CBS NEWS – Sequestration could mean across-the-board pain
The entire economy is headed for trouble in just eight days — when massive across-the-board cuts in the federal budget are scheduled to kick in automatically. The cuts were designed to be so deep and harmful, that they would force the president and Congress to find a better way. But they haven’t. Just for example, there would be $46 billion cut from the Defense Department and benefit cuts for 4.7 million long-term unemployed.
The FBI says the budget cuts would require all employees, including special agents, to be furloughed for up to 14 days.
NBC NEWS – GOP’s weak position on the sequester
Yesterday we asked this question about the political back-and-forth regarding the looming automatic budget cuts that are set to take place on March 1: What if the sky doesn’t fall? But here’s the opposite question: What if it does? And if that’s the case, Republicans stand to pay the steepest political price. It’s not even close right now.
NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
WRAL – Lawmakers’ economic interests not easily tracked
Even before they agreed to combine, Duke Energy and Progress Energy were two of the state’s largest publicly traded companies, so it’s no surprise that eight of 170 lawmakers reported owning stock in the two companies when they ran for office last year.
Lawmakers, judges, statewide elected officials and a host of political appointees are required to report when they own more than $10,000 worth of a publicly traded company on a "statement of economic interest," a form filed annually with the North Carolina Ethics Commission.
SALISBURY POST – NC panel OKs bill that would treat topless women as indecent
North Carolina legislation making clear it’s illegal for women to go topless in public places is heading to the House floor.
The measure approved by the House Rules Committee on Wednesday was a response to topless rallies held the past two years in downtown Asheville. City leaders said they couldn’t pass an ordinance against the activity because the state’s indecent exposure law was ambiguous.
The bill adds language from a 1998 state Supreme Court ruling in which “private parts” include the female breast. Breaking the indecent exposure law remains a lower-grade misdemeanor. It’s a felony if done for satisfying sexual desires.
WRAL – Possum bill scurries toward Senate
With a minimum of debate, House lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday to House Bill 66, a proposal that would change state law to allow Brasstown’s New Year’s Possum Drop to carry on.
On its third reading, Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, tried to amend the bill to get rid of vague wording that, some say, could permit "cruelty to animals and misuse of animals." That amendment failed 80-37.
Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, remarked that he "never heard the word possum" in the House debate Tuesday.
WFMY – Medical Marijuana Bill Dies In NC Legislative Committee
A bill that would legalize medical marijuana possession and use in North Carolina has been rejected by a legislative committee.
The House Rules Committee voted Wednesday to give an unusual "unfavorable report" to the measure after brief debate and public comment. The decision means this bill and the issue are likely dead at the General Assembly through 2014.
The bill would have provided immunity from state prosecution for patients with debilitating conditions and caregivers for having the drug. Certain medical marijuana sales would have been taxed.
NEWS & OBSERVER – Gov. Pat McCrory goes outside ‘political bubble’ and finds Clayton
A dispatch from Clayton News-Star’s Amanda James: Wearing a Carhartt jacket and hiking shoes, Gov. Pat McCrory ate Tuesday at Jones’ Lunch, a diner in downtown Clayton. “I need a hot dog, a red hot dog,” McCrory shouted as he walked into the 54-year-old restaurant.
The visit to Clayton was the first visit to a “Main Street,” after McCrory’s State of the State address Monday night when he said that he wanted to help revitalize small towns across the state.
“You’ve got to hear from people outside the bubble,” said McCrory. “You kind of lose sense of reality in the bubble,” referring to the political zone in Raleigh. “I’m living in a big house now,” said McCrory. “There’s no reality in that house.”
NEWS & OBSERVER – Will Gov. Pat McCrory get some angry blowback from state employees he seemed to criticize?
It might not turn into the “shot heard ‘round the world,” but Gov. Pat McCrory’s brief critical reference to some state employees as “seat warmers,” though it was cheered lustily by his Republican audience for his State of the State address, is going to make trouble for the governor with a nice-guy reputation.
McCrory likes to think of himself as a Republican in the tradition of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, with that smile and all, and not like the grim guys who are running the legislative show on Jones Street these days.
THE WASHINGTON POST – Republicans run out the clock
E.J. DIONNE – The deficit that should concern us most right now has to do with time, not money. Money can be recouped. Time just disappears.
And time is what Washington is wasting on an utterly artificial crisis, driven not by economics but by ideology, partisan interest and an obsession over a word — “sequester” — that means nothing to most Americans.
THE NEW YORK TIMES – Immigration Reform and Workers’ Rights
Members of COngress and President Obamahave been working in earnest to deliver on their promise to overhaul immigration last year. Mr. Obama would clearly prefer a bipartisan bill, and last week the Senate Judiciary Committtee held its first hearing on possible changes in immigration law. News reports last weekend suggested that the White House would fashion its own bill should negotiations between Republican and Democrat supporters of reform collapse.
North Carolina Democratic Party