NC General Assembly

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Today is the first day of the new fiscal year, but there’s no state budget adjustment in sight. That’s because legislators can’t agree on two big issues: Medicaid funding and teacher raises. Last week, the House passed a partial spending plan that would’ve given teachers average raises of five percent despite the absence of a larger budget deal, but last night the Senate rejected the measure.

A woman is arrested at the state capitol as a part of a Moral Mondays protest.
NAACP

The Moral Monday protests from Raleigh have garnered national attention over the past year. A key component of the protests has been media attention on arrests. Dozens were arrested this year for various non-violent offenses, a move some say is becoming an overt aim of many protestors.

Amy Laura Hall is a professor of ethics at the Duke Divinity School.  She has participated in the Moral Monday protests from the start, but she says the tactic of getting arrested -- or "orderly submission" as she calls it -- is flawed.   

NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

North Carolina lawmakers say they want to break the impasse on a state budget this week. But those aren’t the only bills on their docket.

Leaders in the Senate and the House have been talking about Common Core and Coal Ash since they started meeting in May.

The Senate wants to consider keeping parts of Common Core, the national academic standards for public school students. The House wants to completely replace them.

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

Governor Pat McCrory and leaders in the state House have released a bill that would serve as a scaled-down budget proposal. The move is meant to shake up a slow budget process.

House Budget Appropriations Chair Nelson Dollar explained Senate Bill 3 to a packed conference room earlier today. Dollar said among other things, the measure would give teachers an average five-percent pay raise and state employees a $1,000 raise plus benefits.
 

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Film and television production companies in North Carolina currently receive tax refunds of 25 percent if they spend $250,000 or more. The incentives expire at the end of the year unless the General Assembly reinstates them in the budget. Critics say the incentives are too high given a number of permanent jobs the industry creates. But a report commissioned by industry players shows the state receives a positive return on its entertainment investment. 

Duke Energy's coal-burning plant and the adjacent coal ash ponds by the Dan River.
Riverkeeper Foundation

The North Carolina Senate has tentatively approved a plan to close Duke Energy’s 33 coal ash ponds within 15 years.

The plan prioritizes four ponds that Republican lawmakers say are the biggest contamination threats. Duke would have to dig out all the ash and take it to dry storage.

Some Democrats want more ponds to be made high priority.

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A number of measures advanced today in the General Assembly, including a resolution that passed honoring the late Democratic Senator Martin Nesbitt, who died earlier this year.

Lawmakers in both the House and the Senate praised the late senator, who was from Asheville. Nesbitt died suddenly after being diagnosed with stomach cancer earlier this year. He was respected on both sides of the aisle and was known as a strong advocate for education.

NC Education lottery at the Carrboro Food Mart.
Laura Candler

The North Carolina state House’s budget plan includes a provision that would double the amount of money the state lottery can use to advertise. Proponents say that would encourage people to buy more tickets and boost revenues to the tune of $106 million, which would be used for teacher raises. But this morning, the state lottery director told lawmakers that restrictions on advertising (that are also written into the House budget proposal) would result in bringing in far less money. 

Photo: A mock graduation for undocumented immigrants behind the Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh
Jorge Valencia

Five students walked 140 miles from Charlotte to Raleigh over the last 10 days to ask state lawmakers for in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.

Elver Barrios, a computer engineering student at Johnson C. Smith University, and one of the advocates, says that when the group left last week, momentum seemed on their side.

"We were really excited on the first day of walking," he says.

But walking 15 miles a day means blisters on the feet and lots of sun on the face. It turns out there’s not much shade between Charlotte and Raleigh.

Image of NC General Assembly where lawmakers are considering two controversial bills.
Credit NC General Assembly

Lawmakers at the General Assembly have begun the process of reviewing both chambers' budgets as they look ahead to crafting a final spending plan.

Tuesday morning, Senate appropriations committees met to discuss the House's budget, which was approved last week. Some committees reviewed the differences between the two chambers' spending plans.

A bill that would force Duke Energy to shut down its coal ash ponds in the state passed the Senate Agriculture and Environment Committee unanimously today and heads to the Finance Committee.

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