NCGA

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

This week on the WUNCPolitics Podcast, a conversation about the state budget, journalism and accusations of being a jihadist. Following spending proposals from the Governor, House, and Senate over the past few months, lawmakers passed a budget compromise this week. The $23 billion fiscal blueprint includes a $530 million tax cut, an average 3.3-percent raise for teachers, and a 1-percent pension bump for state retirees. Naturally Republicans are hailing the plan, while most Democrats contend the budget document doesn’t do enough for middle-class families and education.

North Carolina legislative building
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

A wild day at the North Carolina General Assembly began with bipartisan support for a $200 million disaster relief bill and ended with an unscheduled special session, dozens of new bills, and an effort to remove some authority from Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper.

In a chaotic scene of political theater, Republicans flexed their legislative muscles and proposed a series of provisions that would remove certain powers from the Executive Branch, including the Secretary of State and Governor. 

Phil Berger Jr.
Phil Berger for Judge Campaign

A familiar name in state politics could have a prime spot on this fall's ballot because of a proposal passed by state lawmakers.

Phil Berger Jr. is the son of Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), one of the most powerful officials in North Carolina. The younger Berger is a former district attorney who again is seeking public office after losing a bid for the state's 6th Congressional District seat in 2014.

coal ash
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Republican lawmakers and Governor Pat McCrory have reached a compromise over coal ash avoiding another round in the courts.

Photo: Senate Leader Phil Berger, a Republican from Rockingham County
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

A plan introduced Wednesday at the legislature by Senate Republicans would increase average annual teacher pay, and move North Carolina to the top of compensation in the southeast. The plan is significant in size, and represents a bargaining chip in the ongoing budget negotiations between the Senate and House.

Middle school student Jojo works on a math assignment at Concord Middle.
Reema Khrais / WUNC

Lawmakers in a House committee on education spending released their budget proposal Thursday, and it includes several policy changes. One of those is  an adjustment to the A-F school grading system.

NC House Democrats Seek to Expand State LGBT Protections

May 11, 2016
rainbow flag
Ted via Flickr/Creative Commons

Democrats in the North Carolina House have filed a bill to expand state protections to include sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status and familial status.

Greensboro Representative Chris Sgro is one of the sponsors of House Bill 1078, dubbed the “Equality for All Act”.  He called it the most comprehensive set of non-discrimination protections ever introduced in the General Assembly.

NC General Assembly
Jorge Valencia

A powerful Senate Republican floated the idea of letting voters decide the fate of House Bill 2, while lawmakers began the protracted budget debate in Raleigh on Wednesday.

sembly building as the House and Senate adjourned.
Jess Clark

It was a bustling first day back at the General Assembly with multiple protests, a national media presence, and legislative efforts to reverse a controversial measure that was passed last month during a special session.

Lawmakers from across the state convened in Raleigh Monday for the start of the short legislative session. Policymakers are tasked primarily with reworking the budget during odd-year sessions, however, with the spotlight on the state's new so called "bathroom bill" the fiscal agenda is not the top story on Jones St.

NC General Assembly
Jorge Valencia

North Carolina has been the epicenter of a national controversy for more than a week, after state lawmakers convened a special session to undo a Charlotte ordinance aimed at providing protections to people who are transgender. The General Assembly enacted legislation that superseded that local ordinance, and also went further in scope.

NC General Assembly
Jorge Valencia

With Super Tuesday in the books, presidential campaigns are  focusing on Florida, Ohio and North Carolina in advance of a March 15th Primary. That's when North Carolinians head to the polls to select party nominees for president, governor and the state legislature. In total, there are 340 General Assembly primary races on the ballot.

However, only a few of those contests are expected to be competitive.

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.

State Senator Tom Apodaca
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Another powerful member of the North Carolina Senate will retire next year. Republican Tom Apodaca of Henderson County will not seek an eighth term in the General Assembly.

A 7-hour committee meeting carried on Wednesday at the Capitol. Refugees, open meetings and prison maintenance contracts were among the topics.
Jeff Tiberii

Two members of the Governor's Cabinet say the renewal of prison maintenance contracts to a campaign donor did not violate any laws.

State Budget Director Lee Roberts and Department of Public Safety Director Frank Perry answered questions from lawmakers during a grueling seven hour meeting of the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations at the Capitol on Wednesday.

Janet Cowell
nctreasurer.com

State Treasurer Janet Cowell will not seek re-election in 2016. The former Raleigh City Council member was first elected to the statewide post in 2008. She is the first woman to serve in the position.

NC State House
NCGA

Following 11 weeks of waiting, dozens of closed-door negotiations and an undetermined number of offers, proposals, phone calls, arguments, lobbyist exchanges and dinner deliveries - we have a budget deal.

"This budget is a net tax cut," proclaimed House Rules Chair David Lewis (R-Harnett) on the floor Thursday night.

"We know this is a good budget, there is a lot of stuff in this budget we like."

