WHAT HAPPENED: We've returned to weekly publication following the usual holiday and start-of-the-year downtime, which we hope you've found rejuvenating as political and governmental business restores.
WHAT IT MEANS: The General Assembly, for one, is already coming out of the dugout for what's expected to be a brief session starting Tuesday, Jan. 14.
ON TAP: The session could be over and done within a day, legislators say, though the actual scope of work isn't fully known. Senate Republicans have wanted to override the governor's long-surviving veto of the legislature-approved state budget, a vote the House completed in September 2019.
THE SKINNY: Read on for more timely news of interest to cities and towns from state government, and welcome to 2020.
It could be a fast turnaround for the General Assembly when it reconvenes on Tuesday for session, this one a specially scheduled event separate from and additional to the legislative short session that plays out each even-numbered year. The full nature of business for next week hasn't been publicly specified, but school funding is among discussed topics. Senate Republicans have also sought to do what the House has already done -- vote to override the governor's veto of the legislature's version of the state budget. The governor and legislature have been locked in disagreement over the contents of a comprehensive state budget and as such have only put into law a series of individual funding bills for departments and programs. According to the legislative calendar as of Friday, session is set to begin at noon Tuesday, and the House's budget committee will meet right after recess. Sen. Dan Blue, who leads the Senate’s Democratic caucus, has a press conference scheduled at the Legislative Building that morning.
Washington City Council Member and 2019 League President William Pitt is continuing his presence on the National League of Cities' Race, Equity and Leadership Council. His initial appointment on the council began at the start of 2019. The council focuses on expanding the capacity of local elected officials to improve issues of race, close disparities and create more equitable communities. "Your experience and commitment with bring great value to NLC, communities around the country and the efforts of the council," NLC wrote to Pitt upon his reappointment Jan. 1 of this year.
Sen. Floyd McKissick, the longtime lawmaker from Durham, has left his seat in the General Assembly after receiving appointment from the governor to serve on the state's Utilities Commission. According to WRAL News, officials from McKissick's party expect to pick someone this weekend to fill out his unexpired term. That selection would ideally stand present in the brief General Assembly session scheduled to start next week. McKissick was in his sixth term.
The state's Office of Recovery and Resiliency has opened another application period for grants and zero-interest loans made available for local governments still healing from recent years' hard storms. It follows an initial round of awards that totaled beyond $22.4 million for 22 local governments. “There are many counties, cities and towns that still need financial assistance as they work to recover from the devastating storms that have hit North Carolina,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a press release. “We are committed to helping those communities rebuild smarter, stronger and more resilient so we can be better prepared for future storms.” Application details are available at https://www.rebuild.nc.gov.
North Carolina voters won't have to show photo ID to get their ballots in the March 3 primary election, following a New Year's Eve injunction from a federal district court. According to the State Board of Elections, the injunction remains in place "until further order of the court." The state had just sent mailers to North Carolina households educating them about the requirement of photo identification to vote starting in 2020 before the block came down from the court, which concluded the ID law had racial basis. The state's Department of Justice (DOJ) has chosen to appeal, according to a press release. But, without much runway to primary voting, the department won't seek a stay in the injunction before the primary, meaning elections officials "anticipate that photo identification will not be required to vote in the primary per the district court's decision," said DOJ.