Today @NCCapitol (April 10): Competing education reform plans take the stage

Posted April 10, 2013

— Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Wednesday, April 10. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government this morning.

EDUCATION: Competing visions for how the state should improve public education will be on display today.

At 2 p.m., Republican Reps. Bryan Holloway, R-Stokes, and Hugh Blackwell, R -Burke, along with Democratic Reps. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, and Larry Hall, D-Durham, will hold a news conference to unveil what they're calling the Education Improvement Act of 2013. In a brief conversation about the measure Monday night, Holloway emphasized the bipartisan nature of the bill.

At 10 a.m., Senate Republicans will hear Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger's Excellent Public Schools Act in the Senate Education Committee. The proposal would end career status for teachers and add teacher licensing requirements with regard to reading. Another section of Berger's bill would change the scheme under which all schools would be graded beginning next year. In a sign that the two chambers may not see exactly eye-to-eye on education policy, the House is already moving its own version of that school-grading bill that is somewhat more favorable toward schools than what Berger proposes. 

WRAL.com will carry the 10 a.m. Senate Education Committee meeting live. Check the Video Central box on the home page. 

VOTER ID: A measure that would require voters to show photo ID when they vote will take center stage twice today.

At 1 p.m., the House Elections Committee will take testimony from Jerold A. Bonnet, General Counsel, Office of the Indiana Secretary of State, and the Rev. William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP. At 4 p.m., the committee will take testimony from the general public regarding the bill. 

Although the current version of the measure takes steps to ensure that elderly people and students will have ID to vote, the measure is still controversial. It's worth noting that Gov. Pat McCrory told members of the legislature's black caucus that he supports the measure during a closed-door meeting Tuesday. 

WRAL.com will carry both Voter ID hearings live. Check the Video Central box on the home page. 

HOUSE FLOOR: The House is scheduled to meet at 2:30 p.m. Although originally thought to be headed to the floor yesterday, a bill restricting advertising by the N.C. Education Lottery is on the calendar for today. 

A bill dealing with Asheville's water system is also on the floor. The measure has raised concerns by members of the Wake County delegation, who say it is drawn broadly enough that it could apply to water systems here and not just in the western part of the state. 

The Wrap @NCCapitol (April 9) The Wrap @NCCapitol (April 9) SENATE FLOOR: The Senate meets at 2 p.m. Among the bills on the calendar is one to make it a felony to fire a gun inside a building in order to scare people. Currently, that behavior is only a misdemeanor. 

WRAP: Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie and reporter Mark Binker wrap up Tuesday's action and look ahead to Wednesday at the legislature in The Wrap @NCCapitol

DIX:  Gov. Pat McCrory says the existing lease agreement between the state and Raleigh for the Dorothea Dix property will need to change but that all sides should be able to get what they want, including a new destination park.

The Republican stopped short of endorsing legislation at the General Assembly that would undo an agreement signed by former Gov. Bev Perdue in December that allowed the city to lease the property. But he said the deal for the property "wasn't done the right way" and needs to be adjusted.

"I think there's a way for Raleigh to get a park, a beautiful park, and I think there's also a way for the state to have a future site for a state mental hospital and state offices for Health and Human Services that are desperately needed," McCrory said.

COMMITTEES: For a full list of committee meetings today, check the main @NCCapitol page. Among the highlights:

House Regulatory Reform (10 a.m. | 643 LOB): Lawmakers take up a measure that would permit restaurants to put tables on sidewalks that are in state-owned rights-of-way. Currently, cities are only supposed to permit the practice in rights of way owned by local government. 

House Judiciary B (10 a.m. | 421 LOB): Lawmakers roll out a pair of bills designed to tighten the state's sex and human trafficking laws.

Senate Transportation (11 a.m. | 1027 LB): Lawmakers take up a bill to let the DOT set the speed limit as high as 75 mph on some highways. 