Taxes
www.irs.com

Politicos across the state are sifting through the 429-page budget bill - as well as the generally easier-to-follow 207-page money report - after its release late Monday night. The spending plan for the two fiscal years beginning July 1 is complicated, dense, and spotted with policy changes - including money for Medicaid reform and changes to the tax code, among other provisions.

Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty license plate
North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles / https://edmv.ncdot.gov/VehicleRegistration/SpecialPlate/Detail?PlateID=62#term=

Two of the most powerful officials in the state are pointing fingers at each other in a dispute over who has the authority to stop the production of Confederate license plates. Governor Pat McCrory and Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger claim to lack the authority to mandate that the DMV to no longer issue the controversial plates.

Governor McCrory's recommended budget
NC Office of State Budget and Management

Government employees across the state are working on budgets this month. Officials in rural towns, big cities and the Capitol are finalizing spending plans for the fiscal year beginning July 1st. But the process, speed and  public involvement required to craft a fiscal blueprint can vary significantly.

A couple of weeks ago, House lawmakers held a marathon floor session where they debated their budget proposal for more than eight hours. Toward the end of the debate, senior Republican budget writer Nelson Dollar rose from his seat to make a final pitch.

One of Progress Energy's solar energy farms.
Duke Energy / Progress Energy

The General Assembly is caught up in a possible overhaul of the state’s commitment to renewable energy. A bill moving through the state legislature would scale back the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (REPS).

 

REPS are important because they mandate how much renewable energy a company like Duke Energy produces as a part of its total electricity sales.

 

North Carolina State Legislature
Dave Crosby / Flickr

Like a flight that keeps getting delayed, House budget deliberations never took off on Wednesday.

The setbacks points to the slow, complex process of passing a state spending plan. They also hint at some divisions and philosophical differences within the Republican Party.

The $22.2 billion budget draft unveiled earlier this week has faced criticism from some conservatives.

Wells
wikimedia

  A superior court judge in Wake County today halted fracking in the state. The court order prohibits the Mining and Energy Commission from accepting or processing fracking permits. The decision is a temporary legal victory for environmental groups across the state.Meanwhile, at the legislature, House representatives are preparing to debate a $22.2 billion spending plan. The initial proposal includes more money for teachers, state employees and incentives. Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC reporters Dave Dewitt and Jeff Tiberii about the latest.

North Carolina legislative building
Wikimedia Commons

Lawmakers in the North Carolina House will debate a two-year spending plan Wednesday. Discussion over the budget draft began last week.

This $22.2 billion proposal would increase state spending by more than $1.3 billion, or six percent.

Lead budget writer Republican Nelson Dollar quickly attributed much of that boost to enrollment growth in Medicaid, public schools and the UNC system.

The House budget also includes $158 million dollars in grants and incentives. It provides raises to all state employees and increases funds for charter school vouchers.

An image of a tanning bed in use
Wikipedia

Legislation that would ban minors from using tanning beds is heading to the Governor's desk. State Senators gave overwhelming support to House Bill 158 - "The Teen Skin Cancer Prevention Act" on Wednesday afternoon.

This proposal would ban anyone under 18 from using a tanning bed. Presently, teenagers ages 14 to 17 can artificially tan with written parental consent. A similar proposal died in the Senate two years ago after it did not receive a vote.

Pat McCrory
Dave DeWitt

Governor Pat McCrory and Senate Leader Phil Berger expect debate on an economic development measure this month. The powerful Republicans had lunch together Tuesday, and hours later spoke at an NC Chamber event in Raleigh.

McCrory said he “expects action and debate in the next two weeks and I think that’s very good news.”

The North Carolina Legislative Building
Dave Crosby / flickr

Lawmakers are weighing in on Volvo's decision to bring at least 2,000 jobs to South Carolina. The car maker announced Monday that it plans to open a production facility outside of Charleston.

Unemployment lines
Wikimedia

State officials have paid down $2.8 billion owed to the federal government. The debt came from money used to pay unemployment benefits during the recession.

That debt climbed to $2.8 billion in early 2013. Months later, lawmakers then passed controversial House Bill 4, which did the following:

Photo: Protesters gathered at the North Carolina General Assembly building on the second anniversary of what's become known as "Moral Monday" rallies.
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

Hundreds of protesters returned to the North Carolina General Assembly on Wednesday afternoon, renewing a call on Republican state leaders to reverse several landmark pieces of legislation approved since 2011.

On the second anniversary of what’s become known as “Moral Monday” rallies, protesters gathered outside the legislative building, while some chanted inside the building beside the Senate and House chamber doors.

NC State House
NCGA

Policymakers at the General Assembly are pushing through dozens of measures with a Thursday deadline looming.

On Tuesday, Representatives pushed through about 30 measures. Most of the bills now heading to the Senate passed following little contention or debate, and with overwhelming support. Among the proposals:

School Boards Keep Power To Sue

The House debated SB 353 today.
Screen Shot, WRAL Broadcast

Republican lawmakers are proposing changes to North Carolina abortion laws. A bill filed Wednesday would ban employees at state university medical schools from performing abortions and require a longer waiting period before the procedure is allowed.

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