Today @NCCapitol (July 17): With tax deal almost done, lawmakers beginning to wrap up business

Posted July 17, 2013

— Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Wednesday, July 17. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.

TAXES: Despite objections from Democrats about process, both the House and Senate gave tentative approval Tuesday to a tax reform plan that top lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory rolled out Monday. The package – the first major changes to North Carolina's tax structure in about 80 years – calls for reducing both personal and corporate income taxes. It also would eliminate the estate tax and preserve the ability of most nonprofits to get refunds of what they pay in sales taxes.

Both the House and Senate are expected to give final legislative approval to the bill during floor sessions today (See below for a schedule). 

Home sale generic McCrory justifies tax plan to realtors Interest groups are still picking through the proposal, but even those that are less than 100 percent happy with the plan say they can live with the measure.

North Carolina real estate agents, for example, aren't pleased with a provision capping the state deduction on mortgage interest and property taxes at a combined $20,000. But they say the bill could have been much worse on their industry. Earlier tax reform bills eliminated the deductions altogether.

Nonprofit groups also eyed the plan warily. It preserves the deduction for charitable contributions. And while it sets a $45 million cap on the sales tax refund any one nonprofit can recoup during a year, no nonprofits would have hit that cap last year, meaning all would get their current refunds. Earlier versions of the bill limited deductions for charitable contributions and would have severely ratcheted down the sales tax refund amount.

"While on its face this may appear to be good news for North Carolina nonprofits because none of them will be subject to the cap, we are concerned with the precedent this sets," said a statement from the N.C. Center for Nonprofits. "We believe it is likely that lawmakers will lower the cap in subsequent years so that an ever-increasing number of North Carolina charitable nonprofits will be required to pay burdensome sales tax in the future; notably, key lawmakers have said tax reform is a process and expect further changes to the tax code in the coming years."

TODAY: At first blush, today's legislative schedule looks like a light one. But that's because a lot of work is going on behind the scenes. Budget negotiators are meeting to work out a final spending plan for the state. And lawmakers involved in drafting a bill that expands the number of places in which those with concealed handgun permits can carry their firearms are working out differences between the House and Senate. Reporters, lobbyists and others are also on watch for the Senate to roll out a new version of a bill that deals with election issues and voter ID. 

The Wrap @NCCapitol (July 16) The Wrap @NCCapitol (July 16) Gov. Pat McCrory's public schedule says he will drop by the first meeting of the newly reconstituted Economic Development Board at 10 a.m. and he will hold a bill signing ceremony at 4 p.m. A McCrory spokesman did not say which of the nearly five dozen bills pending on McCrory's desk the governor would sign, saying only that the ceremony would not be fore the tax reform measure. 

For a full list of legislative committees and events, please see the main @NCCapitol page. Among the highlights scheduled thus far: 

HOUSE FINANCE (8:30 a.m. | 544 LOB): The committee will deal with bills expanding how much State Treasurer Janet Cowell can invest in alternative investments, and a measure that would quicken the pace at which former felons could have their firearm rights restored. 

HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (11 a.m. | House Chamber): Lawmakers will take a final vote on the tax reform bill. They are also expected to vote on a resolution supporting "of the constitutional right of the people of this State to keep and bear arms and opposes any infringement by the federal government of the right of the people of this State to keep and bear arms." And lawmakers will deal, once again, with a bill affecting when "terminal groins" can be built to protect barrier islands against erosion. WRAL.com will carry the House session live. Check the Video Central box on our home page. 

SENATE FINANCE (1 p.m. | 544 LOB): The committee takes up a bill dealing with scholarship for children with disabilities. The measure replaces a tax credit for those children eliminated by the tax reform law. 

SENATE FLOOR SESSION (2 p.m. | Senate Chamber): Senators are scheduled to take their final vote on the tax overhaul bill. And they can give final legislative approval to a measure taking control of Charlotte Douglas Airport away from the City of Charlotte and turning it over to a regional authority. If the House session is complete by 2 p.m., WRAL.com will carry the Senate session live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.

MORE STORIES: Other stories we were following Tuesday included: 

SCHOOLS: A bill that would allow Wake County and several other local boards of county commissioners to take over responsibility for building and maintaining schools has hit a roadblock in the House. Rules Chairman Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said he was unsure if it would come up again this summer. "A significant number of Republicans are against it," Moore said. "I think that's an issue that will have to be worked out in (the Republican House) caucus."

Republicans rally for 'Thankful Tuesday' protest Republicans rally at 'Thankful Tuesday' THANKFUL: About 200 supporters expressed their appreciation Tuesday for North Carolina Republicans' efforts to cut taxes, require identification before voting and make getting abortions more difficult. Republican groups organized a "Thankful Tuesday" rally at the government complex in Raleigh to praise the GOP-led Legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory for their work passing conservative policies. The event comes 24 hours after the 11th "Moral Monday" protest, led by the state chapter of the NAACP. More than 850 people have been arrested during those weekly demonstrations, which have drawn thousands of people from around the state to protest everything from cuts to unemployment benefits to requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls to proposed regulations on abortion clinics.

