Yesterday, the negotiated budget deal between the House and the Senate was announced. House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger announced that they had reached agreement on a “balanced, fiscally responsible state budget.” You can go to the General Assembly’s website to read the budget bill and the conference committee’s report.
As expected, the budget agreement includes a lot of items I strongly support and some number of items that I don’t support. The first vote on the budget will occur tomorrow (Tuesday, July 23) and the final vote will occur on Wednesday. Between now and then I’ll be spending a lot of time trying to understand the proposed budget. The bill will come to the floor for an up or down vote; in other words, we can either vote “yes” or vote “no” but there will be no opportunity to amend the bill. As an Appropriations subcommittee chair, the expectation is that I will support the budget even though there are provisions in it that I don’t support.
This is expected to be the last week of the legislative session. Besides the budget, I’m expecting votes on guns (HB937), abortion (SB353), voter ID (HB589), regulatory reform (SB112, HB74), judicial appointments (SB321), and a host of environmental and energy bills (HB94, SB76, SB515). It is also possible that we could take up nonpartisan redistricting (HB606) and election law reform (HB794).
While we’ve been busy over these past several weeks, what is hard for people to understand is how everything seems to wait until the end for decisions. Having now served in the legislature for three years, I am also dismayed by how it seems that all sorts of really important issues get put off until the end. If it is hard on legislators to keep track of legislation in the closing days, it is ever harder for the public.
Sunbonnet & Straw Hat
One note of local interest: this weekend a play, Sunbonnet and Straw Hat, debuts in Hendersonville. It is a historic drama which uses the character of Robert Morgan, a well-known author who grew up in the Green River area of Henderson County, to highlight the history of important buildings in downtown Hendersonville. The play should be fun, and one of the actors is my predecessor, Carolyn Justus. The play benefits the Henderson County Heritage Museum and the Henderson County Education Foundation, and will be presented in the former courtroom in the Historic Courthouse on Main Street. I hope folks with support both the museum and the education foundation by attending the plays. The performances will take place 7:00 p.m. on Friday, 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. You can get information about tickets from the Heritage Museum (828-694-1619).