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Today @NCCapitol (June 6): House tax bill back on track

Posted June 6, 2013

— Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Thursday, June 6. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.

TAXES: House Republicans seem to have settled a dispute over tax reform that blew up publicly Wednesday morning. 

The tax reform bill had already been heard in House Finance on Tuesday when lawmakers brought it before the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie, joined by Republicans and Democrats, blocked the committee from taking up the measure because it had been rewritten overnight to strip away a provision that Howard pushed through on Tuesday.

The Howard amendment would have lifted at $25,000 cap on deductions for taxpayers, allowing the wealthy full credit for mortgage interest income, charitable contributions and local property taxes. Lifting the cap would have cost the state some $528 million in revenue, money that would have had to have been cut from the budget. 

Howard said she was, among other things, trying to protect the home building industry that would be hurt by the loss of the mortgage interest deduction.

“We’re in a very fragile economy with the building industry and we don’t need to do anything right now that would hurt them,” Howard said Wednesday. She added, "There’s a way you can do tax reform and not penalize the homeowners that we have contracts with ... Most of them are in 30 year mortgages, and we told them that this [deduction] is a part of that. It’s not right for us now to take it out and arbitrarily pick winners and losers on tax reform.”

Her objections temporarily derailed the bill. 

House Republicans met Wednesday afternoon in a closed door meeting to settle the dispute. The Associated Press reports they have decided to go back to a version of the bill without the Howard amendment. 

"It was a caucus decision," he said. "We decided to move toward the common goal of providing tax relief for all North Carolinians," Jordan Shaw, a spokesman for House Speaker Thom Tillis, told the AP.

Tuesday's Wrap Wednesday's Wrap BUDGET: House lawmakers plan to be in town on Friday, which is usually a day off on Jones Street. On the floor, leaders say they'll move some Senate bills in a bid to clear their calendars for the end of the session. In the morning, they plan for House budget subcommittees to work on a new budget proposal that will be heard in the full Appropriations Committee and on the floor next week. 

WRAP: Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie and reporter Mark Binker wrap up the day's action on Jones Street in Wednesday's The Wrap @NCCapitol.

HOUSE AND SENATE SESSIONS TODAY: Both the state House and Senate are scheduled to meet for floor sessions at noon. The House once again has a bill that would redraw Wake County's school board districts on the agenda. Lawmakers have put off consideration of the measure for two days now. 

WRAL.com will carry the House floor session live at noon. Check the Video Central box on the home page. 

MCCRORY: Gov. Pat McCrory will speak the state Board of Transportation at 9 a.m. Later in the day, he will make an economic development announcement in Greensboro. 

COMMITTEES: For a complete listing of legislative committees, please see the main @NCCapitol page. Among the highlights:

House Environment (10 a.m. | 544 LOB): The committee will take up a bill designed to move the state toward allowing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. 

In March, state Senate lawmakers approved legislation that would fast-track the start of shale gas drilling in North Carolina. Their House counterparts, however, don't seem to be in as much of a hurry.

The rewrite of Senate Bill 76 unveiled in House Commerce Wednesday takes a more cautious approach, restoring several consumer protection requirements the Senate sought to repeal. Most notably, the House version restores the requirement of lawmaker approval before any fracking can begin.

Today's committee meeting is the second review for that go-slow bill. 

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

Senate Judiciary II (10 a.m. | 1224 LB): The committee will take up bills related to bail bondsmen carrying official credentials and bail bonding procedures. 

STORIES: Stories we were following Wednesday included:

REDISTRICTING: A three-judge panel seeking information about the role of race in drawing North Carolina's congressional and legislative maps concluded a two-day trial Wednesday after listening to testimony from redistricting experts, including the consultant who helped draw the current Republican boundaries.

TESTING: Gov. Pat McCrory wants the North Carolina State Board of Education to determine whether all student testing is truly necessary. He said 30 new tests were given to public school students in grades 4 through 12, bringing the total number of standardized tests for this year to 194. McCrory said he’s hearing from teachers who say they would rather spend more time teaching – not teaching to the test.

BEER HERE: A bill that would allow for in-stand sales of beers at stadiums of more than 3,000 seats was among more than 20 bills to pass the state Senate Wednesday

DEATH: State House lawmakers gave final approval today to repeal the remaining parts of North Carolina’s landmark Racial Justice Act. The final vote was 77-39, along party lines, with the Republican majority voting for the repeal. The repeal, Senate Bill 306, now goes back to the Senate for a final vote to approve changes the House made.

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