Under the Dome

Rancor rises as House committee kills powerful senator’s bill

Verbal missiles flew Friday morning in a House Finance Committee when Sen. Harry Brown of Jacksonville tried to get through the committee a bill that would use most of the revenue from a local occupancy tax to build a sports complex.

His proposal violates a House rule that says most revenue from occupancy taxes must go to promote tourism. The Senate does not have such a rule.

Brown said if the House didn’t let his bill through, the Senate might not consider any House occupancy tax bills. “That would be unfortunate,” he said.

Rep. Julia Howard, a Republican and former Finance Committee co-chairwoman, said Brown, a Senate budget writer, made it to committee because Brown is someone “with the power to intimidate you.”

Brown’s bill was not vetted by a House subcommittee on local taxes, and the chairman of the subcommittee said he did not support it.

The House has rejected other proposals like Brown’s, Howard said, and passing his wouldn’t be fair.

She predicted however, that the bill would pass. “The boys have gone into a corner office and made a deal,” she said.

Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican, said Brown’s bill was being considered because he helped move bills that otherwise wouldn’t have gotten heard in the Senate.

When a House member said he was concerned about talk of retribution, Brown said it probably happens on both sides.

“You’re right,” Brown said. “Legislation should be able to stand on its own.”

The bill failed 9-18.

Lynn Bonner: 919-829-4821, @Lynn_Bonner