GOP's last-minute sub brings up marriage bill

September 11, 2011 

It was a bit of a mystery that a third version of the same-sex marriage amendment was hashed out late last week in time for a Senate judiciary committee meeting Monday afternoon.

When the Senate released its calendar on Friday, the only bill listed on the agenda for that committee meeting was the proposed constitutional amendment to limit the terms of the speaker of the House and president pro tem of the Senate. The calendar noted that anyone wanting to speak on the term limits bill had to sign up before the meeting.

But shortly after the calendar was posted online, committee members were emailed a new version of the marriage amendment bill. They were told the plan was to strip out the language in the term limits bill and replace it with the marriage amendment language.

Sounds sneaky, but Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger's office said that wasn't the intent. It was reportedly meant to accommodate procedural rules, albeit somewhat clumsily. The term limits amendment will still come to a vote this week.

There are two earlier versions of the marriage amendment. A House bill would have defined marriage between a man and a woman as the only legal marriage in the state. The Senate version defined it as the only legal union, potentially invalidating domestic partnerships recognized for a variety of reasons. This new version adds language meant to protect domestic partner rights.

Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat, said the third version of the bill "doesn't clear up much of anything."

Public Safety staffed

Key appointments to the new state Department of Public Safety were announced last week. On Jan. 1, the new department will consolidate three departments: Crime Control and Public Safety, Correction and Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Reuben Young, the current CCPS secretary who will head the new department, announced his leadership team, which also provides a preview of how the new entity will be organized.

Chief Deputy Secretary Gerald A. "Rudy" Rudisill will head the Division of Law Enforcement, overseeing the divisions of Alcohol Law Enforcement, Butner Public Safety, State Capitol Police and Highway Patrol. He is currently CCPS chief deputy secretary.

Chief Deputy Secretary Jennie Lancaster will lead the Division of Adult Correction, overseeing the divisions of prisons and community corrections. She is chief operating officer for the Department of Correction.

Chief Deputy Secretary Linda W. Hayes will head the Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Protection, which includes youth development centers, detention, treatment and court services. Hayes is secretary of the juvenile justice department.

Deputy Secretary Bennie Aiken for Administration, overseeing budgeting, purchasing, human resources and training, and the Governor's Crime Commission. Aiken is an assistant secretary in CCPS.

Chief Operating Officer Mikael R. Gross, who is currently senior legislative council for the General Assembly, and is an attorney in private practice.

Current Department of Correction Secretary Alvin Keller is not in the lineup.

Gov. Bev Perdue announced the consolidation last December as part of her plan to streamline state government. She said it will save several million dollars in avoiding duplicated costs.

Etheridge on storm duty

Former Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge is moving from state stimulus czar to hurricane recovery chief.

Perdue has named Etheridge to serve as special adviser for Hurricane Irene Recovery Efforts, to coordinate state recovery activities to help businesses, local governments, farmers and schools.

"Bob Etheridge knows how to get the assistance we need from Washington, and he knows the needs of North Carolina's communities, schools and farmers," Perdue said in a statement.

He will step down from his job as head of the state's Office of Economic Recovery and Investment, a post he has held since February.

Etheridge's job will last three months within the State Office of Management and Budget and will be funded by a grant from the N.C. Rural Center. He will be paid at the same rate he was paid at the stimulus office, which is $98,500 per year.

Staff writers Craig Jarvis and Rob Christensen

craig.jarvis@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4576

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