The North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh. File photo by Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press

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Portions of the House budget are due to emerge as early as this week setting the stage for a three-way negotiation on sticking points with the Senate and the McCrory administration.

Meanwhile, the debate over competing tax plans from both chambers too a turn last week when Gov. Pat McCrory announced his preference for the House’s version of an overhaul of the state’s tax system. McCrory said he prefers a House plan, released in mid-May and a new bipartisan Senate plan released last week to a plan put forward by the Senate leadership.

While all three plans expand the range of items and services subject to state sales taxes, McCrory said he does not like the Senate leadership’s plan for including new taxes on food and medicine.

While the tax and spending plans are the main items on the legislative agenda, local bills are on the move as well.

A bill to de-annex Asheville Regional Airport, a move city leaders say could cost hundreds of thousands in annual tax revenue, is scheduled to be heard in the House Finance Committee on Tuesday morning.

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The bill, introduced by Hendersonville Republican Rep. Chuck McGrady and co-sponsored by Asheville-area Republicans Tim Moffitt and Nathan Ramsey, removes nearly 700 acres around the airport as well as the WNC Agricultural Center property from the city’s jurisdiction.

Asheville Regional is one of three airports the General Assembly has targeted for changes this session. Moves to de-annex the Charlotte Regional Airport as well as change its governing structure and to de-annex the Rowan County Airport from Salisbury are also moving through the legislature.

Scheduled for a Monday night vote in the Senate is a bill modifying Henderson County’s occupancy tax. The bill, introduced by McGrady, changes rules on spending the county’s occupancy tax, eliminating a specific allocation for the Vagabond School of The Drama, and requiring that two-thirds of the tax collected be used to promote travel and tourism in the county with the rest to be used for tourism-related expenses.

The General Assembly is also one step closer to honoring Hayesville on its 100th anniversary. A joint resolution introduced by Rep. Roger West, R-Marble, and Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, passed the House last Wednesday and is working its way through the Senate. The Clay County town, with a population of roughly 300, was incorporated by the N.C. General Assembly in March 1913.

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Moral Monday protests to resume

The NAACP and a coalition of progressive groups are promising the largest protest at the General Assembly yet as the “Moral Monday” protests resume at 5:30 p.m. Monday night.

The protests, which have resulted in 153 arrests at the legislature building, are aimed to draw attention to policies the coalition said are hurting the state’s poorer citizens in order to pay for a tax cut and policies that favor those better off.

Turnout for the Monday events, which began in early May but took a hiatus for the Memorial Day holiday, has been steadily increasing.

The last protest, on May 24, saw a crowd of more than 600 and 57 arrests.

Kirk Ross

Based in the Triangle, Kirk Ross is the capital bureau chief for Carolina Public Press. Contact him at kross@carolinapublicpress.org.

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