Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Tuesday, June 11. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.
BREAKING: Embattled state Democratic Party chairman Randy Voller suffered another blow Monday night: the resignation of the party's vice-chair and lead fundraiser, Nina Szlosberg-Landis. In an email sent Monday night to the several hundred members of the party's executive committee, Szlosberg-Landis said she made the decision "with a very heavy heart," but had come to the conclusion that the party's fundraising would suffer under Voller's continued leadership. "During the last 100 days, I have become increasingly less comfortable with the tone and practices of the leadership of the party," she wrote.
HOUSE TODAY: Budget week has begun in the state House. The state House rolled out its $20.6 billion spending plan Sunday night and the bill will hit the House Appropriations Committee today. Lawmakers expect to spend most of the day vetting the bill in committee. Today's House floor session will not hear any bills. The budget bill is expected to go through Finance Committee on Wednesday morning and to be heard on the House floor Wednesday afternoon.
"We have crafted a budget that balances state spending with our income, sets priorities and does not raise taxes," said senior budget chairman Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, adding that the proposal increases state spending by only about 1.9 percent over 2012.
According to budget-writers, the House plan for 2013-14 spends $12 million less than the Senate proposal and $188 million less than recommended by Gov. Pat McCrory.
WRAL.com will bring you the House Appropriations Committee live. Check the Video Central box on the home page, beginning at 8:30 a.m.
SENATE TODAY: The state Senate will meet at 3 p.m. today and has three dozen bills on its calendar. Among those bills are a measure repealing the last remaining pieces of the Racial Justice Act that is aimed at restarting the death penalty in North Carolina and a measure meant to make it easier for telecommunication companies to locate mobile phone towers.
COMMITTEES: For a full list of today's legislative committees, check the main @NCCapitol page. Among the highlights:
Senate Judiciary I (10 a.m. | 1027 LB): The committee takes up H 937, an omnibus firearms bill. As currently drafted, it would allow people with concealed handgun permits to bring firearms into establishments that serve alcohol and would clear the way for permit holders to keep handguns in their cars on college campuses.
Senate Commerce (11 a.m. | 1027 LB): Lawmakers will hear a bill that would roll back energy efficient building standards to what they were in 2009 for commercial construction.
Senate Agriculture (11 a.m. | 544 LOB): Committee members will hear about a bill that would ban the state from using LEED energy efficient building standards if they don't allow for the use of North Carolina timber.
WRAP: Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Chief Laura Leslie and reporter Mark Binker review Monday's action at the General Assembly in The Wrap @NCCapitol.
ARRESTS: More than 80 people were arrested during the latest round of Moral Monday protests last night.
Many in the group of 84 people arrested Monday at the state legislature were clergy who say the Republican-controlled General Assembly is making policies that hurt the poor and children.
"Biblically, we speak of a time when we care for the least of these, that we care for those who cannot care from themselves," said Rev. Clarence Shuford, of St. Phillip AME Zion in Greensboro.
The arrests bring the total over six rounds of near-weekly demonstrations to more than 350. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a growing number of left-leaning groups are lashing out at a host of GOP policies ranging from education to voting rights.
Among those arrested was Tim Funk, a religion reporter for the Charlotte Observer. “We believe there was no reason to detain him,” Cheryl Carpenter, the Observer's managing editor, said in a story posted on the paper's website. “He wasn’t there to do anything but report the story, to talk to Charlotte clergy. He was doing his job in a public place.”
STORIES: Other stories we were following Monday include:
TAXES: The state House voted a second time Monday night to approve its tax reform package, sending the bill to the state Senate. Lawmakers first approved the bill on Friday, but the state constitution requires bills changing how revenue is raised to be heard and voted on two separate days.There is widespread agreement that North Carolina needs to rework its badly antiquated tax code, first drafted in the 1930s and only tinkered with ever since. However, different groups differ on how best to accomplish that reform.
NONPROFITS: David Heinen, director of public policy for the N.C. Center for Nonprofits, spent time on a conference call with reporters Monday morning laying out how various tax reform plans now in play might impact nonprofits of different sorts.
TASK FORCE: Republican budget-writers in both the House and Senate are proposing the elimination of the state's Child Fatality Task Force.In existence since 1991, the task force, which operates under the Department of Health and Human Services, is an appointed panel of experts that range from pediatricians to researchers to child advocates to law enforcement. The members are all unpaid volunteers.
SCHOOL BOARD DISTRICTS: Wake County is one Senate vote away from its second round of school board redistricting in just three years. House lawmakers voted along party lines Monday night to approve Senate Bill 325, a Republican-penned proposal that would redraw the county's school board seats. The new maps would consolidate the current nine districts into seven, making the last two seats into regional districts, one representing Raleigh and the center of the county, and the other representing the outer ring of the county. Republicans say the changes will allow voters to vote for two school board members, instead of just one. Democrats say the redraw is a blatant political ploy to make the districts more favorable to Republican candidates.
COBEY: Bill Cobey is a former Republican state party chairman, city manager, congressman, athletic director and teacher who now finds himself chairman of the North Carolina Board of Education at a time when the GOP-led legislature is putting forward policies to overhaul North Carolina's K-12 system. All this from a guy who says he couldn't read until he was in the third grade. "My passion is literacy," Cobey said. "I don't know how you live in the world and function without being literate."