LEGISLATIVE REPORT - July 3, 2019
The big news in Raleigh last week was the state budget. The week began with a bit of negotiating and a lot of posturing by legislative leaders and Governor Cooper. By the week’s end, the General Assembly had sent its budget to the Governor, and he had vetoed it, calling it an “astonishing failure of common sense and common decency.”
As expected, the major hang up with the budget is that it does not include Medicaid expansion, something Governor Cooper has made a priority. Republican leaders did include language in the budget encouraging a special session to discuss Medicaid and access to health care. House leaders have revived discussion about a vote for Carolina Cares, Rep. Donny Lambeth’s Medicaid expansion bill that included work requirements. But Senate leadership has made it clear there are not the votes in that chamber for any kind of Medicaid expansion.
With the state’s fiscal year having ended on Sunday, there are a lot of unanswered questions about the budget’s next steps. The House is scheduled to take the week of July 1 off for the Independence Day holiday, so a vote to over-ride Cooper’s veto would have to wait until July 8. Assuming the over-ride votes fail, everyone will likely be back at the drawing board, or the negotiating table. However, North Carolina’s government won’t grind to a halt. Unlike the federal budget, North Carolina will automatically continue to operate based on last year’s budget levels.
In non-budget news, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that partisan gerrymandering is beyond the authority of federal courts, placing responsibility for challenging the practice with Congress or state legislatures. That means that North Carolina won't have to draw new congressional districts for the 2020 elections. A lower court had previously ruled that North Carolina's Republican-led state legislature violated the U.S. Constitution when it drew the congressional districts to the state's 13 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, by increasing the power of Republicans.
The issue isn’t closed yet, though. There is still a pending state court case on the issue, which challenges whether the maps violate the state constitution. That case is scheduled to be heard July 15th.
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