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Today @NCCapitol (May 16): Contraception measure killed, new tax plan in the offing

Posted May 16, 2013

— Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Thursday, May 16. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.

CROSSOVER UPDATE: Tonight at midnight is the crossover deadline by which bills that don't raise or spend money must pass either the House or Senate. The state Senate met until shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday and has a light calendar so far. The House met until 11:30 p.m. Wednesday and is still dealing with a number of hotly-debated issues.

CONTRACEPTION AND ABORTION: Wednesday morning, the House Judiciary A Committee passed a measure that would have allowed virtually any employer to limit contraception coverage in their employee health plans. Currently, only employers with certain religious affiliations can make such exceptions.

The Wrap @NCCapitol (May 15) The Wrap @NCCapitol (May 15) Around 10 p.m. Wednesday, lawmakers stripped the contraception provision out of the bill when it was heard on the House floor. The measure still makes several changes to abortion-related laws. Among the changes, cities and counties would not be able to offer health plans to their employees with abortion coverage. And health plans created by the health exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act would similarly be unable to offer coverage for elective abortion procedures under the House bill. The measure must be debated and voted a final time today before it heads to the state Senate.

REJECTED: The state House rejected measures that would have granted whistle blower protections to local police and sheriffs deputies and allow entrepreneurs to set up low-profit benefit corporations

In the state Senate, lawmakers have yet to hear a {{ a href="blogpost-12444677"}}a measure that would rollback local restrictions on smoking{{/a}}. Although not formally rejected, the measure seems poised to miss the crossover deadline. 

SHARIA: A bill banning North Carolina family courts from recognizing Sharia law was the last measure the state House gave tentative approval Wednesday night. The measure is is modeled on anti-Sharia legislation written by David Yerushalmi. According to a 2011 New York Times profile, Yerushalmi is a Brooklyn attorney with a history of inflammatory statements about Islam, race, and immigration, but "no formal training" in Islamic law.

TAXES: Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist is in town today to praise North Carolina's efforts to remake the state tax code. Norquist, who is appearing at events sponsored by the conservative Americans for Prosperity, has been particularly complementary of a plan put forward by state Senate leaders. He will speak to a news conference at 9:30 a.m. and a lunch with the activist group at noon.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press reports that House Republicans will offer their own North Carolina tax overhaul plan Thursday that would reduce personal and corporate income tax rates and expand the sales tax to cover more services. The proposal's scope is much narrower than what Senate counterparts offered as GOP legislators try to fulfill a commitment to carry out tax reform this year.

Neither the House nor Senate tax bill has been filed as a formal piece of legislation as of Thursday morning. 

TODAY'S CALENDAR: The House Appropriations and Finance Committees will meet at 8:30 a.m., moving a final few bills in advance of the crossover deadline. The House Environment Committee will take up a wetland mitigation bill at 10 a.m. 

The full Senate is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. 

The full House is scheduled to meet at 11:30 a.m. WRAL.com will carry the session live. Check the Video Central box on the home page.

MORE NEWS: Among the stories we're continuing to cover: 

Tax Penalties: A proposal tentatively approved Wednesday by the Senate would charge people a $100 penalty for filing their personal income tax returns late, even if the people are due a refund. Senate Bill 523 will likely face a final Senate vote Thursday before heading to the House.

ENVIRONMENT: Proposals to repeal water-quality rules for Jordan Lake and to allow more terminal groins at the coast survived the crossover deadline by passing the Senate Wednesday. Senate Bill 515 would immediately repeal the state's 2009 water-quality rules to mitigate pollution and runoff flowing into Jordan Lake, a drinking water source for much of the Triangle. Senate Bill 151 would allow terminal groins in all 14 of the state's inlets. Both measures are now pending in the House.

MEDICAID ROAD SHOW: Health agency leaders faced a crowd of skeptics sprinkled with voices of hope Wednesday as they sought to sell Gov. Pat McCrory's plan to revamp the government program that provides 1.5 million poor children and disabled adults with health care. Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos and Medicaid Director Carol Steckel held a question-and-answer session on the McCrory administration's plan to have private companies run a big chunk of the state's $13 billion a year Medicaid program.

