Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Wednesday, April 3. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government this morning.
FIRST UP: The state House and Senate will meet in joint session to confirm Gov. Pat McCrory's six nominees to the state Board of Education. One of those nominees, A.L. “Buddy” Collins, has drawn opposition for gay rights groups due to his positions on bullying and protections for LGBT students. State Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller called on McCrory to rescind Collins' nomination Tuesday.
Democrats may try to separate his confirmation vote from the rest of the slate. UPDATE: Our live stream will not be available. Check back at @NCCapitol for coverage later today.
MEDICAID: Gov. Pat McCrory is set to announce a plan that he says will control the costs of North Carolina's Medicaid system, the health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Jointly funded by the state and federal government, the system has been the bane of budget writers because of growing demand and costs overruns.
"For our citizens, Medicaid's unpredictable costs means higher taxes and less resources for our students and other priorities of our state," McCrory said during a somewhat inscrutable two-minute video. Various organizations and individuals have been submitting their ideas to the Division of Medical Assistance, the bureaucracy that runs Medicaid, for the past three months. But those sending in ideas say they've heard little concrete from either McCrory or his DMA staffers.
In his video, McCrory says his plan would "create a new health care partnership, a partnership that fosters innovation and creates cost efficient solutions for our health care community."
It's worth noting that the state already has a well regarded public-private partnership, Community Care of North Carolina, that helps coordinate patient care. Some ideas that have been floated to improve North Carolina's Medicaid system would include heavier reliance on CCNC, including tapping the group to help oversee the state's mental health system. Others speculate McCrory will call for something that looks more like a managed care model, which would be a big shift away from how things currently operate.
"We don’t know what the gov’s proposal will include and would rather not speculate," said Paul Mahoney, a spokesman for CCNC.
Any plan put forward by McCrory would need the approval of lawmakers.
WRAL.com will carry McCrory's news conference on the Dorothea Dix campus live at 10 a.m. Check the Video Central box on the WRAL.com home page.
SENATE: After the 9 a.m. Board of Education session, the full state Senate will recess until 2 p.m. The headline bill on the calendar today would make several changes designed to restart the death penalty in North Carolina, including doing away with the last remnants of the Racial Justice Act. If it passes, the measure would next go to the House. The state has not executed a death row inmate since 2006. WRAL.com will carry the Senate session live at 2 p.m. Check the Video Central box on the home page.
Note: Opponents of the death penalty are scheduled to hold a noon news conference in advance of the vote.
HOUSE: The House will recess after the BOE vote until 3 p.m.
COMMITTEES: For a full listing of committee meetings, check the main @NCCapitol page. Among today's highlights:
Senate Education (10 a.m. | LOB 544): Lawmakers will review a bill that would create a separate board to oversee the state's charter schools rather than allowing the state Board of Education to oversee how the publicly-funded by privately-run schools operate.
House Commerce (11 a.m. | LOB 643): Lawmakers will review a bill that would remove requirements that big power companies buy a certain portion of their energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar. Conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity, which has financial ties to energy giant Koch Industries, are pushing for the measure, saying it has been costly to consumers. Environmental groups say state law caps how much of the cost can be passed on to consumers and point out that it has helped foster growth in the renewable energy sector as the rest of North Carolina's economy contracted during the recent recession. The meeting is expected to last two hours. WRAL.com will carry the meeting live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
House Elections (1 p.m. | LOB 643): The committee will take testimony on potential voter ID legislation. Some of the speakers may be asked to speak about early voting as well. Those expected to speak include Brian Kemp, Georgia's Secretary of State, and Ion Sancho, Supervisor of Elections in Leon County, Florida. WRAL.com will carry the meeting live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
Senate Finance (1 p.m. | LOB 544): The Senate will look at a massive tax system rewrite put forward by Sen. Dan Goldfield, D-Mecklenburg. The bill is scheduled for discussion only and is part of an ongoing series of discussions in advance of a GOP-lead effort to remake the state's tax system.
FROM TUESDAY: Among the stories we were following Tuesday were:
BENEFITS: County Departments of Social Service would be required to conduct criminal background checks on those applying for federal benefits under a bill that cleared the House Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday. If someone applying for Food and Nutrition Assistance, what many people call food stamps, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which are cash payments, is found to have an outstanding warrant, social service workers would be required to report them to local law enforcement under House Bill 392.
LOBBYING: A Wake County judge should reconsider throwing out a $30,000 fine against a former high-profile lobbyist who worked to change the state's "Buy America" law so that imported iron could be used on highway projects, the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
BILLS: Senators filed 144 bills in advance of a key deadline Tuesday. House lawmakers filed 35, but have more time to submit their ideas. Between the two chambers, more than 1,250 bills have been filed so far this year.
Among those filed yesterday was a measure by three freshmen senators who said they want to head off a policy that would allow students of the opposite sex to start sharing bathrooms and common living areas in University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus housing suites and apartments next fall.
Another bill would purport to allow for sectarian prayer during official meetings of government bodies, despite court rulings that say such actions are in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
BOATS: Senate lawmakers are debating a bill that would raise fees on boats across the state to pay for dredging for coastal inlets. Sponsor Sen. Harry Brown, R-On slow, said in a hearing Tuesday that the federal government used to pay for the dredging of shallow coastal inlets. But that money has dried up, and federal officials have made it clear it won't return.
AIRPORT: A Charlotte lawmaker said Tuesday that shifting control of the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport to a yet-to-be-created regional authority is critical for North Carolina's economic future. Rep. William Brawler, R-Mecklenburg, said the airport is poised to become a freight distribution hub for the eastern half of the U.S. as the Panama Canal expands and starts handling larger container ships next year.
GRADES: Public schools in North Carolina would get A through F letter grades to reflect their performance, starting next year, under legislation approved Tuesday by a House committee. House Bill 435, which passed easily on a voice vote, would modify the letter-grade system that was part of Senate President Pro Team Phil Berger's sweeping education reform package last year. Although the package never made it out of the House, portions were rolled into the state budget and approved.