2015 NC Legislature

North Carolina legislative building
Wikimedia Commons

North Carolina lawmakers passed measures in the middle of the night on Tuesday after an eight-month long session. The final push ended the longest session of the General Assembly since 2001. Among the bills crammed into the session: immigration restrictions, the $2 million transportation bond referendum and a cap on light rail spending.

North Carolina legislative building
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

One of the last-minute pieces of legislation the General Assembly passed Tuesday night is designed to make North Carolina less friendly to undocumented immigrants. House Bill 318 would ban what are known as "sanctuary cities." It would also ban police from accepting registration cards from consulates as a valid form of identification.

The chambers of the NC State House
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

Lawmakers at the N.C. General Assembly have adjourned for the year, ending the longest session since 2001. An almost all-night session included passage of bills related to immigration, environmental regulations and technical corrections to thousands of pages of legislation passed during the last eight months.

Before the day started, Senate rules chairman Tom Apodaca (R-Hendersonville) told a committee room to “stay tuned” and that “we could see all kinds of things between now and later.”

Immigration Bill Sparks Tense Debate

A picture of a gavel on a document.
Brian Turner / Flickr Creative Commons

Employees at the state Department of Health and Human Services received subpoenas in a federal investigation, according to a report by the News and Observer. 

Federal prosecutors are investigating expensive contracts for high-ranking DHHS employees and a Medicaid consulting firm. The subpoenas request information for more than 30 employees, including the employment contract for former DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos. 

teacher in a blur with classroom
Bart Everson / Flickr/Creative Commons

Many school districts in North Carolina are looking for ways to fund some of their teacher positions after changes in the state budget.  

Under the spending plan passed last week, school officials are no longer allowed to use money set aside for teacher assistants to pay for teachers.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

North Carolina cities and counties would be prohibited from being “sanctuaries” for people living in the country illegally, under a bill tentatively approved by the Senate on Thursday.
 
The plan would prohibit local governments from directing their police officers to not collect people’s immigration information and report it to federal authorities. Senate Republicans gave the initial nod in a largely party-line vote of 34 to 11. The House of Representatives would have to agree before sending the bill to the governor.
 

Jorge Valencia / WUNC

Bill Would Ban The Sale Of Fetal Tissue From Abortions

Republicans in the Senate's rules committee cleared a bill on Wednesday  that would ban the sale of fetal tissue from abortions.

House Bill 297  is a reaction to a national controversy after an anti-abortion group’s undercover videos suggested Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue from abortions.  

NC Legislature
W Edward Callis III

A package of economic incentives aimed at luring businesses to North Carolina is one vote away from reaching the Governor’s desk.

The Senate swiftly approved the bill on Tuesday, while the House gave a tentative approval, 84-24, after a lengthy and lively debate.

The plan would increase funding for the Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program from $15 million to $20 million a year.

It could go as high as $35 million if the state attracts a large project, like an auto plant, that invests at least $500 million and adds at least 1,750 jobs.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

North Carolina senators acted Monday on two plans that could have a wide impact on charter schools and the state's business recruitment efforts, and debated a plan to issue $2 billion dollars in bonds to renovate and put up new buildings. A recap: 

$2B Bond Package Focuses On Colleges And Universities, Leaves Out McCrory's Highway Plan 

State Senators unveiled a plan to borrow $2 billion in bonds for building construction and renovation.

An image of the NC Museum of Natural Science
Public Domain

The State of Things is broadcasting live Friday at 12 p.m. from the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. You can stream the show live below:

NC General Assembly; State Legislature.
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The North Carolina legislature gave final approval to a $21.7 billion budget early Friday morning. The vote ended a stalemate that pushed budget negotiations three months past their original deadline. The final deal maintains funding for teacher assistants, cuts the income tax rate to 5.5 percent and expands the sales tax. 

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Gov. Pat McCrory said this morning he will sign the budget compromise the state Senate approved this week.

The House is expected to give the $21.7 billion spending plan final approval tonight or tomorrow morning before it heads to the governor's desk. 

solar
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The 429-page state budget, released just before midnight Monday, contains plenty of provisions that will affect the future of the environment in North Carolina.

Aeyron Scout drone
creative commons

More drones could soon take to skies across the state.

Lawmakers approved legislation Wednesday that paves the way for local government and civilian permitting of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Image of the North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh, North Carolina
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Jmturner

The state Senate has passed a proposed constitutional amendment to limit income taxes and year-by-year spending increases.

teacher in a blur with classroom
Bart Everson / Flickr/Creative Commons

School leaders, not the state, should decide if they want to hire teachers or teacher assistants, according to Governor Pat McCrory.

