NC Legislature to Talk Taxes, Fracking, Midwives

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The North Carolina General Assembly will reconvene Tuesday morning, amid discussion about several hot-button issues -- taxes, fracking and midwives in North Carolina.

The Senate, which reconvenes at 5 p.m. Tuesday, is likely to take up the House-passed tax package. It passed on a final read last week by a vote of 85 to 29. The bill proposes to tax electronic cigarettes at five cents per millimeter of the nicotine-containing liquid in the devices. The bill contains an amendment that re-classifies the devices as tobacco products, so as to abide by any future FDA changes.

The provision also contains a stipulation about privilege license taxes for businesses. The bill contains a flat $100 cap on the tax--a provision that has been controversial, due to the potential for some cities to lose revenue.

The House of Representatives is likely to take up the Senate-passed fracking bill Tuesday. The bill passed through the Senate last Thursday to lift the state's ban on fracking--a natural gas drilling process. The bill, if passed by the House and signed by the governor, would speed up the approval process for fracking. Permits could be issued as soon as 2016. Before the bill passed through the Senate, Senators amended the bill to require drillers post a $1 million bond in the event their drilling operation causes a spill or other damage.

The Senate also could begin considering a bill that could lift 30 years of restrictions on midwives in the state. The bill, filed in the Senate this week, would lessen the required supervision of midwives in North Carolina by allowing them to practice without the supervision of a physician.

The Senate heard a similar bill proposed in 2013, after a lobbying effort by nurse midwives. But, doctors lobbied against the measure, which died on the House floor.


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