ON JONES STREET- Public hearing on HHS budget

The Health and Human Services Budget Appropriations sub-committee has been getting an earful for the past two days. It opens its meeting up to a public hearing to see what advocates and citizens had to say about the budget process. As expected, there was plea after plea by lobbyists and others to save their allocation in the spending plan. There were also a few impassioned pleas from parents and others who say this isn’t just "groups" who will be affected… it hits closer to home for them. Here are a few of the testimonies:

City Council Approves the Demolition of Apartment Complex Near Ballpark

The President of the Winston-Salem Dash says crews have begun removing asbestos from more than a dozen boarded-up homes near BB&T Field in downtown Winston-Salem. Geoff Lassiter says demolition will begin early next week.

The city council approved the move in a meeting Monday night.

Nearby homeowners say the homes are an eyesore, and attract rats and homeless people. Lassiter says the space could be used for temporary parking, if approved by the city.

Another busy Wednesday at the General Assembly on tap

It’s shaping up to be another busy mid-week session at the General Assembly.

New bills
There’s a bill being filed to limit lawmakers to four consecutive terms in office. Speaker Tillis has also talked about a bill limiting leadership as well. Will be interesting to see if any of this will move forward.

It’s baaaaack. Only this time the GOP is in charge. The Defense of Marriage act has been filed again. The bill would call for a constitutional amendment. Will it move forward?

Committee meetings
House Judiciary is scheduled to take up Laura’s law which would increase penalties for repeat DWI offenders.

The head of the public utilities commission will speak at the legislative public utilities committee meeting.

Also, Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco will talk to a joint commerce meeting. This could be rather interesting considering the heated debate the past couple weeks over the use of economic incentives to lure in companies and jobs.

Floor votes
On the Senate floor, lawmakers *could* take votes on an involuntary annexation moratorium and removing the cap on charter schools. The Castle Doctrine is also up for a vote. This bill is related to homeowners protecting themselves from intruders.

There are a few other things but these stuck out to me the most. Of course, it can all change but that’s what is on tap as of now.

Perdue statement on HB 2

Here’s Governor Perdue’s statement on House Bill 2 which is now on the way to her desk. It removes the mandate from the health care law passed by federal lawmakers. It also directs the attorney general to join a lawsuit with more than two dozen other states. She makes no mention of whether or not she will veto it.

“It is difficult to understand why the General Assembly’s leadership has chosen this issue as their top priority to push through the legislature. This issue, which is already working its way through the courts, is a distraction from what the people of North Carolina need us to do right now: help create jobs and strengthen education.” -Gov. Bev Perdue

ON JONES STREET: GOP leaders respond to Perdue veto

Senior Political Reporter Loretta Boniti is reporting that Republican leaders are responding strongly to Governor Perdue’s veto today.

Perdue vetoed SB13. It’s the bill that the Republican controlled legislature passed that gave the governor power to make $400 million in cuts but also cut funding used to provide economic incentives for companies.

The democratic governor believes those incentives are key to recruiting new jobs in North Carolina. She vetoed the bill this afternoon.

Loretta tells me that Senate leaders have said they will not try to override the veto. However, they do have a new bill ready to go and it demands the governor find an extra $137 million in cuts on top of the $400 million to make up for the incentive cuts being excluded from the bill.

Senator Hagan travels the state discussing the economy

Senator Hagan’s spending her week traveling across the Tar Heel State to discuss the state’s economy. She plans on making a stop in the Port City on Wednesday. Hagan said she is working toward creating a better business climate in the state for businesses to create joins and grown. During her various visits, Hagan plans to gather input. In Wilmington, Hagan will host a business roundtable with area banks and businesses. Later this week, Hagan plans to head to Greensboro, High Point and Charlotte.

ON JONES STREET- Perdue names new staffers

Governor Bev Perdue is poaching a member of the general assembly to serve as her newest staff member. Anson and Union County representative Pryor Gibson has been named as her new senior advisor for governmental affairs. He is replacing Andy Willis- who has been moved to serve as the administration’s director of the State Department of Budget and Management.
Mark Davis, who currently serves as a special deputy in the Dept. of Justice, will be Perdue’s new general counsel.

Lawmakers to consider online make-up days for students

A new law is being introduced in Raleigh that would allow school districts to make up inclement (snow) weather days by requiring students to complete distance, or online learning. Here’s the bill.

http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2011/Bills/House/PDF/H132v0.pdf

It’s an interesting concept. Of course, there is the concern about equal access to online resources (students would have two weeks to complete assignments).

There was talk among school officials about no longer needing textbooks, instead giving computers, or possibly smart phones to students. It would be nice to see students no longer slouched over with a backpack full of books.

Also, the new law would allow districts to use the new rules for up to five days. It seems with the new technology that we’re about to step foot into a new era for education. It seems to me there will always be a need for face to face education, however, in a period of tight budgets and classes getting cut, why not use technology to offer more options for students for less?

Several lawmakers and school officials are already thinking about these things. It might be what the President said in his state of the union address to out innovate to educate our next generation.

Cope: Governor choosing business over families

I interviewed Dana Cope for this week’s Political Connections this afternoon. He’s the executive director with the State Employee’s Association of North Carolina (SEANC). He was on the show to talk about the governor’s budget proposal.

He essentially said the governor has put the state on a race to the bottom. He believes the governor has chosen corporate welfare and the business community over North Carolina’s working families.

Cope says his group will carry out a campaign to show where tax payer dollars are going and where they should go instead.

He also talked some about the issue in Wisconsin where state employees are protesting the governor’s proposal to curb the employees rights to collective bargaining. North Carolina law prevents state employees from collective bargaining.

The interview airs on Political Connections this Friday night at 6pm and Sunday at 11am!

-Tim Boyum

Perdue meets with UNCW leaders for input on budget proposal

Governor Perdue will make a stop in the Port City Monday. At 10 a.m. she will visit UNC Wilmington and meet with UNCW Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo and NC Small Business Commissioner Scott Daugherty. We hear she wants to get their input on the budget proposal. She also wants to discuss the economy and ways to recruit jobs. Perdue is traveling across the state and hosting a series of business roundtable discussions. We will be at the UNCW discussion and bring you more details throughout the day.

-Julie Fertig, News 14 Carolina Coastal Reporter