Today@NCCapitol (June 3): Abortion, guns, veto overrides at issue in House

Posted June 3, 2015

NC Legislative Building

— Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Wednesday, June 3. Here's what's going on at the General Assembly and elsewhere in state government.

FIRST UP: The House Rules Committee will take up the chamber's firearms omnibus bill at 9 a.m. Wednesday. House leaders said Tuesday that it was possible the full bill would move to the floor Wednesday afternoon.

Among the sure-to-be-controversial provisions in a new version of the bill rolled out Tuesday night was a measure that does away with handgun purchase permits issued by sheriffs offices, starting in 2021.

THE GOVERNOR: Gov. Pat McCrory will continue selling his idea for $3 billion in road and state building bonds at an event at 1 p.m. on North Carolina A&T State University's campus in Greensboro. Top legislative leaders cast doubt Tuesday on whether they'll back the transportation bonds McCrory is seeking.

McCrory is also scheduled to hold a 10:15 a.m. signing ceremony for House Bill 595, which will make it easier for members of the military to translate their experience into civilian police jobs.

THE HOUSE ... may be trying to establish some sort of world record for the number of controversial bills packed onto a floor calendar during an early June session. WRAL.com plans to carry the session live online at 2 p.m. Here's what you might see:

VETO OVERRIDE No. 1: McCrory vetoed the measure that backers call the Property Protection Act and opponents have dubbed the "ag-gag bill." Because it is a House bill, the House gets the first crack at overriding McCrory's veto.

"That one appears to be on track to go ahead and get done this week," House Speaker Tim Moore said.

When it first passed the House, the bill had support from 99 of 120 lawmakers. The measure makes someone who gets hired for the express purpose of conducting an undercover sting operation liable to their "employer" for damages, something that journalism and animal rights groups say threatens to hamper exposés of dangerous and inhuman conditions. The AARP has also sided against the bill, saying it could hamper investigations of elder abuse.

VETO OVERRIDE No. 2: The Senate has already voted to override McCrory's veto of Senate Bill 2, which exempts magistrates and county register of deeds employees from facilitating weddings. The measure was crafted to allow those who object to same-sex marriages from participating.

However, Moore is less certain that bill will be heard Wednesday.

"We don't know for certain if we're going to bring it up," Moore said Tuesday. "We won't bring it up until we've had a firm count (of caucus members). Right now, we just haven't had a count....We may or may not vote on it."

Asked if he might bring back former House Speaker Thom Tillis' "veto garage," a limbo state in which vetoes were kept until an opportune moment, Moore said that the facility had been rebranded.

"This is the veto opportunity zone," he said.

ABORTION: The measure that extends the waiting period for women seeking abortions is on Wednesday's floor calendar.

THE SENATE: The floor calendar for the 2 p.m. session is relatively tame compared to the House, but that's because the real action is proceeding behind the scenes.

SENATE BUDGET TALKS ... were proceeding behind closed doors Tuesday afternoon. The Senate Republican caucus has been cloistered inside a conference room on the second floor of the Legislative Building with a gaggle of lobbyists and legislative staff gathered outside.

"I think it will be in committees next week," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger told reporters Tuesday.

Senate leaders say they don't expect subcommittees to review the budget this week and said it is possible the budget bill could go straight to the full Appropriations Committee.

The House has already passed its version of the budget. Once the Senate passes its version, the two will have to reconcile the two versions into one bill that gets sent to the governor. Lest anyone think that a moment of kumbaya is on tap, Berger continued to signal the Senate version will be a drastically different animal.

"We held the growth of the state budget to under 3 percent on an annual basis. I think that's important for us to continue even if we have excess revenue," he said.

The House drafted a budget that grew by about 5.5 percent, funded largely on better-than-expected tax revenue.

Berger said he would like to return some of that money to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts.

"I am fairly certain the House will not agree with the changes we make," Berger told a gather of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

ALCOHOL: The House ABC Committee meets at noon to take up the omnibus alcohol bill that carries provisions related to distillery sales, selling wine in growlers and banning powdered alcohol.

SOVEREIGN CITIZENS: The House Judiciary III Committee meets at 12:30 p.m. to take up a bill designed to thwart the filing of bogus documents by so-called sovereign citizens.


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