Legislature still has more work left on plate

State lawmakers approved changes to North Carolina's annexation rules Friday, but they still have a little more work to do before they leave Raleigh on a long break.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina state lawmakers still have a little more work to do before they leave Raleigh on a long break.

The Senate was meeting Friday night and planned to reconvene after midnight. The House scheduled a session for Saturday morning at 10 a.m.

House members quickly voted along party lines Friday to accept a negotiated version of legislation that aims to reduce regulations and the power of regulators, with majority Republicans pushing the measure through.

"I would simply say that in its intent and effect it keeps agencies from making rules which are intended to protect the health and environment," House Minority Leader Joe Hackney said.

The effort to pare back regulations must also be approved by the Senate before submitting it to Gov. Beverly Perdue, who must decide whether to veto it.

The Senate will meet Friday night and early Saturday just past midnight to allow for the passage of bills that must be voted on separate days.

The House also voted 102-7 to give final legislative approval to the broadest rewrite of the state's involuntary annexation laws in more than half a century.

The biggest change would let property owners block an annexation if 60 percent of them sign a petition of opposition. The town or city would be barred from trying again for three years.

Landowners whose property is being annexed now have few options other than going to court. The annexation laws were established and defended for decades by municipal officials who said they ensured cities grew at a manageable rate.

The House voted 74-32 to concur with a corporate tax loophole that the Senate recently opened. The measure offers multi-state corporations a legal way to shift their North Carolina income to other states, reducing the corporate taxes they pay here.

Rep. Jennifer Weiss, D-Wake, called the bill "legalized tax evasion" and questioned why a state facing a tight budget would forgo corporate tax revenue. But House Majority Leader Paul Stam said the legislation is a "jobs bill" because changing the tax code would encourage business growth.

Lawmakers also want to pass bills that would make slight changes to the new state budget, require large employers and local governments to confirm new workers are in the country legally and allow offshore and land-based drilling for natural gas.

Once done this weekend, the legislature will adjourn until July 13 for a weeklong session on redistricting and other elections-related bills. A further session considering proposals to amend the state constitution will come later this summer.


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