SCHOOLS: A bill that would put the Wake County Board of Commissioners in control of area school buildings and land moved closer to passage Wednesday, despite criticism that it was politically motivated. The Senate voted 33-15 to pass Senate Bill 236. It now heads to the House.

STATE WORKERS:  North Carolina governors would have more latitude to hire and fire state workers under a bill that cleared the state House Wednesday. The measure, which now goes to the state Senate, will give the governor 1,500 political "at will" appointees. Until this year, governors had only 400 appointees. Lawmakers raised that limit to 1,000 last year, in time for Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, to take office.

SAVE THE GUN: State House lawmakers voted Wednesday to forbid law enforcement officers from destroying fully-operating firearms, even if they were used in a crime. House Bill 714, "Disposal of Abandoned Firearms," says that, if a firearm is fully functioning and still has a legible identification number, sheriffs and other law enforcement officers cannot destroy it, regardless of its background.

ELECTIONS: Outside groups that spend money on so-called independent expenditures in order to affect the outcome of elections would have to more quickly and thoroughly report their donors and activities under a bill that cleared the state House Wednesday.

SODA: Cities would not be allowed to ban large servings of sugary drinks under a bill that passed the state House Wednesday night. House Bill 683, the "Commonsense Consumption" bill, would also prohibit people from filing "frivolous lawsuits" against food manufacturers or packagers for obesity, weight gain or health issues related to consumption of their products.

AUTISM: Employer-based insurance plans would have to cover treatment for patients with autism disorders under a bill that cleared the state House Wednesday night. House Bill 498 would require plans to cover children and adults up to age 23 and provide up to $36,000 per year in coverage. The state employee health plan would also have to provide autism coverage.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Potential employers and universities would not be able to ask for access to an applicant's private email or social media accounts under a measure the state House gave tentative approval to Wednesday night. House Bill 846 passed 110-2 but must stand for a second vote on Thursday. The bill prohibits schools and employers from asking for passwords and prohibits requiring "that an employee or applicant log onto a social networking site, electronic mail account, or any other Internet site or application by way of an electronic communications device in the presence of the employer."

8 Comments

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  • tayled May 16, 11:55 a.m.

    This tax so called reform, if it passes, will put a burdensome tax on nearly everything. It will kill the local and state economies. Sort of reminds me of the time the British tried to tax everything. How did that work out for Britain?

  • jaybird2974 May 16, 11:25 a.m.

    To delilahk2000 sheria law is already illeagal so save it the GOP is wasting time and look ask your memeber how much it cost I bet you he will change the subject because they are the biggest waste of taxpayers dollars on this stupid stuff.

  • jttm69 May 16, 11:17 a.m.

    Deli-

    Why so angry? Name one case of "Sharia" law that has infringed on anyone, except when Christianity gets pushed down our throats. And what about guys who can't keep their pants zipped up? And, do you ever check your spelling?

  • corgimom06 May 16, 10:51 a.m.

    Has the GA actually voted on or passed any bills to do with jobs??

  • kleigh444 May 16, 9:51 a.m.

    Working people spend every dime living paycheck to paycheck already,that paycheck will cover less because every repair call and haircut will cost 10% more, with the new sales tax dded.

    Rich folks who make more than they need to live will keep it all, lower income taxes for them!

    ALEC tells our legislators what laws to pass, and they do it.No birth control for you, but pay more for food, clothes and plumbers.Schools now belong to the GOP in Wake Co.

    Jobs? Who needs those? The rich have their investments, and their legislature.

  • dmccall May 16, 9:31 a.m.

    Laura Leslie doesn't hide her true colors very well.

  • tayled May 16, 9:21 a.m.

    They certainly are a busy little bunch over in the GA.

    Yeah, busy taking away things from us and spending too much time on frivolous matters.

    But if this new tax bill passes that supposedly lowers our income taxes, it will kill our state economy by imposing draconian taxes on nearly every service known to man. Put yourself in the shoes of a business owner lookikng to locate in NC. Would you want your people subject to a tax just for getting a haircut? Bad idea, we need to defeat this one.

  • unc70 May 16, 8:17 a.m.

    They certainly are a busy little bunch over in the GA.