Today @NCCapitol (March 28): McCrory makes public safety appointments and a "Blue" debate
Posted March 28, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Thursday, March 28. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government this morning.
MCCRORY: Gov. Pat McCrory will announce his picks to head the Highway Patrol, the Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement, and State Capitol Police today at 10 a.m.
As for ALE, the division has most recently come under criticism from the state auditor's office for the use of official state vehicles and the agency's aggressive response to that audit. In an unrelated move, ALE Director John Ledford demoted himself to field agent shortly before McCrory took office in anticipation of new leadership being appointed.
Although the Highway Patrol has had its problems in the not too distant past, the most recent high profile story involving the agency has to do with a acting bravely after being shot during a routine traffic stop. Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan recently named Lt. Col. Gary Bell as acting commander of the patrol.
The Wrap @NCCapitol (March 27) WRAL.com will carry this news conference live from the historic State Capitol building at 10 a.m. Check the Video Central box on the home page.
WRAP: Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie and reporter Mark Binker review the news from the legislature in Wednesday's wind-swept edition of The Wrap @NCCapitol.
@NCCAPITOL: Get @NCCapitol in your email every morning. Click the "subscribe" link at the top of any WRAL.com page to subscribe.
IN THE SENATE TODAY: Although the Senate budget subcommittees will hold their usual 8:30 a.m. meetings, the chamber appears to be wrapping up early for the Easter weekend. The full Senate will meet at 11 a.m. with four, mainly technical bills on the calendar. The highest profile of them deals with property tax refunds in Mecklenburg County.
IN THE HOUSE TODAY: The House has a meatier calendar when lawmakers there meet at noon today. On the agenda is a bill that would end the practice of sending public tax dollars to political parities or candidates in certain judicial races.
The chamber will also take up a bill designed to curtail contracts that insurer BlueCross and BlueShield of North Carolina forges with hospitals and other health care providers. The measure would prohibit "most favored nation" clauses in contracts. Such provisions require that health providers give a dominant insurance company, such as Blue Cross, rates as good as or better than rates negotiated by competing insurance companies.
Christine Evans, a lobbyist and director of regulatory affairs for the company, told the Judiciary Committee that Blue Cross no longer uses the clauses but argued the state should not outlaw them in case the state's insurance environment changes.
"We think this bill is a little bit like trying to burn down the house to chase the cat out," Evans said. "It really goes much further than intended."
But competing insurers and committee members said there was a still a widespread perception, if not reality, that Blue Cross and Blue Shield was pursuing such contracts.
WRAL.com will carry the noon state House session live. Check the Video Central box on the home page.
ALSO ON TAP TODAY:
- The House Government Committee meets at 10 a.m. to hear several local bills and a measure that makes it easier to tow abandoned boats.
- A bipartisan group of lawmakers will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. to outline a bill designed to improve school safety by better planning for emergencies.
WEDNESDAY'S ACTION: In other government news Wednesday:
- International Internet Technology, a sweepstakes software maker involved in a Florida scandal, is telling law enforcement agencies around North Carolina that they have pulled out of this state. IIT is one of the leading plaintiffs in a case that brought North Carolina's sweepstakes ban to the state Supreme Court and has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
- Speaking Wednesday to about 500 municipal leaders from across the state, Gov. Pat McCrory said he's working on big changes for the Tar Heel state and several major areas of government in an effort to market North Carolina for business.
- Public charter schools in North Carolina would be governed by an independent board and not the State Board of Education under a bill that a Senate committee examined Wednesday.
- North Carolina conservation groups say they're working with House and Senate leaders to ease deep cuts proposed by Gov. Pat McCrory. Speaking at a press conference for the Land For Tomorrow coalition, Debbie Crane with The Nature Conservancy said the governor's budget "just slashes land conservation" funds.
- A proposal to allow the city of Charlotte to redirect local tax revenues to help upgrade Bank of America Stadium cruised through the House Wednesday with little debate. The measure is part of an effort to keep the Charlotte Panthers in North Carolina.
- North Carolina cities would lose the ability to charge businesses privilege taxes under a tax reform bill reviewed by Senate tax-writers Wednesday. The measure is only a piece of a larger tax reform package that senators are planning to roll out later this spring. Members of the Senate Finance Committee picked through the measure Wednesday but did not hold a vote.
- A proposal to muzzle the Public Staff of the state Utilities Commission grew out of an email exchange between a staff attorney and noted climate change denier John Droz.The sponsor, Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, a friend of Droz, didn’t mention that detail Wednesday in a hearing on the legislation Cleveland's bill stalled after he couldn't answer basic questions about the bill to the satisfaction of committee members.
- The House on Wednesday approved legislation to require physician supervision of any nurse providing anesthesia during a medical or dental procedure.