Good morning, and welcome to Today @NCCapitol, WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government this morning.
RERUNS: Both the House and Senate gave tentative approval to the controversial bills on their calendars Monday night. Third reading votes on the unemployment bill in the House and the Medicaid expansion bill in the Senate are scheduled for today.
MEDICAID: The Senate voted 31-to-17 to block North Carolina from expanding Medicaid as allowed by the federal Affordable Care Act. The same bill also blocks state agencies from helping to build health insurance exchanges created by the federal law.
The Senate vote came despite a letter from Gov. Pat McCrory's legislative liaison, Fred Steen, asking lawmakers to hold off. "We believe additional time is necessary to evaluate the serious financial ramifications of Senate Bill 4 to North Carolina taxpayers," Steen wrote.
WRAL.com plans to carry debate on the Senate's third reading of the bill live at 3 p.m. Check the Video Central box on the home page.
MEDICAID HELP: As Steen mentioned in his letter, DHHS has issued a Request for Information seeking ways to improve the state's Medicaid system. The RFI allows virtually anyone to offer ideas and says that some will be invited to meet with the agency's top leadership.
UNEMPLOYMENT: The House tentatively voted 78-40 to revamp the state's unemployment insurance system. A final vote is scheduled for today's House session at 2 p.m.
WRAP: Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie and reporter Adam Owens sum up Monday night's action in the Feb. 4 edition of The Wrap @NCCapitol.
ISSUE TRACKER: The 2013 N.C. General Assembly Issue Tracker has been updated with the results of last night's action and bill filings.
MCCRORY SCHEDULE: Gov. Pat McCrory will chair his first formal Council of State meeting at 9 a.m. The council is made up of North Carolina's 10 statewide elected officials and typically oversees matters such as land transfers and bond issuance.
GUNS: Grass Roots North Carolina will hold a Second Amendment Freedom Rally on the Halifax Mall behind legislative building at noon. According to an e-mail from the group, GRNC expects "several hundred gun rights supporters from across the state who will gather to tell lawmakers that infringement on individual freedom will not be tolerated." Several lawmakers are expected to speak to the rally. WRAL.com will carry the rally live. Check the Video Central box on the home page.
Already this year, six gun related measures have been filed between the House and Senate.
LEGISLATIVE SCHEDULE: Lawmakers will begin their day with a joint House-Senate Appropriations Committee meeting that will run from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. A similar meeting is scheduled for Wednesday. According to a notice on the House and Senate calendars, the "informational sessions will provide all General Assembly Members with important information on the current and upcoming State Budget, major budget drivers, and related issues."
The state Senate will convene at 9 a.m. but immediately recess until 3 p.m., according to an announcement by Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham. The House is scheduled to convene at 2 p.m.
Neither chamber has the bulk of its committees up and running quite yet. However both the House and Senate Rules Committees are scheduled to meet.
HOUSE RULES will meet at 10 a.m. and is scheduled to take up permanent rules for the House session this year. The House has been operating under temporary rules until now.
SENATE RULES will meet at 10 a.m. take up SB 10, which is designed to eliminate obsolete boards and commissions. Rules chairman Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, told fellow senators on Monday night that the committee may also take up the resolution inviting McCrory to give his State of the State address.
STATE OF THE STATE: According to the Senate resolution on the State of the State, McCrory is scheduled to address a joint session of the legislature Monday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m.
SWEEPSTAKES: According to an e-mail from the N.C. Sheriff's Association, a Davidson County judge has lifted his temporary restraining order that stopped law enforcement from acting against businesses operating certain kinds of video sweepstakes. "Therefore, there is no court order in effect that prohibits enforcement of the law that outlaws video sweepstakes," association executive vice president Eddie Caldwell.
SCOUT'S (YOUR) HONOR: Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby (an Eagle Scout) came to the House in full scouting regalia to deliver a report on the Boy Scouts in North Carolina and to hear an honoring resolution. He was escorted in by an honor guard of House members who are Eagle Scouts. Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanly, another Eagle Scout, was in the Speaker's seat for the event. The group's 103d anniversary is Friday, 2/8. The Senate will take up its own honoring resolution today.
Worth noting: As the Reuters Journal reports, "Boy Scouts of America board members opened a three-day meeting on Monday in which they will consider ending a controversial national ban on gay membership, sparking a flurry of lobbying from groups both for and against the change."
HEALTH PLAN: The Associated Press reports: "Some North Carolina state employees, teachers and retirees could see even higher premiums if they smoke or fail to make other health choices starting next year under a proposal approved Monday by State Health Plan board members."
EASLEY: The North Carolina State Bar on Monday reinstated former Gov. Mike Easley's law license following his November 2010 conviction for campaign finance fraud.
FILMS: The Wilmington Star News reports: "The N.C. Film Office will lead a North Carolina delegation at a film reception in Beverly Hills this week in the hopes of wooing more Hollywood productions to the state."
DROP IT LIKE IT'S ... A MARSUPIAL: A bipartisan group of NC lawmakers has introduced a bill that would allow Brasstown, NC to resume using a live possum for its annual New Year's Possum Drop festivities. House Bill 66, an agency bill, would allow DENR to issue permits to people to keep lawfully taken wild animals or birds for "scientific, educational, or exhibition purposes."
OF INTEREST: WRAL's Cullen Browder and Randall Kerr report on how many sports leagues operate tax free.