NCDP Clips for Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
Tweet of The Day
NC lawmakers disrupted for 2nd straight week by weather (AP) — At least one chamber of the North Carolina General Assembly is giving up for the week because of the winter weather. The other chamber may not be far behind.
Lobbyists brave snow and slick roads to rack up billable hours (Raleigh News & Observer) — Tuesday’s surprise snowfall meant empty chairs for Commerce Secretary John Skvarla’s presentation to state senators. But while many senators couldn’t make it to Jones Street, the seats in the back of the room were mostly full. That’s where the lobbyists sit. "I notice that everyone who’s able to bill by the hour is present," quipped Sen. Wesley Meredith, the Fayetteville Republican who led Tuesday’s meeting.
Falls short of McCrory’s request: NC House GOP files jobs measure (AP) — House Republicans on Tuesday filed an economic development package bill, saying they hope it will help Gov. Pat McCrory recruit more companies and jobs.
House bill funds incentives but leaves out crowdfunding (WRAL-TV) — North Carolina House leaders have filed a long-expected economic development bill that would put more money into luring companies to the state, but it leaves out two key programs avidly sought by the administration.
Economic development plan doesn’t include film, preservation incentives (Wilmington Star-News) — State Rep. Ted Davis Jr., R-New Hanover, played down the omission, saying lawmakers will "address those issues separately."
N.C. Women United roll out agenda for legislators (AP) — Women unhappy with the direction of North Carolina government say liberal-leaning policies they back would increase economic self-sufficiency for women and their families and bring women closer to men in full political and social equality.
NC considers exempting some from performing gay weddings (AP) — An N.C. Senate committee on Tuesday endorsed a measure creating an exemption for some court officials from carrying out duties related to marrying gay couples based on a "sincerely held religious objection." The divided voice vote by the Republican-controlled judiciary panel could send the proposal to a full Senate debate Wednesday.
Same-sex marriage returns to spotlight on Jones St. (WRAL-TV) — A Senate committee Tuesday approved a bill allowing magistrates with religious objections to same-sex marriage to opt out of performing marriages entirely.
NCDOT money ‘crisis’ gets state legislature’s attention (Raleigh News & Observer) — Legislators responsible for transportation spending agreed Tuesday that North Carolina faces a widening revenue shortfall of "crisis" proportions, and they began talking about big and little ways to close the transportation money gap.
POLICIES & POLITICS
As winter storm snarls N.C. traffic, DOT chief promotes book (WRAL-TV) — A winter storm that dumped inches of snow across North Carolina Tuesday caught state transportation crews by surprise. But when state Transportation Secretary Tony Tata appeared on CNN Tuesday afternoon, it was to talk about his new military thriller, not problems on the roadways.
Amid snow crisis, McCrory’s DOT secretary busy promoting book (AP) — N.C. Transportation Secretary Tony Tata was in Chicago touting a book as his department’s work crews scrambled to treat roads covered by a surprise snowfall.
Clinton leads Bush in early sample of N.C. voters (Elon Poll) In a matchup between two of the biggest names in American politics, Democrat Hillary Clinton is the current favorite to win North Carolina over Republican Jeb Bush in a presidential race that many respondents in the latest Elon University Poll said they would like to see.
At 41% disapproval, N.C is evenly split on McCrory’s job performance (Elon Poll) — Forty-one percent of registered voters disapprove of the job the governor is doing, as they are nearly evenly split on McCrory’s job approval. Yet, McCrory’s disapproval numbers are not as high as the president’s, the North Carolina General Assembly’s, or Congress’s. Nearly half of residents felt the state was off on the wrong track, compared to almost 38% who said the state was heading in the right direction. This is a more favorable evaluation of the state than four years ago, when this question was last asked.
N.C. GOP goes rogue, state could give national party big headache (CNN) – N.C. Republicans are on a collision course with the GOP National Committee over when to hold its presidential primary next year. National Republicans — intent on fashioning an orderly nominating process after several chaotic cycles — are threatening trigger-happy primary and caucus states with drastic penalties if they attempt to leapfrog the voting line and disrupt the carefully plotted primary calendar. But a handful of N.C. GOP legislators are vowing to defend a recently passed law that places their state’s primary fifth-in-line, in late February 2016, right after Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina raise the curtain on the Republican and Democratic nomination battles.
Butterfield concerned about votes for AG-nominee Lynch (McClatchy Newspapers) — U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield said he’s concerned that support may be lacking when the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on Thursday on whether to send Loretta Lynch’s nomination as attorney general to the full Senate for confirmation.
Phone message campaign against LGBT proposal raises bathroom issue (Charlotte Observer) — A conservative policy group is charging in phone messages to thousands of Charlotteans that “dangerous policy change” would allow men to go into women’s bathrooms and vice versa.
