Dome: McCrory weighing appeal on ultrasound ruling
Gov. Pat McCrory remains undecided on whether North Carolina should appeal a federal judge’s ruling striking down the state’s ultrasound law. His office issued a statement Wednesday without taking a position. “We respect the court’s decision and review of the process,” McCrory spokeswoman Kim Genardo said in the statement. She declined to answer further questions about whether the governor supported the law or whether McCrory would support a challenge to the judge’s ruling. The 2011 law requires doctors to show women ultrasound images and describe them in detail between four and 72 hours before performing abortions. For two decades, the state has required an ultrasound for any patient scheduled for an abortion, but the ruling specifically focused on the narration doctors are required to provide.
WRAL: Gov McCrory to speak at rally for NC school choice
Supporters of private and charter school education have made substantial gains in North Carolina in recent years. Now they’ll join Gov. Pat McCrory and other supporters of expanding education options for students and parents with a rally. Thursday’s event at the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte is during National School Choice Week, which is being anchored in the state by Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina.
Triangle Business Journal: Survey says? Providers not happy with Medicaid payment system
More than two-thirds of health care providers say they are either “barely satisfied” or “not satisfied at all” with NCTracks, the system that processes and pays Medicaid claims. That’s according to data from a survey sent to more than 60,000 providers who see Medicaid patients. The survey was not approved by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicaid in this state, or Computer Sciences Corporation, the vendor that built the NCTracks system.
WRAL: Some state employees getting raises
Although Gov. Pat McCrory focused on teacher raises during a Tuesday news conference to outline his 2014 agenda, some other state employees have already gotten a bump in pay. McCrory said Wednesday that the Office of State Human Resources has implemented pay raises authorized by the General Assembly for employees in high-demand professions, such as medicine, accounting, auditing and information technology, with the goal of reducing turnover. The 3,221 state employees will get an average 4.2 percent salary increase. About 1,200 nurses and 600 law enforcement employees will receive increases up to 4 percent, while others will receive increases of up to 10 percent. McCrory highlighted teachers during his news conference, vowing to push for raises in this year’s legislative session. North Carolina ranks among the bottom nationally in average teacher salary, and the state has provided only a 1 percent raise for teachers over the last five years.
WUNC: ‘Building A Mini-Silicon Valley’: Ex-Gov. Perdue Launches Digital Learning Initiative
A year after leaving office, former Governor Bev Perdue is returning to the public stage with the launch of a new project focused on digital learning. In partnership with Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer, Perdue founded the Digital Learning Institute, dubbed DigiLEARN. She says the idea is to bring together teachers, policymakers, entrepreneurs and students to develop the most effective digital learning tools.
WRAL: Ex-Gov. Perdue to lead digital learning effort
Former North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue is returning to the education policy arena after a one-year hiatus largely away from public life. Perdue and former Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer announced the start of an initiative to expand the use of electronic technology to improve the learning process. Perdue will serve as chairwoman of the Digital Learning Institute, or DigiLEARN. DigiLEARN will be different from other digital learning ventures, she said, because it will bring together entrepreneurs and venture capitalists with educators and policymakers to develop online and mobile education tools for learners of all ages, from preschool to adult.
Political Wire: Obama’s Image Rebounds
A new Associated Press-GfK Poll finds the President Obama’s personal image to be on the rebound after taking a hit during the government shutdown late last year, with 58% now sizing him up as very or somewhat likable. That’s up 9 points from October. However, Obama’s approval rate is still upside down at 45% to 53%.
THE STATE OF THE UNION
Politico: The States of Our Union … Are Not All Strong
On Tuesday, President Obama, if precedent holds, will declare that the state of America’s union is “strong.” Is it? One way to judge is by the state of the states of the union: How strong are they, and, dare we ask, which is the strongest? In 1931, H.L. Mencken and his fellow editor at the American Mercury, Charles Angoff, wondered the same thing. In a three-part series the magazine called “The Worst American State,” the pair compiled dozens of rankings of population data, largely from the 1930 census, determined to anoint the best and worst of the 50 states (and the District of Columbia), according to various measures of wealth, culture, health and public safety.
NBC News: First Thoughts: Debt-ceiling debate – here we go again?
Congress could very well be on their way to another collision course over the debt ceiling. On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew wrote a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and the other congressional leaders that the debt limit needs to be raised by late February, NBC’s Frank Thorp reports. "When I previously wrote to you in December, I estimated that Treasury would exhaust extraordinary measures in late February or early March," he said, "Based on our best and most recent information, we believe that Treasury is more likely to exhaust those measures in late February."
