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Get the H's out of here, Senate says, as tax talks break down

UPDATED:Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca has been delaying most House bills up for votes in the Senate for the last few days. Today, he asked to remove "anything that begins with an H," as in House Bill, from the Senate calendar, with no set date on when they'd return. About 40 House bills have accumulated on the Senate calendar.

The political ploy is tied to the effort to strike a tax deal -- and reflects the frustration among Republicans that the party can’t reach a consensus. ”I wouldn’t call it gamesmanship,” Apodaca said. “I’d call it incentive to move forward so we can all go home.”

Apodaca said the Senate wants to move toward adjournment but the House is not moving as quickly in the same direction.

One big problem is apparently the governor’s office. “Get your pencils ready,” Apodaca told reporters, obviously on a roll. “It’s kind of difficult to negotiate with three bodies instead of two. The House and Senate seem to do a pretty good job, sometimes it's difficult to have to negotiate with the governor’s office.”

McCrory said Wednesday that he wants a tax plan that is closer to revenue neutral so it provides enough money for the government services he wants to prioritize. The House and Senate want a major tax cut -- particularly because any tax plan would likely sunset other tax breaks. A scenario floated by McCrory’s office combining the House and Senate plans could increase state tax revenue, depending on whose numbers are used, in the first year. An previous version of the House plan may do the same. Republicans worry any increase in revenue may violate their pledge -- and others, such as the governor -- not to raise taxes.

One chamber refusing to vote on bills from the other chamber is a common tactic used near the end of the legislative session or when the two chambers are engaged in difficult negotiations.

Rep. David Lewis, the lead Republican tax negotiator in the House, said he doesn't see the governor’s office as a hindrance. And he called the Senate’s move a “disincentive.”
“This is an old institution and there are very old political tricks and we will continue to do this stuff long after both Sen. Apodaca and I are gone,” Lewis said.
--Lynn Bonner and John Frank, staff writers


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