NCDP Clips for Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
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Weather cancels NC legislative meetings, postpones court (AP) — The General Assembly is slowing down to avoid any ice and wintry weather crossing North Carolina this week. So is the state Supreme Court.
Snow fooling: Closing means spring break and Saturday classes for Wake County students (Raleigh News & Observer) — Wake County’s closure of school Tuesday because of the inclement weather means most students will lose part of their spring break and others will have classes this Saturday.
McCrory declares state of emergency in NC for winter storm (AP) — Gov. Pat McCrory says he hopes North Carolina government is "over-prepared and underwhelmed" for the season’s first statewide winter storm. He also urged caution during and after the forecast of snow, sleet and freezing rain.
Snow, ice close Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville to vehicles (AP) — Snow and ice on the road has closed the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Asheville corridor.
Doing the math puts Senate GOP gas tax near top in U.S. (Raleigh News & Observer) — Yes, it is a gas tax cut, as Senate Republicans call it. And yes, as they are determined not to call it, the Senate bill unveiled last Tuesday and quickly adopted Thursday is – at the same time – a big increase. It could push North Carolina’s gas tax close to the nation’s highest.
The top 25 ‘power brokers’ on Jones Street (Triangle Business Journal) — Insurance providers, beer and wine wholesalers and health care providers are among the big spenders hoping to influence legislation.
Activists, former judge ‘indict’ NC lawmakers for denying Medicaid (Charlotte Observer) — Shirley Fulton, a retired Superior Court judge from Charlotte, presided Monday over a mock grand jury hearing designed to shame North Carolina legislators into expanding Medicaid. Activists assembled in the legislative office building at noon to make arguments for extending government health insurance to impoverished adults who lack access to Medicaid or subsidized private plans.
‘People’s Grand Jury’ begins proceedings to indict McCrory (Fayetteville Observer) — Progressive activists began a symbolic "People’s Grand Jury" proceeding on Monday to indict Gov. Pat McCrory and other state leaders for their decision to reject federal Medicaid for an estimated half-million lower-income North Carolinians. Four witnesses testified about their personal struggles to pay for health care – one with cancer said she has to go without because she has no insurance – before a jury of 14 people in a meeting room at the N.C. Legislative Office Building.
NC House economic recruitment bill seeks to help McCrory (AP) — House Republicans will seek to replenish one of the favored recruitment tools of North Carolina governors over the past decade.
POLICIES & POLITICS
No-bid contract gets 150% bump to $8 million (Raleigh News & Observer) — A no-bid state consulting contract originally valued at $3.2 million for a Washington, D.C., consulting firm has ballooned to almost $8 million one year later. Aldona Wos’ state Department of Health and Human Services’ Medicaid office extended its contract this month with Alvarez & Marsal, which specializes in “turnaround management” and “performance improvement.” The contract and extensions, also awarded without competitive bidding, are to oversee Medicaid finances.
60 percent of NC job incentive deals have failed (Raleigh News & Observer) — About 60 percent of grants issued through North Carolina’s primary jobs incentives program haven’t delivered on their promises, according to a report from the NC Justice Center.
Butterfield urges continued progress through the vote (Kinston Free Press) — Congressman makes keynote speech at black history event
Obama Immigration Policy Halted by Federal Judge in Texas (New York Times) — An injunction was issued in a lawsuit by 26 states opposing the president’s initiatives to protect from deportation millions who are in the United States illegally.
Charlotte chief financial officer named deputy NC treasurer (Raleigh News & Observer) — Greg Gaskins, the former chief financial officer for the city of Charlotte, has been named deputy state treasurer for the state and local government finance division.
Cumberland County votes to offer Sanderson Farms incentives; Robeson County OKs similar package (Fayetteville Observer) — Cumberland County commissioners voted 4-3 tonight to offer incentives to Sanderson Farms, a poultry processing giant
Fashioning a Healthier Future in Rural Halifax County (N.C. Health News) — Halifax found itself ranked 99th of the state’s 100 counties in health outcomes. The community mobilized.