Affordable Healthcare Act Deadline Extended in N.C. (Camel City Dispatch) — Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a special enrollment period for individuals and families who were not able to obtain health coverage in 2014 and are subject to the fee or “shared responsibility payment” when they file their 2014.
US Postal Service to honor Maya Angelou with Forever Stamp (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service says it will honor poet and author Maya Angelou with a Forever Stamp.
State elections chair doesn’t ‘anticipate’ reversal of McFadyen decision (Wilmington Star-News) — New Hanover County’s former elections chief ‘can move forward with whatever subsequent legal action’ in wake of decision, state chairman says
Returning Home: A Young Organizer Makes Connections in Halifax County (N.C. Health News) — After four years on the West Coast, Victoria Chetty has returned to Halifax County to assist with improving the health and well-being
North Carolina Residents and Online Dating (High Point University Poll) — 21 percent of North Carolina residents, and 32 percent of those who are currently single, have tried online dating, according to the HPU Poll.
138 jobs and $26.3 million coming to Henderson County (Asheville Citizen-Times) — After announcing Tuesday it will build its first stateside facility in Henderson County, German manufacturing company Raumedic Inc. will bring an estimated 138 jobs and $26.3 million in investments to the region over the next five years.
SCHOOLS & UNIVERSITIES
AAUP Urges UNC Board to Reject Plan to Close Poverty Center (Inside Higher Ed) — The American Association of University Professors on Tuesday joined a chorus of other organizations and academics that have criticized a controversial recommendation that the board of the University of North Carolina System shutter the Chapel Hill campus’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity. Critics of the decision have said that the board is playing politics and is targeting the center’s director, Gene Nichol, a professor of law, for being an outspoken critic of policy makers who he says aren’t doing enough to help the state’s poor.
Teaching Fellows Program: Legacy Of Effective Teachers Across N.C. (Ed NC) — The Teaching Fellows Program, a teacher preparation and scholarship program that recruited top N.C. high school students into teaching, is set to graduate its final class this spring. The Teaching Fellows Program was eliminated by the General Assembly in 2011.
Supreme Court weighs NC school voucher program (WRAL-TV) — School vouchers either wrongly divert North Carolina tax money to private and religious schools or offer low-income families the option of sending their children to the same schools as wealthier families.
NC to tackle dropout policy (Winston-Salem Journal) — Next month, state education officials will consider changing the definition of high school dropout. Under current policy, students dropping out of high school for any reason are considered dropouts unless they return to a traditional high school program. That status is reflected on their academic record and in the dropout rate reported for the public school system they left.
UNC-CH and Mary Willingham reach tentative settlement (Raleigh News & Observer) — Mary Willingham and UNC-Chapel Hill have reached a tentative settlement over a lawsuit she filed last summer that contended the university retaliated against her for blowing the whistle on a long-standing academic fraud
3 former UNC athletes join McAdoo in lawsuit against school (AP) — A former women’s basketball player at the University of North Carolina has joined in a lawsuit which alleges the school failed to provide athletes a quality education by guiding them toward sham classes.
Education Is The Great Equalizer (EdNC) — The U.S. Congress can seem far removed from North Carolina’s classrooms. Their debates, lawmaking, and partisan bickering doesn’t always seem like it has a real impact on real-life students and teachers. But who are the people behind the politics?
Educators, Entrepreneurs Join Forces At Triangle Startup Weekend (EdNC) — This past weekend, educators, entrepreneurs, developers, and designers gathered in NC State University’s Hunt Library with one common goal: to come up with the next big idea in education.
How Twitter is changing the national Common Core debate (Washington Post) — Three researchers say this is the first national policy conversation played out in social media.
Duke Energy pays for dodging coal ash problems (Raleigh News & Observer editorial) — After Duke Energy reached a plea agreement over its mishandling of coal ash that spilled into the Dan River, Duke CEO Lynn Good said in a statement, "We are accountable for what happened at Dan River and have learned from this event." What Duke Energy has learned is that it’s expensive to be cheap.
Beneath PR spin, Duke Energy pleads guilty (Tampa Bay Times column) — There’s public reality. And then Duke Energy reality. The country’s biggest power company, the parent of Duke Energy Florida, invoked a classic PR move last week by issuing a news release at 4:20 p.m. on a Friday, shortly before the end of the workweek. That timing often signals something bad has happened that the culprit hopes will get ignored in the weekend crush. Duke’s release said it has reached a "proposed agreement with the U.S. government" that, if approved, would "close a federal investigation" of three Duke subsidiaries related to the Dan River coal ash spill (near the North Carolina-Virginia border) and ash basin operations at other North Carolina coal plants.
