The heat wave has finally broken, but tempers continue to flare within the General Assembly as North Carolina finds itself more than two months overdue in passing a state budget.
Although legislative leaders planned for budget votes this week, no action was taken. At the heart of this delay lies the divisive issue of legalizing brick-and-mortar casinos in four economically challenged counties. The Senate sees the potential revenue from legalized casinos as the funding source to pay for their tax cuts which were deeper than what the House proposed. As such, President Pro-Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) supports incorporating this targeted casino legalization into the budget; however, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) contends there aren’t sufficient Republican votes within his chamber to pass a budget inclusive of casino legalization.
This week, the House Republican Caucus met for nearly four hours discussing the casino provisions behind closed doors but could not get a majority of its members on board. Nevertheless, both chambers are set to convene in the coming week. Amidst the fiery debates between the two chambers over the casino issue, some legislative activity did manage to take place during the week.
Education Bills Passed By The Senate
HB 432: Principal Licensure Changes (primary sponsors: Representatives David Willis, R-Union; Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke; Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg; John Torbett, R-Gaston)
- Passed Senate by a 47-0 vote, sent back to House for concurrence
- Updates principal licensure requirements
- Eliminates the requirement that principals must have at least four years of classroom teaching experience and instead requires principals to have at least four years of experience as a “licensed professional educator”
- Requires the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission to develop a portfolio-based assessment for prospective principals
- Requires an internship of at least 500 hours rather than a yearlong internship
Local Conference Committee Reports With Votes
HB 5: Local Omnibus Changes
- Bill previously titled Fuquay-Varina/Clemmons Deannexations
- Section 15 of new bill impacts Buncombe County and Asheville City school districts
- Changes effective dates for establishing new electoral districts for Buncombe County Board of Education as outlined in HB 66/S.L. 2023-72.
- The old date was February 1, 2024 and the new date is June 30, 2024
- Authorizes the Buncombe County Board of Education and the Asheville City Board of Education to jointly study the feasibility of a merger between those two boards
- Passed second reading in the Senate by a 34-10 vote, final vote calendared for Tuesday September 19, with a final House vote expected the same day