Members of the North Carolina General Assembly had a full schedule last week, considering bills on everything from restructuring the State’s sales tax plan to reopening one of the State’s largest inlets. Notably, the state gas tax decreased from 37.5 cents to 36 cents on April 1st after an agreement was reached between House and Senate members and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC). Both chambers adjourned on Thursday and will stand in recess throughout this week for a rare spring recess.

Economy and Economic Development

CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: No Fix in Sight for Charlotte’s Lost Business Tax Income 

Local leaders are still hoping North Carolina lawmakers will find a way to replace money lost from the elimination of the business license tax. Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) reiterated his support for that Monday. But after more than a year, prospects in Raleigh remain uncertain.

WINSTON SALEM JOURNAL: Productions Get $10M in Film Grants from N.C. 

Three productions will receive funds from North Carolina’s new Film and Entertainment Grant this year, state officials announced Friday. The grant, which took the place of the previous film incentives package, allocates a total of $10 million to the productions.

Education

GREENSBORO NEWS & RECORD: N.C. Gets Extension on Education Waiver 

North Carolina’s waiver of some requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law now will expire in 2018-19 instead of this year. The U.S. Department of Education announced last week that North Carolina, Minnesota, Virginia, New Mexico and Kentucky each received a four-year extension to their No Child Left Behind flexibility waivers.

NEWS & OBSERVER: Wake Seeks Waiver on some State Final Exams 

Wake County schools want state permission to drop the N.C. Final Exams required in dozens of courses from elementary to high school. In a written request to the State Board of Education seeking a waiver from the exams, the district mentioned lost instructional time, difficult logistics, and an assertion that tests do not match what students are learning in class.

Healthcare

WINSTON SALEM JOURNAL: House Bill Calls for Changes in Medicaid Oversight 
The state House version of a controversial Medicaid reform initiative has been introduced and calls for drastic oversight changes in an attempt to create more accountability and transparency. House Bill 525 is co-sponsored by Rep. Debra Conrad, (R-Forsyth).

NEWS & OBSERVER: House Bill Would Increase Abortion Restrictions 

An N.C. House bill filed last week would ban healthcare facilities owned by UNC and East Carolina University from performing abortions. The change is one of a number of new abortion restrictions in House Bill 465, which is sponsored by four Republicans: Reps. Jacqueline Shaffer (R-Mecklenburg), Pat McElraft (R-Carteret), Rena Turner (R-Iredell) and Susan Martin (R-Pitt).

In The Courts

NEWS & OBSERVER: US Supreme Court Won’t Review NC Voting Rights Provisions-for now 

With lawsuits pending in federal court on sweeping changes to North Carolina elections law, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review questions about two specific provisions dealing with same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting. The decision is just a step in a protracted legal process that began in 2013 when the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, registered Democrats and others challenged changes to voting procedures adopted by the Republican-led legislature.

Transportation

WRAL: Bus Camera Plan Gets Senate Panel OK

Under Senate Bill 298, school districts could place cameras on the sides of buses to photograph the license plate of any vehicle that passes a bus when its stop-arm is extended. Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, said the program is voluntary, and an outside vendor would pick up the cost of the equipment and issuing the fines in exchange for a cut of the revenue.

WRAL: House Panel Debates Constitutional Convention

The panel discussed, but did not vote on, two proposals: House Joint Resolution 132, which would rescind all outstanding calls by North Carolina for a constitutional convention, and House Bill 321, which would put the state on record as calling for a constitutional convention.