Under the Dome

Dome: McCrory tours storm-damaged mountains

July 7, 2013 

Last week’s heavy rainfall caused widespread damage in the mountains, including washing out roads.

On Friday, Gov. Pat McCrory, some state legislators, state transportation engineers and local law enforcement toured some of the worst areas.

“We spent the morning checking in with residents of Madison County where storm debris litters properties and several roads were either impassable or damaged,” McCrory said in a statement his office released. “Sheriff Buddy Harwood took us to several hard hit areas and we are here to help.”

As flood waters subsided over the weekend, state officials planned to more closely inspect roads, pipes and bridges to determine what repairs will be needed.

Protest plans

The state Democratic Party is putting out the word that it wants a big crowd at the Moral Monday protest on Monday to show opposition to the anti-abortion bill making its way through the legislature.

“As I’m sure you know, Republican extremists in the State Senate pushed through anti-choice legislation that, if enacted into law, would put North Carolina on the path toward Texas-styled conservatism,” writes Robert Dempsey, the Democrat’s executive director. “Our rights are under attack at every level in a move that unparalleled in our state government.

Dempsey asked that Democrats assemble at state party headquarters before the rally near the legislature and that they wear pink to show solidarity with women’s rights.

A House committee is scheduled to take up a bill enacting new anti-abortion restrictions on Tuesday morning.

Medicaid claims

NCTracks, the state’s new Medicaid claims system, is running well enough to have processed 1 million claims already, the Department of Health and Human Services has announced.

Some providers are having problems contacting the website, and there have been long waits in the call center, chief information officer Joe Cooper says those hitches are to be expected.

“The system is operational,” Cooper said in a statement. “We are processing claims.”

NCTracks will process more than 88 million claims every year for more than 70,000 health-care providers for more than 1.5 million Medicaid beneficiaries – or so the plan goes.

House returns

They’re back! The House, after taking off a week to let its conflicts with the Senate – taxes, budgets, gun control – simmer, will be back in town Monday night.

The calendar is mostly low-profile, local bills except for a final vote on the bill creating a separate regulatory board for charter schools.

The state charter school board would be responsible for handing out new charters and shutting down inadequate schools. The bill would dilute the state Board of Education’s powers. The Senate passed the bill in May.

Still waiting for the Senate’s Monday night budget at press time.

Trying to agree on what constitutes tax reform is holding up final approval of a budget, since you can’t have a budget if you don’t know how much money is coming in from taxes. Legislators have extended until July 31 their deadline for this fiscal year’s budget.

Sen. Pete Brunstetter, a Republican from Forsyth County, told The Associated Press overhauling the tax code is “a complicated, difficult issue that takes time to work thorough. I feel fairly confident that if tax reform were not on the table, we would have been done.”

At the same time, the House and Senate versions of the budget have significant conflicts. “We have quite a number of things to be discussed,” Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Republican from Wake County, told the AP.

Staff writers Craig Jarvis and Rob Christensen

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