Politico: Senate Budget chair: No negotiations on debt limit
No negotiations on debt limit Democrats are drawing their red line against debt limit concessions — again. Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will release a letter later Friday saying Democrats will not heed any GOP demands in exchange for hiking the debt limit next month in the latest round of the fiscal fights that have plagued the Capitol. “We will not negotiate over whether or not the United States of America should pay its bills,” Murray writes in the letter, provided in advance to POLITICO. “And once again, before they get any further down this damaging path, we call on our Republican colleagues to not play politics with our economic recovery.”
Politico: Immigration back on GOP agenda
The same House Republicans who punted on immigration last year are now privately crafting an intricate plan to try to pass it in 2014. Most people close to the planning expect votes on four bills by the end of the summer, including one that would give undocumented workers legal status. And though none of the bills is likely to offer a path to full citizenship, the fact Republicans are preparing to take on immigration at all is a sign the party is coming to grips with a political reality: if they want to win elections in the long run, they’ll have to face the issue.
The Duke Chronicle: Senate race for Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan’s seat heats up
The North Carolina Democratic Party is focusing on Hagan’s favorable voting record on unemployment insurance, employment non-discrimination and education. Micah Beasley, NCDP press secretary, highlighted Hagan’s record of promoting college affordability and criticized Republicans’ voting record on education in the North Carolina legislature. “Whoever emerges from the Republican field will have to defend a dismal record of gutting education spending which has increased tuition and classroom sizes across North Carolina and made it harder for students to vote,” Beasley wrote in an email Thursday.
88.5 WFDD: U.S. Senator Kay Hagan’s campaign announced Tuesday that she raised more than $2 million in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Hagan ended the quarter with $6.8 million in her campaign coffers, raising more than her potential Republican challengers through September. And with no major opposition in the May Democratic primary, Hagan will be able to use her campaign war chest primarily for the general election in November. A half dozen Republicans had announced their candidacies in an attempt to unseat Hagan, but that changed on Tuesday when a seventh candidate entered the fray. Edward Kryn, a retired physician from Clayton, released a statement saying that he is joining the field of GOP candidates.
Dome: National Association of REALTORS mails fliers praising Hagan
Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan’s campaign to keep her seat in the U.S. Senate is getting some help from the National Association of REALTORS. The association has sent at least three fliers praising Hagan’s home ownership policies to North Carolinia homes this month. The glossy fliers include photos of homeowners and home-improvement projects and words of praise for Hagan. “Senator Kay Hagan: Keep on fighting for North Carolina homeowners,” reads one. Another says: “Homeownership is a vital part of the American dream. That’s why Senator Hagan is committed to helping young families afford their first homes by opposing regulations that go too far in raising the down payment requirements for qualified homebuyers.”
High Point Enterprise: Local candidate would seek to impeach Obama
A spokesman for the N.C. Democratic Party called Webb’s position out of the mainstream.
“Sadly, these comments are indicative of the extreme mind-set that’s on full display in Republican primaries across North Carolina,” said Democratic spokesman Micah Beasley. “Voters deserve a compelling and constructive vision that puts North Carolinians back to work and stands up for our values, not issues from the political fringe.”
Patheos: North Carolina Church Runs Ad For Republican Fundraiser in Newsletter, Claiming That’s Allowed Under IRS Rules
No doubt, that’s a political event. In fact, it’s an out-and-out fundraiser, with tickets costing anywhere from $25 to $4,000. Brenden Jones, by the way, is a deacon at Tabor City Baptist Church in North Carolina, which happened to issue the publication in which this ad appeared. As you can see, Jones is now running for the State House of Representatives (as a Republican). Lt. Governor Dan Forest, who endorses Jones, is a Republican as well.
Roll Call: Clay Aiken Congressional Bid In North Carolina
“American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken is preparing to run for Congress as a Democrat in North Carolina’s 2nd District, multiple Democratic sources confirmed to CQ Roll Call. But his candidacy is being met with skepticism by some Tar Heel State Democrats, who are holding out hope of making it a race in this Republican-leaning district. Aiken, a Raleigh native, is looking to take on second-term GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers in the central North Carolina district, which President Barack Obama lost by 15 points in 2012. Raleigh-based WRAL reported Thursday that Aiken is building a campaign team and is expected to formally announce next month.
Dome: Name recognition helps Rouzer in early polling
Former Republican state Sen. David Rouzer’s campaign says name recognition is helping in his quest to be the next U.S. Representative of the 7th District. According to a Public Opinion Strategies poll released by the campaign, Rouzer leads his GOP challenger Woody White of Wilmington 55 percent to 19 percent. White’s polling, however, gives a different picture with White getting 22 percent to Rouzer’s 37 percent in an initial ballot test. White, also a former state senator and a member of the New Hanover County Commissioners, said his poll was taken before he confirmed he was running on Jan. 8. The spin from the Rouzer camp is that Rouzer has the name recognition needed to win. (According to the poll, Rouzer has 85 percent name ID among primary voters across the district.)
