Under the Dome

All week: Senate’s budget to come into focus

A key budget writer in the Senate says he expects that chamber’s budget to roll out in earnest and get votes this week.

The Senate budget is certain to be different from the House, and negotiations would then follow to settle the state’s major spending plan.

The new budget year begins July 1.

The timing of the Senate floor votes is not certain.

Sen. Harry Brown, a Jacksonville Republican, said last week he was anticipating appropriations subcommittees meeting on Monday.

The subcommittees now are set to all meet at 4 p.m. Monday, focusing on transportation, education, health and human services, general government and other areas.

Full committees are expected to take up the budget on Tuesday.

“I would think we’d probably try to vote it Wednesday and Thursday if possible,” Brown said. “It could slip, but that’s the plan...”

Moped bill rolling along

A House bill to require insurance for mopeds is rolling to the Senate floor.

“It’s all about accountability and responsibility,” bill sponsor Rep. Phil Shepard, an Onslow County Republican, told members of the Senate Finance Committee, which gave it a favorable report last week.

Shepard has pushed for years to tie financial responsibility to moped operators who, under current law, do not have to carry liability insurance.

He said he anticipates insurance companies stepping up to offer plans if the bill becomes law, though some are already insuring the low-speed vehicles. Rates may range from $90 to $380 a year, officials said.

Opponents have argued the insurance requirement may burden low-income residents who have no other reliable means of transportation. The House approved the measure 81-32 in April.

The legislature last year passed a bill to require moped owners register and plate their vehicles. That goes into effect July 1.

Lottery ad agency picked

The N.C. Education Lottery has selected Mullen Lowe Winston-Salem as its new advertising agency of record to provide creative advertising and media services for the lottery, according to a news release.

Mullen Lowe Winston-Salem, a unit of the Mullen Lowe Group, won the contract during a competitive process. It was one of nine agencies that competed to handle lottery advertising services. The new relationship begins July 1.

Lawmakers have focused on how the lottery advertises its games.

Lottery director Alice Garland said, “Mullen Lowe effectively demonstrated to us during the competitive process that it has the ability to create excitement around our games while simultaneously spotlighting the benefits the lottery provides to our state. We believe that with Mullen Lowe’s help the lottery can continue its record of growing sales and earnings every year for North Carolina.”

Benjamin Brown and J. Andrew Curliss

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