A final budget and the end of this year's legislative session are in sight. The House and the Senate have nearly completed negotiations on a final spending plan and committee chairs have been asked to finish their work by July 28. General Assembly leaders are continuing discussions on a strategy for the state to assume the Medicaid costs paid by the counties and members of both chambers are considering a number of ways to do this. Some of the plans would allow the counties to levy either a quarter-cent sales tax or a .4 percent land transfer tax, but only with voter approval. Those plans would make sure that counties have the money they need to pay for schools and other infrastructure needs and could result in lower property taxes.
In other business this week, we made some important progress on bills to reform our medical malpractice laws and to improve our criminal justice system. We also moved closer to protecting residents of long-term care facilities from the fire hazards associated with smoking, and to continuing to guard our environment against the problems associated with hog lagoons.
Please remember that you can listen to each day's session, committee meetings and press conferences on the General Assembly's website at www.ncleg.net. Once on the site, select "audio," and then make your selection - House Chamber, Senate Chamber, Appropriations Committee Room or Press Conference Room.