News: CJ Exclusives

NCGA Preview: Week of May 9

Senate takes up budget, other issues on the back burner

House lawmakers had their say on a spending plan for the new fiscal year. Now senators get a crack at it. On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee will start debate on a $19.3 billion budget passed largely along party lines in the House last week.

Although Senate leaders have suggested they’ll make minor tweaks to the budget, particularly in the area of public education, the latest indications are that the Senate might pass the House version of the budget as is. The goal is to avoid alienating the five Democrats who joined the Republican caucus in passing the budget in the House.

Regardless of how the final version shakes out, Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue is expected to veto it. Last week, Perdue was confident that her party would be united in their opposition, suggesting her allies would vote to sustain her veto.

Tax hikes proposed

Meanwhile, House Democrats have filed a bevy of stand-alone bills to renew existing taxes or impose new ones, priorities that Republicans left out of the budget.

Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, is the chief sponsor of a measure to extend a “temporary” income tax surcharge on single filers earning more than $60,000 per year and married couples making over $100,000. The tax increase is set up expire June 30.

Luebke also filed a bill that would create a new income-tax rate — 8.5 percent — for married couples who earn over $1 million per year or single filers who bring home $600,000 or more. Other Democrats introduced a measure to “temporarily extend the temporary” 1-cent sales tax increase for another two years.

That tax will expire June 30 as well. None of the bills are likely to gain traction in the Republican-controlled House.

Other bills

The House is expected to take a final vote on House Bill 483, DNA Samples/Additional Felonies, Monday night. The measure would expand law enforcement officers’ ability to collect DNA samples from suspects arrested for felonies. It gained tentative approval last week in a 73-44 vote.

On Wednesday, a House judiciary subcommittee could vote on a bill that would require physicians to provide more information to a pregnant woman prior to performing an abortion. The committee heard testimony on the bill last week.

On the Senate side, a bill to expand North Carolina’s ability to drill for natural gas off the coast is scheduled for floor debate Tuesday. The measure also would require Perdue to enter into a regional compact with Virginia and South Carolina on the issue.

Legislative leaders have put several high-profile bills on the back burner during budget negotiations. Among them are proposals to reform North Carolina’s medical liability law and charter-school structure.

In addition, the Senate has yet to take up a proposed constitutional amendment approved by the House limiting leaders of both chambers to no more than two terms in office.

MAJOR LEGISLATION

House Bill 200, Appropriations Act of 2011, Rep. Harold Brubaker, R-Randolph

Senate Bill 323, State Hlth Plan/Appropriations & Transfer II, Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson

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

Senate Bill 8, No Cap on Number of Charter Schools, Sen. Richard Stevens, R-Wake

Senate Bill 33, Medical Liability Reforms, Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson

KEY COMMITTEE HEARINGS

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

• The House Education Committee will hear House Bill 823, Governance of the Dep’t of Public Instruction, at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 10.

• The House Insurance Committee will hear House Bill 115, North Carolina Health Benefit Exchange, at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10.

• The House Transportation Committee will hear House Bill 289, Authorize Various Special Plates, at noon on Tuesday, May 10.

• The Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee will meet at noon on Tuesday, May 10, to continue hearing a report on the Global TransPark.

NEW BILLS

House Bill 928, State Health Plan Solvency Reform Act, Rep. Dale Folwell, R-Forsyth

House Bill 927, State Pension Plan Solvency Reform Act, Rep. Dale Folwell, R-Forsyth

House Bill 913, Amend Constitution/State Savings Fund, Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake

David N. Bass is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.