2009 LEGISLATIVE SESSION MEMO #23

Budget writers didn’t work all weekend and returned to Raleigh on Monday to try and work again, but the Senate did not meet with the House and so after two rescheduled meetings the House caucused and then went to Session, where they passed the Continuing Resolution and left for the evening. The House made a series of changes to the Senate CR (SB 311), including the expiration date, of July 15th. Tuesday the House and Senate budget chairs had not scheduled to meet and then all of a sudden notice went out and they convened at 10:45 AM. They reviewed the latest offer from the Senate on the appropriations package, but they were still very far apart on how to finance the budget. The Senate wants to tax services and social security and on and on, while the House is content to increase the Sales Tax and Income Tax. The House rejected the Senate’s latest appropriation’s offer and they left to return at 1:30 PM. The House met briefly and then again after Session, but stopped meeting around 6:00 PM, without much progress. The Senate had agreed earlier in the day to pass the CR with the changes from the House, including the July 15th expiration date. The July 4th holiday weekend is approaching and it will be interesting to see if they plan to meet or go home. Rumor has it the Senate has suggested they meet; the House on the other hand, had not committed to staying.

Wednesday began with House Finance and Senate Education Committee meetings. Several bills passed in Senate Education though they did get bogged down on the second to last bill and finally adjourned. Meanwhile, the House and Senate Appropriations Chairs continued meeting to finalize their budget targets. They were hoping to spend some time reviewing all the individual subcommittee budgets and special provisions again, but that never happened. The majority of the public school funding cuts that were agreed to by the conferees last week are still part of the budget. The Central Administration cut that escalated last week has been trimmed down and we are hoping that it will not be substantially more than the original cut of $9 million, initially proposed by the Education Conferees. There was talk of a tiered cut to Central Administration, that would impact the larger school systems more than the smaller ones. We are continuing to work on the bus tort claims issue, but may not know about that until early next week. The Senate has also been pushing hard to put more funding in the Universities allotment. On Wednesday afternoon, after Session, the House and Senate budget writers continued to meet to reach agreement on the major issues, including the subcommittee final targets. A disagreement arose when the Senate brought the House their final offer, while the House budget chairs had sent their “final offer” earlier in the day. The House balked at yet another option by the Senate and refused to accept the Senate proposal and the Senate walked away from the negotiations. When Senate convened, later that day, they also removed all the House bills from their calendar and adjourned their Session quickly.

On Thursday, the news media was reporting on the Governor’s call for the legislators to finish the budget. She told them every day without a budget was costing the State $5 million in lost revenue (based on projected new taxes). There were several committee meetings, but no budget meetings. The House Budget Chairs met briefly by themselves, but that was it. The Senate convened at 11:00 AM and by the time the House convened at 1:00 PM the Senate had left for the Holiday weekend with no plans to return to work until Tuesday and so the House finished their business and adjourned as well. Speaker Hackney announced the Finance Chairs would meet Thursday afternoon to try and reconcile their differences, but talk earlier in the day was “it’s impossible.” Right now it’s like watching a train running down the track with hundreds of stops and starts. You keep hoping it will get a head of steam and keep going until it reaches its destination. Will we have a budget by July 15th.  Right now it’s anyone’s guess?  What’s yours?

House Committees:

Appropriations Subcommittee on Education

SB 689 Modify DPI/SBE Reporting Requirements Favorable Report and sent to the House Floor.

Name Changed to Modify DPI Reporting Requirements/Building Code/High School

Appropriations/Justice and Public  Safety

HB 1268 Eminent Domain Favorable Report to PCS.

Education-Meeting Cancelled until Tuesday July 7

SB 1069 Joining Our Business and Schools Commission

Finance

HB 1134 Open Government Act The bill was reviewed by Representative Ross. One person spoke in favor and two against. A vote was not taken on the bill and it will be heard again in Finance next week.

Judiciary I

SB 962 Probationary Teacher Appeal Favorable Report to PCS. There was a small change. Subsection (8) was deleted since it was not needed. There were many questions and some concerns about passing this bill, but the vote was 10-2 and it heads to the House floor next week.

Senate Committees:

Education/Higher Education

HB 187 Encourage Policies to Facilitate Graduation Pulled by the bill sponsor.

HB 385 Public School Activity Bus use/Stecoah Valley Center Favorable Report as amended.

HB 661 City Managers on School Boards Not Heard

HB 804 Amend law RE: Personal Education Plans Favorable Report as amended. There were two amendments one by Senator McKissick and one by Senator Rand. They both made positive changes to the bill.

HB 1078 Report School Violence to LEA Office Displaced After lengthy discussion, the Committee ran out of time and adjourned. The bill will be placed on the calendar next week. There was concern over the notice time of two days. NCASA is working to make some changes to the bill.

HB 1471 Counties and Schools Share P.E. Equipment Not Heard

Commerce

HB 1287 Recycle Products Containing Mercury Rescheduled for July 8.

SB 32 Employers Must Use Federal E-Verify Program Not Heard Calendared for next week.

Finance

HB 205 Lottery Act Changes Rescheduled for July 8.

Judiciary I

HB 81 Notice of Special/Emergency Meetings Favorable Report

HB 1255 Sex Offenders/Permanent No Contact Order No Vote. There were three technical amendments and the bill will be voted on next week.

HB 1433 Clarify Volunteer Immunity/AED Not Heard

State and Local Government

HB 1452 Local Government Code of Ethics Favorable Report as amended and sent to the Senate Floor.

House Floor:

HB 79 Extend School Formula Study Committee Concurred to Senate Committee Substitute and sent to the Governor.

SB 311 Continuing Budget Authority Passed second and third reading and sent to the Senate.

SB 689 Modify DPI Reporting Requirements/Building Code/High School Passed second and third reading and returned to the Senate for concurrence.

Senate Floor:

SB 1019 Establish NC Financial Literacy Council Passed second and third reading and sent to the Governor.

HB 535 Health Insurance Coverage/Lymphedema Calendared for July 8.

SB 311 Continuing Budget Authority Concurred House Committee Substitute and Ratified.

HB 1329 Consolidate Expunction Statutes Calendared for July 8.

HB 1452 Local Government Code of Ethics Calendared for July 8.

Bills in Committees Next Week

SB 65 Amend Computer Solicitation of Child

HB 1078 Report School Violence to LEA Office

HB 187 Encourage Policies to Facilitate Graduation

HB 582 Special Education Changes

HB 661 City Managers on School Boards

HB 1471 Counties and Schools Share P.E Equipment

SJR 1106 Honor Vernon Malone

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