NCDP Clips for May 22, 2013

– Kieran Shanahan, Secretary of Public Safety, caves to mounting pressure and says he’ll take time away from his law practice. Superintendent Atkinson comes out swinging against school vouchers.

Wednesday’s clips:


NEWS & RECORD – NC House bill keeps free lanes when tolls arrive
The North Carolina House has passed a bill paving the way for tolls, but only if the state maintains free lanes.
The House approved a bill Tuesday that allows the state to add tolls only if it keeps the same number of non-toll lanes.

WRAL – Toll road bill survives second vote
The Department of Transportation would be able to add toll lanes to highways under a bill that cleared the state House Tuesday.
All existing highway lanes would have to remain free under the measure. But if highways were expanded, the department could toll them in order to pay for the construction. In order to entice people to drive on the tolled lanes, the department could offer limited access and higher speed limits.

BURLINGTON TIMES-NEWS – Senate budget puts brakes on transit
Budget writers in the N.C. Senate are tinkering with Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed shakeup of state transportation spending to make it even harder for local governments to obtain state aid for transit projects.


NEWS & OBSERVER – Shanahan to stop practicing law while he’s in office
Department of Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan said Tuesday he will no longer practice law and has taken a leave from his law firm while he is a member of Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration.
The announcement came after The News & Observer began asking questions earlier in the day about the connections between the law firm that Shanahan started in 2001 and the lobbying company that he and his wife formed in 2009. On May 11, The N&O reported that Shanahan had been doing legal work for clients at his law firm on a limited basis.


WRAL – McCrory says he does not want SBI switch
Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday that he does not want lawmakers to put the State Bureau of Investigation under his supervision.
The budget senators will debate Wednesday changes the investigative group from being a quasi-independent agency supervised by the Attorney General to a division of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. The department is run by a gubernatorial appointee.


THE PROGRESSIVE PULSE – Superintendent on voucher bill: What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander (video)
Members of the House Education Committee will wait until next week to vote on the “Opportunity Scholarship Act”, but State Superintendent June Atkinson left them with something to ponder at Tuesday’s hearing.
Dr. Atkinson told lawmakers if public schools were going to be judged on an A-F grading scale, then private schools receiving taxpayer-funded vouchers should face the same scrutiny.

NEWS & OBSERVER – June Atkinson: Pre-K program essential
If we do not give our 4-year-olds the opportunity to attend pre-kindergarten, we will be ignoring research and years of studies that show the positive effect such an academic program can have on learning. If you do not want to read the research, just ask a kindergarten teacher!

CITIZEN-TIMES – NC House panel hosts public debate on voucher bill
A proposal to let North Carolina students use public money to attend private or religious schools drew fierce debate Tuesday from a state House panel.

NEWS & RECORD – Teacher tenure in jeopardy under Senate budget plan
The N.C. Senate’s proposed budget calls for sweeping changes in the way teachers are paid, including phasing out the salary supplement for teachers with master’s degrees.
Teachers who already get the four-figure salary bump for having master’s degrees would keep it. But come July 2014, new applicants wouldn’t be eligible. The state would move to a merit pay system, the details of which haven’t been worked out.


WAVY – NC Senate to direct DHHS to craft Medicaid reform
North Carolina General Assembly leaders want to direct state agencies to tame the growth of Medicaid in their upcoming budget proposal.
Gov. Pat McCrory’s office said Friday the Senate will include an order in its upcoming budget for the Department of Health of Human Services to prepare a plan for Medicaid reform. That plan will require the approval of the legislature and the federal government, which pays for most of the program serving the poor.


THE DAILY REFLECTOR – Tesla to demonstrate car outside NC legislature
Tesla Motors wants to show North Carolina residents why the company opposes a bill in the General Assembly that effectively blocks the Internet seller from doing business.


WNCN – NC Republicans hold the cards for Senate budget
A hefty North Carolina state budget proposal written by Senate Republicans is likely to pass by a comfortable margin in a chamber where GOP members outnumber Democrats by nearly 2 to 1.


WSOC – Gov. McCrory talks about NAACP protests
For the first time on Tuesday night, Gov. Pat McCrory talked about the massive protests at the state capital over Republican policies.
"They want to keep the status quo. I am not in favor of keeping the status quo. We have got to fix broken operations in the state government, and in order to do that, I am stepping on the toes of the right, the left, the middle," said McCrory.


HENDERSONVILLE TIMES-NEWS – These idiots may devastate our schools
We moved to Hendersonville five years ago with three school-age children. Two enrolled in Hendersonville Middle School and the oldest in Hendersonville High. Our experiences with the schools, teachers and administrators have been fabulous. The teachers are professional, intelligent, informative and caring.


Clay Pittman

North Carolina Democratic Party
Twitter: @ClayPittman