NCDP Clips for Thursday, February 19th, 2015

NCDP Clips for Thursday, February 19th, 2015

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Hospitals Gear Up for Legislative Push (N.C. Health News) — As the General Assembly gets off to a start, hospital officials and lobbyists are planning how to get their message heard by lawmakers

Unemployment changes clear first vote in Senate (WRAL-TV) — North Carolinians receiving unemployment compensation would have to increase the number of "job contacts" they make during a given time period under a package of changes to state unemployment insurance laws the Senate gave tentative approval to on Wednesday. The 42-6 vote on Senate Bill 15 came after a brief debate and is due to be confirmed with a second vote on Thursday.

Budget tweaks pass House committee (WRAL-TV) — The owners of certain medium- and high-hazard dams would be given more time to file emergency action plans under a bill before the House. North Carolina schools would still have to pay $100,000 toward the costs of a lawsuit it filed over administrative procedures.

NC House committee OKs funding bill (Raleigh News & Observer) — With a few minor additions, the N.C. House appropriations committee approved a bill that requires the State Board of Education to pay legal costs for the Rules Review Commission, which the board is currently suing.

Report: Duke Energy pays for sway over NC General Assembly (Daily Tar Heel) — Duke Energy is the leader in a pack of special interest groups who hold the most sway over the N.C. General Assembly, according to a new report from the Institute for Southern Studies in Durham. The report, co-authored by research interns Alex Kotch and Brian Freskos, ranks 101 special interest groups according to political spending and lobbying power. “While these groups influence government in many ways, spending and lobbying are two of the most clear metrics,” said Kotch, who recently received his Ph.D. from Duke University.

State senator stages pretend coup via social media (Asheville Citizen-Times) — Maybe you already know the story: When Sen. Jeff Jackson, D-Mecklenburg, showed up for work at the state Legislative Building in Raleigh Tuesday morning, he didn’t have much company because snow had blanketed the middle of the state. "Due to inclement weather, I appear to be the only non-security person in the General Assembly this morning. I feel like I should hurry up and pass Medicaid expansion," tweeted Jackson, a 32-year-old former prosecutor from Charlotte. That’s more or less what Jackson did, at least in his imagination and on his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Council says no to Wade’s changes (Greensboro News & Record) By unanimous vote, City Council opposes N.C. Senate Bill 36 but seeks a referendum on longer terms.


McCrory waiting for Supreme Court before N.C. insurance choice (AP) — Republican Gov. Pat McCrory said Wednesday he won’t make a recommendation whether North Carolina should expand insurance to more of the uninsured through the federal health care law until after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

In state, 559,473 sign up under health care act (AP) — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday that 559,473 people in North Carolina are now signed up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act – third most in the nation along states that rely upon the federal exchange.

NC health insurance sign-ups on ACA market top half a million (Charlotte Observer) — Almost 560,000 in North Carolina bought 2015 health insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchange, a 56 percent increase over last year.

The Long Game of the Moral March (New Yorker) — The crowd looked like North Carolina, which is about sixty-five per cent white, twenty-two per cent black, and nine per cent Latino. All the same, there was a quieter energy and a sense of settling in for a long game, along with hints of uncertainty about what a long game means, these days, for a progressive movement in the South. Maybe to their credit, the speakers at this post-defeat rally were not doing much explaining. Instead, they—and, above all, Reverend Barber—doubled down on rhetoric that was unmistakably Southern, even Carolinian, and deeply rooted in the region’s history.

Biden will visit NC to tout plan to rebuild infrastructure (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden is visiting Charlotte to help promote the administration’s almost $500 billion spending bill to fix the nation’s aging infrastructure.

Biden in SC: America must fix its infrastructure (AP) — From fixing "Malfunction Junction" near Columbia to making sure South Carolina’s ports can handle a new generation of mammoth cargo ships, Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that federal help is key to improving the nation’s infrastructure.

Federal Judge Halts Executive Actions on Immigration (TWCN-TV) — State immigrant and refugee rights activists are reacting to a legal roadblock impacting thousands of people in North Carolina.

FBI reviews hanging death of black N.C. teen (AP) — The black teenager was found in a Bladen County trailer park, hanging from a swing set by a dog leash and a belt that was not his own. His mother said he showed no sign of suicidal thoughts, yet authorities quickly ruled that he had taken his own life. Now the FBI is reviewing the investigation after Lennon Lacy’s relatives and the NAACP raised doubts about the official findings, which the county coroner also questions.

New NC Democratic Party chairwoman shakes up staff (Raleigh News & Observer) — Within weeks of being elected North Carolina’s Democratic Party chair, Patsy Keever has ousted the party’s executive director and communications director and installed a new "transition team."

Democrat Coleman running for Lt. Gov. again (AP) — Democrat Linda Coleman announced Wednesday that she’ll try again to become North Carolina’s lieutenant governor after losing narrowly to Republican Dan Forest in 2012.

