Today @NCCapitol (June 25): Lawmakers prepare to extend budget negotiations
Posted June 25, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Tuesday, June 25. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.
FIRST UP: The Senate Appropriations Committee is due to take up a continuing resolution at 8:30 a.m. this morning. The 30 day CR will keep government operating normally while House and Senate leaders along with the governor's office hammer out final budget and tax bills.
This is the first time in two years the legislature has needed a continuing resolution, or CR, since Republicans took control of the General Assembly in 2011. Before then, Democrats frequently used CRs to give themselves more time to work out budgets.
"This has been the norm more often than not," Sen. Pete Brunstetter, R-Forsyth, said Monday.
HOUSE TODAY: House Speaker Thom Tills told lawmakers he expected a short session on Tuesday. Most of today's House calendar is taken up by concurrence votes on relatively non-controversial items.
SENATE TODAY: The Senate also has a limited calendar today, with the most important item listed involving a fix to funding for those in Alzheimer's special care units. It is also possible the continuing resolution that begins moving this morning could be heard on the floor. WRAL.com will carry the Senate session live. Please check the Video Central box on our home page.
COMMITTEES: For a full listing of committees, please see the main @NCCapitol page. Here are some highlights:
House Education (10 a.m. | 643 LOB): The committee takes up a bill creating a separate board to govern public charter schools.
House Health (10 a.m. | 544 LOB): The committee will take up a bill that would require students to be taught that abortions can lead to future miscarriages. That claim is in dispute although there is science to back up both sides of the debate. WRAL.com will carry the committee meeting live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
ARRESTS: The General Assembly Police said 120 people were arrested Monday following the largest NAACP-led demonstration yet against the policies of the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature. The eighth week of what the civil rights group calls "Moral Mondays" brought the number of people facing charges to nearly 600. Hours before the most recent group left the General Assembly building in plastic handcuffs, the first batch of protesters appeared in Wake County Court for an initial hearing.
Protests at legislature grow, garner national attention The arrests came the same day as the first 17 people arrested eight weeks ago appeared in court and asked for their cases to be dismissed. A Wake County judge on Monday set September court dates for those involved, including William Barber, the president of the North Carolina NAACP who has lead the protests. Seventeen people were arrested April 29 during the first of what have become weekly demonstrations against Republican-backed legislation that the protesters say harm the working class. More than 450 people so far have been charged with misdemeanor counts of second-degree trespassing, failure to disperse on command and violating building rules, and more protests are planned.
STORIES: Other stories we were following Monday included:
DURHAM: The five-year battle over a proposed development in southern Durham County shifted from local government to the General Assembly on Monday, in a standing-room-only committee hearing. About two dozen supporters and opponents of the 751 South project sounded off to the House Finance Committee, which is considering legislation that would force Durham to annex the property and extend utilities to it.
The 167-acre development along the Durham-Chatham county line would include about 1,300 homes and 600,000 square feet of office and retail space. Developers say it would also bring about 3,000 jobs. Opponents say 751 South poses environmental and traffic concerns in a rural area near the northern edge of Jordan Lake. Backers say the community needs the jobs. The Durham City Council voted earlier this month against providing water and sewer service to the site, so a bill was introduced in the General Assembly that would force the issue.
LANDFILL: A controversial proposal to loosen the rules for landfills in North Carolina is headed for the House after receiving final Senate approval Monday night. Senate Bill 328 would allow landfills to be built within 1500 feet of national wildlife refuges, state parks, and game lands. Current law requires a distance of 5 miles from refuges, 2 miles from state parks, and one mile from game lands. The bill also allows faster permitting and longer permits (up to 30 years), relaxes regulations on landfill operators, and drastically limits the reasons in law for which the Department of Environment and Natural Resources can refuse to issue a permit for a new landfill.
TAXES: One of the sticking points in tax reform negotiations between the House and Senate has to do with the franchise tax charged to the state's biggest businesses. Separate and apart from the corporate income tax, the franchise tax acts as a statewide property tax on land, buildings and other capital assets owned by companies organized as C corporations and S corporations – the legal structure used by the state's biggest businesses – but not on those organized as limited liability corporations or partnerships – which can range in size and profits from tiny dollar amounts to millions of dollars in revenue.
END TIMES: The end (of the legislative session) is near...sort of. North Carolina lawmakers are trying to bring their 2013 legislative "long" session to a close over the next few weeks, although, as of June 24, the House and Senate are still wrangling over major policy bills along with budget and tax packages. Unlike states such as Maryland and Virginia, there is no constitutional or legal requirement that North Carolina lawmakers finish work by any particular date. But traditionally, if North Carolina legislators are in town much past the second week of July during an odd numbered year (like 2013), it causes legislative leaders to sweat both figuratively and metaphorically. This year, House leaders might also find themselves itching, literally, to get away, as they've pledged to grow their beards until business is done for the summer.
VOTING: "The U.S. Supreme Court could rule as early as today on a voting rights case that could have far-reaching effects in North Carolina and other states, particularly in the South," reports the Charlotte Observer. "The court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder could decide the fate of a key provision in the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Section 5 of the law requires federal approval for virtually all voting changes in the state. Under the 1965 law, the Justice Department has to approve, or “pre-clear,” North Carolina’s redistricting plans as well as changes such as the proposed voter ID law."