Legislative roundup

Common Core compromise sticks in NC Senate

cjarvis@newsobserver.comJuly 11, 2014 

The Senate on Thursday approved legislation repealing and replacing the state’s Common Core education standards.

The vote was on a compromise worked out with the House, although Sen. Jerry Tillman, a Republican from Archdale, said the final version is essentially the Senate’s version. Tillman said the state will have new standards in 2015-16, under the bill.

Sen. Josh Stein, a Democrat from Raleigh, voted against the bill but thanked Tillman for his persistence because it was better than the House version.

“I don’t think we need to be voting on something that’s less bad,” Stein said.

The agreement passed on a vote of 33-12, with one Democrat voting with Republicans: Sen. Gene McLaurin of Rockingham. The bill now awaits approval in the House next week.

The two chambers approved bills earlier this session to create a commission to rework the state’s math and language arts requirements but differed as to whether the panel could consider keeping the current Common Core standards. The final version allows the commission to consider anything.

Senate to reject ash bill

The Senate has problems with the House version of a coal-ash regulation bill, which comes as no surprise because the House rewrote significant portions of the Senate’s plan.

Sen. Tom Apodaca, who co-sponsored the Senate bill with President Pro Tem Phil Berger, said he has several concerns with the latest version.

Those concerns are: allowing Duke Energy to take longer to clean up some of its coal ash ponds, the composition of a commission overseeing closure plans, and putting that commission in the state environmental regulatory agency.

The legislature is running out of time, but leaders say coming up with a law that responds to the pollution threat from the coal-fired power plant residue is still a top priority of the short session.

The Senate is expected to vote to reject the House plan when it convenes Monday evening. It was on the chamber’s calendar for a vote on Thursday but then removed. Most of the House has taken this week off and isn’t expected to return until there is a budget deal to vote on. The House convened only briefly on Thursday and considered no bills.

Environmental groups say neither coal ash bill is strong enough. But the Senate passed its version unanimously last month, while the House passed its last week in a vote that split Democratic members.

Jarvis: 919-829-4576

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