July 17, 2015
After a week-long summer recess, lawmakers returned to Raleigh to resume the business of the State. The House finally appointed budget Conferees on Tuesday, nearly a month after receiving the Senate version of House Bill 97. Speaker Moore (R-Cleveland), appointed 82 of the House’s 120 total members to sit on the Conference Committee, including 19 of the 32 Democrats that voted for the House budget. Sen. Berger (R-Rockingham) appointed 32 Conferees, all of whom are Republicans. The only two members of the Senate Republican caucus that are not on the Conference Committee are Sen. Berger and Sen. Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) who was the lone Republican to vote against the budget on its final reading. The official list of Conferees can be found here.
NC House appoints 82 budget negotiators – N&O
Governor McCrory (R) visited with lawmakers at the General Assembly Thursday for impromptu meetings with both the House and Senate Republican caucuses to talk about the budget. In the closed-door meetings, Gov. McCrory and lawmakers allegedly discussed, among other budgetary items, his $3 Billion proposed transportation and infrastructure bonds as well as economic incentives. Leadership in both chambers have expressed a willingness to address some version of the infrastructure bond, but the Senate still does not support the transportation bond proposal. The Senate’s solution for transportation funding is to end the transfer of highway funds to the general fund, creating a pay as you go method of funding.
McCrory, lawmakers talk budget, bonds – N&O
Uncertainty Hangs Over Programs As State Budget Is Delayed – Wilmington Business Journal
Decision time for state bonds – Jacksonville Daily News
The House Wednesday approved Senate changes to House Bill 201, which would end the zoning protest petition process. A protest petition is a tool for property owners to challenge the rezoning of adjacent property, requiring a super majority of the local governing body to vote in favor of rezoning. Advocates for the change argue that current law puts too much power to halt projects in the hands of a few while opponents claim current law helps to level the playing field in battling large developers. The bill now awaits action from the Governor who has indicated his support.
N.C. legislature approves bill to end protest petitions – News & Record
Fighting rezoning in North Carolina may get a bit tougher – WCNC
Protest petition repeal clears final legislative hurdle – WRAL
Thursday, the House approved Senate Bill 678 entitled Amend Debt Collection Statutes, by a margin of 70-38. The bill would allow communications by debt collectors, with written permission from the debtor, to third parties for the sole purpose of locating the debtor in the event of default. Skeptics on both sides of the aisle fear that the bill provides too much power to debt collectors in part because there is no obligation in the bill to advise the borrower that the form is optional.
NC House votes to change debt collection rules – N&O
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are anticipating beneficial tax changes as a result of House Bill 912. On Thursday, the House Finance Committee approved a Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) which would exempt all property located on tribal lands from county ad valorem taxation. Since all real property is currently not taxed, the proposed exemption appears to affect the current practice of taxation of personal property owned by non-tribal entities, such as slot machines. The bill also allows the tribe to negotiate with the Department of Revenue regarding the excise tax on tobacco products.
It is rumored that the House will not conduct any business Wednesday and Thursday next week, holding “no vote” sessions. Meanwhile, a very intense Senate Committee schedule is expected as all Senate policy Committees are shutting down after Thursday July 23rd. Committees will likely meet multiple times to complete their agendas before the deadline next week, however the Appropriations, Finance, and Rules Committees will likely continue operating beyond the deadline.
Legislation in the News:
This week’s Domecast forecasts NC legislature’s most pressing agenda items – N&O
NC bill addresses zip lines, State Fair accident – WNCN
House weighs employment fraud reform – WRAL
N.C. bill to shield memorials advances amid Confederate debate – News & Record
NC Democrats concerned DWI penalties hurt poor offenders – WNCN
Lawmakers target emissions tests – WRAL
NCGA considers legalizing airborne fireworks – WNCN
While They Were Gone
During last week’s summer recess, there wasn’t any action at the NCGA, but there was still plenty of news from around the State. Announced candidacies, lawsuits and prison sentences were among the topics of several news articles while lawmakers were out of town.
Meeker seeks Labor seat – WRAL
LaRoque headed to prison – Kinston Free Press
Two more extensions given for state no-bid contract – N&O
Confederate battle flag plate orders spike, DMV out of stock – N&O
Greensboro plans to sue state over council restructuring – News & Record
Few magistrates opt out of marriage duties – WRAL
North Carolina to try out new public school testing strategy – N&O
Beach towns worry NC Senate plan could stop ‘sand tax’ – N&O
Sunday hunting with guns to begin Oct. 1 in NC – Citizen-Times
In the News
Brown announces she will not seek re-election – Lexington Dispatch
The 2020 redistricting war is (already) on – Washington Post
First hearing in Greensboro Council lawsuit set for next week – News & Record
Carolinas patients pay more for oral chemo – Charlotte Observer
Embattled elections board member resigns – N&O
Crowdfunding could become reality for N.C. businesses, but questions remain – Charlotte Observer
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