NCDP Clips for Monday, April 13th, 2015

NCDP Clips for Monday, April 13th, 2015

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LEGISLATURE 2015

Bill making assaults on teachers a felony raises questions (WRAL-TV) — Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, said assaults on teachers by students should be a felony. But disability rights groups and other advocates say the measure would have unintended consequences.

Legislator says discussion needed on assisted suicide (Greensboro News & Record) — The General Assembly took a break this week. But that didn’t mean everyone was sunbathing. Some folks were busy filing bills.

Lawmakers back from break (WRAL-TV) — Members of the General Assembly return from their spring break to an audit report outlining the financial condition of Medicaid.

POLICIES & POLITICS

Study: NC would come out ahead on Medicaid expansion (Charlotte Observer) — If North Carolina were to expand Medicaid coverage, savings and revenue would likely offset the cost to state taxpayers, a recent study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation indicates.

Obama to visit Charlotte on Wednesday(WRAL-TV) — President Barack Obama will visit Charlotte on Wednesday for an event related to the economy, media outlets are reporting.

The Most Ridiculously Long Judicial Vacancies (Huffington Post) — Here’s a look at the worst Senate offenders when it comes to not filling long-vacant judgeships in their home states. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) There’s a seat on U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina that’s been empty for 3,387 days. That’s more than nine years, and it has no nominee. Burr avoided questions from The Huffington Post last year about why he was blocking a previous nominee for the slot, Jennifer May-Parker. His obstruction of May-Parker was particularly puzzling, given that he previously recommended her to Obama.

Health exchange sign-ups increase 60 percent for region (Winston-Salem Journal) — The second round of signups for the federal health insurance marketplace gained 100,897 Triad and Northwest North Carolina residents, a national advocacy group said last week. That represents a 59.9 percent increase over the 2013-14 signup period.

Sharp decline in NC work deaths cause by new counting method (AP) — North Carolina authorities have praised a sharp decline in workplace deaths over the past few years, but what Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry hasn’t said is the state changed the criteria for the deaths it reports.

Political heavyweight McCain to lead Democrats (Wilson Times) — The Wilson County Democratic Party put its support behind a political heavyweight in its selection of the next chairwoman — Betty McCain.

SCHOOLS & UNIVERSITIES

Lawmakers Buckle Up For Busy Weeks In Raleigh (EdNC) — Three Charlotte-area lawmakers say they expect a flurry of activity at the General Assembly in the coming weeks, after a slow start to the session. “Buckle up,” said Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union), “or you might get left behind.”
Public Colleges’ Revenue Shift (inside Higher Ed) — After the recession, tuition dollars make up a greater share of public higher education revenues than ever before, and make up a majority in half the states.

THE SPILL

Public to have say on controversial coal ash plan at Lee, Chatham counties (Raleigh News & Observer) — The fight over using two landfills to store up to 20 million tons of coal ash will be the focus of two public hearings this week on state permit applications for the landfills. The first public comment session, set for Monday evening at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center in Sanford, will cover the potential effects of coal ash storage on nearby streams and wetlands.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
UNC students to lobby legislature with environmental demands (Daily Tar Heel) — A coalition of student environmental groups at UNC has gathered signatures on a petition of environmental demands that they plan to present to the state legislature on April 21. Students Working for Environmental Action and Transformation, a committee in the Campus Y, is leading the effort in collaboration with UNC Sierra Student Coalition, the Epsilon Eta environmental honors fraternity and UNC’s GlobeMed. The petition’s demands include adopting renewable power policies, increasing access to farmer’s markets, expanding solar rights, reversing approval of hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina, cleaning up coal ash and finding a better waste-disposal location.
Seismic testing off N.C. Coast questioned by residents (Kinston Free Press) — The public hearing held by the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management drew a group of about 75 people to the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City.

EDITORIALS

Opening NC solar power market requires a balanced plan (Raleigh News & Observer) — What’s next? Republicans in North Carolina’s General Assembly gathered outside their Jones Street headquarters looking for some trees to hug? Four GOP House members are sponsoring a bill that would allow independent companies to compete for utility customers with the bigs, Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress. Solar energy, a rapidly developing industry, is helping to generate such a conversation. … If customers want the convenience and dependability of a power company legally obligated to get the lights on and the job done, they need a sound plan for any change to such a system. Lawmakers need to bring a change as monumental as this to the table with all the blueprints drawn and all the lines connected, so to speak. Because this might be a long, hot summer.

Retro-tax changes: Costly move is unacceptable (Winston-Salem Journal) — Some North Carolina taxpayers were blindsided on retroactive tax changes because of a complex combination of factors from Washington and Raleigh. Legislators should not let this happen again. Catching taxpayers by surprise with the retroactive removal of deductions is never a good idea.

An ode to the Center on Poverty (Raleigh News & Observer column) — The UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity has worked to combat the causes and effects of poverty in our state, and is now being closed because of thinly veiled, politically motivated retribution for the vision and leadership of a group that won’t stay quiet in the face of blatant attacks on poor and working people from our current General Assembly.