Today @NCCapitol (April 16): Documents detail MetLife negotiations, Stam files voucher bill
Posted April 16, 2013
Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Tuesday, April 16. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.
METLIFE: Before North Carolina could celebrate landing MetLife and more than 2,600 jobs the company has pledged to bring to the Triangle and Charlotte, state officials and lawyers for the company exchanged tense words over the deal, documents obtained from a public records request show. Details contained in roughly 5,000 pages of documents released in response to a public records request by WRAL News confirm much of what has already been reported about the deal, which involved $94.2 million in state-funded incentives.
Among the insights the documents provided: Wake County has a reputation as driving a hard bargain when it comes to incentives and negotiations between the lawyers for the company and the state were tense almost until the incentives deal was announced.
SENATE: The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. today. The chamber is due to take up Lily's Law, a measure that would allow murder charges to be brought against someone who injures a child in utero if the child dies of those injuries after birth.
HOUSE: The House convenes at 2 p.m. today. Among the bills on their calendar is a measure requiring human traffickers whose victims are minors to register as sex offenders, whether or not the trafficking was for sexual purposes.
The Wrap @NCCapitol (April 15) WRAP: Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie reviews Monday night's action at the General Assembly, including House passage of a measure that takes Asheville's water system away from the city and puts it in the hands of a regional water authority, in Monday's Wrap @NCCapitol.
IN THE LOBBY: Equality NC, a group that lobbies on behalf of gay and lesbian people, will hold a lobby day at the legislature less than a year after the state passed a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage and as the U.S. Supreme Court is considering cases about whether similar state and federal restrictions are legal.
THE GOVERNOR: Gov. Pat McCrory has only one event on his public schedule this morning: a closed-door breakfast with lawmakers.
COMMITTEES: For a full list of committees, see the @NCCapitol home page. Among the highlights:
House Education (10 a.m. | LOB 643): The committee takes up a bill to give private school scholarships for children with disabilities and the House version of education reform. WRAL.com will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
House Health (10 a.m. | LOB 544): Lawmakers take a first look at a permanent funding fix for those in Alzheimer's special care units.
House Transportation (Noon | LOB 643): Turnpike authorities would not send a bill for charges until a driver accumulates more than $5 in fees under a bill the committee will consider. WRAL.com will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
House Agriculture (1 p.m. | LOB 643): Committee members will review a bill to criminalize the action of some whistle blowers who go undercover with a video camera at factory farms. WRAL.com will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
House Insurance (1 p.m. | LB 1228): North Carolina would loosen restrictions on how much car insurance companies can raise rates every year under a bill the committee considers today. Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin says the measure could cost North Carolina drivers money, while proponents say it will allow for new products in the market.
Senate Finance (1 p.m. | LOB 544): The committee will discuss two bills designed to limit how much debt the state can take on. No votes are expected.
MONDAY'S STORIES: Among the stories in the news Monday were:
ROSS: UNC System President Thomas Ross told reporters Monday that he worried cuts to higher education could affect the state's ability to recruit employers like MetLife. "That's why I worry about the budget cuts, because they do send a message outside the borders about the way you value higher education," Ross said during a round table discussion with reporters organized by the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
Ross also called the idea of closing UNC System campuses floated by Senate lawmakers earlier this year would not save what some state leaders might hope. "I'm not sure who is going to stand in line to buy those campuses," he said.
VOUCHERS: Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, on Monday filed a bill that would help families pay for private school tuition. Stam calls the proposal the "Opportunity Scholarship program," but opponents say it's a voucher scheme that won't help students who need it most.
"Parents can do a better job of picking the best educational environment for their child than the state can," Stam said. "This empowers parents of limited means to make that choice effectively."
HISTORIC SITES: If the North Carolina General Assembly includes the recommendation of Gov. Pat McCrory in its two-year budget starting July 1, Aycock and four other historic sites across the state would close to the general public, keeping just enough staff to maintain buildings and grounds, reports the Associated Press. Lawmakers representing districts that are home to the historic sites that made the list say they remain hopeful they can eliminate or at least blunt the cuts.
DREDGING: The Wilmington Star-News reports: "Sen. Harry Brown is rewriting his measure seeking funds to dredge the North Carolina coast's shallow-draft inlets after facing pushback from boat owners who complained his originally proposed registration fee hikes were too high."
LOANS: The Charlotte Observer reports: "Consumer advocacy groups are sounding the alarm about a bill recently introduced in the state legislature that they say would enable consumer finance companies to hike the rates they charge most borrowers."
CROWDS: "A team of legislators and citizens are pushing for what they say are easier crowdfunding regulations in North Carolina," reports the Triangle Business Journal.