Top anti-gay activist: Opposing Charlotte non-discrimination ordinance good for business (Q Notes) — One of North Carolina’s leading anti-LGBT activists has told a slew of high-profile conservative leaders and attorneys that opposing a proposed non-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte will be a “good way to bring in business.” Tami Fitzgerald leads the NC Values Coalition, the group primarily opposing Charlotte’s proposed LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances. Fitzgerald and her group also led the push to pass the state’s now-overturned, unconstitutional 2012 amendment banning LGBT marriage. Fitzgerald made her remark in an email on Tuesday in response to Tom Ashcraft, a former U.S. attorney in Charlotte.

Future of Sanderson Farms in N.C. Still Unknown (TWCN-TV) — Cumberland County officials have voted to offer incentives to Sanderson Farms, but it may be too late. Some speculate Sanderson is already searching for a new location in nearby counties.

Innovation Center Named A “Bright Idea” In Government By Harvard University (N.C. Political News) — The N.C. Innovation Center created by N.C. Chief Information Officer Chris Estes in 2013, has been recognized as a 2015 “Bright Idea” by the Ash Center at Harvard University. The Bright Ideas program recognizes creative initiatives that are at the forefront of government innovation.

Former longtime Nash County sheriff Frank Brown dies (Wilson Times) — Frank Delano Brown Sr., 81, the former longtime sheriff of Nash County, died Tuesday. Brown was a 38-year law enforcement veteran. He was elected Nash County sheriff in 1974

DOT says it could advance toll project by 6 months (Charlotte Observer) — The N.C. Department of Transportation said Wednesday night that it could speed up a $200million project to build an express toll lane on Interstate 485 from Johnston Road to U.S. 74 by six months.


HEARTWARMING: Duke therapy dog honored at Westminster show (Durham Herald-Sun)

Sam is a Renaissance dog: He excels at many things.Sam’s most recent accomplishment came Tuesday when he won a ribbon at the prestigious 139th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City. What really makes Sam shine isn’t winning ribbons, but winning hearts, according to owner Sandra Towne. Sam is a certified therapy dog with the Duke Cancer Institute’s Pets at Duke program. He gives cancer patients what expensive drugs can’t — unconditional love for free.

Following icy precipitation, Carolinas brace for epic cold (AP) — Across the Carolinas, a lingering cold snap has affected just about everyone: Schools closed, people worried about trees falling and pipes bursting, and shelters took in more homeless people. Now, they are bracing for more days of even colder weather, with temperatures expected in the single digits and wind chills dipping to zero or lower.

N.C. DOT: This winter is less expensive than 2014 — so far (Charlotte Business Journal) — Bitterly cold temperatures, coupled with forecasts of more wintry weather to come, make clearing and salting the roads a continued priority for the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Beating the Common Cold: Experts Say Less is More (Public News Service) — Cold season is far from over and will soon be complicated by spring allergy season. Doctors say most adults in North Carolina will sneeze and sniffle through up to three colds every year, and experts say there are some things to keep in mind before heading to the drugstore.

Film industry announcement expected today (Wilmington Star-News) — A group of local film industry leaders will make an announcement regarding the film industry

Troops Arrive at Fort Bragg From Liberia Deployment to Help With Ebola (TWCN-TV) — They arrived on Tuesday and had their temperatures checked on the tarmac. They will spend the next three weeks in one of five "controlled monitoring areas".

Piedmont Airlines’ first female pilot to share story at museum (Winston-Salem Journal) — Cheryl Peters will return to North Carolina next week with a story to share, although she was surprised to receive the invitation. It has been more than 40 years since she interviewed for a job at Piedmont Airlines in Winston-Salem.

NC chefs named James Beard semi-finalists (WRAL-TV) — The awards are often referred to as "The Oscars of Food," and the Triangle has a legacy of taking home honors.

Popular trend of professional cuddling coming to Durham (AP) — You lie down, wrapping your arms around the other person while drifting off to sleep or chatting.

115 ‘green’ jobs bound for Charlotte area (Charlotte Observer) — A company that makes sustainable materials and packaging will spend $15 million to build a manufacturing facility in northern Chester County, SC, officials said Wednesday, creating up to 115 jobs over the next five years.


UNC panel recommends killing Law School poverty center (AP) — A panel at the University of North Carolina panel is recommending the elimination of three university centers, including one whose director has been an outspoken critic of Gov. Pat McCrory and GOP lawmakers.

Report proposes closing 3 UNC centers, ban on advocacy (WRAL-TV) — A group tasked with reviewing the University of North Carolina system’s 240 research institutes has recommended review or termination for 16 of the centers, as well as a policy explicitly banning university-backed political advocacy.

UNC-BOG A Step Closer To Closing Academic Centers (WUNC-FM) — A committee of the UNC Board of Governors has recommended closing three academic centers and placing 13 others under review. The seven-member committee started last year by looking at more than 200 academic centers on the 16 UNC system campuses. Together, the centers and institutes receive $69 million in state appropriations – a 40% drop from 2009.

