- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina lawmakers went back to work Monday, trying to hammer out enough differences between themselves and even with Gov. Pat McCrory so they can end this year’s legislative session sometime this week.

Both the Senate and House held floor debates late into the evening to debate and vote on several bills.

Here’s a look at what happened on the march toward adjournment, which legislative leaders on Monday night said could occur as soon as early Wednesday:

BONDS

A $2 billion bond package neared final legislative approval as the House gave its formal approval to an agreement chamber leaders reached last week with Senate colleagues.

Under the bill, which was approved by an 86-23 vote, more than $1.3 billion of the debt would go to projects on University of North Carolina and community college system campuses. Other proceeds would go in part to water and sewer system loans and grants; state parks; a Department of Agriculture lab and National Guard readiness centers.

The Senate already voted yes to the package, which also would require voters to approve issuing the debt in a referendum, likely to be held in March.

Before any referendum, the House must give formal approval one more time Tuesday. McCrory then would be asked to sign the package into law, too.

FETAL TISSUE

Legislators agreed to make it illegal to sell the remains of aborted fetuses in the state.

The state House gave final approval to the measure 79-29, less than a week after the idea surfaced in a Senate committee and got that chamber’s approval.

The legislation now heading to McCrory’s desk is a response to videos by a group showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing how they provide aborted fetal organs for research. Planned Parenthood says the videos were edited and misleading. Planned Parenthood in North Carolina says it has never donated fetal tissue, let alone sold it. Selling fetal tissue would violate federal law.

A provision also would permanently ban giving state funds aimed at family planning, pregnancy prevention, or other similar programs to groups that perform abortions. Planned Parenthood programs aimed at reducing teenage pregnancies in Fayetteville and Wilmington receive $135,000.

AUTISM COVERAGE

A bill requiring health insurance plans to cover treatments for people diagnosed with autism disorders finally went to the House floor and got approved by a wide margin after being stuck in a House committee for three months.

The measure does allow insurers to halt coverage at age 18 and set a coverage ceiling of $40,000 per year. A floor amendment tweaked the Senate bill, which had been negotiated by several advocacy groups and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. So it’s unclear if those groups now remain on board. That measure now must return to the Senate.

ASPHALT PLANTS

The House Rules Committee on Monday night rejected a measure that would have blocked the state permitting of new asphalt plants within 2 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Republican Rep. Jonathan Jordan said the bill was a response to a pair of proposed plants in Ashe and Watauga counties, which he represents. He said emissions coming from the operations could harm air quality and the economic benefits the Parkway to western North Carolina.

Two speakers spoke against the bill, including the operator of a Watauga County quarry that wants to expand to include asphalt production.

LIGHT RAIL

The House gave final approval to a tax cleanup bill, but not before passing an amendment to remove a provision in the state budget law approved earlier this month that had capped state funding on light rail transit projects at $500,000. The provision appeared to have put a Durham-Chapel Hill rail project in jeopardy. The bill now returns to the Senate.

UNC PRESIDENT

An approved amendment from Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, to a bill placing tighter term limits on University of North Carolina Board of Governors members would require the board to make more public its current search for a system president.

The amendment would require that the names of the three finalists and their credentials be made public at least two weeks before the board selects a president. There would have to be at least one public board meeting to discuss the finalists, and the candidate would need the votes of a majority of board members to get the job.

A search committee is currently considering a successor to President Tom Ross.

The bill still needs additional House and Senate votes to get final General Assembly approval.


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