As the legislative session reaches the halfway point, the pace is becoming more frantic.
Wednesday’s schedule is a good example. A dozen of the hottest topics this session – from fracking to Medicaid and film incentives to Common Core – are seeing movement in a single day.
At 8:30 a.m., a House committee considers more changes to the state’s unemployment system. At 9 a.m., Gov. Pat McCrory will sign a bill to clear the way for fracking in North Carolina.
At 10 a.m., advocates for extending the state’s film incentives are expected to rally at a press conference. At the same time, a House committee will hear a bill regulating drones. At 10:30 a.m., advocates for expanding Medicaid will press their case with lawmakers in a lobbying day. At 11 a.m., a House panel looks at one of the governor’s top priorities, the creation of a nonprofit to privatize parts of the state Commerce department. At noon, McCrory hosts a Medicaid discussion as he faces more pressure to expand the program under the federal health care law.
In the afternoon, a Senate committee considers a bill to repeal the Common Core education standards at 1 p.m. and another will take a look at a different Commerce privatization bill at 2:30 p.m. The state Department of Public Instruction will brief reporters on the education cuts in the proposed budget at 3 p.m. The House’s Common Core bill, approved in committee a day earlier, comes to the full floor for a vote when it convenes at 4:30 p.m. At the same time, McCrory will attend a meeting of state municipal leaders, who are not so pleased with him signing a bill to eliminate privilege taxes, a main source of revenue in many cities. The Senate gavels into session at 6 p.m.
Phew. It’s enough all at once to think lawmakers are within grasp of their planned end-of-June adjournment but leaves enough left undone to think that’s an unrealistic target.
The big story not on the agenda: the state budget. The House reviewed the plans from the governor and the Senate on Tuesday only to realize the gargantuan task ahead of them for a compromise, so the forecasted roll out of their budget is being delayed a few days.
The result is a $60 million hole in the Medicaid budget that McCrory acknowledged Tuesday – and some angry state senators who included the maneuver in the spending plan they approved last week. Read more here.
The bill caps four years of debate and study and will allow energy companies to obtain drilling permits as early as March. Before any permits are issued, the Mining and Energy Commission will have to complete about 120 safety rules. Read more here.
The bill offers no specific timetable for replacing the controversial standards, but one of its sponsors said he expects them to be gone in about a year. The change will come as the State Board of Education undertakes its regular review of standards next year, said Rep. Bryan Holloway, a Stokes Republican and bill sponsor. Read more here.
Americans for Responsible Solutions said it will support a slate of nine Democrats and two Republicans in 2014 – and perhaps more. The group has raised about $14.5 million since it was founded in January 2013 and plans to spend money on television and online advertising and direct mail to help the list of mostly incumbent candidates. Read more here.
“I have got to head to D.C. in an hour of so. So obviously Monday nights are a hard time for me. But I am a certainly appreciative of what the Moral Mondays protesters are discussing on these issues that are very important to North Carolinians,” she said Monday when asked whether she would attend a future protest.
The favorable wording in the Progress North Carolina Action poll may skew the results but the message testing aspect is interesting – and something we may see in the U.S. Senate race. Also, the poll horse race question about the Senate race finds Democrat Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis deadlocked. See the poll here.
A key budget-writer said that the House spending plan would reflect the Senate’s budget provision taking the SBI out of Attorney General Roy Cooper’s justice department and putting it in Gov. Pat McCrory’s Department of Public Safety. Read more here.
Their measure would allow veterans unable to get an appointment in a timely way or who live more than 40 miles from a Department of Veterans Affairs facility to receive care from any doctor in Medicare or the military’s TRICARE health program. Read more here.
Walker disputed the notion. But left unsaid: Berger Jr’s father, state Senate leader Phil Berger supported a tax plan that eliminated the mortgage interest deduction and moved even further to a consumption tax in order to put in place a flat income tax.
The tribute dinner, held at the High Point Country Club on Feb. 8, was billed by then-High Point Republican Party Chairman Paul Norcross (now a strategic political adviser to Phil Berger Jr.’s congressional campaign) ...
Members of the Guilford County Republican Party were surprised and dismayed to learn that the event did not turn a profit, and became suspicious when they learned that funds had been spent by the High Point Republican Party to rent and refurbish a campaign office in Jamestown that was leased to the Phil Berger Jr. campaign for Congress. ...
The expenditure of $6,077 to the Red Dome Group, including $5,000 earmarked for “event management,” has raised eyebrows among county party leaders. The Red Dome Group was founded by Andy Yates and Todd Poole, who have each worked in various capacities for U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx. Poole recently took a temporary leave from the consulting firm to serve as executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party. ...
He entered a guilty plea to one count of honest services wire fraud, a charge commonly used in cases where a public official takes kickbacks or bribes. After the hearing, Cannon said he regretted having broken the public trust, and that he would still try to have a positive impact on Charlotte.
“Much has been given to me in the way of the public’s trust. I regret having acted in ways that broke that trust,” said Cannon, speaking outside the courthouse. “I love Charlotte. It is the city of my birth. I regret having hurt the city that I love.”
Cannon will be sentenced at a separate hearing in the coming months. The charge carries up to a 20-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine. Read more here.
The state’s environmental agency expected to put the water circulators on Jordan Lake by April 1. They won’t be deployed, however, until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gives final approval for the controversial, $1.44 million “pilot project.” Read more here.
McCrory says he has tried to meet with protesters. Read more here.
John Hood says to pay more, employ fewer in state government. Read more here.
Paul O’Connor says fracking legislation outpaces caution. Read more here.
Why one Democrat voted for the Senate’s budget. Read more here.
NAACP says it won’t protest GOP convention in Cherokee. Read more here.
Bill would send more cases to NC Business Court. Read more here.