Washington Post: Women seek to expand their numbers in the Senate
A new breakdown by the Center for American Women and Politics shows that in this year’s midterms women in the Senate have a chance to expand their ranks beyond a historic 20 seats. Four female members of the Senate are running for reelection this year: Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). In all, 29 women (13 Democrats and 16 Republicans) currently are running for Senate, down from the 36 female candidates who ran in 2012 and 2010. More women could enter Senate races in the next months. West Virginia will in all likelihood send a woman to the Senate for the first time, as it appears that two women will face off in the general election — Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a Democrat. In Michigan, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) looks strong, and if she wins in the fall the state would have an all-female Senate delegation, like three other states: California, New Hampshire and Washington.
Politico: Bluegrass bravado: Untested Alison Lundergan Grimes takes on Mitch McConnell
Call it supreme self-confidence or misplaced bravado. But at 35 years old and barely two years into her public career, Alison Lundergan Grimes betrays no hint that she’s even the slightest bit cowed taking on one of the toughest and wiliest tacticians in the U.S. Senate. Asked about a position she’d take “if” she were a senator, the Democratic candidate running against Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) corrected a reporter: “When I’m in the United States Senate. … That’s when, not if.” To the Grimes campaign, everything seems to be working six months into her campaign. Polls show her in a dead heat with the unpopular McConnell, who has to worry about his own primary challenge.
Salon: GOP’s “deep bench” for 2016 is now in splinters
Let’s revisit that bench: It’s not just McDonnell (No. 3 on the National Journal’s 2012 “deep bench” list for 2016) and Christie (he was No. 1) who are finished. No. 2 contender Sen. Marco Rubio is, too: He made a play for the center with immigration reform, panicked and tacked right, and now he’s nobody’s top choice. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (lucky No. 7!) flamed out after telling the GOP to stop being “the stupid party,” then acting, well, stupidly, and becoming, by August of 2013, the most unpopular Republican governor in the country (and that’s saying a lot). Texas Sen. Ted Cruz isn’t even on the list, but he deserves some attention. He came out of nowhere in 2012, but he’s already imploded spectacularly, going from a top-tier contender in early polls to far behind because of his self-promoting and nasty (not to mention extremist) brand of politics.
Associated Press: POLL: UNINSURED RATE DROPS AS HEALTH LAW ROLLS OUT
It may just be the start of a new trend. The uninsured rate dropped modestly this month as expanded coverage rolled out under President Barack Obama’s health care law, a major survey released Thursday has found. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that the uninsured rate for U.S. adults dropped by 1.2 percentage points in January, to 16.1 percent. That would translate to roughly 2 million to 3 million people gaining coverage. The closely-watched poll combines the scope and depth found in government surveys with the timeliness of media sampling. Pollsters interview 500 people a day, 350 days a year. The survey can be an early indicator of broad shifts in society. The health care results were based on more than 9,000 interviews, about nine times as many as in a standard national poll.
Huffington Post: Mike Huckabee: Democrats Tell Women ‘They Cannot Control Their Libido’ Without The Government
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) is so fed up with the anti-Republican "War on Women" narrative that he went on a rant Thursday, accusing Democrats of trying to convince women they need the government to help them "control their libidos." The "War on Women" charge against the GOP refers to Republicans’ opposition to equal pay legislation; repeated attacks on family planning funding and legal abortion; lack of women in leadership roles; controversial comments about women, rape and birth control; and push to leave it to employers to decide whether contraception should be part of health insurance plans. Presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012 and the major gender gap in the voting booth have been attributed to the GOP’s poor reputation among women voters.
Associated Press: VA. AG: State Marriage Ban Unconstitutional
Following a seismic political shift in Virginia’s top elected offices, the new attorney general has concluded that the state’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional and he will no longer defend it in federal lawsuits, his office said Thursday. Virginia, widely considered a battleground state in the nationwide fight to grant same-sex couples the right to wed, will instead side with the plaintiffs who are seeking to have the ban struck down, a spokesman for Attorney General Mark Herring said in an email to The Associated Press.
The Voter Update: Mapping voters: Dems have registration edge in NC, but GOP has control
As is customary, blue on the map represents counties where Democrats outnumber Republicans and red symbolizes an edge for the GOP. The darker the color, the more that party dominates in voter registration. The map shows a geographic divide in the state, with Democrats having a clear hold on eastern North Carolina and Republicans stronger in the west, with some exceptions peppered throughout. The reason for this “sorting” has much to do with the state’s history of class, race, ethnicity and other socioeconomic factors, as well as the phenomenon of Americans choosing to live in relatively homogenous communities with like-minded neighbors. Statewide, Democrats have a clear edge in voter registration at 43 percent, compared to the 31 percent held by Republicans, followed by unaffiliated voters at 26 percent and Libertarians at a scant .3 percent.
