Today @NCCapitol (June 5): Wake County school district redraw bill is on today's House agenda

Posted June 5, 2013

— Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Wednesday, June 5. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.

FIRST UP: The House Appropriations Committee will take up the chambers version of tax reform at 8 a.m. WRAL.com will carry the hearing live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.

Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, rolled out the reform legislation last week, calling for a flat 5.9 percent rate on personal income taxes, dropping the corporate income tax rate from 6.9 to 5.4 percent and extending the sales tax to "the installation and repair of tangible personal items," such as mechanics' labor or home repairs, but not to other services. The House Finance Committee heard the measure yesterday. 

Some committee members questioned the wisdom of even voting on the amendments today, let alone the bill, saying such an extensive rewrite of the tax code needs more study and shouldn't be rushed to the floor.

"I implore that we have at least an additional day, if not two, on a bill of this magnitude," said Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford. "This just requires some very thoughtful deliberation and time to really think things through and soak things up."

HOUSE: The state House meets at 2 p.m. It will take up a bill redrawing Wake County's school board districts and take a final vote on a measure aimed at restarting the death penalty in North Carolina. On Tuesday, House lawmakers gave tentative approval to repeal the remaining sections of the state’s Racial Justice Act, the 2009 law that allows death row inmates to seek to have their sentences commuted to life without parole if they can prove that racial bias played a role in their death sentence.

WRAL.com will carry the session live. Check the Video Central box on our home page. 

SENATE: The state Senate meets at 2 p.m. It will take up more than two dozen bills, including measures permitting in-stand sales of beer at minor league baseball games and excluding "primitive structures" from certain parts of the N.C. Building code. That second measure is aimed at allowing the Turtle Island Preserve, a nonprofit wilderness education center, to reopen.

Tuesday Wrap: Tax reform plan, Charlotte airport Tuesday Wrap: Tax reform plan, Charlotte airport WRAP: Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie rounds up Tuesday's legislative news in The Wrap @NCCapitol

PROTESTS: Over the past six weeks, more than 300 people have been arrested in a series of protests at the North Carolina General Assembly – a move that some observers say has had no immediate political impact and has only put a strain on Wake County's already overburdened court system. The cases then end up in Wake County courtrooms, where, Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby says the prosecutorial staff and judges have to look at each case individually and see it through the court system. "If we have to try all of these cases, it will take weeks and weeks of court, of judge time, of prosecutor time," Willoughby said. He fears the number of people arrested could more than triple by the end of the legislative session this summer. "By the time the General Assembly recesses, we may have a thousand cases pushed into a system that is already strained," Willoughby said.

Gov. Pat McCrory has said he is pleased the protests have been peaceful, but wished demonstrators would use other means. 

"We should not give credence to unlawful demonstrations," McCrory told reporters Tuesday. "Unlawful demonstration should be unacceptable."

COMMITTEES: For a full list of legislative committee hearings, check the main @NCCapitol page. Among today's highlights: 

House Commerce (10 a.m. | 643 LOB): The committee takes up a bill that would clear the way for fracking in the state. WRAL.com will carry the meeting live. Check the Video Central box on our home page. 

House Judiciary C (10 a.m. | 415 LOB): Committee members will review a bill to allow for gambling at nonprofit fundraisers. 

News Conference (10:15 a.m. | News Conference Room): Rep. Chris Whitmire will host a news conference for Concerned Women for America on the need for anti-Sharia law legislation. 

MCCRORY: Gov. Pat McCrory is due to make an Economic Development Announcement in Guilford County this morning. At 2 p.m., he will appear at a State Board of Education meeting. 

STORIES: News that we were following Tuesday included: 

REDISTRICTING: "The records show there was no need" for the North Carolina legislature to redraw voting districts to concentrate minority voters, Rep. Larry Hall, D-Durham, told a three-judge panel Tuesday morning. Hall was among the successful African-American politicians to testify Tuesday morning that mapping electoral districts to concentrate minority voters was obvious but unnecessary. Three Superior Court judges considering the lawsuits for more than a year said they wanted to hear more evidence on race-related matters before making their rulings over motions to dismiss the lawsuits or to declare the maps unconstitutional. The two-day trial was expected to conclude Wednesday without immediate rulings after attorneys for the state and GOP legislative leaders offer their own witnesses. The results are sure to be appealed by the losing side.

CELL PHONE BAN:  A North Carolina appeals court is allowing Chapel Hill to start enforcing its first-in-the-nation ban on using a cellphone while driving. A three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that a trial judge was wrong when he blocked the local ordinance from taking effect. The judge had sided with a towing company owner, who argued he must use a mobile phone to report each vehicle towed to police.

BEER HERE: House Bill 610, In-Stand Beer Sales, chugged through committee Tuesday. It would allow vendors to sell beer in the stands at professional sporting events at venues with a seating capacity of 3,000 or more. Vendors would not be allowed "to verbally shout or hawk the sale of malt beverages."

MILLER: The Center for American Progress has named former Democratic Congressman Brad Miller as a senior fellow for economic policy.

AIRPORT:  Despite pleas from Charlotte's city manager and some Democratic lawmakers for more city-state discussions, the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday approved legislation that would shift control of the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport from the city to a new regional authority.

PRE-K: Two days before President Barack Obama visits a Mooresville school, the White House said Tuesday that North Carolina is eligible for $102.2 million in federal funding to help expand pre-kindergarten classes statewide. The federal Preschool for All program proposed by Obama would require a state match of $10.2 million to provide pre-kindergarten seats to nearly 12,500 children from low-income families next year. "Providing a year of free, public preschool for every child is an important investment in our nation’s future, providing our children the best start in life while helping hard-working families save thousands each year in costs associated with early care and education," the White House said in a statement.


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  • Krimson Jun 5, 2013

    WEIN: If you feel discriminated against, you are welcome to enter the ranks of the poor so you too can take advantage of the tremendously opulent life-style...

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Jun 5, 2013

    Taxes aren't for paying for your usage of a particular service, they are for making society better. By getting these poor kids into pre-k the intention is to catch them up so they start even with kids with more educated parents who have already taught them or paid for early education. This improves the atmosphere in schools improving everyone's education. These kids grow up and are better able to contribute to society than they would otherwise be. We have less desperation around us, less crime, more jobs, and better quality of life. But it seems the General Assembly would rather write them off, let them disrupt school, and pay to put them on welfare or in prison.

  • jgilchr Jun 5, 2013

    If they pass the fracking bill (which they will) I hope all of the names of who voted yes are remembered when people start getting sick and you can no longer drink the water.

  • WralCensorsAreBias Jun 5, 2013

    This group needs to get done with the districts being redrawn and move on. Enough of hearing about it, get on with it and put it behind us.

  • whatelseisnew Jun 5, 2013

    Nice to see the ongoing discrimination of the so-called Pre-K funding. So let's see, the way this works is, IF you contribute little to nothing in taxes, YOU can have money to get what is effectively baby-sitting. However, if you contribute a tidy sum to the tax folks, sorry pal, your kids will be treated like second-class citizens. It is not just THE BACK of the bus for YOUR kids, they are not even ALLOWED on the bus. Nice to watch our Federal Government continue with their discrimination.