Man indicted on 3 counts of murder in N.C. deaths of Muslims (AP) — A grand jury in North Carolina indicted a man Monday on three counts of murder in the shootings of three young Muslims in what authorities have said was a dispute over parking spaces.
SCHOOLS & UNIVERSITIES
N.C. justices delay arguments in voucher cases due to weather (AP) — Incoming snow and ice have led the North Carolina Supreme Court to delay oral arguments on a pair of cases involving whether taxpayer money can be used to pay for students to attend private schools.
Parents and Education Stakeholders Invited to Give Feedback on Standards (N.C. DPI News Release) — The NC Department of Public Instruction has launched an online survey for parents and community members to provide feedback on the standards currently in place for students. The survey is at http://ncdpireview.weebly.com and will remain available until April 30.
NC grades point to problems of segregated, high-poverty schools (Raleigh News & Observer) — Several Wake County civil-rights groups say the state’s new A through F school performance grades show the danger of defacto segregated schools and why vouchers shouldn’t be used to pay for children to attend private schools. The grades released on Feb. 5 showed schools with fewer low-income students were more likely to score As or Bs, while high-poverty schools were more likely to get Ds or Fs. The Coalition of Concerned Citizens For African American Children, the Wendell Wake County and Raleigh-Apex branches of the state NAACP, the Education Justice Alliance and Track My Steps responded to the grades in a late Sunday press release.
Why school gardens are important (EdNC) — The 2013 N.C. General Assembly’s Legislative Study Committee on Food Desert Zones found that “School gardens are an important tool for helping students be involved and connected with healthy foods.”
Lee residents push for change in Raleigh (Sanford Herald) — Several Sanford residents joined thousands of North Carolinians during the weekend at the ninth annual Moral March on Raleigh to demand changes to state laws, including those that opened up the door to hydraulic fracturing and coal ash in Lee County.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster members take center state at summit (WRAL-TV) — More than a dozen Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC) executives will be featured speakers at the second annual 2015 NC Clean Tech Summit Feb. 19-20 at The Friday Center in Chapel Hill.
Water, air quality concerns heighten conflict with pig farms (AP) — From Washington state to North Carolina, federal lawsuits are challenging the efficient, profitable livestock industry to change its ways. The arguments found in the suits are based on studies that increasingly show the impact phosphorous, nitrate and bacteria from fertilizer and accumulated manure have on lakes and rivers as well as air pollution that may be harmful to respiratory health.
McCrory’s zombies: Many Tar Heels left out of his ‘Carolina Comeback’ (Raleigh News & Observer column) — Gov. Pat McCrory has been bragging about a “Carolina Comeback.” Yet his words are falling on the deaf ears of millions of middle- and lower-income North Carolinians who have been left on the sidelines during the economic recovery. It may be the reason McCrory never used the words “middle class” during his recent one-hour and 20-minute State of the State speech.
No way around need for more highway funds (Fayetteville Observer) — The North Carolina Senate, that occasionally distinguished bastion of tax-cutting and parsimonious spending, wants to raise the gasoline tax. It won’t be surprising if the House goes along with the plan. What they’re doing makes sense. They really don’t have a choice, other than letting our highways and bridges crumble – which they already are doing.
Another reminder that our future depends on supporting educators (Winston-Salem Journal) — We’re glad that Jerry Peoples, a retired principal of West Forsyth High School, got a well-deserved honor the other day when the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County board of education voted to name the school’s football stadium for him. Our state leaders, and the rest of us, could learn something from his story about the importance of supporting and nurturing talented young teachers, whether they stay in the classroom or go on to lead our public schools, nurturing young teachers.
Why NC Needs Crowdfunding (Wilmington Business Journal column) — The North Carolina legislature is currently debating allowing equity crowdfunding in North Carolina.
Is it a federal case? (Greensboro News & Record) — If the three Chapel Hill homicides are deemed hate crimes, the suspect could be prosecuted by federal authorities.