Today @NCCapitol (June 27): McCrory pushes for a tax deal as the legislative weeks wraps up
Posted June 27, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Thursday, June 27. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.
BUDGET AND TAXES: Lawmakers had not reached a consensus on either a tax overhaul bill or a state budget as of late Wednesday afternoon, virtually guaranteeing the General Assembly will be meeting well into July. House Speaker Thom Tillis has already said he expected budget negotiators to be meeting on Friday.
Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, the Senate Rules Chairman, laid out what he expected to be the remainder of the legislative calendar for the chamber on Wednesday. He said that legislators would wrap up work today as usual and return to session on Monday. The last day of formal lawmaking next week, he said, would be July 3. Lawmakers would observe the July 4 holiday and be off for that weekend. When they come back on Monday, July 8, Apodaca said, legislators would be in for a long week and "stay until we're done."
Meanwhile, word on Jones Street is that Gov. Pat McCrory is getting impatient to sign both his first budget and a tax overhaul bill.
McCrory discusses transportation funding, unemployment system "I hope we can reach (a tax) consensus within the next week among the leadership. I don't want this to drag out much longer," the governor told the Associated Press Wednesday. "I either want to come to a consensus on a plan, or move on to many of the other important items we all have to deal with."
MCCRORY: McCrory met with reporters after signing a bill that overhauls how the state distributes transportation funding.
He told WRAL that he won't act to save federal unemployment benefits scheduled to end July 1 for 71,000 people in North Carolina, saying those calling for the change are merely trying to preserve a status quo that hasn't worked.
"My goal is to get people into jobs, not to continue to be on unemployment," he said. "People who are requesting this change want to keep the status quo, and that status quo has not been very beneficial to our state or families or individuals for the past two or three years.
SENATE TODAY: The Senate has a lengthy calendar today, much of it held over from Wednesday's session. Among the bills senators could consider are changes to permitting requirements for natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, a bill to require applicants for public benefits submit to drug testing and revisions to the state's charter school laws. WRAL.com will carry the Senate session live at 11 a.m. Please check the Video Central box on the home page.
HOUSE TODAY: The House will take a second vote on legislation to require that students be taught that abortions cause future miscarriages. And they will revisit the measure dealing with raising the speed limit to 75 mph, but it has returned to the floor as a study bill. The House session will convene at noon.
COMMITTEES: For a full listing of today's legislative committee check the main @NCCapitol page. Among the highlights:
House Finance (8:30 a.m. | 544 LOB): Lawmakers will consider the bill that would force Durham to provide water and sewer to the controversial 751 South Project.
Senate Judiciary 1 (10 a.m. | 1027 LB): The committee will take up a bill that would ban the uses of Sharia Law in North Carolina and a separate measure aimed at protecting food companies from liability in lawsuits over obesity. That same bill prohibits local governments from regulating the size of soft drinks.
House Regulatory Reform (11 a.m. | 643 LOB): The committee is expected to create an omnibus environmental laws bill, although it's unclear what may be included in the legislation.
STORIES: Among the stories we were following Wednesday were:
HOME LEAVE: Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, took to the floor of the state Senate Wednesday to denounce a program that allows convicted felons nearing the end of their sentence to go home on weekends. "Many of the people on this list are murderers," Goolsby said, encouraging lawmakers to put pressure on Gov. Pat McCrory to end the program or take up legislation if the governor does not act. "This is an outrage."
Goolsby said the program was brought to his attention by Phil Berger Jr., a Republican district attorney from Rockingham County and the president of the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys. Berger is also the son of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. "More than 2,000 criminals have taken advantage of this policy since 2008," the younger Berger wrote in a letter to McCrory. "What shocks the conscience more than the release of these dangerous individuals is the fact that victims and prosecutors are not aware of their presence in the community. The North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys requests that this policy be rescinded immediately."
Commissioner of Adult Correction David Guice defended the program last night, saying: “For over three decades, the home leave program has allowed for inmates who are nearing release to re-establish family relationships and community socialization in preparation for their transition back into the community. Every inmate is carefully screened and selected and undergoes a thorough investigation before admission into the program.”
PRISONS: Lawyers for the state of North Carolina say prison guards used "minimal force" in altercations with handcuffed inmates that left several with broken bones and one confined to a wheelchair. The office of N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper filed multiple motions this week seeking dismissal of a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of eight inmates who say they were abused while in solitary confinement at Central Prison in Raleigh. The state's filings do not specifically dispute that physical injuries were suffered by inmates who were restrained, but contend that prison personnel acted appropriately.
MARRIAGE: The U.S. Supreme Court rulings Wednesday on federal and California laws on same-sex marriage have no immediate impact on North Carolina's ban on such unions. A professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law said, however, that the language in one ruling could set the stage for future challenges to the state's year-old constitutional amendment that recognizes marriages only between one man and one woman.
GAME NIGHTS: A bill that would clarify that nonprofits can hold casino-themed fundraisers met with skepticism in the House Judiciary A Committee Wednesday. House Bill 809, which Rep. Jamie Boles, R-Moore, said would to clarify state law, would allow nonprofit groups to hold four game nights per year. It would allow those attending the fundraiser to pay for chips that could then be used to play roulette, blackjack, poker, craps, keno and "Merchandise" wheel of fortune. At the end of the night, chips could be traded in for raffle tickets that could then be entered into drawings for prizes. The more chips somebody wins, the better the chances of winning the drawings.
COMMERCE: The House tentatively approved a major reorganization of the state Commerce Department Wednesday, including creating a nonprofit to take over job-recruitment efforts statewide. A final vote on Senate Bill 127 is expected Thursday. The bill would then need to return to the Senate for its agreement before going to Gov. Pat McCrory, who pitched the reorganization last month.
VOTING RIGHTS: Leaders of the state chapter of the NAACP said Wednesday that they are prepared to challenge any changes to North Carolina's voting laws in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down part of the landmark Voting Rights Act. The justices said in 5-4 vote Tuesday that the law Congress most recently renewed in 2006 relies on 40-year-old data that does not reflect racial progress and changes in U.S. society. The ruling means a key provision of the Voting Rights Act cannot be enforced unless Congress comes up with an up-to-date formula for deciding which states and localities still need federal monitoring.
TRASH: A southeastern Virginia city that borders North Carolina is casting a wary eye toward legislation that could allow a large landfill just over the state line. Chesapeake officials fear a landfill in Camden County, N.C., could degrade its drinking water supply, threaten the region's economic development and endanger the long-term viability of a Navy facility that straddles the state line and is used by multiple branches of the military.
FINLEY: The current chairman of North Carolina's regulatory body for telecommunications, electric and natural gas markets is Gov. Pat McCrory's choice to stay at that post for four more years. McCrory announced Wednesday he was reappointing Ed Finley of Raleigh as chairman of the state Utilities Commission.
TESLA: The Triangle Business Journal reports, "A bill that would ban sales of cars directly to consumers was blocked by an N.C. House committee Tuesday, effectively shutting down what some view as the N.C. Automobile Dealers Association’s anti-Tesla campaign." The bill would have required Tesla to have dealership agreements in North Carolina like Ford, Honda and other car companies. The electric car maker said it didn't sell enough cars to make that practical.