Last week, the North Carolina General Assembly considered legislative measures on everything from eliminating the state gas tax to extending economic incentives to private companies. The House and Senate adjourned late Thursday afternoon and will return to session Monday evening.
Economy and Economic Development
CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: Rep. Charles Jeter Would Replace NC Gas Tax with $201 Annual Fee
Tired of the gasoline tax? It would go away under a bill introduced this week by a Mecklenburg County lawmaker. But Rep. Charles Jeter, a Huntersville Republican, would replace it with an annual fee of $201.
House lawmakers are debating whether to resurrect a state tax deduction for medical expenses for senior citizens after being deluged with calls and messages from constituents reeling from sticker shock. House Bill 46, sponsored by Rep. Rick Catlin, (R-New Hanover), would reinstate the deduction beginning with the 2015 tax year. It was discussed but not voted on at a meeting of the House Aging Committee on Wednesday afternoon.
NEWS & OBSERVER: NC Senate Plan Would Shift Sales Tax Money to Rural Areas
Leaders in the state Senate are crafting a plan that would shift millions in sales tax revenues from urban and coastal counties to more rural areas across North Carolina, according to interviews and documents. The full plan has not been disclosed publicly, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown (R-Jacksonville) is expected to file legislation soon.
Senate Bill 272, filed by Sens. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, and Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, would still require teachers to identify students at risk of academic failure. But they would no longer be required to write a detailed report on the student's needs and the teacher's plans to meet them. The bill would not affect Individualized Education Plans, which are federally required for all special-needs students.
WINSTON SALEM JOURNAL: N.C. House Changes Air Pollution Rules on Fracking
Under the proposed change in House Bill 157, the N.C. Environmental Management Commission would establish air pollution rules only if it deemed inadequate the current state and federal rules on air emissions that come from a shale-gas drilling method known as fracking. The fracking provision in the bill would change an existing mandate established by the General Assembly in 2012.
GREENSBORO NEWS & RECORD: Guilford Officials Confident County Will Clear Medicaid Backlog .The Guilford County Department of Social Services won’t meet an internal target of March 31 to clear a backlog of Medicaid cases created when the state switched to a new software processing system. The backlog — about 34,000 cases — is a side effect of the implementation of NC FAST, a software system that processes food stamp and Medicaid applications.
In The Courts
CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: Former NC Autopsy Aide Loses Whistleblower Suit
A former autopsy technician who said he was forced to resign because he told investigators that a state pathologist mishandled murder evidence has lost his whistleblower case. Administrative law judge Fred Morrison Jr. ruled Thursday that Kevin Gerity of Raleigh failed to prove that state officials targeted him after Gerity complained that North Carolina’s deputy chief medical examiner never turned in a bullet from a 2011 autopsy.
NEWS & OBSERVER: N.C. House Oks Tougher DWI Laws The first measure, House Bill 32 would lower the threshold for a habitual drunken driving charge. The current law applies to drivers charged four or more times within 10 years. The other proposal, House Bill 31, addresses restrictions on convicted drunken drivers with license restrictions--typically first offenders. The bill passed in a 110-4 vote and will go to the Senate.