RALEIGH, North Carolina — With three months of intense budget negotiations over, North Carolina lawmakers look to be on a glide path to adjourn this year's extended session very soon, even with prominent legislation pending.
That's because House and Senate leaders have been working through differences on other key legislation — some already debated for years — while the last nails were hammered on the final two-year spending plan Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law late last week.
"It has taken us longer than we would have liked," said Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, pointing to "the big issues that we've dealt with ... we've resolved some things that have been nagging for a fairly substantial period of time."
Here's what's left to do before the General Assembly closes down, likely by Sept. 30:
The final Medicaid compromise scheduled for House and Senate debate Tuesday remains based on the same premise: shifting financial risks for treating patients to outside medical networks or managed-care companies will control state Medicaid costs and improves patient health.
Currently, Medicaid reimburses doctors and hospitals for each service performed on a patient. Now the state will enter into contracts with network or managed-care groups that will receive fixed monthly amounts for each patient they treat. The organizations take the profit or loss.
Regulatory hoops mean these "capitated" contracts wouldn't begin until 2018 or 2019. A new Division of Medical Benefits would replace the current Division of Medical Assistance that operates Medicaid and have broader powers on hiring and firing workers and pay. Ultimately the new division director will be subject to legislative confirmation.
Like the Medicaid changes he wants, McCrory also should get expanded economic recruitment incentives he's asked for. But they're tweaked to help regions beyond Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham attract new and expanding companies.
A compromise set for a Senate vote Monday extends the Job Development Investment Grant program for three years. The state's chief incentives tool gives cash grants to companies that meet job and capital requirements.
The bill raises the maximum value of JDIG incentives the state can commit to annually from $15 million to $20 million, and to even more should the state land a megaplant, such as an automobile manufacturer. Local governments in economically distressed areas also would get more leverage in a state recruiting fund.
House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, confirmed Republicans agreed they want to move all 2016 primaries — not just the presidential contests — to March 15 to avoid the costs and complexity of a second statewide election. Nonpresidential primaries are currently scheduled for May 3.
A negotiation committee was formed to craft final legislation. The measure could set earlier candidate filing periods, adjust campaign finance report deadlines and make other technical election changes.
House and Senate Republican leaders agree they want a referendum on the ballot next year for $2 billion in debt for government projects. It's less than the $2.85 billion sought by McCrory.
Still to decide is whether the referendum will be during the March primary or in November 2016.
The projects built from debt proceeds also must be finalized. McCrory said he'll keep pressing to include highway projects, saying it makes sense given low interest rates. But that's unlikely given the final budget already generates an additional $440 million annually for roads, said House Rules Chairman David Lewis, R-Harnett.
Negotiators have been working on the Republicans' annual "regulatory reform" bill.
The House and Senate differ on a measure designed to prevent employers from avoiding taxes and insurance on workers by falsely labeling them independent contractors. A Senate farm bill that in part addresses raising captive deer has yet to pass the House.
Bills making technical law corrections and appointments to boards and commissions also will be considered.