Budget Passes House, Will Head to Conference Committee
The House approved its two-year budget proposal on Thursday, clearing the way for conference committee negotiations after the Senate fails to approve the House’s changes. The difference between the two chambers’ plans is only $12 million, but there are major differences in how the money is spent. The House wants $118 million more than the Senate for salaries for teacher’s assistants next year and $50 million over two years to enable children in low-income families to attend private or religious schools. Meanwhile, the Senate wants to eliminate teacher tenure in the public schools and spend $53 million more next year on the UNC system than their counterparts. Other issues that the chambers must compromise on includes rural economic development, the use of state lottery profits, extending ferry tolling and compensation for survivors of the state’s sterilization program. The negotiations will run alongside another conference committee on tax reform.
Competing Tax Reform Proposals Move Forward
The Senate tentatively approved their comprehensive tax reform proposal on Thursday. The House already passed their version of the bill, setting the stage for conference committee negotiations to begin after the Senate gives final approval. The Senate unveiled a new tax reform proposal despite opposition from part of the Senate leadership. Senator Bob Rucho resigned his position as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee after disagreeing with Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s new plan. The Senate version of H998 would eliminate the corporate income tax by 2017, and replace the business franchise tax with a flat privilege license tax to be applied to limited liability companies and companies organized as corporations. The Senate plan would also reduce the individual income tax to 5.25 percent by 2015 and create a zero tax bracket. The plan would also eliminate the majority of exemptions, deductions, and credits. Meanwhile, the House version of H998 would reduce the corporate income tax to 5.4 percent and reduce the franchise tax from $1.50 to $1.35 per $1000. The House plan would reduce the individual income tax to 5.9 percent in 2014.
Please click here
for a summary of the House proposal.
Please click here
for a summary of the Senate proposal.
Senate Passes Concealed Carry Bill
A measure expanding the places where people can carry or store concealed firearms and repealing a requirement for a license to buy a handgun passed the Senate on Thursday. The bill, which had already passed the House, was expanded in the Senate. Included in the bill are tougher gun-related penalties and would require clerks of court to report mental health findings to a national database. The bill also allows concealed-carry permit holders to take weapons to places where alcohol is served or events that charge admission as long as an owner does not forbid it. The Senate added parades and funeral processions to the places people can take concealed weapons legally. Supporters of the bill argue that the expanded gun laws would keep the people of North Carolina safer. Meanwhile, opponents of the legislation claim that it would give more people easy access to firearms.
Fracking Bill Heads to Conference Committee
The House passed a new version of Senate Bill 76
, aimed at opening North Carolina to hydraulic fracturing and offshore drilling. The House version would begin issuing permits for oil and gas drillers in March 2015 but would not make them effective until the General Assembly authorizes them. The original Senate version would allow state agencies to begin issuing permits in March 2015 without legislative approval. The House version would also ban disposal of wastewater underground, create a larger fund to address environmental disasters and require oil company representatives to register with the state. The Senate voted not to accept the changes made in the House so a conference committee will be appointed to work out the differences.
Racial Justice Act Repeal Heads to Governor
A bill that would clear the way for executions to resume in North Carolina is heading to Governor Pat McCrory’s desk after receiving final legislative approval Wednesday. The Senate approved changes made by the House to a bill that would repeal the Racial Justice Act (RJA). The RJA is a 2009 bill that allows convicted murderers to reduce a death sentence to life in prison if they can prove that race played a major role in their conviction. The bill would also protect medical professionals from disciplinary action for assisting in an execution. Those in favor of the repeal argue that the RJA allows almost any death-row inmate to appeal, including white murderers convicted by white juries. Meanwhile, those against the repeal argue that race has been a factor in the conviction of many death-row inmates.
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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
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Katy Feinberg, Strategic Communications