Weekly NC Legislative Report by Brenda T. Formo

The following is the latest North Carolina Legislative Report by Brenda T. Formo.  She writes on behalf of the North Carolina Federation of Republican Women.  Your blogger is a member of that organization and has exclusive permission  to reproduce these legislative reports.

Congress 


House of Representatives


On May 13, 2011 the House passed the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2011 (HR 754) which authorizes current fiscal year funding for intelligence and intelligence related programs.  The vote was 392 to 15 with 24 not voting.

 

NC  Representatives voting for the bill:  G.  K. Butterfield (D-1st), Renee Ellmers (R-2nd), David E. Price (D-4th), Virginia Foxx (R-5th), Howard Coble (R-6th), Mike McIntyre (D-7th), Larry Kissell (D-8th), Sue Myrick (R-9th), Patrick T. McHenry (R-10th), Heath Shuler (D-11th), Melvin Watt (D-12th), and Brad Miller (D-13th).

NC Representative voting against the bill:  Walter B. Jones, Jr. (R-3rd).

Senate


1.  On May 17th the Senate rejected a motion to proceed on the consideration of S. 940 which is titled by the Democrats, “A bill to reduce the Federal budget deficit by closing big oil tax loopholes, and for other purposes.” This is the “test vote” promised by Senate Democrats.  This bill will do nothing to decrease the price of gasoline at the pump, and the fault with the high prices lies with President Obama’s policies on energy, according to Investors Business Daily.

The vote failed 52 to 48 with Senator Hagan voting for the bill and Senator Burr voting against it. Three Democrats voted with the Republicans against the bill:  Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), and Mark Begich (D-Alaska).  Republican Senators Collins and Snowe of Maine were the only Republicans to vote with the Democrats for the punishment of big oil.

2.  On May 18th the Senate rejected a motion sponsored by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for a measure titled, “A bill to authorize the conduct of certain lease sales in the Outer Continental Shelf, to amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to modify the requirements for exploration, and for other purposes.” The main purpose was to force the Obama Administration to act on oil and gas leases and to increase offshore oil production.  It is similar to bills that previously passed in the House.

The vote failed 42 to 57 with 1 not voting.  Senator Hagan voted against the motion and Senator Burr voted for it.

3.  On May 19th the Senate rejected a cloture motion for the nomination of Goodwin Liu of California for the U.S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit.  The vote was 52 to 43 with one voting present (Senator Hatch (R-UT), and 4 not voting.  Sixty votes were required under cloture rules to end the debate and move to a final vote.  Senator Hagan voted for cloture and Senator Burr voted against it.

The issue surrounding Liu is that he is “President Obama’s most radical judicial nominee and the man who Obama would dearly like to make the first Asian-American Supreme Court Justice,” according to Red State.  He is a Berkely law professor “whose vocal and unabashed championing of judicial activism has made him a star on the legal left.”  Liu said, he “envisions the judiciary . . . as a culturally situated interpreter of social meaning,” also reported by Red State.

The nomination was effectively defeated, but Senator Hagan perhaps voted her ideology.  Contact her at (202) 224-6342 if you think Americans do not want other activist judges appointed by the Obama administration.

Note on Senator Hagan
Senator Hagan is an “honorary co-leader of Third Way, a Democratic-leaning business-friendly think tank in Washington,” according to the News & Observer.  While at a breakfast meeting last week CNN asked her some questions.  Senator Hagan said she is for raising the debt ceiling; she is for tax reform and fairness; she favors raising taxes on people making more than $1 million a year; and she supports ending tax breaks for oil companies.  She indicated that she wants cuts in defense spending including in the acquisition process; and believes that more competition in the “industrial defense complex” system would be advantageous.  Finally she sees that rising gas prices have had an effect on military budgets, because filling up a F-15 fighter jet is “huge.”  (Senator Hagan’s voting record does not indicate that she is serious about domestic energy production of gas and oil.)

N.C. General Assembly 


1.  State Health Plan – Republicans and Governor Perdue have worked on a plan for state workers’ health care to replace the bill that Perdue vetoed in April that would have required state employees to pay for the very first time a small amount for their own health insurance premiums.

 

Because $55 million was available in the budget and unspent, the state can still afford to continue requiring no premiums to be paid by employees who have the most basic health programs of 70/30 policies.  If state employees have more expensive coverage (80/20) they will pay modest premiums.  Governor Perdue reportedly agrees with the two companion bills that passed the Senate in a vote of 33 to 16 and passed in the House 90 to 24, which help to close the $515 million deficit in the budget for the state health plan through the middle of 2013.  The legislation also changes the oversight for the state employees health plan from the Legislature to the State Treasurer.

2.  Major Bills: Two notable bills remain in conference to be negotiated between the Senate and the House, because different versions were passed in each chamber.  They are the “No Cap on Number of Charter Schools” (Senate Bill 8) that passed the Senate 33 to 17 on February 24th, and the House 68 to 51 on April 11.  Also the “Medical Liability Reforms” (Senate Bill 33) passed the Senate on March 2, 36 to 13; and the House on April 20, 91 to 27.

Other bills have either passed in the Senate or in the House and have been assigned to various committees including:

  • Eminent Domain (House Bill 8) passed by the House 98 to 18 on April 28, now in the Senate Judiciary I Committee;
  • Castle Doctrine (House Bill 34) passed by the Senate on Feb 28 in a vote of 35 to 13, now in the House Judiciary Committee.
  • Involuntary Annexation Moratorium (Senate Bill 27) passed the Senate on March 7 in a vote of 36 to 12, now in the House Rules Committee.
  • The Energy Jobs Act (Senate Bill 709) passed the Senate on May 10 in a vote of 38 to 12, and is now in the Senate Committee on Public Utilities.

