Today @NCCapitol (March 4): Boards battle gets final vote; House Dems discuss immigrant licenses

Posted March 4, 2013

— Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Monday, March 4. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government this morning.

BOARDS BATTLE: Both chambers reconvene at 7 p.m.

State House lawmakers will take a final vote on Senate Bill 10, a proposal to purge state boards and commissions to allow Republican leaders and Gov. Pat McCrory to name political appointees as replacements.

The measure passed its first reading 70-42 Thursday after a contentious floor debate in which even some Republican members voiced concerns about the bill's hasty arrival on the floor. Two GOP representatives voted against it – Reps. Chuck McGrady of Buncombe County and Michael Speciale of Craven County.

Also on the House calendar Monday night is a final vote on a bill that would require North Carolina hospitals to conduct a pulse oximetry test on newborns. The simple, inexpensive test can detect potentially fatal heart defects. The proposal has overwhelming bipartisan support in the House, but an amendment on the floor Thursday changed the bill's title, requiring a waiting day before the final vote. Its next stop is the Senate.

Monday night's Senate session is not expected to be contentious. The only bill that's raised even mild debate is Senate Bill 122, a proposal to require convicted human traffickers who transport minors to register as sex offenders, whether or not they actually committed or contributed to any sex offense.

DRIVER’S LICENSE DEBATE: Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, will lead the House Democrats in a 4 p.m. news conference about legislation that would bar the state Division of Motor Vehicles from issuing "pink stripe" licenses to young illegal immigrants in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The program blocks deportation of and grants work permits to those who were brought to the country illegally as children. Immigrant advocates say the special licenses will call attention to the immigration status of their bearers. House Bill 184 would require the DMV to issue the same licenses to DACA drivers as other drivers, except that the licenses would be set to expire on the same day as the immigrants' federal paperwork.

McCRORY IN CHARLOTTE: McCrory will be in Charlotte on Monday for an economic development announcement at 11:30 a.m. the city’s Chamber of Commerce.

The governor has four bills on his desk, awaiting his signature:

Senate Bill 4 clarifies the state’s intention not to operate a health benefit exchange. Under the bill, which was passed by both the House and Senate on Tuesday, the state also will turn down federal funds intended to expand the Medicaid program.

House Bill 66, which passed both chambers Wednesday, amends an existing law to provide better protection and humane treatment for wild animals held in captivity. The change allows the Wildlife Resources Commission to issue permits for wild animals or birds that are taken for scientific, educational or exhibition purposes.

House Bill 19 strengthens penalties for those who protest and create disturbances at military funerals. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kelly Hastings, R-Gaston, said the measure was a response to groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church, which has made headlines in recent years for demonstrating at military funerals in order to promote an anti-gay message.

House Bill 5 provides temporary funding for residents of mental health group homes and Alzheimer’s special care units. The money is intended to fix what lawmakers have called a mistake in last year’s budget that left group homes and Alzheimer’s care units without money to make up for Medicaid spending cuts. The legislation will provide money to keep the homes operating through June 30 while a long-term solution is found.

NEW APPOINTMENT: In case you missed it, McCrory on Friday announce a new appointment to the State Board of Transportation. Cheryl McQueary of Greensboro will represent the Triad area. She is the former deputy administrator of the Research and Innovative Technology Agency at the U.S. Department of Transportation, where she coordinated $1 billion in research and development investments to improve the nation’s transportation system.


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