The budget stalemate continued in Raleigh this week. It has now been four weeks since Gov. Roy Cooper (D) vetoed the budget. The motion to override the veto remained on the House calendar this week, but as with the last two weeks no action was taken. The legislature has passed a separate bill to ensure that the state continues to draw down federal funds while the impasse continues. The Senate is taking a short break from action next week, but the House will continue meeting.
State and Legislative Issues
The budget stalemate enters its fifth week today with no clear end in sight. While the Governor and legislative leaders continue to negotiate over a compromise, an override of the Governor’s veto of H 966, 2019 Appropriations Act, appears less likely. The bill has been on the House calendar for the last three weeks, but no vote has been taken as leaders have doubted they have the votes necessary to override the veto.
Several actions this week indicate that the impasse will likely continue. On Wednesday, the legislature gave final approval to a bill that would ensure North Carolina is able to continue to draw down and use federal block grant funds while the impasse continues. The bill was sent to the Governor today. Notably, the only other provision in the bill continues funding for the state’s suicide prevention hotline. In addition, Sen. Phil Berger (R), the leader of the state Senate, announced that the Senate would have no further floor votes until August 6, although conference committee will continue to meet during that time. This makes it nearly certain that the budget impasse will continue for at least another two weeks.
Some DHHS employees say they may quit if headquarters leaves Raleigh (Charlotte Observer)
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted to advance S 315, North Carolina Farm Act of 2019. The version approved by the committee includes a ban on smokable hemp that becomes effective December 1, 2020. That provision has proven to be controversial. Until Wednesday, Rep. Jimmy Dixon (R), a leader on agricultural issues in the House, had been adamant that the ban needed to become effective December 1, 2019. Law enforcement officials have asked for the earlier effective date because smokable hemp (which does not include THC, the intoxicating substance in marijuana) is indistinguishable from marijuana without chemical analysis. They have argued that the ban is necessary in order to effectively enforce the state’s prohibition on marijuana. The Senate has pushed for the later date, arguing that it will give law enforcement and farmers an opportunity to reach a compromise and that putting a ban in place in 2019 could be financially devasting for hemp farmers that currently have crops in the field. The bill will now head to the full House for consideration.
NC lawmakers want to ban smokable hemp, but farmers got a ‘win’ Wednesday (Charlotte Observer)
Ride Share Safety
On Monday, the Senate unanimously passed H 391, Passenger Protection Act. The legislation would require Uber, Lyft and other ride-share drivers to display their license plate numbers on the front of their vehicles, and to have a lit logo sign at night. The bill would also make it a Class 2 misdemeanor to impersonate a ride-share driver and a Class H Felony to do so with malicious intent. The bill was filed several month ago in response to the murder of a South Carolina woman who got into a vehicle mistakenly believing it to be an Uber she had ordered. The bill will now return to the House.
Local Issues – Charlotte
Acting CMS Superintendent
Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) named its sixth superintendent in 10 years as Earnest Winston was selected to be the acting head of CMS this week. Following the abrupt suspension and resignation of former superintendent Clayton Wilcox, the CMS Board named Winston, the school system’s ombudsman, as the interim superintendent. Winston became a CMS teacher in 2004 and has worked up the admirative ranks through the communications department for the past several years. He said he does not have any current plans for a staff shakeup.
Local Issues – Raleigh
Today is the deadline for Raleigh’s mayoral candidates to file their mid-year campaign finance reports. Three of the candidates report having raised over $100,000 in their bids to become Raleigh’s next mayor. Former county commissioner Caroline Sullivan leads the money game having raised $215,000. Former city council members Charles Francis and Mary-Ann Baldwin are next, having raised $150,000 and $125,000 respectively. Current Mayor Nancy McFarlane in not running for reelection. In 2017, McFarlane and Francis each raised over $250,000 in a heated contest that headed to a run-off. With six candidates seeking the mayor’s job in October, a run-off election between the top two finishers could be possible again this year.
Raleigh mayoral candidates rake in campaign cash. How it stacks up. (Raleigh News & Observer)
NC will change how elementary and middle schools test students. See what’s coming. (Charlotte Observer)
How people of color, younger voters may shape the 2020 election in North Carolina (Charlotte Observer)
Jobs! Gardasil maker to bring 425 jobs to Triangle region (Triangle Business Journal)