Today @NCCapitol (7/7): Skeleton sessions, voting law in court
Posted July 7
Updated July 8
Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Monday, July 7. Here's what's going on at the General Assembly and around state government.
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY: Both the House and Senate will hold pro forma skeleton sessions at 4 p.m. The House plans to hold skeleton sessions all week. Senate staffers said Thursday they believed senators would return to work on Tuesday, but that is subject to change.
Both chambers are focusing this week on bridging differences on major pieces of legislation, including a bill governing the clean up of coal ash ponds throughout the state and the state budget for the coming year.
VOTING LAW IN COURT: A North Carolina law passed last year that requires voters to present photo identification and eliminates same-day voter registration has been called one of the farthest-reaching overhauls to election rules in the country. Now, a judge will decide whether it will stay that way.
A confederation of challengers, including the U.S. Department of Justice, the North Carolina NAACP, the League of Women Voters and the American Civil Liberties Union will argue against state lawyers Monday in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem.
U.S. attorneys and civil rights groups are asking a judge for a preliminary injunction to temporarily delay implementation of parts of the law. The hearing is a prelude to a trial scheduled for July 2015, when a judge will determine whether to uphold or strike down the law.
ENERGY HEARING: The North Carolina Utilities Commission will start the process of setting the rates power companies should pay for solar energy. The state requires utilities to buy or make a small percentage of their power from renewable sources. In North Carolina, energy options, especially solar, are booming these days.
What you missed this weekend
On the Record: Evaluating NCTracks one year later MEDICAID: A year after the rollout of the NCTracks system for paying Medicaid claims, DHHS Chief Information Officer Joe Cooper examined the progress and problems of the program on Saturday's "On the Record" with WRAL News anchor David Crabtree and Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie.
Related: The News & Observer published a series examining Medicaid over the weekend looking at, among other things, whether the state's health insurance system for the poor and disabled is truly broken and whether the system's managers have the background to manage such a complex enterprise.
WOMEN: Women make up half of North Carolina’s population but occupy only 22 percent of seats in the statehouse, the vestige of a thick glass ceiling that still lingers over the lawmaking body. North Carolina ranks among the lower half of states in terms of female legislators, according to April data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Colorado has the highest percentage of female lawmakers, at 41 percent, while Louisiana has the lowest, at 13 percent.
POPE: To critics, Republican Art Pope has gotten just what he wanted during his first 18 months as Gov. Pat McCrory’s state budget director by exerting too much influence on taxes and other issues.
Pope’s defenders say it’s ludicrous to believe the retail store chief executive pulls the strings of state government. They point to policies McCrory espouses that run counter to the views of Pope or conservative think tanks his family has given tens of millions of dollars to over the years.