Almost three weeks into the new fiscal year, the State budget stalemate continues with no clear path to resolution. On the other hand, the legislature appears to be winding down its work on other issues for the long session as the number of bills moving has declined and the House and Senate have shorter work weeks.
In local news, candidate filing for local elections ended today at noon in Mecklenburg and Wake Counties.
State and Legislative Issues
For the second week in a row, a motion to override the Governor’s veto of the state budget appeared on the House calendar every day, but the week passed without any action on the motion. The Governor vetoed H 966 on June 28. Because it is a House bill, the motion to override must first pass the House before heading to the Senate. The lack of action on the override motion indicates that House leadership has not been certain the motion would pass. A motion to override must pass with 60 percent of the vote, rather than the simple majority usually required for legislation to pass. Republicans control both chambers in the General Assembly, but do not have a 60 percent majority in either chamber – meaning that they either need to convince some Democrats to vote with them to override or hold the vote when a significant number of Democrats are absent. The key item of contention between the Governor and the legislature is the issue of Medicaid expansion – the Governor wants it, but the Republican-led legislature opposes it. Each side has accused the other of holding the budget process hostage by refusing to negotiate over this issue.
On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill to draw down and appropriate certain federal funds while the budget impasse remains. A similar bill was approved by the House last week, but the Senate approach differs in several key ways. Most significantly, the Senate bill is more narrowly focused on drawing down federal funds, whereas the House bill contains a handful of high-priority State appropriations such as funding enrollment growth in the public schools.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted to lift the enrollment cap on virtual charter schools. The House had previously approved the bill, so the bill now goes to the Governor for action. The provision was somewhat controversial due to the fact that both of the State’s current virtual charter schools have been labeled as “low-performing” under the State’s testing system for each year of the schools’ operation. Opponents of the bill, including the North Carolina Association of Educators and the North Carolina Justice Center, are urging the Governor to veto the bill.
New data released by the Department of Public Instruction shows that the growth in charter schools, homeschools, and private schools has led to a reduction in the percentage of students attending traditional public schools. For the fourth year in a row, the percentage of students attending traditional public schools dropped. For the 2018-19 school year, the percentage of students attending traditional public schools was 79.9 percent, down from 86.4 percent in the 2010-11 school year. The decrease in the percentage of students attending traditional schools is due in part to policies enacted over the last decade that have increased the number of charter schools and have provided financial assistance to parents choosing to send their children to private schools.
NC lawmakers let virtual charter schools add more students despite low test scores (Raleigh News & Observer)
1 in 5 NC students don’t attend traditional public schools, new figures show (Charlotte Observer)
On Tuesday, the Senate gave final approval to a bill that would bring numerous changes to the regulation of alcohol in North Carolina. The bill now awaits action by the Governor. Among the changes included in the bill are the following:
- Allowing the holder of a distillery permit to obtain permits for on-premises consumption of malt beverages, wine, and mixed beverages.
- Allowing ABC stores to sell single bottles of liquor purchased through the special order process and to sell the remaining quantity in the store. Currently, the special order process requires the customer requesting the special order to purchase the entire case.
- Allowing liquor tastings to be conducted in ABC stores.
- Allowing beer tastings at farmers’ markets.
- Allowing the sale of more than one drink to a customer at a time.
- Allowing the sale and consumption of alcohol at bingo games.
- Authorizing a common area entertainment permit for common areas in multi-tenant establishments (such as malls and food halls) that would allow customers to exit a permitted premises with an open container and consume the alcohol in the common area of the multi-tenant establishment.
Senate passes alcohol reform bill; awaits governor’s signature (Carolina Journal)
Two separate bills that would classify smokable hemp as marijuana advanced in the House on Wednesday. The Finance Committee approved a version of the Farm Act of 2019, SB 315, that contained the provision, while the Judiciary Committee approved a version of SB 352, Amend NC Controlled Substances Act, that contained the provision. Smokable hemp contains CBD, which is alleged to have numerous health benefits, but contains only trace amounts of THC, the component responsible for marijuana’s high. However, smokable hemp and marijuana are virtually indistinguishable without chemical analysis – they look and smell the same. Law enforcement has argued that allowing the sale, possession, and consumption of smokable hemp would be tantamount to a de facto legalization of marijuana. The bills will likely be up in the House next week. The provisions set up a fight with the Senate, where the lead sponsor of SB 315 has been strongly opposed to the prohibition on smokable hemp taking effect before law enforcement and industry representative have time to work on a solution.
Local Issues – Charlotte
Mecklenburg County candidate filing for municipal elections ended today at noon. The Charlotte City Council, Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education (At-Large), and the Boards of Commissioners for Mecklenburg County towns are all up for election this year. [* indicates incumbent]
Charlotte City Council Candidates
At-Large (4 seats)
District 2 (open)
District 3 (open)
|District 4 (open)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education (non-partisan)
At-Large (3 seats)
- Annette Albright
- Elyse Dashew*
- Jennifer De La Jara
- Gregory Denlea
- Jenna Moorehead
- Donna Parker-Tate
- Jordan Pineda
- Lenora Shipp
- Stephanie Sneed
- Duncan St. Clair
- Monty Witherspoon
To see more information on these candidates or others running for municipal offices in Mecklenburg County, click here to see all candidate filings.
In just seven weeks, crowded primaries will determine most Charlotte city races (Charlotte Observer)
Local Issues – Raleigh
The filing deadline for city offices was noon on Friday, July 19. The following individuals have filed to run in the 2019 election. [* indicates incumbent]
Raleigh City Council Candidates (non-partisan)
|Raleigh Mayor (open)
|At-Large (2 seats)
- Clayton Wilcox to resign as CMS superintendent after two years on job (Charlotte Observer)
- During White House visit, Cooper pushes for hurricane relief funds to reach NC (Raleigh News & Observer)
- State lawmaker, Army veteran Grange joins Republican race for governor (Charlotte Observer)
- Republican Supreme Court judge disses all six other NC justices (WRAL)
- NC Farmers Get $105M To Offset Trade War Loss (WUNC)
- Lawmakers pass bill to legalize sports betting at NC tribal casinos (Raleigh News & Observer)