Politics NC: The GOP’s bigot problem
If you want to see the GOP problem with intolerance, look no further than the comment section of this Roll Call article on Clay Aiken’s candidacy for Congress. The whole country is increasingly accepting of gay people, but the far right still takes pleasure in gratuitous bashing. I’m not suggesting that all Republicans are homophobic, but I am suggesting that the ones who are present a huge problem for the party as a whole. GOP politicians routinely claim that they are not bigots but, so far, they have not declared war on the ones who are. In the late 1950s, William F. Buckley had enough of right-wing nuts who made up the John Birch Society. In response, he openly, publicly and repeatedly attacked and condemned them. Essentially, he and his supporters rooted them out of the Republican Party. It’s time GOPers today follow suit.
Washington Post: 10 startling facts about global wealth inequality
This leads to the most startling figure in the report: "Our estimates suggest that the lower half of the global population possesses barely 1% of global wealth, while the richest 10% of adults own 86% of all wealth, and the top 1% account for 46% of the total.”
The Guardian: Trickle-down economics is the greatest broken promise of our lifetime
The richest 85 people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion – or half the world’s entire population – put together. This is the stark headline of a report from Oxfam ahead of the World Economic Forum at Davos. Is there a reason why the world’s powerful, gathering at the exclusive resort to sip cognac and eat blinis, should care? Well, yes. If one subscribes to the charitable view that neoliberal philosophy was simply naive or misguided in thinking that "trickle down" would work infinitely, then evidence that it doesn’t, should be cause for concern. It is a fundamental building block of supply-side economic theory – the tool of choice these past few decades for those in charge to make adjustments. The realisation that governments have been pulling at economic levers which, for some time, have been attached to nothing, should be a wake-up call to the deepest sleepers.
The Progressive Pulse: The truth about job creation and unemployment benefit cuts
It’s the myth that will not die. In the ongoing debate over the impact of last year’s draconian cuts to unemployment benefits, we keep hearing the story that reducing benefits for the jobless has helped reduce the unemployment rate. If only this were true. While the unemployment rate has undoubtedly fallen, this is because unemployed workers have simply fallen out of the labor force, rather than moving into employment—a trend the unemployment rate simply doesn’t take into account. Just this point was made yesterday in a New York Times piece by Annie Lowrey profiling North Carolina’s economy, which noted that for every unemployed person who moved into employment, another two unemployed people gave up looking for work and dropped out of the labor force altogether.
Washington Post: A surprising map of where it’s hardest to escape poverty in America
Which parts of the country do you think have done the best job ensuring that children born to working-class families do better than their parents? California, with its booming tech industry? New York, with its financial wizards? Utah, with its deep social ties and communitarian values? Try Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Mississippi do the worst job helping kids advance.
The Daily Beast: Never Bet Against Senator Heitkamp
North Dakota’s Rising StarHeidi Heitkamp is not a household name. Not yet. But there’s buzz about the political future of the down to earth junior senator from North Dakota. A presidential contender in 2020? It’s an interesting proposition. And when you talk to her fans and question her predecessor and mentor, Kent Conrad, the answer is a definite yes. “I’d trust Heidi with any responsibility she takes on,” says the former senator, lauding the 57-year-old freshman lawmaker for her “decency, intelligence, and common sense. She’d be an extraordinary president,” says Conrad. “The country would be lucky to have her.” The plainspoken Heitkamp is the only Democrat to hold high office in the Red state and the first female elected to the Senate from North Dakota.
Washington Post: Netflix’s secret weapon in the net neutrality fight
People generally think of Netflix as a potential loser in the recent court decisionoverturning the government’s network neutrality regulations. But on Wednesday, the company flexed its muscles in an unmistakable show of corporate power meant for Internet providers. In a letter to investors, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells warned that if broadband providers start charging a toll for reaching U.S. Internet subscribers, Netflix and its users would revolt. "Were this draconian scenario to unfold with some ISP [Internet service provider], we would vigorously protest and encourage our members to demand the open Internet they are paying their ISP to deliver," Hastings and Wells wrote. That doesn’t appear to be an empty threat; in the same letter Wednesday, Netflix announced its paying customer base had grown to more than 34 million Americans, a 23-percent increase compared with the same period last year. Netflix currently accounts for nearly a third of all U.S. Internet traffic during peak hours, according to third-party studies.
Micah Beasley, Communications Director
North Carolina Democratic Party
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