3.   Photo Voter ID – Last week, Senator Debbie Clary (R-Cleveland) presented to a Senate committee another version of the photo ID bill that is similar to the House bill that is still in committee.  Senate bill 595 requires a driver’s license or other evidence of a photo ID to vote so that fraud can be avoided.  Without a photo ID, the voter could cast a provisional ballot that is counted when the voter presents to elections board officials a valid photo ID within 10 days of the election date.  Democrats are urging Governor Perdue to veto the legislation which is expected to pass, and that 84% of North Carolinians polled think is necessary in NC.

South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill into law on May 18th that would require voters in South Carolina to present a photo ID before casting a ballot.  Haley remarked, “If you can show a picture to buy Sudafed , if you can show a picture to get on an airplane, you should be able to show a picture ID to (vote).”

What will Governor Perdue do?  According to Civitas, Perdue’s job approval rating is 46% in recent polling, and represents an increase of 3% since March 2011.    

4. Last week the House voted on a bill that reduces the “early-voting” timeframe.   The vote was 60 to 58, mostly along party lines.  The measure reduces early-voting time by a week from the 2 1/2 week period.  Money is the issue and researchers in the legislature have estimated that $2000 per voting site will be saved if the bill is approved.  Democrat legislators fear that fewer Democrats will vote if the measure passes.  The bill is now in the Senate.

5.  Restoring Unemployment Benefits – A compromise bill is expected by next week, but the 37,000 long-term unemployed seeking benefits has increased to 42,000.  Both Republican Senate and House and leaders are working to reach an agreement on a bill that Governor Perdue will sign.

6.    Redistricting – Senator Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg), Chairman of the Senate Redistricting Committee, said last week that a public hearing will be held in Raleigh, with satellite access at four other sites, for the public to see the redistricting maps which are expected to be completed next month.

7.  Legislative Day and the Marriage Rally in Raleigh, May 17th.

Thanks to the NCFRW members who attended the Marriage Rally and Legislative Day activities last week.  NCFRW Parliamentarian Mary Frances Forrester addressed the estimated 3500 people attending the rally with sincere and compelling oratory on the merits of the Marriage Amendment for North Carolina.  She was outstanding in her comments and demeanor.

Among the speakers for our separate Legislative session was House Speaker Thom Tillis who accepted our Marriage Amendment petitions and inspired us to have confidence that the Republicans will do as they pledged during the election.  Specifically to pass important bills that matter to North Carolina, such as cutting spending, creating jobs, and passing legislation including the Voter Photo ID bill, the Marriage Amendment, Eminent Domain, and other measures that are favored by North Carolinians.

Other Republican Representatives who took time from their busy schedules to speak to the NCFRW members included:  Marilyn Avila (Wake), John Blust (Guilford), John Faircloth (Guilford), Speaker Pro Tempore Dale R. Folwell (Forsyth), Craig Horn (Union), Pat B. Hurley (Randolph), Linda P. Johnson (Cabarrus), Tim  Moore (Cleveland), Tom Murry (Wake), G. L. Pridgen (Hoke, Robeson, Scotland), Phil R. Shepard (Onslow), and John A. Torbett (Gaston).   We enjoyed hearing their updates of important legislation.

We especially thank Speaker Pro Tempore Dale R. Folwell for working with Joyce Krawiec, NCFRW Grassroots Activism Chairman, to schedule the event; along with Paige Fitzgerald Barefoot, Senior Staff Associate, who finalized the arrangements including a conference room to meet with the legislators.


Sources:  house.govsenate.govInvestors Business Daily, “Editorial:  Dems Blame Business For Own Bad Policies,” May 12, 2011; Red State, “Tomorrow:  Biggest Nomination Fight of 2011,” by Curt Levy, May 18, 2011; Carolina Journal Online, “NCGA Scorecard:  The Good, the Bad, and the Incomplete,” by David N. Bass, May 19, 2011;Charlotte Observer, “Senate panel takes up voter ID bill,” by Jim Morrill, May 18, 2011 and “Haley signs voter ID bill into law,” by Gina Smith, May 19, 2011; Civitas, “Civitas Poll:  Perdue Job Approval Remains Under 50 Percent,” by Katie Trout, May 19, 2011; News & Observer, “House votes to shorten early voting,” by Jim Morrill of Charlotte Observer, May 19, 2011 and “Wings clipped,” editorial, May 20, 2011 and “State Health Plan deal advances,” by Lynn Bonner, May 19, 2011 and “Rucho:  Voters will get say on district maps,” by Mary Cornatzer, May 18, 2011 and “Hagan says U.S. must raise debt ceiling,” by Barbara Barrett, May 18, 2011; m2mpolitics, “Early voting bill concerns state elections chief,” May 19, 2011;  Winston Salem Journal, “GOP plans compromise bill next week to restore unemployment benefits,” by Journal Now Staff & AP, May 21, 2011; Star News, “Perdue ready to sign NC employee health plan deal,” by Gary D. Robertson AP, May 19, 2011and “Thousands rally to back NC gay marriage ban idea” by Gary D. Robertson AP, May 17, 2011; News-Record, “More state residents losing jobless benefits,” by AP, May 18, 2011 and “Triad legislator opposes a ban of gay marriage,” by Mark Binker, May 18, 2011; and News & Observer,“Same-sex marriage foes rally for amendment,” by Eden Stiffman and Lynn Bonner, May 18, 2011; ncga.state.nc.us; and Personal Observations during Marriage Rally and Legislative Day activities, May 17, 2011.

Editor’s Note:  Bolding (other editing) done by the blogger and not by the writer. As requested by the writer, all original content included.  Please note sources cited. KCC appreciates the writer’s extensive research and reporting.

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