Today @NCCapitol (May 19): 'Moral Monday' protests return, Senate begins hearing bills
Posted May 19, 2014
Good morning. This is Today @NCCapitol for Monday, May 19. Here's what's you need to know about state government.
LATE START: The state House and Senate typically hold late-day sessions on Monday evenings, giving members times to drive in from around the state.
The state House is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. but has no bills on its calendar. Leaders announced on the floor last week that there would be no business taken up. Worth noting: House Speaker Thom Tillis is scheduled to attend at least two Washington, D.C., fundraisers for his U.S. Senate campaign Monday afternoon.
The state Senate is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Before leaving town on Thursday, Senate leaders put four bills on Monday's calendar, including a measure that would limit what design standards cities can demand of home builders and another bill that would require more reporting by nonprofits that receive state grants. @NCCapitol plans to carry this meeting live on WRAL.com. Check the Video Central box on the home page.
MORAL MONDAY: As lawmakers return to work, the "Moral Monday" coalition of liberal groups protesting policies advanced by the General Assembly will again take up their weekly demonstrations. A news release put out by the group suggests a demonstration will start near the General Assembly building at 5 p.m. Sometime after 6 p.m., "members of the clergy will take the stage to invite all people, including state legislators committed to repealing these extreme laws that are hurting our most vulnerable, to join us in a symbolic love feast." After that, they "will walk through the General Assembly building, two by two," according to the news release.
The protests will be the first after a group of senior lawmakers implemented new rules governing decorum in the legislative building.
COUNTERING THE PROTEST: A pair of conservative groups – Carolina Rising and John William Pope Civitas Institute – along with GOP members of the General Assembly will host a news conference to counter the Moral Monday demonstration. The groups "will discuss tax, unemployment and other economic reforms that are reducing unemployment, creating jobs, growing the labor force and have dramatically changed the economic climate since the Monday protests began."
ON THE RECORD: State Reps. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, and Duane Hall, D-Wake, went "On the Record" this weekend to discuss the state budget and the battles surrounding the start of the legislative short session.
TENURE DEBATE: A Superior Court judge on Friday struck down a law requiring veteran teachers to surrender their tenure rights in exchange for multi-year contracts. Judge Robert Hobgood ruled that the law, passed last year as a provision in the state budget, violates the contract clause of the U.S. Constitution and amounts to an illegal taking of property under the state constitution. He issued a permanent injunction against the law and denied the state's request to stay his ruling pending an appeal.
NOTED: Former state Rep. Deborah McManus, D-Chatham, pleaded guilty Friday to tax charges that prompted her to resign from office late last year.
HIRING: Gov. Pat McCrory's state personnel director on Friday defended the governor's plan to change how state employees challenge disciplinary decisions, saying the proposal will treat workers fairly and cut down on appeal times. The proposal, delivered to the General Assembly this week as part of the governor's budget, transfers the appeal process from the hands of independent judges to a commission appointed by the governor and the legislature. Critics, including a state employees' organization, say the new process would be far from impartial and would politicize the decision over whether a worker has been unfairly fired. State personnel Director Neal Alexander said transferring hearing responsibilities to the State Human Resources Commission would allow a significant reduction in the time it takes for an appeal to be resolved.
"What we're doing is a lift and shift," Alexander said. "The current process that is there today, we're lifting and shifting and adding that review of the commission."
MEDICAL EXAMINERS: The Charlotte Observer has launched a five-part series looking at the failure of North Carolina's medical examiners.
"Across North Carolina, medical examiners fail to follow crucial investigative steps, raising questions about the accuracy of thousands of death rulings. The living face the consequences. Widows can be cheated out of insurance money. Families may never learn why their loved ones died. Killers can go free," the first day's story begins.
Worth noting: McCrory included roughly $1 million in extra funding for the medical examiner's office in the budget he released last week.
WATER: A law passed in the 1930s regarding Asheville's water system "led directly to the dispute over control of the water system that will land in the courts again on Friday, when a judge will hear oral arguments over whether a 2013 law that would transfer the system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District should be upheld," the Asheville Citizen-Times reports.
WATCHING MCCRORY: "As legislators returned to town last week, 10 months after a tumultuous 2013 session when Republicans passed one deeply conservative bill after another, one Republican seemed a bit like the odd man out. That would be Gov. Pat McCrory, who ran for office in 2012 as a moderate bridge builder and then found himself the face of a party whose restrictions on abortion, voting access and benefits for the poor and unemployed played out in the most polarizing legislative session in memory in what had been a relatively moderate Southern state," reports The New York Times.
DOUBLE VOTE: "A voter in Randolph County attempted to cast two ballots – one by mail and another at a polling place – during the primary election season that concluded May 6," reports the High Point Enterprise.