July 9, 2014
Tillis Chooses Koch Brothers Over North Carolina Small Businesses: Once again, Special Interest Speaker Thom Tillis has sided with the special interest priorities of the Koch Brothers over the best interests of North Carolina’s economy and small businesses. A report by Politico revealed that Tillis does not support reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, which has been a boon for North Carolina’s economy. Read more here.
Democrats prepared to counter Hobby Lobby: Senate Democrats plan to introduce a bill as soon as Wednesday that they say would override the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision.The measure, from Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Mark Udall of Colorado, would prohibit companies from discriminating against female employees in any health coverage that is guaranteed under federal law, according to a summary obtained by POLITICO. Read more here.
Unlikely Duo Join Forces On Sentencing Overhaul Bill: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., both freshmen looking to elevate their national profiles, are teaming up to unveil the REDEEM Act, which stands for Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment. "The legislation will help keep kids who get into trouble out of a lifetime of crime and help adults who commit non-violent crimes become more self-reliant and less likely to commit future crimes," the senators said in a joint statement. Read more here.
Census Bureau: N.C. saw highest increase of people living in poverty areas from 2000 to 2010: The Triangle may be the Land o’ Plenty, but the increase of North Carolina residents living in poverty outpaced the rest of the nation between 2000 and 2010. According to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau, those living in high-poverty regions of the state grew by 17.9 percentage points. The average increase nationwide was 7.6 percent. Read more here.
Bob Rucho’s “different model” of education: As Clayton Henkel and Lindsay Wagner report in the posts below, negotiations over teacher pay have taken what appears to be a positive turn this week at the General Assembly with the announcement that the state Senate is willing to back down on its demand that teachers choose between a pay raise and their right to a measure of due process when it comes losing their jobs. It’s welcome news, but news that is tempered by the fact that Senators apparently kept their fingers crossed behind their backs while they made the offer. Read more here.
DHHS, Medicaid fixes start at top: The sad thing in reading the (Raleigh) News & Observer’s important two-part series on the state’s Medicaid woes and the dysfunctional management of the Department of Health and Human Services is that the revelations no longer have the power to amaze. Problems beset DHHS and Medicaid long before Pat McCrory was elected governor nearly two years ago. But McCrory and the current legislature haven’t made things any better, and in one key way they seem to have made things worse. Read more here.
NC education spending on decades-long slide: WRAL News reviewed budget numbers for the last 30 years and found that the percentage of general fund dedicated to K-12 classrooms has been on a long, slow slide, even as the total dollars for education increased. House Minority Leader Larry Hall said education funding became an easy target during economic downturns, and lawmakers never restored what was taken from schools when the economy rebounded. Read more here.
NC housing official won’t resign over pro-Confederate, anti-black Facebook posts: A housing official in North Carolina is under investigation for Facebook posts targeting black people, illegal immigrants, and Democrats. Malcolm “Mac” Butner refuses to step down from his appointed post as chairman of the Rowan County Housing Authority, and county commissioners say there’s not much they can do because the comments were made in his personal time. Read more here.
Setting the price of sunshine: The North Carolina Utilities Commission has started its process of setting solar energy rates for the next two years. Read more here.
Obama requests $3.7 billion for child migrants: President Barack Obama asked Congress Tuesday for $3.73 billion in emergency appropriations to address the influx of child migrants crossing the Southwest border and Rio Grande from Central America. The White House opted not to include legislative language calling on the unaccompanied children to be deported more quickly to their home countries. But officials made clear that their intent is to speed the current turnaround process by increasing money for the immigration courts and putting a priority on recent arrivals. Read more here.
Beer and billiards trump a visit to the border for Obama during trip out West: As part of a broader effort to connect with average Americans, President Obama on Tuesday night drank beer and played pool at a brewpub in downtown Denver. Mr. Obama heads to Texas Wednesday for fundraising events. Republicans and many border-state Democrats are pleading with Mr. Obama to inspect the border for himself. Read more here.
Wake County teacher’s resignation sparks Twitter frenzy: Twitter has been lighting up since Monday with tweets about the “ Wake County Teacher of Year 2014 moving to Ohio,” with Jenny Callahan saying that low pay is forcing her to leave the state. It’s been picked up by Democrats to accuse state Republican legislators, who are fighting over a plan how to raise teacher pay, of not doing enough to keep teachers from leaving North Carolina. Read more here.
Moral Monday: Fiery speeches mark rally at Corpening Plaza: Nearly 600 people attended a rally Monday during which the Rev. William Barber, president of the N.C. NAACP, and other speakers deliver fiery messages, calling for the repeal of the state’s voter ID law and urging people to register to vote. The Moral Monday rally in the city’s Corpening Plaza came after the first day of a hearing in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem on the state’s controversial new election law. Read more here.