Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Thursday, June 13. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.
HOUSE BUDGET: After more than 7 hours of debate, the state House voted Wednesday night to give tentative approval to its $20.6 billion budget proposal.
The vote was 77-41, largely along party lines. Two Democrats voted for the Republican-penned plan: Reps. Bill Brisson, D-Bladen, and Ken Waddell, D-Columbus. One Republican voted against it: Rep. Robert Brawley, R-Iredell.
"We came through a fiscal storm like North Carolina had not faced in a generation," said senior budget writer Nelson Dollar, R-Wake."The waters are beginning to calm and we are beginning to move forward in a bold new way."
Most of Wednesday's debate was taken up by a series of nearly 30 amendments. The most debated of those was an attempt to remove a voucher program from the budget bill. In a highly unusual move, House Speaker Thom Tillis turned over the dais to Rules Chairman Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, so he could argue against the amendment from the floor.
BUDGET TODAY: The state House will come back into session at 9 a.m. today. Tillis told the chamber that no amendments would be accepted today, but lawmakers will be allowed to debate the bill as long as they wish.
The Wrap @NCCapitol (June 12) WRAP: Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie and reporter Mark Binker review action on budget and tax bills and other action from the legislature in Wednesday's edition of The Wrap @NCCapitol.
SENATE TODAY: The state Senate is scheduled to meet at 11 a.m. today. It is scheduled to take a second vote on revamping the state's gun laws, and could take the first of two votes on the chamber's tax reform bill.
COMMITTEES: No House committees are scheduled to meet today. In the Senate, budget Judiciary committees are scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Senate Judiciary II may have the most talked about measure of the morning, a bill that would allow law enforcement to freeze the assets of a person charged with scamming seniors.
MCCRORY: As the House debated its budget Wednesday, Gov. Pat McCrory signed off on a number of bills. Among the most notable:
Senate Bill 129 – Limit State Facilities Finance Act Debt: The bill limits the amount of non-voter approved debt the state can take on to 25 percent of North Carolina's total borrowing.
House Bill 146 – Back to Basics: The state board of education will have to ensure handwriting and multiplication tables are taught in early grades.
Senate Bill 234 – Hunter Education/Apprentice Permit: Creates a special permit for those learning to hunt.
House Bill 610 – In-Stand Beer Sales: Allows for beer vendors to sell beer in the stands of stadiums with more than 3,000 seats.
House Bill 10 – Remove Route Restriction for NC 540 Loop: Allows the state to study the Red Route through Garner.
House Bill 142 – Provide Access to Campus Police Records: Ensures better access to the records of campus police agencies.
STORIES: Stories we were following Wednesday included:
TAXES: North Carolina would do away with corporate income taxes and lower individual income tax rates under a tax reform proposal that cleared the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday. The measure raises $4 billion less than the current system over the next five years, slowing how rapidly state spending can grow. It offsets some loss of income tax revenue by raising sales taxes on utilities and shifting some taxes that currently go to city and county governments to state operations. However, it lost the support of Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, who has been one of the leading proponents of rewriting North Carolina's antiquated tax system. "I don't believe this bill, the way it's written now ... is not fair and right pathway and should not be supported. And under those circumstances, it hurts me to say to you, but I cannot support this bill," Rucho said.
Legislative protest shifts days, ends with same result MORE ARRESTS: After weeks of Monday protests in which dozens of people were arrested at the General Assembly, a Wednesday afternoon protest ended with only eight people taken away by police. The "Witness Wednesday" event coincided with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of NAACP activist Medgar Evers outside his Jackson, Miss., home. From the Associated Press: While a broader coalition of supporters is building around the "Moral Mondays" started by the state chapter of the NAACP, the inspiration behind the protests is a throwback to the biblical message of civil rights leaders fighting segregation in the Jim Crow era. They argue that cutting benefit programs and cutting tax breaks for low- and middle-income families violates Jesus Christ's teaching to care for those with the least. It's running into another school of Christian thought followed by many Southern conservatives: The best way to help the poor is through private charity, providing jobs and promoting self-reliance, rather than government programs.
GUNS: North Carolinians with concealed handgun permits would be able to carry firearms in more places – including businesses that serve alcohol, funeral processions and playgrounds – under a bill that the Senate gave tentative approval to Wednesday. The legislation is a broad measure that backers say will broaden the application of Second Amendment rights and increase penalties for certain gun crimes.
Backers want film credits to keep rolling in NC FILM: Although North Carolina's film tax credit won't expire for 18 months, battle lines are already being drawn over whether to extend it. Lawmakers barely lost a chance to take it off the books last week in a House committee debate over legislation to overhaul the state tax code. Ironically, the debate came on the same day the Emmy Award-winning series "Homeland" was filming scenes for its upcoming third season in and around the State Capitol.
JUVENILES: A House committee is recommending that 16- and 17-year-olds in trouble with the law for some offenses should be adjudicated in North Carolina's juvenile system, not tried in the regular courts. North Carolina and New York are the only states where 16- and 17-year-olds are automatically prosecuted in adult court.
SCHOOLS: or the second time since 2011, partisan politics will alter the voting districts for Wake County Board of Education seats. The Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a Republican-penned measure that consolidates the current nine districts on the school board into seven. The two remaining seats will be transformed into regional districts, with one representing Raleigh and the other representing the outer ring of the county.
DEATH PENALTY: The state Senate has given final legislative approval to a bill aimed at restarting executions in North Carolina that includes language repealing the last parts of the Racial Justice Act. Passed in 2009, the Racial Justice Act allowed death row inmates to challenge their sentences based on statistical evidence of racism in their sentencings. Calling the original measure "poorly written," Sen. Tom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, pointed out that nearly every death row inmate, white and black, has filed an RJA appeal, even if they were convicted of killing someone of their own race.
But those who helped pass the bill said that frivolous appeals could be dismissed. The bill now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory.
NOTED: Other stories of note come from:
News & Record: State funding for bicycle and walking trails is ensnared in an ongoing battle over transportation dollars in Raleigh, and a handful of Greensboro projects may get caught in the crossfire.
N.C. Health News: The two houses of the General Assembly are differing on how much funding to provide for the N.C. AIDS Drug Assistance Program. At times, there’s been enough to provide medications to treat HIV for people earning as much as $45,000 per year. At other times, the program has been so underfunded that North Carolina had one of the longest waiting lists for AIDS medications in the country.
Charlotte Observer: Duke Energy Carolinas customers would see their bills go up an average of 4.5 percent starting this fall, under a proposed agreement between the company and regulators outlined Wednesday.
Charlotte Business Journal: Six months after leaving office, former Gov. Bev Perdue sounds relieved to be removed from the demands of running North Carolina. She refrained from political analysis during a 10-minute telephone interview Wednesday afternoon.
Stateline: Nowhere has the red/blue divide between the states been more apparent than on contentious social issues such as gun control, abortion, gay marriage, and immigration. With 37 states under one-party control, lawmakers responded aggressively to national events and political developments in Washington.