Three and a half weeks into the new state fiscal year we have no newly adjusted budget, and the passage of important bills has slowed to a trickle, but there's a distinct uptick in hostage-taking of bills.
This week the Senate met with the Governor and some lead House budget writers in an attempt to close a deal on the budget. As of today, we hear they may be close; the Medicaid program is the outlier issue.
On teacher pay, it occurs to us that with the House staked out at 6% pay raises for teachers plus preserving the jobs of teacher assistants but the Senate staked out at 11% pay raises for teachers funded in part through eliminating teacher assistants, the logical compromise is to require a certain percentage pay increase for teachers to be determined by local school districts with additional monies dedicated to either further increased pay raises or teacher assistants, but for no other purpose. We hear that idea is floating around and it would be a political win-win for Republicans at this point if political wins are available in late July.
The Senate continues to work on its Medicaid structure and funding bill and that has kept the Legislative Building hopping during this otherwise quiet week. The Senate version of HB 1181 - Medicaid Modernization is here: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/PDF/H1181v5.pdf
House Members have a full calendar today for the first time this week. In fact, today is the 4th House Calendar with votes this July. Most House Members were in Raleigh yesterday to attend the funeral services of Rep. Fulghum who died last week very quickly after a cancer diagnosis. WRAL's Laura Leslie wrote a nice story about him here: http://www.wral.com/rep-fulghum-dies-after-ongoing-cancer-treatments/13825831/.
The NC Bar and LegalZoom continue to try to draft a compromise bill at the urging of Senate Leadership. Our blog post from earlier this week includes the language that's floating around the halls. The bill is in Senate Rules. We hear the House won't take it up this session. Check out our earlier blog post here: http://ncstategov.blogspot.com/2014/07/legalzoom-or-illegalzoom.html
The snail's pace of work in Raleigh is causing reporters to see which legislators are collecting per diem while not working in Raleigh ($104/day, 7days/week) and how much it costs to keep the building open and functioning ($50,000/day while in session) during these dog days of summer.
Many legislators and other folks who roam the halls planned family vacations for late in the summer when session adjourned and we had some time to wrap up reports and mail our thank you notes, but we're now going on those vacations (me) and next week many legislators will attend the ALEC legislative conference in Dallas with legislators from all over the country. Here's ALEC's website: http://www.alec.org/.
Now just a snapshot of some of the bills we've been watching this session. Consider it to be the photo of the hostage holding a newspaper with today's date:
HB 1224 - Local Taxing Authority and Economic Development is on the Senate Calendar for 3rd reading. It is expected to pass and then the House must vote whether concur or conference. This bill contains economic development funding as well as limits (in some counties)/enhances (in other counties) the ability to raise revenue through additional local sales tax. Many of you have asked about the crowdfunding language; it's in there. The latest version is here. http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/PDF/H1224v3.pdf
SB 812 - Repeal Common Core was signed by the Governor this week and is now law. http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/Senate/PDF/S812v7.pdf
SB 793 - Charter School Modifications now has a conference report and the Senate has placed it on the calendar. The House has not yet filed its copy. The conference report is here: http://www.ncleg.net/Applications/BillLookUp/LoadBillDocument.aspx?SessionCode=2013&DocNum=9534&SeqNum=0
SB 38 - Amend Environmental Laws needs Senate concurrence in House changes. The Senate Clerk has held it since June 24th. The bill is here: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/Senate/PDF/S38v5.pdf
SB 729 - Coal Ash is in conference. We hear the conference committee has nearly completed its work but we haven't seen a draft yet.
SB 853 - Business Court Modernization awaits concurrence and sits in the Senate Rules Committee.
HB 1101 and HB 1102 on Mechanics Liens await Senate floor action and sit in the Senate Rules Committee.
SB 493 - Healthcare Regulatory Reform is in the tiny and non-meeting Senate Ways and Means Committee. See the bill here (possibly exclusively): http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/Senate/PDF/S493v6.pdf SB 734 - Regulatory Reform is also there. http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/Senate/PDF/S734v6.pdf.