In their budget proposal, state senators are calling for schools to cut back on the equivalent of about 8,500 teacher assistants and use the extra money to hire about 2,000 teachers and reduce classroom sizes. House lawmakers would keep funding intact.

On Thursday, McCrory chimed in on the debate, arguing that decisions over staffing should come from principals and superintendents who understand the needs of their students.   

North Carolina legislative building
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The N.C. House and Senate voted Wednesday to spend at least two more weeks crafting a final budget. 

Their original deadline was July 1st, which is when the fiscal year began. Lawmakers had extended the deadline until Friday, but the two chambers still haven’t resolved differences over how much money to spend and where to spend it. 

On Wednesday, House and Senate lawmakers passed a temporary budget bill – also known as ‘continuing resolution’ – that would keep the state running until August 31st.

Photo: NC Legislative building
Jorge Valencia

In a 34-12 vote, the North Carolina Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would expand economic incentives and redistribute local sales taxes to help more rural communities.

Republican leaders say the idea behind the sales tax proposal is to funnel more money into rural areas.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

North Carolina Senate Republicans are looking to give voters the opportunity to add spending and income tax caps to the state’s constitution.

Photo: NC Legislative building
Jorge Valencia

Leading state senators proposed a compromise plan Thursday that redistributes tax revenue and creates job incentives.

They say the measure simplifies the corporate income tax rate, and is similar to the model in neighboring states South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia.

North Carolina National Guard Public Affairs

North Carolina legislators are considering a bill that allows the North Carolina National Guard to arm its service members at recruiting centers.

State Senator Dan Soucek  sponsored the measure in response to last month's killing of five servicemen outside a Navy Reserve center in Chattanooga, T.N. Soucek said policy keeping Guardsmen unarmed makes them potential targets for terrorists.

Rick Brajer
Dave DeWitt

Governor Pat McCrory announced Wednesday Aldona Wos is resigning from her position as the secretary of the state's Department of Health and Human Services.

Pat McCrory
Dave DeWitt

The state House Finance Committee passed a $4 billion transportation and infrastructure package Tuesday morning. 

Image of lethal injection table
Ken Piorkowski / Flickr Creative Commons

Legal challenges to the death penalty in North Carolina have effectively stayed any executions since 2006.

This week, lawmakers look to change that with a bill that would allow any medical professional, not just doctors, to administer a lethal injection.

Fayetteville teacher assistant Grace King works with first graders on sight words.
Reema Khrais

Teacher assistant positions in North Carolina have been cut steadily in recent years. And the North Carolina Senate's proposed budget eliminates funding for about 8,500 more TAs in order to hire more teachers.

Teacher assistants and researchers are split on the effectiveness of TAs. 

Host Frank Stasio talks to WUNC reporter Reema Khrais about the state of teacher assistant jobs.

A picture of an empty classroom.
f_a_r_e_w_e_l_l / Flickr

In Raleigh, Senate lawmakers are proposing a controversial tradeoff.

They want to cut funding for teacher assistants to hire more teachers and reduce classroom sizes in the early grades. Republicans argue that smaller classes will lead to better student outcomes, even if it’s at the cost of fewer teacher assistants.

An image of people zip lining
Ferdilouw / Wikipedia Creative Commons

The General Assembly passed a measure this week that will examine whether the state needs to regulate aerial amusement devices. The measure comes a month after a fatal zip line accident at Glade Valley's Camp Cheerio in Alleghany County.

NC General Assembly
Jorge Valencia

Members of the General Assembly are back in Raleigh after a week-long vacation. They still must pass a budget for the next two years and consider several other bills, including Medicaid reform and Gov. Pat McCrory's bond proposal.

And Greensboro challenges the legislature’s measure changing voting districts for the city council. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC capitol reporter Jorge Valencia about the legislature's agenda for the rest of the summer.

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

Local school officials are struggling to make budget decisions without knowing how much money they will receive from the state.

House and Senate lawmakers passed a temporary spending plan earlier this month to keep the state running until August 14.

For school officials, that's a tight deadline.

Reema Khrais / WUNC

In North Carolina classrooms today, students are dealing with far fewer textbooks. Over the last seven years, state money for books has dropped drastically. Those changes come as more classrooms become more digital friendly – a transition that won’t be cheap, or easy.

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