Senate Finance (1 p.m. | 544 LOB): A measure to allow Charlotte to reallocate two of its tourism taxes toward renovating Bank of America Stadium where the NFL Carolina Panthers play is on the calendar. 

TUESDAY'S ACTION: Among the stories we were following Tuesday: 

GIFTS: A veteran Republican state House lawmaker has filed a proposal to allow lobbyists to once again give unreported gifts to state lawmakers in North Carolina. That ban was put in place following a scandal involving former House Speaker Jim Black. 

SOVEREIGNTY: A group of House lawmakers filed measures to push back against federal government rules they deem unconstitutional during a last-minute flurry of bill filings Tuesday.

BEER HERE: A bill filed by Rep. John Hardister, R-Guilford, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers from around the state would allow any venue with more than 3,000 seats to send mobile beer sellers into the stands. Under current North Carolina, such sales are legal only at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, which is the only venue statewide that meets the test of having both more than 60,000 seats and a location within a city of more than 450,000 people.

BACKGROUND CHECKS: The House gave key {{a href="blogpost--0"}}approval Tuesday to a bill that would require local Department of Social Service offices to conduct criminal background checks on those applying for federal benefits{{/a}}.

DRUG TESTS: A proposal to require applicants for federal benefits to pay for drug testing raised tempers and questions in a Senate Judiciary 2 Committee hearing Tuesday morning. Senate Bill 594, sponsored by Sen. Jim Davis, R-Macon, would require applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – known as Work First in North Carolina – to pay out of pocket for drug testing for all controlled substances. The measure sparked intense debate in committee.

ARTS: The House Education Committee on Tuesday approved a proposal that would require students to pass at least one arts course in middle or high school to graduate. House Bill 127 next goes to the full House for debate.

SAFETY: A wide-ranging bill to upgrade security at North Carolina public schools unanimously passed the House Education Committee on Tuesday. House Bill 452 must still be vetted by the House Appropriations Committee before any consideration by the full House.

FRAY:  Sometimes, Gov. Pat McCrory says, criticizing an outlandish idea can do more harm than good. During an interview with WRAL News Tuesday morning, McCrory said he has purposefully avoided weighing in on bills that have garnered unfavorable national attention, such as measures advocating for the establishment of a state religion or extending the waiting period for divorce in North Carolina.


Daily Tar Heel: Outside Gardner Hall on Tuesday afternoon, a group of student protesters exercised the right of free speech. And inside, N.C. Budget Director Art Pope spoke to an ethics class on the right to an education....To a more crowded classroom than usual, Pope laid out his view of education as a right — but not an all-encompassing right. He said the state constitution requires higher education institutions to be available, but it does not require free admission to universities or unlimited funding from the state.

North Carolina Health News: Hundreds of people with HIV and their supporters descended on the capitol complex Tuesday for an all-day conference to learn about the state of HIV policy in North Carolina and to ask their legislators for support.

Charlotte Observer: Some Charlotte leaders fear a bill working its way through the state legislature would strip the city of its leverage to make developers work with the community on their projects. 

News & Record: Gov. Pat McCrory and his team have a raft of questions to answer in the coming weeks as they hang meat on the bones of his proposal to overhaul the state’s economic development groups and coalesce them into a new nonprofit called “Partnership for Prosperity.”...Just what that means is fluid. Public meetings and records relating to proposed industrial projects already can be kept from public view until a project is announced. Whether McCrory’s proposal would seek to expand that depends on the details, according to Amanda Martin, general counsel for the N.C. Press Association. Documents created by an outside agency — and not shared with a public entity such as the Department of Commerce — can sometimes be kept private, Martin said.

StatelineThe days of shopping online without paying sales taxes may be ending. States are cracking down and a nationwide system for collecting sales tax on online sales may be coming soon. Several developments in recent weeks show how quickly the landscape is changing on what has long been an important but elusive goal for state officials: collecting sales tax from online retailers.


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