IMMIGRATION: After more than a year of work, House leaders have given up on a bill that would have made big changes to state immigration laws, including allowing driving permits for people in the country illegally. House Bill 786 was turned into a study bill by a floor amendment during debate Tuesday. As originally drafted, the bill would have allowed police to verify anyone's immigration status "where there is reasonable suspicion that the person is not lawfully present in the U.S.," said sponsor Rep. Jonathan Jordan, R-Ashe. It also would have increased penalties for the manufacture or possession of fake IDs and for identity theft, and it called for the forfeiture of any vehicle being driven by anyone without a license or restricted permit, driving without insurance or driving on a revoked license.

UNPOPULAR: Gov. Pat McCrory's approval ratings are taking a dip because of the recent fight over the abortion bill, says the Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling. "For the first time since taking office we find that McCrory has a negative approval rating this month," the poll reported. "Unhappiness over the abortion bill seems to be driving a lot of the increased unhappiness with the Republicans in state government this month. Only 34% of voters support the proposal to 47% who are opposed. They're even more unhappy with the process- 80% think it's inappropriate to combine abortion legislation with bills about motorcycle safety or Sharia Law."


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  • junkmail5 Jul 17, 2013

    Now you can stand up proudly and say there will be more concealed guns with silencers in NC.- Sally1023


    Nothing in the proposed law would increase the # of concealed guns- only the # of places you can take the one you already have.

    Likewise nothing would increase the # of silencers... (and I'm guessing you're not aware how much time and work is involved in getting one in the first place?)

  • nascar33 Jul 17, 2013

    Sally1023"To RAA0013: sour grapes? really? Yep, wasting $ on education I know that really made you mad"
    Yes it does make us mad, we have had some of the highest taxes in the nation for decades and we rank somewhere around 47th in education. Not much bang for our buck!

  • joycejunior Jul 17, 2013

    Thanks "ILoveDowntown" for the heads up. This tax shift is a disaster in the making. I don't understand the so-called need for tax cuts on the wealthy in a state that doesn't have overall high taxes. Yet education is near dead last in the country yet it gets cut. Explain that logic?

  • nascar33 Jul 17, 2013

    ncmike: I have always said that once a person serves their sentence they should have their rights restored. If we can trust a person that served time with a gun why did we release that person??

  • Sally1023 Jul 17, 2013

    To RAA0013: sour grapes? really? Yep, wasting $ on education I know that really made you mad. Keeping our environment clean for centuries to come, must have been hard to swallow. Now you can stand up proudly and say there will be more concealed guns with silencers in NC. And we won't have to worry about the threat of Sharia law, something almost every person in NC was very, very afraid of.

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Jul 17, 2013

    "I think I read a family of 4 making 40K a year would see an $80 tax break..." - nceducator79

    The reality is much worse than that. Those "tax breaks" are only a small reduction in your income tax, and range from 0% (married, joint, 2 children) to 1.6% (single, $250,000). Next you have to factor in new sales tax INCREASES. For example, the sales tax on your electricity goes from 3.5% to 7%! And there are many others.

    In the end, if you are low-income, middle-income, or a senior citizen, you will see a substantial overall TAX INCREASE. If you are very rich or an out-of-state corporation, this Republican "tax reform" is good news. Some numbers for a quick and bitter taste of this Republican tax increase:


  • tracmister Jul 17, 2013

    The Republican leadership claims that North Carolina will be able to maintain its current financial commitments. Under the budget they are either lying or someone is getting slammed with more taxes somewhere.

  • RAA0013 Jul 17, 2013

    jcthai - you are just sour grapes. Some of us sat by quietly watching things we didn't agree with for years as Dems added more and more spending and took our state downhill. It's kinda nice to have the state finally doing some things I care about like not wasting money. It's all gotta balance out in the end.

  • nceducator79 Jul 17, 2013

    I think I read a family of 4 making 40K a year would see an $80 tax break. For the whole year. Not every month. Yet, a family of 4 making over 250K a year (which is not most families) would see a tax break of over 2k for the entire year. Essentially, there will be no tax break for most people. I guess I'll be happy to get an extra $5 in my paycheck every month...but then they'll raise taxes on products I buy, so in the long run, most people lost out on this deal.

  • unc70 Jul 17, 2013

    Don't expect to see any noticeable tax break unless you are wealth or a large corporation. Any cut in one place will be made up for elsewhere or more so in cuts to services. Oh, and remember all the supposed savings from cutting unemplyment insurance benefits? You should realize that you don't qualify for many other programs while you are drawing unemployment, so watch for a jump in applicants for these programs. So rather than extended UE (100% Federal), you now have other programs that are funded in part by the State.

    Now watch where the ripple from spending cuts comes through your community, some times like a tidal wave. Surprise! That local volunteer organization is really funded by the government. That nice private medical clinic in your rural county, it had received a government subsidy. ...