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@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

GOP seeks to prohibit amendments to proposed state budget

Posted May 22, 2018 6:21 p.m. EDT
Updated May 22, 2018 6:36 p.m. EDT

State budget

— House Speaker Tim Moore said Tuesday that he and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger plan to huddle Wednesday to knock out final areas of House/Senate disagreement on the state budget, which he expects to be ready for votes next week.

Moore also confirmed plans to roll that budget out as a conference report, a process that precludes amendments once House and Senate negotiators sign off on a deal worked out behind closed doors.

Democrats howled Tuesday as the plan circulated at the statehouse, partly because it will keep them from being able to offer amendments for public debate.

Moore, R-Cleveland, said it will streamline the process and noted legislators are dealing only with changes to the second year of a two-year budget, which was debated and approved last year. House Appropriations Chairman Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, said the new bill will be discussed in his committee and on the House and Senate floors.

But it can't be amended. It's just subject to a yes or no vote, forcing Democrats and rank-and-file Republicans not involved in negotiations into an all-or-nothing proposition.

Senate Bill 99, until now an unrelated piece of legislation, will be the vehicle for the budget conference report. There are 40 House members on the bill's conference committee who are empowered to negotiate on the bill, but none is a Democrat.

"Unprecedented process," Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Orange, said on Twitter. "Democrats completely cut out."

Rumors had circulated for some time that the Republican majority would use the conference report process on the budget, and House Minority Leader Darren Jackson sent House budget writers an email Monday to complain.

"I'm unaware of any instance in modern North Carolina history where the state budget was amended via a process that did not allow for committee consideration, committee amendments and floor amendments," Jackson, D-Wake, wrote. "I hope the rumors are not true."

Jackson said Tuesday that he didn't get a response.