Today @NCCapitol (March 27): Panthers bill rushes to the goal line in the House

Posted March 27, 2013

— Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Wednesday, March 27. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government this morning.

SENATE FLOOR: The state Senate is scheduled to hear four bills today, none of which are very high profile unless you are a chronic violator of your town's overgrown vegetation ordinance.

HOUSE FLOOR: After getting a final tweak and blessing from the Finance Committee Tuesday, the bill allowing the City of Charlotte to use local tourism taxes to pay for renovations at the Carolina Panthers' football stadium is before the full House. If debates thus far are any indication, the discussion will feature members of the local delegation arguing for the bill, while opponents will say that taxpayer dollars in any form should not go to a profitable private enterprise. will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on the home page.

MCCRORY: Gov. Pat McCrory will be in the Greensboro area for meetings today, including a lunchtime speech to the N.C. Chamber's annual meeting at the Grandover Resort.

The Wrap @NCCapitol (March 26) The Wrap @NCCapitol (March 26) @NCCAPITOL: Get @NCCapitol in your email every morning. Click the subscribe link at the top of any page to subscribe. 

WRAP: Catch up on Wednesday's action at the General Assembly with Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie and reporter Mark Binker in The Wrap @NCCapitol.

SWEEPSTAKES: Gov. Pat McCrory's campaign is giving a $2,000 donation to charity after the money was linked to a man facing criminal charges related to Internet sweepstakes cafes, the second time his campaign has unloaded a contribution with ties to the gaming industry, according to the Associate Press. A growing number of such donations have been identified in recent weeks as going to North Carolina politicians. 

McCrory spokeswoman Kim Genardo told the Associated Press Tuesday that the Republican governor's campaign will give the $2,000 to charity, offsetting an Oct. 19 check from Sherry Upchurch of Ramseur. Her husband, Richard "Rick" Upchurch, was indicted in Ohio in May on charges related to allegations of laundering money from an illegal gambling operation, the AP reported.

Upchurch is a part owner of VS2, a company that makes software used by sweepstakes parlors. 

Worth noting: VS2 is a lobbying principal this session. They have hired three members of the McGuire Woods firm to represent the company at the legislature. No bills affecting the industry have been filed yet. 

Related: Three months after the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the state's ban on video sweepstakes machines, Cumberland County authorities began cracking down Tuesday on sweepstakes businesses.

COMMITTEES: For a full list of committees, see the main @NCCapitol page. Highlights include:

Senate Education (10 a.m. | 544 LOB): The committee takes up a bill that would create a separate board to oversee charter schools in the state. It would be independent of the state Board of Education. will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on the home page.

House Judiciary (10 a.m. | 1228 LB): Blue Cross Blue Shield and other insurers could not negotiate contracts that included "most favored nation" clauses in them. Such contracts require that health care providers give an insurer a deal as good as or better than what they give other insurers. When a similar bill came before the legislature last session Blue Cross and Blue Shield officials said they didn't use such contracts any more. Competitors of the giant insurer say they have been unable to negotiate certain kinds of arrangements with hospitals because of the BCBS contracts. 

House Utilities (Noon | 643 LOB): New restrictions would be placed on the Utilities Commission's public staff under a bill the committee will consider. The group would not be able to express policy opinions under the bill. Backers of the measure say the public staff has pursued an agenda close to that of the Democratic Party. Staff members say they are nonpartisan and merely advocating for the policies set forth by the General Assembly. will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on the home page.

Senate Finance (1 p.m. | 544 LOB): The first tax reform bill of the year will be heard. The measure would reduce taxes on businesses. Committee leaders say it is for discussion only. 

House Elections (1 p.m. | 643 LOB): The committee will take up bills that would repeal the matching funds set aside as part of the public campaign finance system. This idea was included in Gov. Pat McCrory's budget. The committee is not scheduled to tackle voter ID legislation this week. will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on the home page.

NC moves closer to changing helmet law NC moves closer to changing helmet law HELMETS: A bid to repeal the state's helmet law for adult motorcyclists took a major step forward Tuesday when the House Transportation Committee approved House Bill 109 on a voice vote.

