Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Wednesday, March 20. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government this morning.
BUDGET: Gov. Pat McCrory is scheduled to lay out his first budget proposal at 10:30 a.m. this morning.
WRAL.com will carry the news conference live. Check the Video Central box on the home page.
Although McCrory and his staff haven't spoken directly about what will be in the budget, he has dropped some broad hints, including a video featuring news clips and audio of McCrory speaking during the State of the State address and inauguration.
Staffers said that Tuesday's announcement that he would create a North Carolina Center for Safer Schools was something of a budget preview, giving an early look at a new program that will be included in his budget proposal.
Other items likely to be included are drug courts and Medicaid reform. Click here for more items likely to be in McCrory's budget proposal and more on the process going forward.
SCHOOL SAFETY NOTE: The school safety center will examine the best school security programs nationwide and determine which fit best in school districts across the state. McCrory tapped Kym Martin, an Apex mother of four and a former educator.
That's not exactly a typical resume for someone taking on a $72,000 a year high-profile job. Martin is the wife of North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin.
McCrory staffers Tuesday touted her experience working with special-needs students, as executive director of a DHHS panel that implemented services for children with developmental disabilities and as manager of multidisciplinary pilot program for college students on the rule of law.
GUNS: The House Judiciary A Committee will take up a bill that would allow concealed handgun permit holders carry firearms where alcohol is sold and consumed as well as close concealed handgun permits to public inspection. Meanwhile, Attorney General Roy Cooper has raised objections to a bill that would limit how thoroughly a sheriff could investigate those applying for concealed handgun permits. The bill would specifically limit sheriffs' ability to investigate an applicant's mental health background.
ABC: The state ABC Commission will rule today on whether the maker of a new three-ounce, high-alcohol malt beverage product will be able to sell their product in the state.
ABORTION: Women’s health advocates, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and other groups will hold a rally on the Halifax Mall behind the legislative building. The groups will protest several bills that have been filed aimed at limiting abortion rights in North Carolina. WRAL.com will carry the rally live. Check the Video Central box on the home page.
HOUSE: After first being scheduled to hear the bill banning those under age 18 from tanning Tuesday, the full House is scheduled to hear the bill again today.
House lawmakers are also scheduled to take a second vote on a bill that would block cities from imposing appearance standards on new homes. That measure prompted lengthy debate on Tuesday. Many cities around the state have used such ordinances to protect the character of neighborhoods or new additions. But critics say local officials have abused the practice – and some say municipalities don't even have the power to set such standards in the first place.
WRAL.com will carry the House session live. Check the Video Central box on the home page. Please note: This session will start with the House's UNC Board of Governors election. That process often takes a a very long time to count the ballots. Therefore, the stream may start 30-to-60 minutes after session begins.
SENATE: The full Senate is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. The chamber will deal with bills extending the time for local forensic science labs to get formal accreditation, loosing rules for inspection on animal waste, and eliminating certain reports collected by the Department of Public Instruction.
COMMITTEES: For a full listing of Committees, check the main @NCCapitol page. Among the highlights from today's meetings:
Senate Finance (1 p.m.): Senators will hear a bill that would allow the local government commission to take control of local water and sewer systems if those systems are losing money or otherwise struggling financially.
House Regulatory Reform (11 a.m.): Lawmakers will take up a bill pitting doctors against advance practice nurses. The controversial measure would define the limits within which nurse anesthetists can practice.
FROM TUESDAY: Here are other stories @NCCapitol was following Tuesday:
- Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger would do away with tenure for public school teachers under broad education reform plan he filed Tuesday."What we're concerned about is the incentives that are out there and trying to make sure we have incentives for folks to excel as much as possible," Berger said.
- The House Transportation Committee debated a proposal that would let occupied school buses in North Carolina travel at 55 mph. Current law restricts school buses to a top speed of 45 mph and and bans them from expressways if they're carrying students.
- The House overwhelmingly approved Tuesday two measures to toughen penalties on people convicted of impaired driving. House Bill 40 would move the trigger for a habitual impaired driving charge from three previous driving while impaired convictions with a 10-year period to two convictions. House Bill 31 would allow prosecutors to file a habitual DWI charge against anyone previously convicted on such a charge, regardless of how long ago the earlier conviction occurred.
- As Raleigh officials prepare to battle state lawmakers over the lease of the Dorothea Dix site, the chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners says the issue should be left to area voters.
- The North Carolina Railroad Co. would pay the state annual dividends under a bill that cleared the House Finance Committee Tuesday morning. Backers of the measure say it merely gives the state a return on its investment. Opponents say it diverts need from critical transportation and economic development projects.