June 2, 2014
US Sen. Kay Hagan and her challenger House Speaker Thom Tillis at odds over climate change: Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is criticizing her Republican rival Thom Tillis’ stance on the issue. She said last week that North Carolina needs a “senator who believes climate change exists,” although she expresses caution about how to address it. Tillis, the House speaker, is accusing Hagan of “doublespeak” on the issue, suggesting she supports policies that will hurt the economy, even as he remains coy about his position on climate change. Read more here.
Tillis robocalls push VA issue: Before Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned Friday, Thom Tillis sought to score some points off the VA troubles in his U.S. Senate race with Kay Hagan. The Republican National Committee aimed robocalls about the controversy at 10 states with competitive Senate races, including North Carolina. "The people responsible for these robocalls and ads should stop them and try working with Kay to get this fixed rather than grandstanding, which helps no one," said Chris Hayden, Hagan’s press secretary. "Thom Tillis should stand up to his D.C. backers to stop the dishonest attacks because our veterans deserve better than this kind of politics." Read more here.
Senate To Take Up New VA Bill After Scandal: Details of a refashioned bill to address the problems plaguing the federally run veterans’ health care system have been released by its sponsor, the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. The bill includes several new provisions aimed at fixing the long delays for veterans’ care. Read more here.
Senate approves $21.1B spending plan: After a long and contentious night, the state Senate approved its $21.1 billion spending plan for 2014-15 early Saturday. The Senate budget ends Medicaid coverage or eligibility for more than 15,000 blind, disabled or elderly people, cutting the state’s support for the program by about $32 million. The Senate budget sets aside $468 million to give teachers an average $5,800 salary increase, but those accepting the money would lose their career status rights, which is commonly referred to as tenure. Read more here.
State to test for natural gas deposits in WNC: State environmental officials plan to test for the presence of significant natural gas deposits in seven Western North Carolina counties, a development that alarms environmentalists over the possibility of fracking in the mountains. "The fact that DENR is interested in exploring Western North Carolina for drilling has us very concerned," said Sally Morgan, a researcher with the environmental group Clean Water for North Carolina. "There is a lot of public land, state and national forests and park land in Western North Carolina.” Read more here.
Democratic, GOP compromise tightens polluters’ self-reporting provision: The sweeping regulatory overhaul bill SB734 heads over to the House this week after the Senate gave it final approval with a few tweaks. The bill grants immunity from fines and penalties for companies that report to enforcement agencies environmental violations discovered through self-auditing. It also creates a legal privilege protecting the audits, and those involved in preparing the audits, from having to testify about them. Now the bill would allow owners or operators of a polluting facility to exercise that privilege or immunity once in a two-year period, no more than twice in a five-year period and no more than three times in a 10-year period. Read more here.
Obama to seek 30 percent cuts in power plants’ carbon pollution: EPA will call Monday for cutting as much as 30 percent of the greenhouse gas pollution from the nation’s power plants by 2030, according to several sources familiar with the rule — a step that would advance U.S. efforts to tackle climate change and address a major unmet priority of Barack Obama’s presidency. Read more here.
Obama Urging Europe To Keep Pressure On Russia: President Barack Obama will press European leaders this week to keep up pressure on Russia over its threatening moves in Ukraine, while seeking to assuage fears from Poland and other NATO allies that the West could slip back into a business-as-usual relationship with Moscow. Read more here.
Democratic speakers take Republican lawmakers to task at Family Festival: Politicians who appeared at the inaugural Family Festival on Sunday said that leaders in the state capital and in Washington are making dangerous policies and laws. "There are challenges going on in Raleigh that would turn back the clock for you and I," said former state Sen. Larry Shaw of Fayetteville said. Read more here.
Will they come home to Rocky Mount? NC sees unprecedented rural decline: Rocky Mount, along with half the state’s counties, is shrinking as its young people leave. The two counties that make up the city’s metropolitan statistical area – Edgecombe and Nash – cumulatively have lost several hundred people every year since 2010, the first such significant decline in at least 30 years. In all, 47 of North Carolina’s 100 counties have lost population in the last four years, double the tally of a decade earlier. Read more here.
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