NCGA Week in Review – March 4 – March 8

March 8, 2013

Pardon Our Dust

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Legislative Leaders Begin Working Toward Voter ID Bill

House leaders are working toward a voter ID bill that would require voters to show photo identification along with their voter registration to prevent election fraud. The bill would be a standalone measure requiring photo ID, but other measures to increase ballot security could be added. A public hearing has been set for next Tuesday, where citizens can give their opinions on the issue. A panel discussion will also be held at a later date involving people from both sides of the issue. Legislative leaders said that no bills would be filed on the issue until after the hearing, and plan to give the bill its due diligence by moving slowly. House members stated that they did not believe the bill would make it to the floor until April. Opponents of the legislation believe that requirements such as photo identification could disenfranchise poor, elderly, and disabled voters who are less likely to have a photo ID. Those for the legislation claim that requiring photo identification would increase voter confidence in the integrity of elections.
Governor McCrory Signs Four Bills
Governor McCrory signed four bills into law this week. The most notable of these is Senate Bill 4, which blocked North Carolina from creating a state health care exchange and expanding Medicaid as called for under the federal Affordable Care Act. The bill would have expanded the Medicaid system to include thousands more citizens and would have been fully funded by the federal government for the first three years, and ninety percent funded by the federal government after that. House Bill 5, which gave group homes and Alzheimer’s care units access to $40 million to deal with Medicaid coverage changes involving personal care services, was signed into law on Wednesday. Governor McCrory finally guaranteed Brasstown’s possums’ future employment by signing House Bill 66, also referred to as the Opossum Right to Work Act, which allows Brasstown’s annual New Year’s Eve Possum Drop celebration to continue. The bill grants authority to the Wildlife Resource Commission to issue permits to trap and display a wild animal for certain public events. The Governor also signed a bill creating harsher penalties for protesting a funeral. The bill is a response to groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church, which protests at many military funerals.
MetLife Brings 2,600 Jobs to NC
Insurer MetLife could receive up to $100 million in incentives in return for bringing 2,600 jobs to North Carolina. The jobs are moving from the four Northeast states to lower-cost locations in Charlotte and Cary. Charlotte will become MetLife’s United States headquarters for retail business. The new jobs have an average salary of $82,000. Jobs in Charlotte would include project managers, marketing, sales, and customer support Cary would be home to many of MetLife’s information technology jobs. A spokesman for MetLife claimed that North Carolina’s strong business climate, access to outstanding colleges and universities, and good cost of living are some of the reason’s the company decided to move.
Senate Adds Major Amendment to Red Route Bill
The Senate tentatively agreed on Wednesday to direct the Department of Transportation to review an alternate route for Raleigh’s outer beltline loop, Interstate 540. The alternate route, known as the Red Route, must be studied before federal money can begin coming to the project again. The Red Route would run through several neighborhoods in Garner and put several acres of wetlands in jeopardy. The route stands little chance of being built, but it has to be fully studied for federal money to continue to flow down to the State. The Senate amended the bill this week, adding a provision that would remove a state mandate for Department of Transportation funding for three specific projects. By removing the mandate, $63 million in funding for the Mid-Currituck Bridge, Garden Parkway, and Cape Fear Skyway projects would be placed into the mobility fund. The mobility fund is spent on projects of statewide or regional significance that reduce traffic congestion.
Boards and Commissions Bill Heads to Conference Committee
The Senate disagreed with the changes the House made to Senate Bill 10, voting against concurrence in a 48-2 vote. Senate Bill 10, the Government Reorganization and Efficiency Act, would remove 160 members of numerous state boards and commissions. The House removed part of the bill which would remove a dozen special Superior Court judges. Senate leaders will push hard for the judges to be added back into the bill in conference committee. The bill would remove members of the Industrial Commission, the Coastal Resources Commission, the Wildlife Resources Commission, the Utilities Commission and the state Lottery Commission. Under the bill, many members would be removed immediately or over the next months or years.

Please contact the Raleigh McGuireWoods Consulting team if you have any questions or comments:

Harry Kaplan, Senior Vice-President
Jeff Barnhart, Senior Vice-President
Franklin Freeman, Senior Vice-President
John Merritt, Senior Vice-President
Johnny Tillett, Senior Vice-President
Rita Harris, Vice-President
Bo Heath, Vice-President
Kerri Burke, Assistant Vice-President
Sarah Wolfe, Research Assistant
Katy Feinberg, Strategic Communications