TUESDAY'S ACTION: Stories of note from Tuesday include:

DIX: The state Senate on Tuesday approved voiding Raleigh's lease of the former Dorothea Dix site, calling on the city to pay more for a smaller piece of the 325-acre parcel to create an urban park. The measure is now in the hands of the House, where leaders say they are likely to move more slowly on the measure. Majority Whip Mike Hager tells @NCCapitol that the House Republican caucus has not taken a position on the measure and that top leaders will be looking for input from Wake County's legislative delegation. 

DEATH PENALTY: The Senate Judiciary I Committee passed a bill Tuesday morning that its sponsor says would lift a de facto death penalty moratorium in North Carolina, in part by sweeping away the last remnants of the Racial Justice Act. Committee Chairman Buck Newton, R-Johnston, tells @NCCapitol the bill will likely be heard by the full Senate on Thursday.

CURSIVE: Public school students in North Carolina would have to be taught cursive handwriting and be required to memorize multiplication tables under a bill that passed the House Education Committee Tuesday morning. House Bill 146, dubbed the "Back to Basics" bill, still must go through an appropriations committee before it can be debated on the House floor.

HEALTH PLAN: A proposal to create more "wellness incentives" in the State Health Plan would give the state treasurer too much power, state workers told the House Insurance Committee Tuesday. The committee approved a measure on a voice vote to make technical changes to the health insurance program that covers some 700,000 state workers, teachers and retirees.

GUNS: The state House voted 98-19 Tuesday to remove concealed handgun permits from the documents covered by North Carolina's public records law. The measure now goes to the Senate.

WATER: "Two environmental groups have accused Duke Energy of polluting Mountain Island Lake, the source of Charlotte’s drinking water supply, and threatened Tuesday to sue the utility company," reports the Charlotte Observer.

POLLED: A new HPU Poll finds that 44 percent of registered voters in North Carolina approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance while 48 percent disapprove, according to the High Point University Poll. The poll also finds that 50 percent of the same registered voters approve of newly elected North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory's job performance, while 25 percent disapprove and 25 percent didn't know or refused to answer. Click here for full results


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  • Offshore Mar 27, 2013

    And to think, we voted these fence posts into office... what a slap in the face to every tax payer out here.

  • kornfan2448 Mar 27, 2013

    Well, since they're considering budget cuts in the UNC system and maybe even closing some campuses, there should be enough money to dig up. At least they have their priorities straight.

  • zacksmill Mar 27, 2013

    Email your reps and tell them not to support this bill.

  • Offshore Mar 27, 2013

    Panthers bill rushes to the goal line in the House

    What a great use of taxes, I certainly wouldn't want to raise the pay rate of teachers, LEO's, fire fighters (for example: to get NC out of the low end of the teacher pay scale which might help bring more teachers to the state)...

  • pappybigtuna1 Mar 27, 2013

    if they use tax dollars, yours and mine to finance the stadium, we become partners in this business venture as any and all investors do.

    We don't have to pay for any perks, like tickets, hot dogs, beers and soda, and the best thing of all we get to use the "Sky Boxes"

    If we don't get the perks, let 'em pay for it themselves

  • Scubagirl Mar 27, 2013

    I simply cannot fathom HOW IN THE HELLO a tax exempt organization gets to use MY TAX DOLLARS to pay for something for them. Seems it would be a bit more fair to let them pay for their own stuff out of the money they saved NOT PAYING TAXES!!! The state is BROKE, but not to broke to pay this????? Disgusting!

  • Rebelyell55 Mar 27, 2013


    March 27, 2013 9:38 a.m.
    ............LOL, this ain't the first time, and certainly won't be the last time. Look at all the Tax dollars being spend right now for fracking in NC.

  • OneLove Mar 27, 2013

    Most folks in position of power are so stupid that this will pass.

  • Stringbean Mar 27, 2013

    Taxpayer dollars going to a private enterprise ????????.LET THEM DO THIS ONCE AND THE FLOOD GATES WILL OPEN FOR THIS KIND OF BAIL-OUT TO HAPPEN ALLL THE TIME. No way !!!!!!!!!!

  • baldchip Mar 27, 2013

    I have no problem allowing Charlotte to assist the Panthers in renovating their Bank of America Stadium. Let Charlotte do whatever they wish to do.

    HOWEVER, not one dime of state money needs to go to that project!!! Jerry Richardson(Panther's owner) could handle that himself if he wanted to.