June 16, 2014
Senate Bill Doubles Spending on Veterans’ Health: Spending on veterans’ health care could double in three years under the Senate’s solution to the long waits experienced by thousands seeking medical care at VA hospitals and clinics, according to congressional budget experts. Analyzing a bill the Senate passed overwhelmingly last Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the measure would add $35 billion over the next three years to the $44 billion the government now spends annually on medical care for veterans. Read more here.
Spending to air TV ads in Senate campaigns zooms past $100 million: Democrats, Republicans and the outside groups funding massive television blitzes have spent more than $100 million on television time to air general-election ads in battleground states critical to winning control of the Senate, according to public documents filed with television stations nationwide. The two sides have bought or reserved more than $116 million since the beginning of January, those documents show. Read more here.
Senate coal ash plan tightens requirement for cleanup at 4 sites: Lawmakers reviewed an initial draft of the bill as it was submitted by Gov. Pat McCrory earlier this month, but have repeatedly said they wanted a "tougher" bill, one that would impose deadlines on Duke. Members of the General Assembly staff distributed a new version of Senate Bill 729 to committee members Sunday night. The new bill, as described by an accompanying bill summary, builds on the governor’s plan but does not wait for the power company to submit plans before setting deadlines for coal ash removal. Read more here.
NC House budget overestimates lottery revenues, documents show: The House budget that won approval Friday overestimates how much lottery money the state is expected to receive, documents show, jeopardizing Republicans’ plan to increase teacher pay. The N.C. Education Lottery warned legislative staffers that the House’s plan to boost lottery sales by doubling the advertising budget would generate only $59 million next year – far less than the $106 million designated in the budget. Read more here.
Clinton stresses voter turnout to Ohio Democrats: Former President Bill Clinton accused Republicans of restricting voting rights while stressing to Democrats they have to show up in off-year elections, during remarks at the Ohio Democratic Party’s annual state dinner Friday. Republican-controlled legislatures in Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina and Wisconsin have taken recent steps to curtail early voting by limiting the days on which it’s available. But Clinton said it’s possible for Democrats to overcome the challenges of getting their base to the polls. Read more here.
Supreme Court Has 17 Cases To Decide By June’s End: It’s crunch time at the U.S. Supreme Court, where the justices are racing to issue opinions in 17 cases over the next two weeks. The religious rights of corporations, the speech rights of abortion protesters and the privacy rights of people under arrest are among the significant issues that are so far unresolved. Read more here.
Mecklenburg commissioners tentatively – and quickly – adopt $1.5 billion budget without changes: In a unanimous straw vote, the board changed nothing in County Manager Dena Diorio’s proposed $1.5 billion budget for the coming fiscal year. That means no money for a supplemental pay raise for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools employees, except at least $7.3 million for a 2 percent raise for county-funded CMS employees. On Diorio’s advice, commissioners are holding in restricted contingency that money until state lawmakers decide how much of a pay raise they will give to teachers. Read more here.
Fayetteville’s plan for red-light camera system may violate N.C. constitution: Fayetteville’s plan to install a red-light camera system that pays for itself with proceeds from fines may violate the North Carolina constitution. That could jeopardize two bills pending before the General Assembly to help the city bring back the cameras after an eight-year hiatus. Read more here.