Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning, and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Thursday, Feb. 28. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government this morning.
BOARDS: The House Commerce Committee gave approval Wednesday to a revamped version of a Senate bill that would eliminate, fire or reconfigure more than two dozen state oversight boards, but not before its sponsor raised an objection to the new draft.
"I feel like the parent that sends a kid to college and they come home at Thanksgiving, and you don't recognize them. My goodness, what have you done to my child?" Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, asked the committee. "This is not the way to start the session," he said, pledging to send the measure to a conference committee when it returned to the Senate from the House.
The House version of the bill cut out language removing special superior court judges from their seats. And language approved by House members would keep four specified members on the Environmental Management and Coastal Resources commissions for the sake of preserving institutional knowledge.
As the House wrapped up work Wednesday afternoon, House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg told members that the chamber would take up the bill today. However, late Wednesday, a House calendar showed the bill re-referred to the Rules Committee. Jordan Shaw, a spokesman for Tillis, said House lawmakers wanted to make "a few tweaks" before it headed to the floor. It is now expected on the floor early next week, Shaw said.
WRAP: Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie and reporter Mark Binker review Wednesday's action, including more on the boards and commissions bill, on Wednesday's The Wrap @NCCapitol.
THURSDAY MEETINGS: For a complete listing of legislative meetings Thursday, see the main @NCCapitol page. Here are the highlights:
10 a.m. Senate Judiciary 1 - The committee will hear a bill that adds those convicted of sex trafficking to the state's sex offender registry. (1027 LB) WRAL will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on the home page.
10 a.m. House Rules - The committee will take another look at the boards and commissions bill. (1228 LB)
1 p.m. House Session - The House will take up bills allowing lottery funds to be used for digital learning, improving oversight of state vehicles, and requiring pulse oximetry screening for newborns. Check the Video Central box on the home page. WRAL will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on the home page.
PAYDAY: A spokeswoman for Gov. Pat McCrory said the Republican is concerned about a bill that could return payday lending to the state, reports the Associated Press: "McCrory spokeswoman Crystal Feldman said Wednesday the governor has objections to a Senate bill that would reinstitute a class of loans of up to $500 for which lenders could charge fees reaching $75...Feldman says this and similar legislation don't align with McCrory's objective to lessen the financial burden of families. She says high-risk loans put families in danger of incurring debt."
Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, said earlier this week that he is working on a new version of the bill.
MEMO: A group called America Votes has taken responsibility for a controversial strategy memo first linked to Blueprint NC. “I wrote the draft memo in my capacity as the coordinator of progressive 501c4 organizations," Jessica Laurenz, state director for America Votes, said via email. "No legal violations have occurred, and Republican strategists are correct when they say there is nothing surprising in the document. Many people strongly disagree with Governor McCrory's vision for the state of North Carolina and will aggressively fight it. That is hardly breaking news.”
AUDIT: A spot check of some of the largest hospitals bills North Carolina paid for prison health care between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, found the state's prison system overpaid by 10 percent on more than $1 million worth of claims
FROM THE WIRE: Court records show the new head of the North Carolina Democratic Party owes nearly $286,000 in back taxes and penalties.
SENATE WEDNESDAY: The Senate Wednesday passed workers compensation legislation, a bill to restrict protests at military funerals and measure removing a key check on the controversial practice known as fracking.
The funerals bill goes to Gov. Pat McCrory, who says he will sign the bill.
Both the workers compensation bills and the fracking bills will be heard next in the House. The fracking measure dismayed environmentalists, who said the legislature is giving up its ability to make sure environmental rules are strong enough before the state begins to issue permits in March of 2015.
"This is a desperate giveaway to big energy companies at the expense of our water," said Elizabeth Ouzts, director of Environment North Carolina. "It threatens Jordan Lake, the Eno River, and the drinking water for more than 400,000 North Carolinians."
FARMS: The North Carolina Farm Bureau said Wednesday that a majority of farmers statewide are having trouble hiring qualified employees, and they asked lawmakers for support with immigration reform.
DEATH ROW: More than 1,000 convicted killers have been sent to North Carolina's death row since 1910, when the state began executions. About 150 death row inmates currently sit behind the heavily guarded walls of Central Prison in Raleigh, at 1300 Western Blvd. North Carolina is a death penalty state, yet legal battles have put executions on hold for more than six years. Some believe a more conservative legislature and governor will push to see death sentences carried out again.
APPOINTED: Gov. Pat McCrory has appointed Don M. Bailey of Union County to the North Carolina Utilities Commission. According to a news release, "Bailey is the primary energy engineer at ATI Allvec. He has been a professional engineer in North Carolina since 1979. Bailey has also worked as a design engineer for cities such as High Point, NC and Newport News, VA. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and has served on the Board of Directors for the Carolina Customer Utility Association since 2002." The General Assembly must confirm Bailey's appointment.
WORTH A READ:
Washington Post: "Despite the reams of fact sheets the White House has been putting out, no one really knows how bad things are likely to get — including Republicans who have criticized the president for exaggerating the effects. Simple arithmetic can show the impact on some programs — the checks the federal government sends to unemployed people will be smaller, for instance. But many of the reductions, such as those in education spending, will not be felt for months in most school systems, which gives individual districts some time to make adjustments and allowances for the lost funds."
Stateline: "Like a bad hangover that won’t go away, some states are still suffering from the effects of the recession that technically ended three and half years ago."
Charlotte Observer: "Charlotte city officials and tourism leaders on Wednesday continued their push to get the state to help finance an upgrade of Bank of America Stadium for the Carolina Panthers."