May 29, 2015
After the House passed their budget last week, the Senate Appropriations Chairs wasted little time beginning their budget process. Individual Senate Appropriations Committees met Wednesday to “review” their respective sections of the House budget and to release their proposed budget targets and timeline, which sets a Senate floor vote for June 10th and 11th. The Senate budget is expected to be quite different from the House version. The timeline optimistically sets the end of the State’s fiscal year, June 30th, as the date that both chambers will pass a conference report for the budget. More often than not, lawmakers must pass a continuation budget which extends the previous year’s spending because they failed to reach an agreement by the end of the fiscal year. Senate Chairs have been meeting throughout the week behind closed doors and are expected to do so through the weekend.
The House gave approval Thursday to Senate Bill 2, controversial legislation that would allow magistrates to recuse themselves from performing all marriages for a six month period, based on religious beliefs. SB 2 was heard in the House Judiciary I Committee on Wednesday and then calendared for that afternoon, despite the objection of Minority Leader Rep. Hall (D-Durham). The House passed the bill unchanged from the Senate version 67-43 Thursday afternoon which was sent to the Governor. Just hours after its passage, the Governor vetoed the bill.
The Senate has the 30 necessary votes to override his veto, passing the bill months ago 32-16. The House vote Thursday was five short of the three-fifths or 72 votes needed for an override, however Reps. Lambeth (R-Forsyth) and Malone (R-Wake) who were absent Thursday voted “aye” on second reading the day before. Three other Republicans and one Unaffiliated member were absent for both votes and are where the remaining three will likely have to be found. Stay Tuned.
The Senate heard House Bill 465 on the floor Thursday for second reading. The bill entitled the Women and Children's Protection Act of 2015, would require women who want an abortion to wait for 72 hours before the abortion could be performed among other restrictions. The bill was turned into an omnibus bill that includes a provision to close a loophole in the laws around statutory rape, applying to victims 15 years old and younger instead of current law that applies to 13,14 and 15 years old. A second provision adds sex offenders that are convicted in other states or in federal court to the list of people not allowed near playgrounds. These provisions were added in a political move to force lawmakers opposing the abortion restrictions to also vote against the child protection portions. An attempt by Sen. Stein (D-Wake) to divide the vote and allow Senators to vote on individual portions of the bill failed. The bill passed 31-15 on its second reading and is calendared for third reading on Monday before returning to the House for concurrence.
On Thursday the Senate gave approval to Senate Bill 909, entitled ABC Omnibus Legislation. The bill contains a number of provisions regarding ABC laws in North Carolina including a ban on powdered alcohol as well as a provision that would allow unfortified wine to be sold in growlers for the first time. It would also allow distilleries that give tours to sell one commemorative bottle of liquor at the distillery per year to an individual that takes the tour. This will be the first time since prohibition that a bottle of spirituous liquor could be legally sold outside of an ABC store in North Carolina. The bill received no debate and passed 40-8 on its second reading and is calendared for third reading on Monday.
The Senate also passed Thursday, House Bill 640, Rep. Dixon’s (R-Duplin) bill that would allow Sunday hunting in NC. The version that came over from the House would have allowed hunting on Sunday provided that hunters are more than 500 yards away from a place of worship and on private property with permission of the landowner. The revised Senate version says that hunting with a gun cannot take place before noon on Sunday. North Carolina law currently permits Sunday bow hunting.
Legislation in the News:
Proposal keeps sitting NC Supreme Court justices from facing opponents – WRAL
New election option for NC justices passes Senate panel – WNCN
Bill changes crime for sex by NC school worker with student – WECT
NC House OKs infant screening for rare disease – N&O
In Other News
• John Kerr, a former lawmaker from Goldsboro, passed away over the weekend. Sen. Kerr served in both the NC House and the NC Senate. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. His obituary can be found here.
• The Governor Tuesday, signed Senate Bill 445, sponsored by Sen. Krawiec (R-Forsyth), into law. Also known as “Burt’s Law”, the title refers to a special-needs adult who was sexually abused while in a group home. Some employees witnessed the abuse but failed to properly report the offenses to authorities. The law now increases penalties for witnesses of such abuse in a group home who fail to properly report the offenses. Read more from WRAL here.
• Since South Carolina has been beating North Carolina in attracting auto manufacturers, it is fitting that their legislators defeated ours in the biennial NC vs. SC legislative basketball game. SC lawmakers won the game on home turf in Columbia 66-63 but the lobbyist/staff team took the glory for NC, defeating their SC counterparts 71-56. No special incentives were offered by either state. Read more in the N&O here.
• TJ Bugbee Chaired this year's annual Backyard Bash, an event sponsored by the Young Lobbyist division of the NC Professional Lobbyists Association. The event took place on the lawn of historic Mordecai Park in Downtown Raleigh and was well attended this year with over 100 legislators, lobbyists and legislative/executive branch staff.
Complaints to NC ethics commission hit record level – Carolina Public Press
Tech giants urge halt to green-energy freeze – Charlotte Observer
Opponents protest I-77 toll lanes – Charlotte Observer
Test drilling begins – Laurinburg Exchange
Letter: Craft beer legislation is well balanced – Gaston Gazette
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