NC General Assembly

North Carolina legislative building
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

  The General Assembly is in its last few weeks of budget discussions, with tax overhauls in mind.  Three proposals are still on the table.  All of them cut the corporate and individual income tax rates while expanding the sales tax to cover more services. 

Alexandra Sirota of the liberal North Carolina Justice Center says that disproportionately benefits the wealthy.

NC House
Jessica Jones

House legislators have passed a tax reform plan in a committee hearing that would establish a flat personal income tax.

House Bill 998 is one of three competing proposals to reform North Carolina's tax code. Republican representative David Lewis is the bill's main sponsor.

NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

Lawmakers in the state House have given final approval to a bill that would repeal the Racial Justice Act.

It's a law that gives death row inmates the chance to appeal their sentences if they can prove racial bias was a factor in their cases.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

House lawmakers have tentatively passed a bill that would repeal the Racial Justice Act, a landmark law that allows death row prisoners to appeal their sentences on the basis of racial bias.

Republican Representative Sarah Stevens told her colleagues that there should be better ways to eliminate racism from juries and trials.

Reverend William Barber addresses the Moral Mondays rally at the capitol, NAACP protest
Jessica Jones

151 people were arrested at the General Assembly Monday night. It was the fifth “Moral Monday” demonstration at the legislature, and it was the largest yet.

Police estimate that at least a thousand people crowded the mall behind the building to protest Republican policies on everything from education to tax cuts.  They started gathering on the Halifax Mall late yesterday afternoon.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

State lawmakers have formally laid out three competing plans to reform North Carolina's tax code.

They've filed three bills that would all lower sales and income tax rates. The measures would all expand the sales tax base by broadening it to include more services. But each plan features different details.

Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh
Dave DeWitt

Lawmakers in the State House have passed a compromise measure that would give state and Raleigh city officials more time to work out a lease to create a destination park.

The bill would give officials a year to work out a different lease agreement for the city's Dorothea Dix property. It would dissolve the current lease signed by then-Democratic governor Beverly Perdue and Raleigh city officials.

Representative Deborah Ross
NC Legislature

A longtime state legislator is resigning from her post after a decade of public service.

Democratic Representative Deborah Ross announced earlier this month that she was taking a job as the general counsel of the Triangle Transit Authority. Her last official day at the legislature is Saturday.

Ross told House lawmakers that she will miss both her Democratic and Republican friends.

A student at McDougle Elementary School.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

  A North Carolina House Committee approved yesterday a bill that would provide funding to low income families wanting to go to private or religious schools Host Frank Stasio talks about that and other education-related news with WUNC Raleigh Bureau Chief and Education Reporter Dave Dewitt.

North Carolina State Legislature
Dave Crosby / Flickr

A legislative committee has approved a measure that would allow low-income students to get taxpayer money to attend private schools.

The bill, called the Opportunity Scholarship Act, would set aside ten million dollars for two thousand scholarships beginning on July first. $40 million more dollars would be set aside for students the following year.

North Carolina State Legislature
Dave Crosby / Flickr

In 2002, North Carolina was the first state in the country to establish a system of full public financing for its high court judges. The law was enacted after huge sums of money began flooding into court elections across the country.

Many observers say the system helps take politics out of judicial elections and encourages the best candidates to run.  North Carolina’s judicial financing system is widely seen as a national model. Since it was created, legislators in New Mexico, Wisconsin and West Virginia have been inspired to create their own public funding programs too.

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

If you've gone to the legislature these past four Mondays, you likely encountered a group of demonstrators singing, chanting, holding hands and raising signs. And a lot of them are getting arrested. Since April 29th, 153 people have been arrested at what the NAACP and other organizers are calling "Moral Mondays."

A group of community members and scholars joined host Frank Stasio on WUNC's The State of Things to talk about the recent arrests, as well as the theory and history behind civil disobedience on a global scale.

NC House
Jessica Jones

Lawmakers in the House have approved a bill that would allow the Department of Transportation to add new toll lanes to interstate highways, but only if some of the old lanes are kept toll-free.

The new toll lanes would essentially be express lanes, with less congestion and higher speed limits. Republican representative John Faircloth says North Carolina's roads are desperately in need of funding. Faircloth says he agrees with Representative Jeff Collins, who is the bill's sponsor.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Lawmakers in the State Senate have presented a $20.6 billion budget proposal. It would spend slightly less than Governor McCrory’s plan and offers no raises for state employees.  The plan would also increase state Medicaid spending by about $300 million and make big changes to the State Bureau of Investigation.
 
Republican budget writer Senator Pete Brunstetter told reporters earlier today that he knows this is a tough budget plan. He says its purpose is to make sure the state lives within its means.

