Today @NCCapitol (May 23): Brawley throws down his gavel, Senate budget poised to pass
Posted May 23, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Thursday, May 23. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.
DIX PROPERTY: The House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to rewrite Senate-passed legislation in an attempt to resolve the ongoing battle between city and state over the Dorothea Dix property in Raleigh. The bill would allow the state to negotiate new terms to sell a large chunk of the Dix property along with land used by the Governor Morehead school to the City of Raleigh.
"This is not saying we absolutely oppose the city of Raleigh having a park," said Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanley. "It's saying we want to hit a reset button, and we want to make sure at the end of the day that both sides are satisfied with the deal at hand."
City, state leaders think compromise possible on Dix property Gov. Pat McCrory and Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane are scheduled to hold a news conference about the revamped deal today at 9:30 a.m. WRAL.com will carry the News conference live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
TODAY'S CALENDAR: Both the state House and Senate have light calendars today.
The state House goes into session at 1 p.m. The only committee on the House's printed calendar today is House Environment, which is scheduled to deal with a hunter apprenticeship bill. There are also two House Finance subcommittees listed on the electronic calendar for the 9 o'clock hour.
The Senate goes into session at 10 a.m. to deal with the budget. There are no committee meetings on its calendar.
BUDGET: The state Senate tentatively approved a $20.6 billion budget after more than three hours of testy debate Wednesday. Republicans easily parried a number of Democratic amendments, including one by Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham, that would have prohibited cabinet secretaries from having outside employment. That was aimed squarely at Kiernan Shanahan, secretary of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. Until this week, Shanahan was still working for his law firm as well as serving in his government job.
A second part of Woodard's amendment would have prohibited the spouses of senior elected and appointed officials from registering as lobbyists. That was aimed at Yolanda Stith, a lobbyist married to Gov. Pat McCrory's Chief of Staff, Thomas Stith. "This is a good government amendment," Woodard said.
Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, responded with scorn. "My, my, my. We can pick up the newspaper and make things personal," he said, calling Woodard's move "pretty low." Apodaca used a procedural motion to keep senators from voting directly on Woodard's amendment.
More debate and a final Senate vote on the budget is scheduled for today. The measure then goes to the state House, where lawmakers will begin drafting their spending plan next week.
GROUP HOMES: Residents of group homes for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled could find themselves without somewhere to live come July 1, a repeat of a crisis they faced earlier this year, and lawmakers crafting a new state budget say they are stumped for a long-term solution to the problem.
BRAWLEY: Longtime House lawmaker Rep. Robert Brawley, R-Iredell, handed back his Finance gavel Wednesday afternoon with a blistering public letter against fellow Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis. In his letter, read aloud during Wednesday's House session, Brawley says Tillis pressured him over House Bill 557, Brawley's bill to increase the territory area for local broadband provider MI Connections in Mooresville.
Brawley also criticized Tillis' handling of a 2012 bill making the N.C. Bail Agents Association the only group allowed to provide training to licensed bondsmen. He called it a "monopoly" benefiting the family of Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanly and a bail bondsman whose father is president of the association. A Superior Court judge in Raleigh issued an injunction delaying the bill last year. "The bill never should've come up to start with," Brawley said. "It's been struck down. I've tried twice to simply quietly get it done, get rid of it so we don't have a monopoly."
USEFUL: The General Assembly has published its list of bills that met the crossover deadline.
STORIES: Other stories of note this morning include:
TESLA: North Carolina lawmakers and passersby stopped to take in a display of Tesla Motors' award-winning electric cars Wednesday as the company presses against a bill in the General Assembly that effectively outlaws Tesla's Internet-based sales model.
The Senate already passed the bill, which mostly updates the relationship between manufacturers and dealers but has generated interest because of the outcry over Tesla. The auto dealers who pushed for it argued Tesla is operating with an unfair advantage and the existing laws are designed to protect consumers in terms of warranties, service and other aspects of the industry. Tesla has asked consumers to tell their legislators that the only thing dealers are protecting is their monopoly on retail.
AUDIT: The state Department of Health and Human Services has failed to perform adequate tests on a new Medicaid computer system set to launch July 1, according to a state audit released Wednesday. The computer system, called NCTracks, is designed to replace the current, 25-year-old Medicaid Management Information System for processing claims. The new system has been touted by officials as key in Gov. Pat McCrory’s initiative to overhaul the department.
JUDGES: "Advocates of North Carolina’s public financing program for judicial candidates ramped up their efforts to keep it Wednesday in the face of opposition from Senate Republican leaders and Gov. Pat McCrory," reports the Charlotte Observer.