Lucille Sherman
13 hours ago - News

Close call for hemp: NC lawmakers vote to legalize at the last minute

Illustration of a hemp leaf hanging off a rope in a tug of war.
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Hemp and CBD are still legal in North Carolina.

After a tense standoff between North Carolina's Republican House and Senate chambers, lawmakers reached a last-minute agreement on legislation to remove hemp from the state's list of illegal drugs.

  • The bill will now go to the governor's desk, where he is expected to sign it into law — just in time to avoid a Friday deadline that would have outlawed the product and put 1,500 of the farms in limbo.

Why it matters: The situation shows how, even when legislation has bipartisan support, minor disagreements can derail policy changes that legislators agree would benefit the state.

  • Before a compromise was reached, Democratic Rep. Kelly Alexander told fellow legislators Tuesday: "Without any debate, we just destroyed the hemp industry."

Between the lines: Two Republican lawmakers, Rep. Jimmy Dixon and Sen. Brent Jackson, each sponsored their own versions of the bill.

  • The pair disagree over whether to include permanent hemp legalization with legislation addressing various state agriculture needs or pass it on its own.
  • "It's unfortunate that for so long these farmers and small business owners have been left in the lurch," Jackson said in a statement yesterday.

NC teachers could see a bigger pay bump this year

Illustration of a red apple with a hundred dollar bill for a leaf. 
Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Teachers could see an average of a 4.2% pay increase in the next year under a new statewide budget plan unveiled by Republican leaders Tuesday.

Why it matters: The possibility of that raise comes as teachers face mounting demands. In recent years, they've navigated the pandemic, threats of school shootings and political interference in lesson plans, driving thousands of educators to quit their jobs.

Lucille Sherman
Jun 29, 2022 - News

The N.C. House passed Medicaid expansion, but the Senate doesn't love it

Illustration of a boxing ring bell with the red cross symbol on it.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The North Carolina House passed its own plan to expand Medicaid in the state Tuesday, but the bill is unlikely to advance beyond that if a standoff between the House and Senate continues.

Why it matters: Medicaid expansion, if signed into law, would grant health care to some 600,000 of North Carolina’s poorest residents. But the two legislative chambers have yet to agree on how to make that happen.

Between the lines: After the Senate passed its Medicaid proposal earlier this month, House Republican leaders said they wouldn’t take up the issue during this legislative session.

  • Turns out they did, but the bill they passed yesterday includes lines that would delay the implementation of expansion by several months — something Senate leader Phil Berger doesn’t want to do.
  • House leaders also still oppose several provisions in the Senate’s plan, including one that would remove some regulatory requirements for advanced practice registered nurses.

What’s next: Berger said in a press conference Tuesday that the Senate would look at the House’s proposal. But he’s been critical of early drafts.

  • “It is past time for action,” Berger said in a statement emailed to reporters last week.

What they’re saying: Gov. Roy Cooper, however, seems optimistic that the two chambers are still discussing the issue.

  • “I’m encouraged that both the House and Senate agree that North Carolina needs to expand Medicaid,” Cooper said in a tweet Tuesday. “It is imperative that an agreement is reached to get this done now.”
Lucille Sherman
Jun 22, 2022 - News

N.C. Republicans reject medical marijuana legislation

Illustration of weekly pill case with marijuana leaves labels.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

In a closed-door meeting Wednesday, North Carolina House Republicans all but sealed the fate of a proposed medical marijuana bill, giving it a slim chance of becoming law this year.

What happened: Republicans in the chamber internally voted not to advance the legislation in that meeting, multiple sources told Axios. Sources were unwilling to speak on the record because caucus — where all of the members of a given party discuss and debate issues — is confidential.

Lucille Sherman
Jun 21, 2022 - News

Behind the scenes of N.C.'s Medicaid expansion battle

Illustration of a boxing ring bell with the red cross symbol on it.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

A national group has ramped up pressure on North Carolina Republicans in recent days, urging them to expand health care to some of the state's poorest and most vulnerable residents.

Driving the news: The group, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, has spent at least $121,000 on television ads, Federal Communications Commission records show. The ads name nine House Republicans and accuse them of standing in the way of Medicaid expansion, including House majority leader John Bell.

Local Limelight with N.C. Congresswoman Deborah Ross

Photo illustration of Representative Deborah Ross in the center of a Polaroid photo under a green spotlight.
Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Congresswoman Deborah Ross's Office

U.S. Congresswoman Deborah Ross, a Democrat who represents most of Wake County, spoke with Axios Raleigh for our Local Limelight series. Read on for her picks.

Lucille Sherman
Jun 15, 2022 - News

NC moves to increase mobile sports betting revenue

Illustration of the football, money tongue, and basketball emojis.
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

A long-stalled push to legalize and regulate online sports betting in the state appears to be moving forward. Supporters expect the House to pass a bill that would increase the tax rate and require a licensing fee for sports betting operators before the session ends in two weeks.

Why it matters: If passed, the legislation would generate millions in tax revenue and make North Carolina one of 20 states that have legalized mobile betting.

  • Original estimates projected that mobile sports betting would bring in between $8 and $24 million in the first full year. If the tax rate increases, that number would double, Rep. Jason Saine — a sponsor of the bill — told Axios, citing early estimates by legislative staff.

State of play: The state Senate passed the bill by a narrow margin last fall.

Lucille Sherman
Jun 3, 2022 - News

The fate of two consequential bills rests in the North Carolina House

Illustration of the North Carolina Legislative Building with lines radiating from it.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

North Carolina's state Senate passed two major bills Thursday on issues that few believed would ever see the light of day in this legislature: Medicaid expansion and medical marijuana.

Yes, but: The bills could lead to a standoff between the Senate, House and the governor, who all have competing priorities for this year's legislative session.


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