward what could be a transformation in coastal states, creating thousands of jobs to support a new energy infrastructure. But it dismayed environmentalists and people who owe their livelihoods to fisheries and tourism. In a statement, McCrory applauded the move. "We can finally begin to assess the amount of oil or gas that could be beneath the ocean floor after decades of waiting on the sidelines," McCrory said. "This is an important step in the right direction toward more jobs for North Carolina and our country, as well as greater energy independence for our nation. I would like to thank the Obama Administration for its decision to open up the Eastern Seaboard for seismic assessment."