NCDP Clips for Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

NCDP Clips for Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

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LEGISLATURE 2015

Lawmakers leafing through NC governor’s budget proposal (AP) — The House and Senate are getting their first formal look at Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposal to run North Carolina state government for the next two years.

NC House members want air emission rules for fracking (AP) — Three North Carolina Republican lawmakers want to make clear a state environmental panel must draw up rules designed to minimize toxic emissions related to any upcoming natural gas exploration through fracking.

Fracking, redistricting, top Tuesday’s agenda (WRAL-TV) — Controversial legislative language that would govern air quality standards for natural gas drilling operations will be back in in a legislative committee the week after it was scuttled during House debate on a separate bill. Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, said Monday night that he would try again to push the amendment, which would remove a requirement that the state’s Environmental Management Commission adopt air quality standards for drilling operations exploring for natural gas using hydraulic fracturing, which is often called "fracking."

At the NCGA, a tide of bills regarding annexation, school calendars, ERA (Carolina Public Press) — Last week’s rapid thaw loosened more than the just the chunks of ice remaining on the sidewalks in Raleigh. With both of North Carolina’s state government chambers on a more-or-less regular schedule, legislation started to move again.

NC Senate acts on gas tax bill, waits on incentives measure (AP) — It looks like legislation adjusting North Carolina’s gasoline tax is heading to negotiations, but it’s unclear when a House bill giving expanded tools to Gov. Pat McCrory to recruit companies gets heard in the Senate.

Senators skeptical of House economic development bill(WRAL-TV) — Top Senate leaders say they are unsure whether they’ll take up an economic development measure passed by the state House last week.

House passes two DWI bills (WRAL-TV) — House lawmakers made short work Monday night of two bills strengthening penalties against repeat impaired drivers.

NAACP not pleased with Tim Moore right now (Gaston Gazette) — The Rev. Melvin Clark, president of the Cleveland County branch of the NAACP, meets people every day who are struggling to make ends meet. Clark and members of the local NAACP branch, along with clergy, community leaders and partner organizations, are holding a news conference at 7 p.m. Thursday to discuss what they say are the negative impacts of N.C. legislation supported by Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland. “We are going to deal with three issues that affect Cleveland County: the impact of voter suppression, the denial of Medicaid expansion and the minimum wage,” Clark said. “We are hoping they take notice. The whole aim is to let them know we are concerned about these things.” Moore said all of these issues will continue to be addressed by the House.

Wake redistricting proposal elicits outrage, support (WRAL-TV) — Fifteen people spoke out Monday on legislation that would change how members of the Wake County Board of Commissioners are elected, with most saying they were disgusted by the partisan nature of the bill and suggesting that the proposal be studied further before any action is taken.

Missing ingredient in Trudy Wade’s ‘business bill’ is business (Triad Business Journal) — If approved, Sen. Bill 36 would eliminate Greensboro’s three at-large council seats, reduce the number of districts from seven to five and change terms from two years to four.

POLICIES & POLITICS

McCrory amends ethics report to show others paid for trips (Raleigh News & Observer) — Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday filed new ethics disclosure forms that show seven previously unreported trips valued at about $13,000 in 2013. The governor’s office said late Monday it is gathering information about previous years and “will be updating past SEI forms.” “We are in the process of gathering records for those years,” spokesman Josh Ellis wrote in an email message.

McCrory To Disclose Another $13K On Ethics Form (WUNC-FM) – Gov.r Pat McCrory has amended a state ethics form to include travel expenditures that were previously omitted. The form, submitted on Friday and officially filed Monday, shows seven trips valued at more than $13,000.

Group continues to question McCrory’s ethics (WCNC-TV) — North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory responded to new ethics complaints by releasing amended information about his travels in 2013. It comes as watchdog group Progress NC Action files its second complaint regarding the governor and his travel and hotel stays. The watchdog group delivered 11,000 petition to McCrory’s Charlotte office Monday calling for an open public investigation by the State Ethics Commission.

NC pension fund returned 6% in 2014 (Raleigh News & Observer)The North Carolina pension fund, which provides retirement benefits for more than 900,000 teachers and other state employees, gained 6.2% in 2014. Real-estate investments increased 19.4% and alternative investments, including hedge funds and private equity, gained 14%. Stocks, which account for 44% of the fund’s assets, rose 3.7%.

McCrory Budget and the Environment(Coastal Review) — The proposed budget that Gov. Pat McCrory released last week cuts money to a grant program that protects water quality and sensitive land and continues the whittling of the state’s major environmental agency.

SCHOOLS & UNIVERSITIES

The Classroom Racial Gap Hits an All-Time High (Governing Magazine) — Minority students became the majority this year, but most teachers are still white. Policymakers are seeking for ways to get and keep more minority teachers.

Top 5 myths of the public school budget (EdNC) — Ninety percent of North Carolina’s children attend public schools, and educating all 1.5 million of them costs the state about $8.3 billion each year. Add $3 billion in local funds and $1.4 billion in federal funds, and it’s easy to understand why taxpayers and politicians care about the public school budget. Education at all levels is one-third of the state’s annual budget and a large percentage of each local county’s budget as well.
For NC charter schools, a spotty record on fulfilling promises (Raleigh News & Observer column) — Allison Eisen and Helen F. Ladd: North Carolina charter schools are accountable to the State Board of Education for ensuring compliance with the provisions of their charters and applicable laws. But how well are they delivering on the promises that earned them the right to spend more than $380 million taxpayer dollars each year? Our analysis shows many charters are not making the grade.

EDITORIALS

Carolina comeback? Come on, not yet (Fayetteville 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 Gov. McCrory never used the words "middle class" during his entire one hour and 20-minute State of the State speech.

DENR permits for Duke lack essential timetable (Fayetteville Observer) — Duke Energy was caught last year leaking excessive wastewater from its coal-ash ponds into soil and waterways. Duke is negotiating a federal settlement to pay resulting penalties. But the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources has found a way to ensure that the company doesn’t violate the law that way again: New permits will make future discharges legal. This sounds absurd at face value, but it doesn’t have to be.

Respect the people (Greensboro News & Record) — The Senate Redistricting Committee will hear more from Greensboro residents today. Whether it listens before it votes is another matter.