Today @NCCapitol (July 23): Elections bill reveal and budget votes on tap
Posted July 23, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Tuesday, July 23. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.
FIRST UP: The House Finance Committee takes up a bill to adjust the penalties that taxpayers face when they file late tax returns.
ALSO THIS MORNING: The House Rules Committee meets to handle a number of bills dealing with everything from how young offenders are treated by the courts to fees for locksmith licenses. However, because it's a Rules Committee meeting late in the legislative session, it will be watched closely for surprises.
VOTER ID: It will be no surprise when the Senate Rules Committee rolls out an election omnibus bill later this afternoon. Chairman Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, told WRAL Monday that his committee would marry a bill that would require voters to show photo identification when they go to the polls to a package of other election changes. According to summaries circulated by a couple of those in the know this morning, the new bill would:
- Eliminate pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, who currently can register to vote before they turn 18.
- Outlaw paid voter registration drives.
- Eliminate same-day voter registration during early voting.
- Eliminate provisional voting if someone shows up at the wrong precinct.
- Allow voters to be challenged by any registered voter of the county rather than just a voter of the precinct in which they are registered.
- Shorten the two-and-a-half week early-voting period by a week.
- Prohibit counties from offering voting on the last Saturday before the election beyond 1 p.m.
- Prohibit counties from extending poll hours by one hour on Election Day in extraordinary circumstances, such as in response to long lines.
- Eliminate straight-ticket voting.
- Move the presidential primary to first Tuesday after SC – if SC holds its primary before March 15.
- Study electronic filing for campaign returns.
- Increase the maximum campaign contribution per election from $4,000 to $5,000.
- Loosen disclosure requirements for IE committees.
- Repeal the publicly-funded election program for appellate court judges.
"This is a sad day for our democracy," Sen. Josh Stein, a member of the Rules Committee, said on Facebook last night after receiving a draft of the bill.
If and when the Senate passes this bill, it will still have to pass the House, where there could be substantial disagreement over the package.
WRAL.com will carry the Senate Rules Committee live at 2 p.m. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
HOUSE TODAY: The state House meets at noon. It is expected to give tentative approval to the state budget negotiators agreed to over the weekend. Other bills on the calendar include a measure to restore firearms rights to some felons more quickly and a bill creating an advisory board to help oversee charter schools.
SENATE TODAY: The Senate meets at 4 p.m. and is expected to give tentative approval to the state budget. They are also expected to vote on a bill handing control of Wake County school buildings to the County Commissioners and have an often-delayed bill dealing with the 751 South development in Durham on their calendar. It is also possible other bills will be rolled onto the calendar in an effort to tie off legislative work for the year.
ALSO ON THE CALENDAR: Gov. Pat McCrory will sign the recently-passed tax measure in a ceremony at the governor's mansion on Blount Street at 1 p.m. That's about the same time pro-choice protesters say they will deliver petitions to the governor's office asking him to veto a bill placing heavy restrictions on abortion clinics if it comes to his desk.
The Wrap @NCCapitol (July 22) WRAP: Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie and reporter Mark Binker chew over the budget, news from Jones Street on Monday and look ahead to Tuesday's action in The Wrap @NCCapitol..
MORE STORIES: Other stories we were following Monday included:
BUDGET: A little more than 12 hours after House and Senate negotiators announced a budget deal, the North Carolina Association of Educators announced plans Monday to try to block key provisions in the $20.6 billion spending plan. Unlike earlier proposals, the budget provides no raises for teachers. But the NCAE is most upset with the $20 million set aside over the next two years for "opportunity scholarships" to allow low-income public school students move to private schools and the elimination of "career status," or tenure rights, for veteran teachers.
INVESTIGATES: Over the past two years, nearly 900 state workers were sent home while the state investigated their workplace conduct. While on investigatory leave, the workers collected more than $1.7 million in salaries, state personnel records show. When employees face allegations of harassment, misuse of state property, poor job performance or other issues, state leaders say sending them home with pay makes sense because there’s less interference with investigations.
State agencies can place employees on investigatory placement for up to 30 days, according to a rule in the N.C. Administrative Code, which went into effect on Oct. 1, 1995. Beyond that, the agency must get an extension approved by the Office of State Personnel. The WRAL Investigates team found some workers getting paid for months while awaiting the outcome of their investigation.
Of the 888 workers put on investigatory placement in the past two years, 209 were eventually fired. They collected about $483,000 while the state made up its mind. Another 203 were punished, demoted, suspended or quit. More than half the workers put on paid leave were reinstated with no demotion or suspensions.
PROTESTS: More than 70 protesters were taken to jail during the weekly Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina General Assembly, bringing the total number arrested in the legislative session to 925. In a change from past weeks, state House leaders moved their Monday night session to 4 p.m., three hours earlier than usual. That left the protesters massing shortly before 7 p.m. in the atrium outside the legislative chambers, singing and chanting in a largely empty building.
STUDENTS: State lawmakers have given final approval to revamp a program that helps the families of children with disabilities pay for private schools. The House voted 91-20 Monday in favor of House Bill 269, which now goes to the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory.
DRILLING: The state House has approved a bill that would both direct the governor to pursue an offshore drilling compact with other states and make changes to the state's gas drilling laws. Senators are scheduled to give final legislative approval to the bill Tuesday. Also Monday, the House rejected changes to a separate "regulatory reform" bill that deals with dozens of different provisions. One of those provisions covers what drilling companies will have to tell the state about chemicals they use in the process of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." The drilling method calls for forcing a mix of chemicals, water and sand into wells to crack apart shale rock and release trapped natural gas.
FROM ELSEWHERE: More state government news worth knowing comes from:
Associated Press: Nearly 60 years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down racial segregation in public schools, lawyers are set to square off in a federal courtroom in eastern North Carolina over whether the effects of that Jim Crow past still persist.
Charlotte Observer: Gov. Pat McCrory is now actively involved in the negotiations over who will control Charlotte Douglas International Airport as the battle between the city of Charlotte and state legislators over its future moves to the courtroom.
Stateline: Governors hold the most glamorous title in state government, but they don’t always get the fattest paycheck. State executives overseeing solid waste management, education or public utility regulation have higher salaries than their governors in some cases, according to a survey by the Council of State Governments.
N.C. Health News: Medicaid providers knew that the rollout of the state’s new Medicaid billing system would be rocky, but many say the issues are bigger than they were led to believe, and some say it’s affecting their businesses.