NCDP Clips for Friday, February 13th, 2015

NCDP Clips for Friday, February 13th, 2015

Tweet of The Day

Still out of touch- senate repubs call for ANOTHER tax increase on working class #gastax #ncpol #ncga — Duane Hall (@RepDuaneHall) February 12, 2015

GOP legislative leadership spark inflated staffs, big spending becomes norm (AP) — The idea of North Carolina legislative leaders hiring large staffs to help them govern has become the norm in the past 40 years. In the 1970s, the House speaker typically had only one assistant. Today, Senate leader Phil Berger and Speaker Tim Moore each have more than a dozen workers. Personnel data show the staffs’ combined salaries total more than $2 million. The workers are called "partisan" staff because their jobs are to help the majority party pass its agenda. That’s in contrast to non-partisan researchers at the legislative complex who provide help to all lawmakers.

List of highest salaried employees in NC leaders’ offices (AP) — The highest salaried employees on the staffs of House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, according to data provided by the legislature’s Financial Services Office: Moore’s office: Clayton Somers, chief of staff, $158,500; Andy Munn, deputy chief of staff, $120,000; Mitch Gillespie, senior policy adviser, $100,000; Sarah Newton, senior policy adviser, $85,000. Berger’s office: Jim Blaine, chief of staff, $158,500; Andrew Tripp, general counsel, $147,500; Amy Auth, deputy chief of staff for communications and operations, $112,500; Jeffrey Warren, policy analyst, $108,000.

State budget outlook a mixed bag (WRAL-TV) — State lawmakers heard some good news and some bad in revenue and budget forecasts delivered Thursday by legislative economists.

NC Senate gives final OK to gas-tax changes; House next stop (AP) — A bill that lowers North Carolina’s gasoline tax immediately but opens the door to higher tax rates in the years ahead cleared the Senate on Thursday, but not before there was more sniping from Republicans and Democrats.

McCrory, DOT chief Tata ask legislators to review DOT layoffs (Raleigh News & Observer) — The Senate gave final approval in a 35-15 vote Thursday and sent to the House a complicated measure that would cut the state gas tax in March, forcing 500 layoffs at North Carolina’s state Department of Transportation – and then raise the gas tax.

NC Senate resurrects bill in power struggle with governor (Raleigh News & Observer) — State senators are resurrecting an unemployment insurance bill that the governor vetoed last year in an ongoing power struggle between the legislature and the executive branch.

Democrats file bill to bring back earned income and other tax credits (Winston-Salem Journal) — An economic-development bill sponsored by House Democratic leaders offers a package of tax credits that includes reviving the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-wage workers, as well as for historic preservation and film production. The bill, contains 61 pages of recommended changes to state economic-development laws.

A new way to find your government representatives (WRAL-TV) — This week, @NCCapitol launched an application to help you quickly find who represents you in the General Assembly and the Congress. Enter your address, and you’ll get photos and contact information for each of your five representatives in state and federal government.

Ford: Today’s Senate Democrats in NC not like the old (Raleigh News & Observer) — Sen. Joel Ford, a Mecklenburg County Democrat, asked fellow senators on Thursday not to confuse today’s Democrats with those who controlled the chamber for decades.

State delegation plays to full house at City Hall (Greensboro News & Record) — Residents packed into City Hall on Thursday night to get two minutes in front of their legislative delegation. Many had the same message: They do not like Sen. Trudy Wade’s bill to reconfigure the Greensboro City Council.

G.O.P. Consultant Pleads Guilty in PAC Case (New York Times) — The plea appears to mark the first coordination case brought by federal prosecutors since the Supreme Court’s decision that allowed for the creation of groups that can raise and spend unlimited money.

Law Enforcement & Race: Director cites ‘hard truths’ and calls for ‘open discussion’(FBI News Release) — FBI Director James B. Comey called on the nation’s law enforcement personnel and the citizens they serve to participate in a frank and open conversation about the disconnect that exists in places like New York City and Ferguson, Missouri—and many communities across the country—between police agencies and many citizens, particularly in communities of color.

Decline in NC flu deaths continues with 6 reported last week (AP) — Weekly flu deaths in North Carolina have fallen for the fifth straight week as health officials report six people died from symptoms in the latest reporting period.

Protesters stage ‘die-in’ at NC Legislative Building over Medicaid (Raleigh News & Observer) — Protesters staged a "die-in" Thursday afternoon at the Legislative Building to protest the state decision not to expand Medicaid and to promote a march set for Saturday in Raleigh. Seventeen people, including some wearing yellow paper gowns to symbolize medical patient garb, demonstrated. No one was arrested.

NC Falls Behind on Disease Prevention Scorecard (N.C. Health News) — A health-prevention report card shows that the state continues to fail in obesity and nutrition prevention, while the state’s tobacco-prevention grade worsened from a B to a C.

Law Enforcement Officers Find Better Ways to Work With Mentally Ill (N.C. Health News) — Hundreds of law enforcement officers gathered in Raleigh this week to learn about avoiding conflict with mentally ill people in the community.

Match Made in Heaven? NC Researcher Finds Social Class Impacts Relationships(Public News Service) — Your compatibility with your partner may come down to dollars and cents, according to the research of a Duke University professor. Sociologist Jessi Streib studied couples in which each partner grew up in a different socio-economic class.

Part of Rodanthe pier drops into Atlantic (WRAL-TV) — A portion of the Rodanthe pier collapsed into the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday afternoon.

Joy Thrash stepping down at N.C. Defense Business Association (Fayetteville Observer) — Joy Thrash is stepping down this spring as founding director of the North Carolina Defense Business Association after six years.

Rally kicks off campaign against ‘dirty industry’ (Sanford Herald) — More than 30 people stood on the edge of Duke Energy’s proposed coal ash storage site in Lee County Thursday for a press conference, rally and prayer vigil to kick off a three-state campaign against “dirty industry,” including coal ash and hydraulic fracturing.

No Huffing and Puffing Over Wind (Coastal Review) — The feds had a meeting in Kitty Hawk about offshore wind energy. There were no protests or demonstrations, no talk of spills and sullied beaches. The presentation held Monday evening in Kitty Hawk about a possible wind energy project offshore the northern Outer Banks spurred familiar concerns. “Our precious commodity here is tourism,” said Tim Cafferty, vice-chairman of the Dare County Tourism Board. “It’s a half-billion dollar industry on the Outer Banks. What’s in it for us?”

N.C emerging as leader in growth in solar jobs (AP) — The number of solar industry jobs in Nevada more than doubled last year, the fastest per capita growth in the nation as North Carolina emerges as a clear national leader, a nonprofit research and education group said in a new report. "California is still the undisputed leader, but states like Minnesota, Illinois and North Carolina are growing aggressively," said Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of The Solar Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based group that was founded in 1977.

Job growth vindicates Obama policies (Raleigh News & Observer) — It may be touted as a growing “confidence” of business in America’s continuing economic recovery, but for the 1 million workers who have been added to payrolls since November, the jobs boom means work.

The tragedy in Chapel Hill (Charlotte Observer) — Three shooting deaths. One parking space. So many difficult questions.

State grading system doesn’t add up (Wilson Times) — If we asked everyone in Wilson County to give a letter grade to each and every public school here, it’s likely we’d see a huge disparity in the responses.—State-grading-system-doesn-t-add-up