This week the Senate was all about money. On Tuesday, the Senate unveiled its budget proposal for the fiscal biennium. The bill moved through the Senate this week with final approval on Friday. Things were relatively quiet in the House this week.
State and Legislative Issues
The Senate gave final approval to its budget on Friday after a whirlwind week of committee meetings and floor votes. The bill sparked debate on the floor. The bill will now return to the House. The House is almost certain to reject the Senate version of the bill and the conference process will begin to reconcile the two versions. There are several significant differences between the Senate version of the roughly $24 billion General Fund annual budget and the version passed by the House a few weeks earlier. Key differences include:
- The Senate version contains less generous pay increases for teachers than the House version, but more generous pay increases for other state employees.
- The Senate version proposes moving the headquarters of the Department of Health and Human Service from Raleigh to a location in Granville County. The move would affect approximately 2,300 state employees. Plans were already being considered to move the headquarters to another location. The headquarters is currently located on the old Dorothea Dix Campus, which was sold to the City of Raleigh several years ago for the creation of a public park.
- The Senate waded into the dispute between the UNC System and Vidant Health over governance of the Vidant Medical Center in Greenville (the teaching hospital associated with the ECU Brody School of Medicine). The Senate provision could result in a $35 million hit to Vidant Health. Senate leaders are also considering ending the relationship with Vidant Medical Center and the construction of an entirely new hospital in Greenville to serve as the teaching hospital for ECU.
Senate and House disagree on raises for teachers, other state employees (Charlotte Observer)
NC Senate considers revoking Greenville hospital’s status as ECU’s teaching facility (Raleigh News & Observer)
SB 315, North Carolina Farm Act of 2019, received a hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee this week. Almost two-thirds of the bill deals with creating a regulatory infrastructure regarding hemp in response to federal legislation loosening restrictions on hemp production. Law enforcement officials have warned that the legislation could make it difficult to prosecute crimes with respect to marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are closely related, and law enforcement officials have argued that the enforcement challenges presented by the difficulty in telling the two plants apart could result in an almost de facto legalization of marijuana in the state.
Abortion Veto Override Vote Scheduled
SB 359, Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, was vetoed by the Governor on April 18. The Senate voted to override that veto on April 30. For most of the month of May, a motion to override has been on and off the House calendar. House leaders have questioned whether they had enough votes (a 60 percent majority) to override the veto, and therefore have delayed the vote. On Wednesday, House Speaker Tim Moore announced that the wait is over – the House will vote on the motion to override on Wednesday, June 5. The outlook is uncertain, with the vote expected to be extremely close.
NC House schedules vote on ‘born alive’ abortion bill (Raleigh News & Observer)
Local Issues – Raleigh
In a first of its kind installation in the United States, downtown Raleigh businesses will begin using six high-capacity containers to collect trash, mixed recycling, and cardboard as part of a pilot project. The containers will be located mostly underground near the corner of Wilmington and Hargett Streets and will reduce the need for unsightly trash bins located on the street. The City will evaluate the program after six months to determine whether it should be expanded to cover the rest of the downtown area.
- New app will let NC middle- and high-schoolers report suspicious campus behavior (Charlotte Observer)
- Disaster Aid Bill Delayed Once Again On Capitol Hill (Spectrum News)
- UNC Charlotte won’t use site of last month’s shooting next year, chancellor says (Charlotte Observer)