What’s next? Lawmakers on a whirlwind week

credit: 401kcalculator.com

credit: 401kcalculator.com

RALEIGH – While Jones and Blount streets have had a collective nose buried in hundreds of pages of budget since just before midnight Monday, lawmakers have planned an aggressive whirlwind of activity that wraps up lose ends from the marathon session that consumed the spring and summer. The action starts with the House at noon Tuesday voting on the Privacy Protection from Revenge Postings and then a Rules Committee meeting to discuss bills including a Billy Graham Postage Stamp and a measure that would direct public schools to open their doors to civic organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

The Senate then takes the stage at 2 p.m. to vote on the Budget Conference Report presented in a joint press conference yesterday and posted online over night. The next few days are expected to see the House pass the conference report and then both chambers possibly voting on a Medicaid reform bill and Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed bond package for highway and infrastructure work.

Also on the Senate floor Tuesday is the conference report for House Bill 334, which dissolves the Office of Charter Schools at the Department of Public Safety and moves its powers and duties to an Office of Charter schools under the State Board of Education. The new Office of Charter Schools would serve as staff for the Charter School Advisory Board, which has members appointed by the executive branch, the Senate President Pro Temp, the Speaker and the Lieutenant Governor. The new office will assist the Advisory Board in making policy recommendations to the State Board of Education and will provide technical assistance to approved charter schools. The office legislation also directs the Department of Public Instruction to “cooperate with the Office of Charter Schools in carrying out its powers and duties in accordance with this article.”

Image credit: Suzie Tremmel

Image credit: Suzie Tremmel

Later this afternoon, Governor McCrory is scheduled to kick off the first Mental Health and Substance Use Task Force. The Governor established the task force through an executive order to study and make policy recommendations on addressing mental health and substance abuse issues in the state. Chaired by Chief Justice Mark Martin, the group consists of professionals in judiciary, healthcare, employment and non-profit advocacy. The task force is tasked with studying early intervention solutions for people suffering from substance abuse and mental illness before they commit crimes or harm themselves or co-workers. It is scheduled to report its findings to the governor in May 2016. The open meeting will be held at the McKimmon Center at N.C. State University.