Under the Dome

Dome: House budget writer says final budget vote won’t be delayed

From Staff ReportsMay 29, 2013 

As the N.C. House begins crafting its own state budget this week, the phrase “continuing resolution” is being heard more frequently in the hallways at the statehouse. The concern is this: With the Senate’s budget delay, will the House finish writing its own in time to get it approved before the end of the fiscal year June 30? And if it gets close, and House and Senate budget writers are still deadlocked in conference, will they need to find an escape plan to keep government running?

House Democrats are openly discussing the possibility. “I don’t see how it’s going to be avoided,” said Rep. Mickey Michaux, a veteran Democrat.

But Rep. Nelson Dollar, one of the chief budget writers, dismissed the talk and said House leaders plan to get a final vote on its proposal June 13.

The Cary Republican said subcommittees will vote at the end of next week, and the plan will go to the full budget committee and to the House floor the week of June 10.

The Senate passed its $20.6 billion proposal last week with a place holder for a tax cut, even though Senate leaders haven’t presented, much less brought to a vote, a bill that would change the tax code.

The House has different ideas for a tax-code overhaul. Dollar said it hasn’t been decided how the House budget will handle any changes to tax revenue resulting from changes in the tax code.

Opposition to the ‘ag-gag’ bill

The Humane Society of the United States has launched a TV campaign to stop what it calls the “ag-gag” bill – legislation it says would make it more difficult to investigate the state’s agriculture industry.

The bill makes it a crime to lie or misrepresent yourself to gain access to a company to secretly record video, photographs or audio, or to remove documents by downloading, copying or emailing.

The Humane Society says this is to stop advocates from secretly filming animal abuse in agribusiness facilities. Its TV ad, which will run in the Raleigh market, includes undercover video footage of farm animals being treated cruelly as they are led to slaughter.

“Uncovered by whistle blowers in videos like these, leading to prosecution that stopped the abuse,” says the announcer. “But now some politicians and the N.C. Chamber of Commerce would like to make it illegal to record these videos, silencing the whistle-blowers … and letting these horrific acts go on unimpeded, and violating our rights to free speech.”

The Humane Society plans to spend $52,573, half on cable TV and half on broadcast TV, according to a spokeswoman.

In response, the N.C. Chamber issued a statement denying that the bill was an “ag-gag” bill because it doesn’t focus solely on the agriculture industry and doesn’t loosen whistle-blower protections.

The chamber also said that the bill’s requirement that those who spot abuse must turn over audio or visual evidence to police within 24 hours – rather than to activist groups or the news media – will help stop the abuse more quickly.

“It is extremely disappointing that a national group would ... lead the public to believe the business community is in favor of animal abuse of any kind,” said Gary Salamido, a chamber spokesman.

Martin to replace Ross

The Wake County Democrats announced via Twitter on Tuesday night that Raleigh Democrat Grier Martin had been elected to replace state Rep. Deborah Ross in District 34.

Ross, a six-term lawmaker, announced this month that she would be leaving the General Assembly to be the general counsel at Triangle Transit. At the time, she endorsed Martin for the spot.

The two were double-bunked into the same district by Republicans, and Martin decided not to challenge his friend for the office.

Ross officially nominated Martin on Tuesday evening at a meeting of the Wake County Democrats’ Executive Committee.

Staff writers John Frank, Lynn Bonner and Rob Christensen

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