Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Monday, March 18. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government this morning.
VOTER ID: State House Speaker Thom Tillis signaled what could be a change in messaging on voter ID Saturday – and dropped some hints about the details of upcoming legislation – during an appearance on MSNBC.
Rather, he said, the bill "would make nearly three-quarters of the population more comfortable and more confident when they go to the polls." The "three-quarters" number is a reference to surveys that show more than 70 percent of North Carolina voters favor voter ID.
Q&A: For more on voter ID legislation, WRAL has prepared this Q&A on what the law might do and how it compares to other states.
SCHEDULE: There are no legislative committees on the General Assembly calendar today.
BILL OF RIGHTS: Lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory will spend time today honoring the return of North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights to the state.
The document spelling out the rights of American citizens originally was given to North Carolina by George Washington in 1789. It was stolen from the state Capitol by a Union soldier at the end of the Civil War. After a long legal battle, the document returned to North Carolina in 2005.
McCrory and the Department of Cultural Resources will host a reception honoring the 10th anniversary of the effort to regain the document at 4:30 p.m. today in the historic state Capitol building. At 6:45 p.m., the House and Senate will hold session at the domed Capitol building – rather than the legislative building on Jones Street – to honor the document's return.
BUDGET: Lawmakers and lobbyists say they expect McCrory to release his budget this week. There's been no official word from McCrory's folks, who have declined to comment on when the governor might put forward his spending plan. However, legislative budget writers and those with a dog in the budget fight tell @NCCapitol they've circled Wednesday on their calendar this week.
POWER: Legislation to void Raleigh's lease of the Dorothea Dix property is the latest example of what some say is a war on North Carolina cities by the General Assembly. Republicans in the state Senate passed a bill this week that would take authority for Charlotte-Douglas International Airport away from the Democratic Charlotte City Council and put it under an appointed regional board. House leaders likewise want to shift control of Asheville's water system to an appointed board instead of that city's Democratic city council. Paul Meyer, director of government affairs for the North Carolina League of Municipalities, said more than a dozen bills have been filed this session to restrict cities' power over inspections, infrastructure and zoning.
ABORTION: A bill filed Wednesday would require doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, a restriction that abortion-rights supporters say could close clinics across North Carolina.
SLAVERY: A North Carolina man was all over online media Friday night after arguing at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland that slavery gave "shelter and food" to slaves. RELATED: "Reeling from back-to-back presidential losses and struggling to cope with the country's changing racial and ethnic makeup, the Republican National Committee plans to spend $10 million this year to send hundreds of party workers into Hispanic, black and Asian communities to promote its brand among voters who overwhelmingly supported Democrats in 2012," the Associated Press reports.
SIGNED: Gov. Pat McCrory agrees with state legislators about getting more electronic and online learning into North Carolina's public schools. One measure says the General Assembly plans to shift funding to digital textbooks and other instructional materials across the state by 2017. Another bill tells the State Board of Education to put digital training into teacher licensure standards and to require similar competency for school administrators.
NEWS FROM ELSEWHERE: In other news reported by other outlets this weekend:
CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: A dispute between US Airways and Charlotte’s former city manager over choosing the next airport director – and how much influence the airline would have – apparently fueled the fight for control of the airport. “I never thought it would take the form it has taken,” says former city manager Curt Walton. “But I knew there would be a power struggle.”
STAR NEWS: Lifting a statewide ban on deep injection wells for contaminated wastewater could have implications beyond just the fracking industry, experts say. “There are a lot of industries that would like to inject waste into the ground here on the Coastal Plain,” said Charlie Stehman, a retired professional geologist and former supervisor of the state Division of Water Quality's Aquifer Protection Section. “Not just industry, but municipal wastewater systems."
ASSOCIATED PRESS: A year after a big-dollar campaign over corporate involvement with dental practices hit North Carolina TV screens, regulators are suing an Ohio company they accuse of illegally operating 27 dental offices statewide and boosting profits by pushing unneeded treatments.
NEWS & OBSERVER: For decades, claims of innocence have been thwarted by a simple, regrettable fact: The courts and police didn’t know how important pieces of evidence would be as modern science evolved. Rape kits and blood-stained sheets were thrown away over the years – and, with them, the only shot some prisoners had to prove they were wrongly convicted.