Monday, February 28, 2011

NC Legislature begins redrawing district maps this week for 2012

Verne Strickland Blogmaster

By David N. Bass
Associate editor of Carolina Journal.
February 28, 2011

RALEIGH — After spending most of the session bickering over fiscal matters, the General Assembly is set to begin the grueling task of redrawing state and federal district maps for the 2012 election — a process sure to generate controversy.

A joint House and Senate redistricting committee will convene immediately following the close of session on Tuesday. Legislators are taxed with the responsibility of drawing district lines for the state’s 170 legislative districts and 13 congressional districts.

Republicans, in control of the legislature for the first time since Reconstruction, will direct the process and can draw lines to their advantage. Republican leaders hope to have the maps in place by May, although a court challenge is likely.

In addition to redistricting and continued budget deliberations, lawmakers will tackle other issues this week.

On Monday, the Senate will vote for a final time on Senate Bill 34, the Castle Doctrine, after giving tentative approval to the measure last week. S.B. 34 would expand protections for individuals who use deadly force in threatening situations.

A bill that would put a moratorium on forced annexations until 2012 might get brought up in the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday. The measure has passed committee twice and reached the Senate floor, only to be referred back to committee.

On Tuesday, Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford, will hold a press conference to discuss House Bill 188, Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The measure, which has been filed but not assigned to a committee, would put a ceiling on new expenditures by state government. A two-thirds vote of the General Assembly would be required to exceed the limit.

The Senate might take action on a budget-cutting bill that Republicans introduced last week after Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed a previous bill for taking too much money from economic incentives funds. The legislation — Senate Bill 109, Spending Cuts for the Current Fiscal Year — would place the burden on Perdue to find additional cuts to help plug a $2.4 billion budget hole.

Additionally, the House could take up Senate Bill 8, No Cap on Number of Charter Schools. It passed the Senate mostly along party lines last week.

• S.B. 110, Permit Terminal Groins, Harry Brown, R-Onslow
• S.B. 67, Sunshine Amendment, Debbie Clary, R-Cleveland
• H.B. 8, Eminent Domain, Paul “Skip” Stam, R-Wake
• H.B. 61, Speaker/Pro Tem Term Limits, John Blust, R-Guilford
• H.B. 41, Tax Fairness in Education, Paul “Skip” Stam, R-Wake

A list of the regularly scheduled House Committee meetings is here.
• Joint House/Senate committee meeting on redistricting will meet immediately following the session on Tuesday, March 1.
• The Senate State and Local Government Committee will hear S.B. 110, Permit Terminal Groins, at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 1.
• A joint appropriations subcommittee on Health and Human Services will meet at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 1, to review Perdue’s proposed budget.
• The House Insurance Committee will hear H.B. 138, Amend Health Insurance Risk Pool Statutes, at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1.

Senate Bill 97, Clarify Refunds of Tax Overpayments, was introduced and quickly voted on last week. The bill, sponsored by Mecklenburg County Republican Sen. Bob Rucho, would clarify when taxpayers are eligible to receive refunds after overpaying their taxes.

Another measure — Senate Bill 139, Gubernatorial Team Ticket Implementing — would require candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to run on the same ticket, like the president and vice president do.

For the fifth session in a row, Republican lawmakers introduced a proposed constitutional amendment — Senate Bill 106, Defense of Marriage — defining civil marriage as the union of one man and one woman only.