My head is spinning. Is yours? Happy Hump Day!
Last night the Senate Finance Committee had an unusual - and unusual - evening meeting to take up it's version of HB 1030 - Omnibus Tax Changes. Two hours later the bill was approved upon motion of Senator Tillman, "That's my motion. Take it or leave it." The new version of the bill is here: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/PDF/H1050v4.pdf
The Senate Republicans caucused all Tuesday afternoon on their draft budget proposal. They emerged from behind closed doors touting a new pay plan for teachers. At a press conference this morning we learned that teachers would receive an average pay increase of $5,000, costing the state nearly a half a billion dollars. Specifics regarding the funding of the raises will be included in the Senate budget draft to be posted online tonight, and which will begin moving through the Senate tomorrow morning with stops in the Appropriations Committee, Finance Committee and Pensions and Retirement Committee -- this is the standard path in each chamber. Senate Session started and stopped several times today leading me to believe they are still getting comfortable with their spending plan.
The House Public Utilities Committee approved the Fracking Bill on Tuesday. SB 786 will next be considered by the full House. The bill was changed in committee to allow fracking permits to be issued sooner than July 1, 2015 if the rules have been approved. The committee-approved bill can be found here: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/Senate/PDF/S786v4.pdf. Expect a House vote on Wednesday and again on Thursday, and expect amendments from opponents.
The House Judiciary B Subcommittee approved HB 1032 - Patent Trolling. We learned in committee that this bill has been under consideration in 23 states due to federal inaction on frivolous patent infringement lawsuits. John Boswell, General Counsel of SAS, testified that they recently had a case in Texas that cost them $8 million in legal fees. They won on summary judgment; their accuser had no assets. The bill was supported in committee by SAS, NCTA, NC Retail Merchants' Association, NC Realtors' Association, and technology companies large and small. Rep. Stam was concerned the bill offers a remedy to the "target" in a frivolous patent infringement lawsuit but does not offer the same to the "accuser". We may see a floor amendment.
House Judiciary C Subcommittee approved both bills dealing with Mechanics Liens today. HB 1101 and HB 1102 will appear on the House calendar later in the week.