News: CJ Exclusives

NCGA Preview: Week of May 31

Budget deal may conclude quickly; House offers a continuing resolution in case it doesn’t

Entering the Memorial Day weekend, it looked as if the North Carolina Senate might complete a budget for the next two years as early as today. Now it is unclear how quickly a final budget vote will take place.

Last week, Senate leaders appeared to be negotiating a deal that the five House Democrats who approved that body’s budget plan would accept. Under that scenario, the Senate would tack on an extra $300 million in education spending and add specific provisions requested by those Democrats. In return, the House would concur with the Senate budget and send that proposal to Gov. Bev Perdue. If the Democrats held fast, their votes would give the budget a sufficient majority to override Perdue’s anticipated veto.

If the bill is not finalized and voted on today, it still may be completed before the end of the week.

Key bills

The House will take a final vote on House Bill 439, a continuing resolution that would prevent a government shutdown if the governor and legislature cannot reach a budget agreement by June 30. The bill would allow state spending to continue at current levels until a budget was adopted.

Republican leaders have tacked a continuation of expired unemployment benefits onto the bill to entice Perdue to sign it. The governor vetoed similar legislation
last month that would have continued state spending at 87 percent of current levels.

House Bill 709, Protect and Put NC Back to Work, also is up for a vote on the House floor today. The bill is intended to create jobs by protecting employers from frivolous worker’s compensation claims.

House Bill 503, Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold at School, is up for a final vote on the House floor today. The bill applies federal nutrition standards to all food sold at school, including food sold in bake sales and other fundraisers.

Major legislation

House Bill 115, North Carolina Health Benefit Exchange, Rep. Jerry Dockham, R-Davidson

House Bill 845, Annexation Reform Act of 2011, Rep. Stephen LaRoque, R-Lenoir

House Bill 439, Allow EB Look Back/ Continue Expenditures 2011, Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland

House Bill 188, Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford

Key committee hearings

A list of the regularly scheduled House Committee meetings can be found here.

• The House Education Committee will hear House Bill 588, The Founding Principles Act, today at 10 a.m. The bill would require high school students to take a course in the principles underlying the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers and the writings of the founders.

• The House Commerce and Job Development Committee will hear Rep. Glen Bradley’s jobs bill – House Bill 587 – Wednesday at 10 a.m. The bill is intended to create jobs by repealing regulations.

House Bill 241, the North Carolina Firearms Freedom Act, another Bradley bill, will be heard in the House Judiciary A Committee Wednesday, also at 10 a.m. The bill would exempt firearms manufactured, sold and maintained within the state’s borders from federal regulation.

• The Joint Legislative Committee on New Licensing Boards will hear House Bill 522, the Midwifery Licensing Act, Wednesday at 4 p.m. The bill would provide a legal avenue for midwives to attend women wishing to give birth at home.

Sara Burrows is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.