Mar 11, 2011

NCGA Week in Review, March 7-11


Girl Scouts and their famous cookies flooded the legislative building this past Tuesday, greeting Senators and Representatives with cups of milk and plates full of those legendary Thinmints, Tagalongs, Samoas and more. It was a sweet start to the week on Jones Street and a nice break between vetoes and attempted overrides.
Gov Perdue’s Veto Won Out for H 2 Over Health Care
Gov Perdue vetoed H 2 this weekend; the bill that seeks to exempt North Carolinians from the federal health care law.  House Republicans unsuccessfully tried to override the veto earlier this week. It was a party line vote, meaning Republicans were four votes short of a three-fifths majority. 
            Republicans could have rammed through the override Thursday afternoon after Democrats had already left to go home. Speaker of the House, Republican Thom Tillis said “If we used the politics of the past, before Speaker Hackney, House Bill 2 would be overridden today, and it’s not.” Tillis showed fair play, even though many of his members pushed for the veto override vote.
            Republicans were successful in a vote to reconsider the override on a later date. It is expected that the House will try again next week to override the Governor.
Senate Overrides Budget Act
The Senate revisited S 13, the Balanced Budget Act, to vote to override the Governor’s veto. As expected, the Senate voted along party lines, 31-19. The bill will now go to the House for the final vote, even though Republicans are likely to fall four votes short of the three-fifths necessary to override Perdue. S 13 proponents will to look to the Chamber’s moderate Democrats to break ranks and give Republicans enough votes to override the Governor.
NC Ferry Rates May Rise
Did you know North Carolinians luck out – for now - when ridding ferries in state? The NC Ferry Division only recovers about four to five percent of its actual operating costs from their passengers. Soon ferry passengers may have to help cover more of the day to day operating costs of the big steel chauffeuring ships. 
The operating budget is $40 million a year, with riders paying between $2 and $2.5 million annually. Some routes that do not currently require a fee may have to start charging passengers. Other existing routes that have a fee, will probably have to be raised. 
Term Limits for Leadership Posts?
It would take an amendment to the NC Constitution to initiate term limits for the Speaker of the House, and Senate President Pro Tem. Fifteen states have already done so, each with varying numbers of terms allowed to serve. The idea behind term limits is to prohibit ascendancy by a particular member. Rep. John Blust (R-Guilford), told the House Judiciary Committee, “This is to prevent the kind of dynasties we’ve seen in the past.” Under the bill, a person could only serve two terms in either position. Also, it would prohibit the top chamber leaders from serving two terms, skipping a term, and later returning to the same position. If approved by the General Assembly, the proposed amendment to the NC Constitution would be placed on the ballot for ratification in November 2012 for the general election.