Just because it’s called the short session doesn’t mean it’s not contentious or lacking drama.
The short session of the N.C. General Assembly rolls on in Raleigh and just as during the last session, passions have been stirred on both sides of the ideological spectrum.
Education, budget battles, new regulations and Moral Monday protests all continue to dominate the headlines coming out of the General Assembly.
Perhaps one of the most divisive issues the Republican-controlled General Assembly has chosen to take up, is the issue of eliminating Common Core curriculum from N.C. public schools.
State Sen. Dan Soucek is a primary sponsor of SB 812, a bill to replace Common Core with N.C.’s Higher Academic Standards.
According to the bill’s language, SB 812 is, “An act to exercise North Carolina’s constitutional authority to replace Common Core and establish, promote and assure high academic standards that are robust and appropriate for North Carolina public education.” If the bill becomes law, a commission would be assembled to rewrite English and Math education standards for the state’s public schools.
Governor Pat McCrory has signalled his displeasure with the bill, which could set up a battle between the legislature and the governor’s office.
Ashe County Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Holden has stated on the record multiple times that he opposes the elimination of Common Core.
The House, Senate and McCrory are at odds over the state budget, with all three having their own spending plan.
Among their major differences:
• While all three are proposing to raise teacher salaries, none agree on how to accomplish it. McCrory has proposed a short term, minimum salary ($33,000) for teachers with no experience. Teachers in their first seven years would se a six percent raise while teachers who’ve been in the classroom 13 years or more would get a 2 percent raise. The Senate’s budget calls for an average raise of $5,800 for all teachers provided they surrender their tenure rights. To accomplish such a raise, however, cuts would be made to teacher assistants and transportation. The House budget calls for an average five percent raise, which would be funded through money from the N.C. Education Lottery.
• McCrory wants to give state employees a $1,000 salary increase and a boost in benefits. The Senate and House’s plans largely mirror’s McCrory’s.
• Both McCrory and the House want to set money aside to continue working to reform Mediciad, however, the Senate would strip control of Medicaid from the Department of Health and Human Services and move towarda managed care model for healthcare. In addition, the Senate would cut Medicaid eligibiliy for thousands of blind, aged and disabled individuals.
• McCrory and the House want to extend tax credits for historic renovation, however, the Senate wants to do away with it.
• Under McCrory and the House budgets, no changes would be made to the highway use tax. The Senate would increase the highway use tax between $1,000-$2,000 depending upon the type of vehicle.
Soucek and Jordan
In addition to SB 812, Soucek is the primary sponsor of the following bills in the Senate:
• SB 735: Honor NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductees.
• SB 739: Amend Hotel Carbon Monoxide Requirement.
• SB 758: Western School of Science and Mathematics funding.
• SB 815: Ensuring Privacy of Student Records.
• SB 865: Town of Boone/Extraterritorial Jurisdiction.
State Rep. Jonathan Jordan has introduced the following bills in the House:
• HB1140: Amend Hotel Carbon Monoxide Alarm Requirement.
• HB1153: OAH Electronic Filing.
• HB1174: Defer Cutoff to Qualify for Master’s Supplement.
• HB1175: Anniversary of First State House Session.
• HB1179: Status Reports Filed by Guardians.
• HB1180: Honor Fallen Soldiers.
• HB1215: Community College Waiver/Nonprofit Hospital Police Deptartments.
• HB1216: Cemetery Commission Funds.
• HB1217: Tort Claims Act Clarification.
• HB1237: Retirement Investment Transparency.
The short session will continue until a budget is passed, and then the General Assembly will adjourn for the year.
For more information on the short session and legislation proposed and/or passed, visit www.ncleg.net.
Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.