Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Monday, June 17. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.
NEGOTIATIONS: Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday that he and legislative leaders are "very close to an agreement" on cutting income and corporate tax rates to make the North Carolina more competitive with bordering states.
"We’ve got a great line of communication, and we’re actively involved and working with the House and the Senate and have been since day one," he said.
"Of course, the devil’s in the details for the next two weeks," he added. "As the governor, I've got to make sure the numbers add up to allow me to operate government in an efficient and effective way."
The Senate will officially send the state budget to a conference committee tonight. On Tuesday, the Senate will give final approval to its tax plan, sending the bill back to the House where lawmakers say they will also send that measure to a House Senate negotiating team.
McCrory: Progressive reforms helping NC The new fiscal year begins July 1.
PRIVATE: Those negotiations will largely take place behind closed doors over the next two weeks. Unlike regular committees designed to evaluate legislation as it is developed, conference committees that work out differences between the House and Senate are allowed to meet behind closed doors.
North Carolina budgets run from July 1 through June 30. If lawmakers do not finish their work on the budget bill before July 1, they will have to put in place a patch known as a continuing resolution, which continues spending in the short term while a final budget bill is worked out.
"I can tell you we're going to try to be done during that period of time," said Brunstetter, R-Forsyth. "But you also have to give the governor some reasonable period of time to look at the final budget and decide whether he'll sign it or not. I would personally not be surprised if there is continuing resolution in our future."
CALENDAR: Lawmakers typically get a late start on Mondays. Here's what's on today's legislative calendars:
House Republican Freshman Caucus (1:30 p.m. | Governor's Mansion): McCrory will hold a closed door session with first-term GOP members from the House.
Program Evaluation (4 p.m. | 544 LOB): The Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee is scheduled to hear from State Auditor Beth Wood.
Moral Mondays (Approximately 5 p.m. | Outside the legislative building and on the second floor): The NAACP is expected to lead its seventh week of "Moral Monday" protests at the legislature. Arrests are expected.
Senate Floor Session (7 p.m. | Senate Chamber): The state Senate will officially reject the House version of the budget. Lawmakers are also scheduled to give McCrory's transportation funding overhaul plan a second vote.
House Floor Session (7 p.m. | House Chamber): The state House will take up bills eliminating tax checkoff funding for political parties. WRAL.com will carry the session live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
On the Record: Moral Monday MORAL MONDAYS: Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie and reporter Mark Binker went On the Record this week to examine the Moral Monday protests. The show featured an interview with new North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope along with in-studio guests Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation and Jarvis Hall, a professor of political science from N.C. Central University. Binker and Leslie also spoke with two people who chose to get arrested during recent protests.
MORE NEWS: News from elsewhere this weekend includes:
Associated Press: In 2007, the General Assembly passed tougher rules for new landfills, giving eastern North Carolina community activists worried about out-of-state trash getting shipped to their counties a victory over the waste industry. A bill moving in the Republican-controlled Senate could scale back many restrictions contained in the 2007 law.
Associated Press: Nonprofit groups could host fundraisers in the style of a Las Vegas casino night under a bill in the North Carolina House. The measure in the House Judiciary Committee would allow fundraisers to include poker, craps and other games at hotels, restaurants and other locations.
Associated Press: North Carolina's top crime laboratory is being recognized for quality work. The Attorney General's office received word this week that the state crime laboratory has been accredited under tough new international standards. That comes in addition to being accredited by the nation's largest accrediting group.
News & Observer: The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center portrays itself as working to heal North Carolina’s struggling rural counties. Its brochures and website feature tractors, farm animals and brick buildings lining small-town streets. Leaders highlight work on the “long-range future” of rural counties. But the private nonprofit organization also has used millions in taxpayer money to help build fast-food restaurants, golf resorts, discount stores and big-box retail outlets that include a Kohl’s in Southern Pines and a dozen Walmarts, records and interviews show.
News & Observer: Officially, the nonprofit N.C. Rural Economic Development Center awards “job generating” grants, funded by state taxpayers, to nondescript government agencies. The city of Rocky Mount. Montgomery County. The town of Indian Trail. From the center’s files, other stories emerge: Legislators influencing where the money goes. People and businesses from across the political landscape getting in on the deals. Political money men benefiting from taxpayer cash, spent with little notice or scrutiny. One of the biggest names: Discount store business Variety Wholesalers, whose CEO, Art Pope, is a well-known supporter of nonprofit groups that criticize taxpayer subsidies for businesses. A former Republican legislator, he’s now Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget director.
N.C. Health News: Next to Medicaid, one of the most complicated parts of the Health and Human Services budget is the section that deals with early-childhood education. The Senate and House take quite different approaches to the area, with adjustments to different parts that, on the surface, don’t look that different. However, they are quite disparate.
Lenoir News-Topic: A clause in the North Carolina constitution designed to ensure just and equitable taxation by local governments is being put to the test by companies the state has barred to do business. The N.C. Supreme Court ruled March 8 that a business privilege license tax imposed by Lumberton on Internet sweepstakes operators exceeded constitutional bounds because it went from from $12.50 a year per machine to $135,000, a 59,900 percent increase. Following that ruling, a growing number of municipalities are facing lawsuits by former sweepstakes operators. Among those are Lenoir, Hickory, Newton, Conover, Haw River, Sylva, Highlands and Macon County.
Charlotte Observer: The head of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Saturday that three deaths at a Boone motel “should have never happened,” and the state is reviewing its role in the troubled investigation. Secretary Aldona Wos’ statement comes a day after the resignation of Dr. Brent Hall, the Watauga County medical examiner who investigated the deaths.