North Carolina State Legislature
Dave Crosby / Flickr

The deadline for Crossover hit the North Carolina General Assembly yesterday, striking some bills dead for the session. The self-imposed deadline requires that legislation pass at least one chamber to stay under consideration.

A variety of legislation was pushed through this week, including measures that would reform the grievance process for fired state workers, allow health insurers in health exchanges to refuse coverage for abortion and a law that would ban the Muslim Sharia law in North Carolina.

 North Carolina House Chamber
Jessica Jones

Lawmakers have wrapped up crossover week, where bills that don't require tax changes or spending must make it through one chamber or expire. Now they're set to focus on their biggest task- negotiating the state budget. Senate leaders plan to release their budget plan Sunday night.

The anti-tax advocate, Grover Norquist, visited state legislators today to praise their efforts to lower personal and corporate income taxes.

NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

House lawmakers have passed a measure that attempts to ban the application of Islamic Sharia law in North Carolina.

House Bill 695 would prohibit North Carolina courts from applying part or all of any foreign laws that could lead to violations of constitutional rights in domestic and child custody cases. Across the country, some social conservatives have expressed fears about Islamic laws being cited in American courtrooms.

NC House
Jessica Jones

State lawmakers in the House have passed a bill that would prohibit some health plans from offering abortion coverage.

NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

A bill that would abolish regional economic development commissions has tentatively passed the state Senate.

The measure would dissolve all seven of the state's commissions. The Department of Commerce would then send at least one employee to work in one of eight newly created economic zones.

Seal of North Carolina
North Carolina Government / North Carolina Government

Lawmakers were on a tear in the North Carolina General Assembly this past week, pushing forward a slew of controversial bills.

The Senate tentatively passed a bill requiring seventh-graders to be taught that abortion can lead to premature delivery in future pregnancies. The controversy there came about because the medical conclusion is based on disputed science.

"I feel emotional about this one," said singer-songwriter Laurelyn Dossett during a State of Things news roundtable. "I have three daughters...I find it so offensive when science is used in that way."

Legislation requiring parental consent for teenagers who want STD treatment or birth control is making its way through the House. Some think that it could be counterproductive if passed.

Duke University Hospital
Duke Medecine

Senate lawmakers have passed a bill that would allow patients to compare prices for medical procedures.
Senate Bill 473 would require hospitals to make the cost of common inpatient and outpatient procedures public.

A rhodesian ridgeback puppy and mother dog.
m_h via flickr, Creative Commons

The State House has passed a bill that would require basic standards of care for commercial dog-breeding operations.

The "puppy mill bill," as it's known, would apply to facilities with more than ten breeding females. Breeders would have to provide food and water, exercise, appropriate housing, vet care, and humane euthanasia if needed.

NC Legislative Building
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

A bill that would make public educators teach students that abortions can cause preterm births is headed to the state Senate floor.

It’s one of a raft of measures introduced this session aimed at restricting and reducing the number of abortions. Senate Bill 132 would require health instructors teaching students in the seventh grade and older to include information about what the bill calls “preventable causes of preterm birth, including induced abortion.”

NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

Lawmakers in the state Senate have unveiled more details of their proposal to overhaul the state's tax code, though they haven't filed a bill yet. They propose lowering income tax rates significantly over the next three years. They also seek to lower the combined local and state sales tax to 6.5 percent.

NC House
Jessica Jones

State house lawmakers have given tentative approval to a bill that would allow concealed weapons on college campuses, at sporting events and in businesses serving alcohol, among other places.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Being on a school board is a little like being the head chef at the local Applebee’s. You don’t get to choose the ingredients and it’s not your recipe, but if someone doesn’t like the Bourbon Street Steak, you’re going to hear about it.

In other words, school boards in North Carolina have relatively little power but plenty of responsibility. And it’s been that way for a long time.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

State lawmakers in the Senate have tentatively passed a bill that would allow installment loan companies to charge customers higher interest rates and fees.

Republican Senator Rick Gunn is a sponsor of the bill. He says the lending industry hasn't had a rate increase for a long time, and that customers would also be held responsible under the measure.

"Customers need to understand their need to make their payments on time, and according to their contract," says Gunn.

William Barber, NAACP
Jessica Jones

Police at the General Assembly in Raleigh arrested 17 protesters Monday evening who were protesting inside the building.

The group, which included state NAACP head Rev. William Barber, was speaking out against a series of Republican-led bills that have been passed recently. Barber says that includes a measure that would require residents to bring photo identification with them to the polls.

Jessica Jones

Many state legislators in the General Assembly aspire to be top dog, but few of them are as popular as the real deal: a miniature Pomeranian named Diva.

The fuzzy, four-pound lap dog with a personality to match her name comes to work at the legislature every day with the people she owns, Republican representative Nathan Ramsey and his wife, Robin Ramsey, who’s a legislative assistant.

Pages