Today @NCCapitol (Jan. 29): Lawmakers wind up short week with velvet ropes
Posted January 29, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Thursday, Jan. 29. Here's what's going on around the state legislature.
Sessions: The Senate will meet at 9 a.m. The House will meet at 11 a.m. Leaders in both chambers said they did not expect to do a whole lot of work before heading home for the week. There are no committee meetings scheduled in either chamber.
Abortion presser: At 10 a.m. in the legislative press room, Democrats, including Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, Sen. Angela Bryant, D- Nash, and Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham, will hold a news conference calling on fellow lawmakers "to reject attempts by anti-women’s health legislators and special-interest groups to reverse course on the regulatory process created in 2013 to write new regulations for abortion providers."
Burr back a bit: We noted in Wednesday's post that Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanley, had lost his seat as a big chair of appropriations and generally seemed to come out on the wrong side of the gavel lottery. In an updated committee assignment notice posted Thursday, Burr did take home a couple of smaller gavels. He will help chair the Health committee as well as the newly created budget committee on capital.
Little help? Cities and towns are looking to replace millions of dollars in privilege license tax revenue they stand to lose next Jan. 1. These taxes are charged to businesses that work inside city limits. Opponents say they make it more expensive and difficult to do business in many cities, but cities say they are losing a key revenue source that helps pay for services used by businesses.
The North Carolina Metro Mayors Coalition is asking Gov. Pat McCrory to make good on promises to help the cities replace that money.
"During their opening day press conference, Speaker (Tim) Moore and President Pro Tem (Phil) Berger told reporters they were awaiting your proposal to address the issue," the coalition wrote to McCrory on Wednesday. "As such, we would request that you convene a stakeholder group to provide input into your proposal. ... You are well positioned to advance a solution to the issue, and we look to you for your leadership."
Velvet ropes: New rules will make reaching members of the House and the Senate making their way to session harder for lobbyists and members of the public. For the first day of session, brown velvet ropes appeared outside the large main brass doors to both chambers, and members of the sergeant-at-arms staff and the General Assembly Police turned away passersby.
"There have been times it has been difficult for members to get to the chambers," said Kory Goldsmith, the acting legislative services officer.
Goldsmith put new rules in place for the courtyard area between the two chambers earlier this month. She said the move was not specifically related to actions by the "Moral Monday" movement on Wednesday.
"It's going to be something we do daily," she said.
In addition to lawmakers, members of the legislative staff and reporters carrying legislative press passes should be able to move through the areas. The move could most affect lobbyists, who have for decades used the courtyard area as a place to find lawmakers on their way to key votes or between meetings.
Doug Heron, a lobbyist for Duke University and president of the N.C. Professional Lobbyists Association said he organization would object to anything that specifically restricted lobbyists access in the building. "With that said, on its face, this new policy applies to all members of the public and is being implemented in an attempt to allow for easier access to the chambers by both members and staff, which is in everyone's best interest," Heron said.
Fred Bone, a lobbyist who has walked the halls of the General Assembly for years, said the new system hasn't impeded his access, yet.
In prior sessions, Bone said, lobbyists had to stop at the chamber doors during periods just before session.
"It just extends that no-fly zone out a little bit," he said.
State of the State: McCrory will give the State of the State address on Wednesday, Feb. 4.