Feb 25, 2011

NCGA Week in Review, February 21-25


Senate Bill 8 is on its way to the House for approval next week. With a 34-16 vote Wednesday, Republicans backed the bill that would eliminate the current cap of 100 charter schools in North Carolina.  Democrats argue that this could be a bipartisan effort, but believe that any charter schools bills should include provisions for transportation and lunch for those less fortunate. Only 3 Democrats supported the bill.
The bill creates a new commission that would be in charge of oversight for the schools. About 20,000 families are on waiting lists for charter schools across the state. Current restrictions on yearly enrollment growth for charter schools would also be removed by Senate Bill 8. 
Governor Beverly Perdue (D) vetoed the Republican backed budget reduction bill Wednesday saying, “in its current form, it forces a one-time cash-grab from funds that are intended to create jobs and spur economic development. That’s not the right move for North Carolina, where jobs simply must be our No. 1 priority.” The bill would have taken $75.8 million from industrial recruiting and economic incentive funds.
With 31 Republicans, the Senate could override the veto, but in the House Republicans are four votes short of the three-fifths majority necessary to override a veto. The Governor said she would be able to save $400 million without the legislation. 
Next week lawmakers will roll out a bill to remove the ban on terminal groins in North Carolina. Terminal groins help control beach erosion, and have been prohibited by the state since 1984 (along with seawalls or other hardened stabilization structures on the seafront). The big push for terminal groins is due to the high volume of coastal tourism in the state. There are currently two terminal groins in North Carolina on federal park land and regulated by the federal government. This bill would allow terminal groins to be built on state land and regulated by the state. 
The debate in the Senate Finance Committee about SB 33 continued this week. The bill has gone through several changes, including a proposed cap on money awarded for non-economic damages from $250,000 per victim to $500,000 for each defendant successfully sued.   This bill would also set a higher negligence standard for ER doctors. Republicans say NC is a hard state to practice medicine in and reform would make the state more attractive to medical physicians.