NCDP Clips for Monday September 21st
Bonds, primaries, Medicaid addressed before adjournment (AP) — With three months of intense budget negotiations over, North Carolina lawmakers look to be on a glide path to adjourn this year’s extended session very soon, even with prominent legislation pending.
N.C.’s Medicaid reform plan draws praise, wary looks (Winston-Salem Journal) — The proposal represents a compromise between the House’s preference for not-for-profit health-care systems and providers taking a lead role, and the Senate’s desire for a major private-sector influence.
Wood: Auditor’s focus on DHHS is appropriate, necessary (Winston-Salem Journal) — State Auditor Beth Wood says her office is prepared for whatever path legislators choose for state Medicaid reform, including operating the program as its own cabinet-level department. A proposed Medicaid reform compromise calls for a hybrid not-for-profit and for-profit provider system.
HIDDEN TAX HIKE: Under Tax Plan, Timing Belt Change Would Cost A Lot More (WUNC-FM) — The North Carolina General Assembly approved a two-year budget that includes a plan to lower income and corporate taxes and create new service taxes. Top Republicans say these measures will help create an environment in which the state’s economy will grow, while some Democrats say it unfairly shifts economic burden from large corporations to middle- and low-income families.
Incentives cap for N.C. urban areas removed from compromise bill (Charlotte Business Journal) — Officially called the North Carolina Competes bill, the legislation is scheduled for a vote in the N.C. General Assembly as soon as Tuesday. Gov. Pat McCrory is expected to sign the bill into law.
Legislature cuts $110 million from regional mental health (Raleigh News & Observer) — The state’s eight regional mental health agencies must absorb a financial hit in the form of a $110 million budget reduction that state legislators told them to fill with money from their savings.
Next Up: Major Environmental Bill (Coastal Review) — With the passage of a long-sought budget agreement behind them, state legislators are expected to wrap up several major pieces of legislation this week, including at least one bill that will roll back environmental regulations.
State budget boosts pay, training for medical examiners (Charlotte Observer) — The newly minted $21 billion state budget doubles the pay for North Carolina’s medical examiners and, for the first time, sets aside money for mandatory training.
POLICY & POLITICS
Stein launching campaign to succeed ex-boss Cooper as AG (AP) — An ex-deputy to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper is kicking off a bid to succeed his old boss.
Stein steps into 2016 AG race (WRAL-TV) — A day before a series of appearances across the state, state Sen. Josh Stein announced Sunday via an email to supporters that he’s running for attorney general in 2016.
N.C.’s August unemployment rate at highest point of year (Charlotte Business Journal) — North Carolina saw more than 8,844 drop out of the ranks of the employed from July to August, and the statewide unemployment rate held at 5.9 percent while the national rate dropped to 5.1 percent.
Despite fraud concerns, poll workers in short supply (Asheville Citizen-Times) — No doubt the work is tedious. And the pay isn’t exactly great for what amounts to a 13-hour day. But even amid political debate over whether the country does enough to prevent voter fraud, county officials still struggle to find enough people willing to man polling sites on Election Day. The shortage in Buncombe County is particularly high this year as compared to the same point in 2013 and 2011, all years in which only municipal races are held.
6 things to know about placing a statue of Billy Graham in the U.S. Capitol (Charlotte Observer) — It’s official: Both chambers of the North Carolina legislature have now voted to place a statue of Billy Graham inside the U.S. Capitol. After Gov. Pat McCrory signs the measure – the surest of sure things – it will go to a congressional committee for final approval.
Army inspectors: Tata had adulterous affairs during service (AP) — Army inspectors concluded the retired general who headed North Carolina’s largest school district and the state transportation agency had adulterous affairs before retiring from the military with praise from superior officers.
Were closed sessions about mayor legal? (Gaston Gazette) — In at least three separate closed meetings of Lowell City Council this year, a topic of discussion has been the often controversial mayor.
Behind closed doors: What your elected reps talk about behind closed doors (Gaston Gazette) — The Gazette asked to see the minutes from closed session meetings from all the public bodies in Gaston County, from the school board to the hospital’s board, city councils and county commission.
Apex cop, skateboarder to be honored in White House ceremony (AP) — An Apex police officer represents seven departments around the country being honored by the White House for work connecting law enforcement with local youth.
McCrory making economic announcements (WCTI-TV) – Gov. Pat McCrory is visiting Asheville and Kinston Monday, Sept. 21 — stopping by the Ashville Area Chamber of Commerce Regional Meeting at 11:15 a.m., then he will head to Lenoir County for an economic development announcement.
GOP ties anti-abortion push to papal visit (Politico) — Opponents of abortion have made a ban at 20 weeks — which is a few weeks earlier than viability outside of the womb, which is the current legal threshold – their top legislative priority. Advocates such as National Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List have been lobbying all of the Republican presidential contenders to pledge to support the legislation as president. “It will at least increase awareness,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who is Catholic, said of connecting the Pope’s visit to the abortion-ban vote. “I think the one thing you find with this particular policy, it tends to be more broadly supported than any other issues around the pro-life agenda that I support.”
Gambling Wagers Pay Community-Health Dividends for Eastern Band of Cherokee (N.C. Health News) — The steady growth of casino gambling on the Qualla Boundary has been a boon to the Cherokee health care system.
Republicans’ true tax philosophy shows (Fayetteville Observer column) — Under the new budget, the state takes an entirely unjustified cut of transaction in the purchase of a washer, dryer and stand in the form of a sales tax on installations, repairs and maintenance. This doesn’t help me: I have to pay more. It doesn’t help H.H. Gregg, which wants folks to buy its installation services and it doesn’t help Cumberland County. The tax makes that more cost-prohibitive. So, who does it help? Folks over in Robeson and Hoke counties, among others. Rural counties get a larger slice of money from the new tax.
Give more time for public input before final vote (Winston-Salem Journal) — State legislators are moving quickly on a plan for privatizing Medicaid, with a final vote on the plan expected as early as Tuesday. More citizen input is needed before that happens.
Keep primary on one day (Charlotte Observer) — More than 90 percent of registered voters did not vote in Charlotte’s mayoral primary last week, and even more will stay home for next month’s runoff between Jennifer Roberts and Dan Clodfelter.
History wins one in the legislature (Wilmington Star-News) — The legislature giveth and the legislature taketh away.
Off track (Greenville Daily Reflector) — It just doesn’t make sense. The most notable train advocate of them all, the late Roy Acuff, used to reckon the Wabash Cannonball was “mighty tall and handsome, and loved by one and all.” And Acuff once ran as the conservative, Republican nominee for governor of Tennessee. So what is it with North Carolina GOP leaders in the General Assembly, and for that matter in local government, and their antipathy toward light rail and commuter rail?
Nobody interested in big environmental questions (Fayetteville Observer) — Another hearing. More questions. No good answers. And if recent history is our guide, there won’t be answers.