Public hearings set for April (Sanford Herald) — As Duke Energy awaits permit approval from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources for its coal ash storage projects in Lee and Chatham counties, local residents are getting another opportunity to voice their concerns about the projects at public hearings in April.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Solar helping to drive N.C. economy (Solar Novus Today) — A new report from Duke University, “The Solar Economy: Widespread Benefits for North Carolina,” found that public policies such as North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and Investment Tax Credit have made North Carolina first in the south and fourth in the nation for installed solar investment, creating jobs and boosting the economy across the state. Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, applauded the study’s findings.
Advocacy groups ask feds to keep up red wolf effort in NC (AP) — Several animal welfare advocacy groups have signed a letter to federal wildlife officials supporting efforts to restore the endangered red wolf to the wild.
A new energy future empowers communities (Daily Tar Heel editorial) — Politicians of all stripes love to talk about renewable energy. When they make bland allusions to an “all-of-the-above” energy policy, they omit key aspects of our conundrum’s unsustainability: production and distribution. Surprisingly, some Tea Party groups take a more progressive stance than President Barack Obama. Groups such as the Green Tea Coalition are advocating for decentralized power production from a consumer protection angle. In this model, communities produce their own energy from renewables such as solar panels or biomass, lessening dependence on utility companies.
Whale of a fight is brewing over Atlantic coastal drilling (McClatchy Newspapers) — Oil and gas companies hoping to drill in the Atlantic Ocean will have to contend with a new federal proposal to declare waters off the Carolinas and Georgia as critical for endangered whales. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is proposing a huge expansion in the critical habitat area for endangered North Atlantic right whales. The new area would include coastal waters from Georgia to Cape Fear, N.C.
Coastal Sketch: Col. Kevin Landers (Coastal Review) — He takes over the command of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Wilmington District at a time when federal money for dredging the state’s shallow inlets is becoming increasingly harder to come by.
Consensual sex an ethics violation? Not in N.C. (The Tennessean column) — The day before Valentine’s Day, the North Carolina Ethics Commission ruled that consensual sex between a lobbyist and a lawmaker was not a violation of the state’s ethics policies. The commission attached a footnote stating while consensual sex may be ethical in North Carolina its ruling did not address the legal, moral or other ramifications of adults not married to one another engaging in consensual sexual relations. It did say it remained an ethical violation to provide a prostitute because it would be a gift or item of value and would have to be reported. I love the tortured logic of American politics, where illegal and unethical are independent of each other.
Academic Freedom Is Under Assault (Southern Pines Pilot) — The proposal to shut down the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law smells of intrusive, ham-handed, partisan politics at its worst.
Why NC needs no business incentives (Pope Civitas Institute/Raleigh News & Observer column) — When they were out of power, North Carolina Republicans rightly attacked Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue’s wanton use of economic incentives. Since winning control of state government, however, some GOP leaders have regrettably changed their tune. Gov. Pat McCrory last year urged a reluctant legislature to adopt a more aggressive incentives program to entice corporations to locate in the state. Though incentives in the form of tax abatements and cash grants have been part of North Carolina’s economic development policy at the state and local level for years, there are sound reasons for abandoning this misguided policy.
NC Senate passes a lawless law on same-sex marriage (Raleigh News & Observer) — A waste of time and energy continues with the advance of an anti-gay marriage bill in the state Senate.
NC must say no to partisan court races (Raleigh News & Observer column) — North Carolina could soon join a handful of states that elect their high court justices in partisan races – the first state to make such a switch in nearly 100 years. The eight states with partisan primary or general elections have seen vastly more money in their judicial elections. All eight were among the top 10 states in judicial campaign cash 2000-2009. It seems impossible that this is a coincidence.
Moving airmen, not planes, can’t fool anyone (Fayetteville Observer) — Amid criticism over measures to mothball the 440th Airlift Wing based at Fort Bragg’s Pope Airfield, Air Force spokesman Col. Robert Palmer has fired back with assurances that steps taken included "no actions prohibited by law." An Air Force Reserve Command team is assisting 1,200 airmen in finding other jobs, even though Congress passed a measure to keep the unit’s planes at Fort Bragg. Moving pilots and crew isn’t the same as moving planes, explained Palmer. As Sen. Thom Tillis’ communications director, Daniel Keylin, noted, "Only in Washington would bureaucrats believe that C-130s can fly themselves without pilots and maintainers."
Dropping ferry tolls a compelling idea (Wilmington Star-News) — In remote areas of eastern North Carolina, ferries are as important to commuters as roads are to the rest of us.
Anti-tax watchdogs lose their bite (Raleigh News & Observer column) — Conservative groups offer only token opposition to gas tax hike