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Today @NCCapitol (May 2): Lawmakers to hear charter school, pre-K bills today

Posted May 2, 2013

— Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Thursday, May 2. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.

PROTESTS: Five people were arrested Wednesday in front of the Legislative Building during a march through downtown Raleigh by worker and immigrant rights advocates protesting North Carolina Republican policies. General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver says the young people were placed in handcuffs after a confrontation with officers on a police line in front of the building. Weaver said protesters pushed officers. He says he expects some will be charged with assault. A later check with the Wake County Sheriff's Office confirms at least one of the five was charged with disorderly conduct and assault on a government official.

SENATE SESSION: The state Senate will meet at 11 a.m. Bills on the calendar would raise fees on boat owners in order to raise money for dredging small inlets, curb state and local environmental rules and allow finance companies to raise the fees they charge for small consumer loans. 

Senators will also vote on a measure that creates a beefed up Charter School board, which will have more powers relative to the State Board of Education than a current charter advisory panel does now. Advocates say the measure will ensure that people sympathetic and knowledgeable about charter schools will oversee the publicly funded by privately run schools. Opponents say the measure will mean less accountability for the schools. 

WRAL.com will carry the 11 a.m. session live. Check the Video Central box on our home page. 

HOUSE SESSION: The House will meet at 1 p.m. Among the bills on the floor calendar is a measure that would cut down the number of children eligible for state-funded pre-K programs

GUN BILL: The omnibus gun bill, which has twice appeared on the House floor calendar this week and twice been removed, has been rescheduled for floor debate next week. 

COMMITTEES: For a full list of committees, please see the main @NCCapitol page. Among today's highlights:

House Transportation (8:30 a.m. | 544 LOB): The committee will take up legislation that would put Gov. Pat McCrory's proposals for changing how transportation projects are funded into place. The measure cleared the House Transportation Committee earlier this week. 

Senate Pensions and Retirement and Aging (9 a.m. | 1027): The committee will review a bill that would give the Treasurer's Office greater latitude in investments related to the state pension fund. 

Senate Judiciary II (10 a.m. | 1124): Lawmakers will see a demonstration of how on-board cameras can deter drivers from passing stopped school buses. 

NEWS: Stories that we were following Wednesday included:

ROSS: State Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, is resigning her post to take a job as general counsel for the Triangle Transit regional bus service. Ross will join the agency June 17, according to a Wednesday release from Triangle Transit. Former state Rep. Grier Martin, who was double-bunked with Ross during the last redistricting, has expressed and interest in filling the seat.

STRACH: Kim Westbrook Strach, a longtime investigator with the State Board of Elections, will take over as the board's director on May 15. Strach replaces Gary Bartlett, who has served as the state's top elections professional for nearly 20 years.

WATT: Democratic lawmakers in the state House and Senate are lining up for a chance to replace 12th District Congressman Mel Watt, a Charlotte Democrat who president Obama nominated Wednesday as head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. "If it becomes available, I'll be seeking that position," Rep. Alma Adams, D-Guilford, said Wednesday.

PITTMAN: Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, is apologizing for videotaped remarks in which he was critical of House Speaker Thom Tillis.

IMMIGRATION: Legislation that would provide North Carolina driver's licenses to people in the U.S. illegally while also authorizing detainment measures similar to those used in Arizona passed its first test in the General Assembly on Wednesday.

ABORTION: A bill that would make doctors liable for performing abortions in which gender plays a role is headed for the House floor after approval by the House Judiciary A Committee Wednesday. House Bill 716 would allow the parents, guardians or current or former doctors of a woman who seeks an abortion to sue the doctor who provided it if they believe the doctor had “knowledge, or an objective reason to know, that a significant factor in the pregnant woman seeking the abortion is related to the sex of the unborn child.”

UNIONS: Members of the House Commerce Committee passed a bill that would outlaw contracts that require parties to hire union labor. During the meeting, Rep. William Brawley, R-Mecklenburg, suggested that the DNC violated federal labor laws by demanding that union labor be used for printing materials for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last fall. He said that blocked non-union print shops in the Charlotte area from bidding on a lucrative contract.

ENVIRONMENT: The state Senate Wednesday tentatively approved Senate Bill 612, which would ban any local environmental rules more stringent than state or federal law. Senate Republican leaders are calling it a victory for "job-creators." Critics say it will damage the environment and lead to problems for taxpayers.

RENEWABLES: Amid protests from some members seeking a show of hands for a vote, Senate Finance Committee Co-Chairman Bill Rabon quickly adjourned a Wednesday meeting after declaring that a bill to freeze and repeal the state's renewable energy standards had enough support to advance. A voice vote on Senate Bill 365 was close, but Rabon determined that backers were in the majority, talking over repeated requests from several committee members for a more definitive vote. The bill now heads to the Senate Commerce Committee.

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  • Krimson May 2, 2013

    BC: Oh my bad... "We can use the money we save from the poor Pre-K children and give it to the Charter School children!"

    Terkel: I have no issue educating the Citizen children of Illegal Immigrants, nor the DREAM kids... Why not make them productive members of our society???

  • Terkel May 2, 2013

    Oh, you're so right, watts. Only I think you meant "and give it to the illegals!"

  • bradcooperisinnocent May 2, 2013

    Rich? Have you stepped foot in a charter school? They have a very high poverty rate among their students and have to pay for their facility out of the limited funding they get! Rich is hardly the word I think of.

  • Krimson May 2, 2013

    I can just see it now: "We can use the money we save from the poor Pre-K children and give it to the rich Charter School children!"