Study puts economic impact of NC colleges, universities at $63B (WRAL-TV) — North Carolina’s public and private universities and community colleges add more than $63 billion a year to the state economy, according to a study released Wednesday.

Colleges and universities estimate their value to N.C.: $63.5 billion (Triangle Business Journal) –Armed with a new economic impact analysis, colleges and universities appear poised to seek more money from the taxpayers as the legislature works through the biennial budget this summer.

Common Core: States need high standards –by any name- for kids to succeed (EdNC) – BEV PERDUE: As the governor of North Carolina, I supported the adoption of higher learning standards for one simple reason: our kids need them. In a global economy, it doesn’t matter where you live but it does matter what you know, and children everywhere ought to know what other students across America and the world are learning.

UNCW honors memory of three lives cut short (Wilmington Star-News) — The event was a night of tolerance to help students come together with a shared purpose, organizers said.


Toxic Waste Spill in N.C.: Coal Ash (Part 1) (Vice News) — In part one, VICE News travels to North Carolina to visit a river that’s been poisoned with arsenic from a nearby Duke Energy site, speak with a resident who has found toxic heavy metals in her drinking water, and question a Duke Energy spokesperson about the power company’s policies.

Duke Energy setting aside $100 million to settle coal ash spill case (LA Times) — Duke Energy announced Wednesday that it is setting aside $100 million to pay for a proposed settlement of a federal criminal investigation of the giant utility’s handling of coal ash in North Carolina. In an earnings report, Duke said it intended to pay a penalty under a proposed agreement that would resolve the investigation, which began in February 2014 following a massive coal ash spill at a shuttered Duke power plant on the Dan River.

Wind: Bring it on (New Bern Sun Journal column) — I am constantly reminded of our nation’s need to find alternative sources of energy. You don’t have to be young and optimistic like me to see that wind energy looks promising and oil drilling looks terrifying, yet that’s what Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis are trying to do. According to the Institute for Southern Studies, not only does North Carolina have immense potential in getting their energy from wind, but the industry would create twice as many jobs as drilling would.

Long march to offshore drilling begins (Fayetteville Observer editorial) — A month after the Obama administration said it would consider opening some of the country’s south Atlantic coastline to oil exploration, the process has begun. There won’t be drilling for years to come. But there will be plenty of public hearings. The first in North Carolina was held Tuesday in Wrightsville Beach. About 400 people signed in for a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management session held to take public comments on the drilling plan. That was nearly double the total attendance at previous hearings in Washington, D.C., and Norfolk, Virginia.


Worries mounting for UNC system (Charlotte Observer column) — Jim Leutze: The recent alarming action by the UNC Board of Governors to remove Tom Ross as president of the UNC system may threaten the very foundation of a world-class institution.

Token payments won’t close teacher pay gap (Raleigh News & Observer) — Lt. Gov. Dan Forest wants to give new meaning to the term “teacher’s license.” He wants the state to issue special “I-support-teachers” license plates with the proceeds going to boost teacher salaries. What’s next? A cake sale at the legislative cafeteria? Maybe a car wash at the Governor’s Mansion? Forest no doubt means well, but his proposal serves only to illustrate how clueless conservatives like himself are about teacher pay.

Shrinking big government harder in practice than in theory? (Asheville Citizen-Times) — Evidently there are gaps in that approach when it comes to the offices of the General Assembly’s presiding officers. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore have a combined $2 million in annual office staff payrolls.

Take secrecy away from incentives (Fayetteville Observer column) — Questions about economic incentives for chicken plantscome at an interesting time. Which company is behind a request for incentives in Robeson County? Is Sanderson Farms still in play for a project in Cumberland County? Are the interests of all residents being considered as public officials take action? Gov. Pat McCrory is pushing the General Assembly to approve a reinvigorated incentives program that would give the state greater recruiting power in competition with other states. Like some legislators, I don’t like incentives in theory. They constitute corporate welfare.

Another threat to state’s waters (Charlotte Observer) — As Duke Energy was revealing Wednesday that it expects to pay $100 million related to its Dan River coal ash spill, an equally worrisome kind of pollution was getting much less attention across the state.

Natural gas pipeline focus of US challenge in Va. (AP) — An Augusta County landowner is challenging in federal court a state law that is helping clear the way for a natural gas pipeline through Virginia.

Vehicle Miles Traveled tax a common sense way to finance NC roads (Raleigh News & Observer column) — Roger H. von Haefen: A Vehicle Miles Traveled tax that rises every year with inflation and depends on the size of the car one drives could add substantial revenue to the NC highway fund that would not erode as households shift to more fuel-efficient cars. A VMT tax would be sustainable

Plight of unaccompanied minors in NC offers a chance to act (Raleigh News & Observer column) — Steven Hyland Jr: North Carolina has received the ninth-largest group of unaccompanied minors in the United States. In the state, Mecklenburg County received the largest share of these migrants, numbering 683 by the end of fiscal year 2014 and measuring 13th largest in the country.