Politics & Government

Political news

Lawmakers at the General Assembly have begun rolling out suggested budget cuts. It's part of the process of putting together the state's spending plan for the next two years. But with an estimated shortfall of about two billion dollars, cobbling together a budget this year is more painful than usual. That's especially true in the area of education, which takes up 60 percent of the state's budget.

This morning Democratic Representative Marian McLawhorn of Grifton was sitting in her office, reading through two official-looking packets that are already a little dog eared.

A state trust fund that provides money for water pollution cleanup could shrink significantly under the budget proposed by the state House. That's according to Richard Rogers, the Chief Executive of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. He says the House budget appropriates 10 million dollars to the trust fund, 80 percent less than the 50 million proposed by Governor Bev Perdue in her budget.

The North Carolina House has proposed budget cuts that include more than $170 million from public safety agencies. Part of that spending plan would eliminate nearly 400 jobs from the court system. Officials say services like drug courts and family courts would have to make significant cutbacks. John Smith is the director of the state Administrative Office of the Courts.

John Smith: "We were prepared to reduce our positions by as many as 200 positions and felt that we could continue to provide the services. This will be double that."

State senators have pardoned a Reconstruction-era governor who was impeached and driven from office nearly a century and a half ago.

Kay Hagan On The Budget

Apr 7, 2011
Kay Hagan
hagan.senate.gov

Congressional leaders and the White House have yet to reach an agreement to keep the federal government running. The current spending plan runs out at midnight tomorrow. Congressional leaders met at the White House Thursday afternoon and planned to meet later in the day. They need to strike a deal that can be agreed to by the President, the Republican-controlled House, and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Governor Perdue and the Republican-led legislature are entering what may be the public beginning of a contentious relationship.

At the beginning of this year's legislative session, the governor and Republican leaders pledged to work together in the spirit of cooperation. But the governor says she's tired of seeing lawmakers introduce and debate bills that have nothing to do with an enormous looming budget deficit of around 2 billion dollars.

Lawmakers in the state House want voters to decide on a constitutional amendment restricting the terms of the leaders of the General Assembly.

The Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate are currently allowed to serve as many two-year terms as they are able- as long as they keep winning the support of their chambers. But House Bill 61 would change that. Republican representative John Blust is from Greensboro, and says

A voter ID bill that would require residents to show photo identification cards at the polls continues to move through the legislature.

Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr have joined several lawmakers who want the federal government to adopt a budget process similar to North Carolina's. Hagan and Burr have co-sponsored a bipartisan bill that would require Congress to write budgets every two years rather than annually. Lawmakers face a government shutdown if they don't agree on a spending plan before this weekend.

The state’s extended benefits program for the long-term unemployed is about to end. About 37-thousand people will lose their benefits.

The 9-1-1 center for Guilford County and Greensboro will test its disaster readiness beginning today.  Guilford Metro will relocate to a backup facility across town until Friday morning.

State lawmakers have tentatively voted to block two municipal annexations and postpone a third. The group of House bills are part of a broader effort to reform involuntary annexations on the books for more than 50 years. The trend is spurred by constituents who don't like paying higher taxes and city fees when their county properties are annexed by neighboring municipalities.

House Considers Tort Reform

Apr 1, 2011

Members of the state house heard arguments from both sides yesterday on a tort reform bill making it's way through the legislature. The bill mirrors much of the medical malpractice bill passed recently by the state Senate. It would place a cap on non-economic damages and limit liability for emergency doctors. The bill also would make it harder to sue manufacturers for defective products.  Attorney Janet Ward Black from Greensboro opposes it. In a committee hearing webcast on WRAL, she said no other state has such sweeping product liability language on its books:

A bill passed in the state House would allow residents with concealed handgun permits to carry them into more public places. The measure would allow people with "concealed carry" handgun permits to bring their weapons into restaurants. This includes establishments that serve alcohol.

Republican representative Mark Hilton of Conover says the bill isn't unusual:

State lawmakers charged with redistricting will meet for the first time today.  State lawmakers redraw congressional and state legislative districts every ten years, after the US Census releases new data on population changes.

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