General Assembly

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

​North Carolina's House Bill 2 and the state budget dominated the headlines during this year's legislative short session. But the bills that got less attention could also have a huge impact across the state.

One of them places regulations on the footage caught by police body cameras, and declares those tapes are not public records. That same bill also establishes the first statewide needle exchange program.

June Atkinson is the North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Jeff Tiberii

State Superintendent June Atkinson is asking lawmakers to consider a 10 percent raise for teachers across the board. Atkinson delivered her proposals to a group of lawmakers Wednesday.

First responders in Guilford County have administered hundreds of doses of Naloxone, or NARCAN, this year. Heroin overdoses and deaths are on the rise.
Jeff Tiberii

Members of a task force on mental illness are developing policy recommendations for state legislators.

The task force was called for by Gov. Pat McCrory, and is made up of about 30 people who are considering how to improve issues of mental illness, substance abuse, public housing, and support systems throughout the state.  State officials are optimistic a task force on mental health can have an impact.

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.

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.   

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.

Pat McCrory
Dave DeWitt

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

Lethal injection room
Wikipedia Creative Commons

Doctors in North Carolina would no longer be required to oversee or participate in executions under a bill heading to Governor Pat McCrory's desk.

House lawmakers gave final approval to the measure Wednesday that allows physician assistants, nurse practitioners or paramedics to oversee executions.

Federal Building Winston-Salem
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

Fierce testimony from experts and disenfranchised voters has been delivered in a Winston-Salem courtroom during the first two weeks of a federal trial challenging North Carolina's controversial new voting law.

An image of a person rallying outside a voting rights trial in Winston-Salem
Kimberly Pierce Cartwright / WNCU Public Radio 90.7 FM

The first week of a federal trial challenging North Carolina’s voting regulations is wrapping up in Winston-Salem. The plaintiffs - a group including the U.S. Department of Justice,  the NAACP, and League of Women Voters - aim to prove whether House Bill 589, enacted in 2013 by a Republican-led state legislature discriminated against minority voters.

Lawmakers voted this summer to eventually eliminate teacher tenure, replacing it with temporary contracts. The State Board of Education will discuss a model contract this week.
cybrarian77 / https://www.flickr.com/photos/cybrarian77/6284181389

Teacher pay is one of the biggest political items in the state's spending plan North Carolina lawmakers are currently debating.

House and Senate Republicans have different ideas over raising teacher salaries, though both want to give an average 4 percent boost.

Under the Senate’s plan, most of that extra money would go toward teachers with less than 15 years of experience. Those with 25+ years of experience would not see any increases to their current base salary from the state.  

Couple leaving courthouse after gay marriage
Wikipedia

 

  House lawmakers passed a Senate bill today to allow local magistrates to refuse to perform marriages. The measure passed 66-44 after debate that centered on religious freedom arguments. The bill comes after several magistrates resigned in protest over same-sex marriages.

The measure will head to Governor McCrory's desk and he has 10 days to sign or veto the bill. 

In the Senate, legislators consider a bill to extend the waiting period for an abortion from 24 to 72 hours.

photo of the NC legislature
Wikimedia

Two controversial bills are scheduled for debate in legislative committees Wednesday afternoon. One of the proposals has undergone significant changes prior to debate. Some are calling those alterations completely unrelated.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

 

Updated Thursday, May 21, 4:45 p.m.

N.C. House lawmakers have started debating a proposed budget plan that leaders revamped in an effort to win more votes from Republicans. The proposal reduces DMV fee hikes and cuts back on the money to help bring film and TV productions to North Carolina.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

North Carolina House representatives are introducing parts of their two year spending plan.

Education, Health and Human Services, transportation, and judicial appropriation committee meetings take place throughout Thursday as policy makers begin to digest parts of a $21 billion state spending plan.

Photo: The North Carolina General Assembly's Legislative Building
Jorge Valencia

North Carolina lawmakers are back in session today following their spring recess.

One question this week is whether the Senate will take up the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

Bills like this one have sent political tidal waves across the country. Critics say they would allow businesses to discriminate against certain groups, such as gay people.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The first law Gov. Pat McCrory signs this year could be an agreement between the House and Senate to slowly drop North Carolina's tax on gas.
 

Under a plan approved by top members of each chamber last week, the gas tax would fall on Wednesday to 36 cents from 37.5 cents, then to 35 cents in January and to 34 cents in July 2016.

The measure would eliminate a plan previously approved by lawmakers that, according to legislative analysis, would've cut the gas tax significantly more, potentially costing dozens of jobs at the state Department of Transportation.

Pac-Man like pie chart with three counties eating the majority of JDIGs award money.
twitter.com/myncsenate

Some of the state's most powerful senators are trying to revamp the distribution of sales tax so rural areas get more of the revenue.

A measure in the Senate proposes tax revenues be distributed according to population to allow some of the money spent in big city shopping centers to return to rural areas to better build infrastructure. Opponents say the plan does not take into account the population shift due to tourism and the funds needed to maintain tourist destinations. 

Reema Khrais

A state House judiciary committee heard public comment Wednesday on a bill that would allow magistrates and registers of deeds to opt-out of performing marriages altogether if they are opposed to same-sex unions for religious reasons. 

Senate Bill 2 quickly passed in the Senate last week and is now before the House for consideration. At Wednesday’s meeting, a group of House lawmakers heard from nine members of the public, most who oppose the legislation.

Photo: A voting ballot
Flickr Creative Commons/ Ken Zirkel

Voting rights advocates argued in a Wake County court on Friday that a new state law requiring voters to show photo identification at polling stations is unconstitutional because it will create a barrier to voting, keeping primarily minorities from the ballot.

The North Carolina legislative office building
Wikipedia

Lawmakers returned to Raleigh today to begin preparation for their first legislative session of the year. 

Interstate 40 traffic
Dave DeWitt

Wake County school leaders said Thursday that the state’s decision to eliminate funding for driver’s education could put students at risk and lead to higher costs for families and taxpayers.

This summer, state lawmakers passed legislation to eliminate the $26 million school districts now receive to fund the program. That means starting next July, when the new fiscal year begins, districts will have to find other means to cover program costs.

Pages