Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Wednesday, April 17. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.
FIRST UP: Gov. Pat McCrory will meet with his Education Cabinet at 9 a.m. this morning.
The cabinet is group of made up of the leaders from the various parts of North Carolina's public education infrastructure: public K-12 schools, community colleges, the university systems, and pre-K. In the past, representatives of private institutions have been asked to play a part.
The idea of an education cabinet was first created by Gov. Jim Hunt and it has appeared off-and-on in policy discussions through the year. Gov. Bev Perdue reconstituted the group in 2009 as public schools faced steep budget cuts, but the panel never took the policy leadership role that the Democratic governor forecast for the group. Over the past three years, it has been mostly dormant, at least in public.
McCrory talked about using the Education Cabinet to break down "silos" among different educational institutions during his State of the State address:
"But we can and must do more to break down what I consider to be the four silos of education: pre-K, K-12, community colleges and our great universities. It’s been too long since the education cabinet has met. You may have not even known there was an education cabinet. But I will reinstate and lead these meetings to develop a joint strategic plan and process to share resources, to share teachers, to share technology that puts both students and hardworking taxpayers first."
The meeting will be held at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Building at 217 W. Jones Street.
VOTER ID: The House Elections is scheduled to hold at 2 hour meeting today at 1 p.m. in order to debate and vote on a Voter ID bill. As currently drafted, the measure would require those coming to the polls to vote to show a photo ID, although it would accept more forms of ID than just a current drivers license.
Debate comes as the Board of Elections reports that fewer people in the state may lack ID than once thought. "The new information roughly halves the potential number of registered voters without photo ID from the 612,000 in a January report to about 318,000," reports the Associated Press. The AP also notes, "The new bill originally included a provision waiving fees for state-issued ID for those who swear under penalty of perjury they can't afford to pay, but an updated version removes costs for all registered voters who say they lack the documents needed to obtain ID."
WRAL.com will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
SENATE: The state Senate meets at 2 p.m. The chamber is due to pass a measure that would increase the penalties for child abuse by a parent or caretaker. If it clears the Senate today without changes, it will go to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature.
HOUSE: The state House meets at 3 p.m. The chamber has only three bills on its calendar, including a resolution honoring the March of Dimes.
COMMITTEES: For a complete list of committees, please see the @NCCapitol home page. Among today's highlights:
Senate Education (10 a.m. | 544 LOB): The committee will discuss and possibly vote on a bill that would remove current limits on how big K-12 classes may be. The committee is also scheduled to talk about, but not vote on, a measure that would require public schools to teach cursive handwriting. WRAL.com will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
House Judiciary A (10 a.m. | 1228 LB): Clerks of Court who have concealed handgun permits would be able to carry firearms into a courthouse under a measure the committee will consider. The committee is also due to review a bill that would give funeral processions the right of way at all intersections "regardless of traffic control signs or signals." The bill would also limit the fines that could be levied against someone driving in a funeral procession.
Press Conference (Noon | Legislative Press Room): A bipartisan group of House lawmakers presses a bill that would create an independent redistricting process for the next time lawmakers must redraw lines for the state legislature and Congress.
Senate Redistricting (1 p.m. | 544 LOB): The legislature would redraw the school board boundaries for Wake County under a bill the committee considers today. It would create more seats that lean Republican while "double-bunking" sitting Democrats. The same committee will also hear a bill turning Guilford County school board elections into partisan races.
MORE MET LIFE: The huge incentives package used to lure MetLife to North Carolina could get in the way of other recruitment efforts, according to documents released by the Commerce Department. "The size of this project would use more than $8 Million of the annual $15 Million project Cap. When the new administration is in place we will need to discuss the need to request an increase in the 2013 Cap for JDIG," Stewart J. Dickinson, a top state business recruiter, said in a December email, reports the Associated Press. The same official also wrote, "At a point in the very near future we will have to tell prospective grantees that we cannot award their grants until after 7/1/2013."
DIX: A bill that would undo the lease agreement between the state and City of Raleigh for the Dorothea Dix property is still sitting in committee as House leaders hope to find a compromise over the deal. "The bill is going to be heard sooner or later," committee Chairman Leo Daughtry said.
FARMS: "Agriculture and agribusiness— food, fiber, and forestry — account for almost one-fifth of the state’s income and employees. More than 17 percent, or $77 billion, of the $440 billion gross state product is contributed by food, fiber, and forestry industries. These industries account for 642,000 of the state’s 3.8 million employees. The following are the value-added incomes derived from the state’s agricultural sector for 2011," according to research by N.C. State University.
ALSO TUESDAY: Other stories we were following Tuesday included:
AFP: Americans for Prosperity will spend $500,000 over the next 90 days on a campaign meant to encourage lawmakers to follow through on pledges to simplify North Carolina's tax code and lower taxes. "Most of this is carrots," said Dallas Woodhouse, North Carolina director for the national conservative organization. Asked if the group would launch negative ads if reform stalled, Woodhouse said, "The plan right now is to be more positive, but I will never rule that out."
CAR INSURANCE: A bill that opponents, including local car insurers and North Carolina's insurance commissioner, said would raise car insurance rates on most drivers failed in committee Tuesday. Voting 18-11, the House Insurance Committee rebuffed a measure sought by national insurance companies such as State Farm, Geico and USAA. Although this doesn't absolutely kill the measure, advocates watching the issue say lawmakers are likely to move on to a more modest measure that allows for more discounts without changing the state's regulatory structure.
SPECIAL ED: Families of special-needs students could receive grants of up to $6,000 a year for therapy outside of public schools under a bill approved Tuesday by a House committee. House Bill 269 passed the House Education Committee by a 25-10 vote after almost an hour of heated debate. The bill sets aside more than $3.6 million in the 2013-14 school year to reimburse families who enroll their special-needs children in private schools for the psychological, speech, occupational or other therapy provided to the students.
ED REFORM: State House lawmakers could vote this week on a sweeping overhaul of the state's teacher tenure system. The House Education Committee gave unanimous approval Tuesday to House Bill 719. The measure would revamp the state's teacher tenure system, shifting it to a probationary/non-probationary system. Sponsors Reps. Bryan Holloway, R-Stokes, and Rick Glazier, D- Cumberland, say it's modeled on a Colorado system that has shown success.
NEWSPAPERS: "Prompting one press advocate to accuse Senate Republican leaders of “targeting the newspaper industry,” a Senate panel Tuesday approved a bill that would let local governments shift their legal notices to web sites that they control," reports the Charlotte Observer.