NCDP Clips for Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

NCDP Clips for Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

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REMEMBERING CLAUDE SITTON

Claude Sitton, 89, Acclaimed Civil Rights Reporter, Dies (New York Times) — A son of the South, Mr. Sitton delivered unwavering and perceptive coverage of the tumultuous civil rights movement and was hailed as a benchmark of 20th-century journalism.

LEGISLATURE 2015

McCrory budget 1st test to see if NC lawmakers back reforms (AP) — Recommendations from a government reform study could save $71 million over two years if lawmakers approve them, but they won’t really be successful unless the state makes efficiency a permanent objective, Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget director said Tuesday.

NC legislators critique Gov. McCrory’s proposed budget (Raleigh News & Observer) — Lawmakers voiced questions and concerns Tuesday about Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget proposal. Budget Director Lee Roberts spent an hour explaining the spending plan, which was released last week, and many of legislators’ questions involved pay proposals for state employees. The budget doesn’t include an across-the-board raise for all workers, instead targeting raises to specific departments and hard-to-fill positions.

Lawmakers query UNC system fundraising cap (WRAL-TV) — A proposal by Gov. Pat McCrory to cap university use of taxpayer dollars for fundraising prompted a lot of questions from lawmakers Tuesday morning. McCrory’s budget chief Lee Roberts met with the joint House and Senate Appropriations committees to go through the governor’s proposal, released last week.

Study: Two-thirds of teachers left out of raises in McCrory’s budget (WSOC-TV) — A Department of Public Instruction study found about a third of North Carolina teachers are likely to see raises under Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed budget.

Two-thirds of NC teachers wouldn’t get raises under governor’s budget (WRAL-TV) — Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget would follow through on a promise to raise salaries for starting teachers, but the bulk of educators would see no raises under McCrory’s plan.

Commissioner, GOP legislators back NC insurance bills (AP) — Republican lawmakers and Democratic state Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin back legislation they say would improve the process to set North Carolina homeowner insurance rates and give insurers a new way to cover huge losses after a hurricane.

Racial profiling ban filed in NC House (WRAL-TV) — North Carolina’s Legislative Black Caucus is backing a proposal for a state ban on racial profiling.

GOP wants to change the rules to win the elections their candidates can’t (Weekly Independent) — Taking the “if you can’t beat’ em, cheat ’em” approach, legislators try to rig county commission races in Republicans’ favor

Local Redistricting Measures Head To Senate Floor (WUNC-FM) — At the Capitol, two controversial redistricting bills are heading for debate on the Senate floor. One would modify the boundaries for Wake County Commissioner seats. The other would change the maps for Greensboro City Council districts. Supporters say these measures improve representation. Opponents want state lawmakers to leave local governments alone.

Senators nominate potential UNC board members (Raleigh News & Observer) — Senate nominees for the UNC Board of Governors include four current members and 11 others — one of which is a recent lawmaker, former state Sen. Thom Goolsby.

POLICIES & POLITICS

McCrory dodges questions about ethics complaints (Raleigh News & Observer) — Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday shook off questions about the ethics complaints filed against him, saying that his “chief legal counsel” would be answering for him.

N.C. attorney general wants answers on Ritz-Carlton CIAA service charge (Charlotte Observer) — NC Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office is demanding answers from the Ritz-Carlton in uptown Charlotte as to why the hotel tacked a 15 percent service charge on guests of the hotel’s lounge during the CIAA basketball tournament Feb. 24-28.

Steps Forward, Back for NC Children’s Health (N.C. Health News) — This year’s Child Health Report Card finds improvement in many health indicators, but poverty-related problems impede improvement

Three States Would Take Big Hit From Loss of Health Subsidies (Wall Street Journal) – North Carolina Florida and Texas would be among the states hardest hit if their health care insurance subsidies are struck down by the Supreme Court.

86% of Health Law Enrollees, 92% in N.C., Get Subsidies (New York Times) — The Obama administration said Tuesday that 11.7 million Americans now have private health insurance through federal and state marketplaces, with 86 percent of them receiving financial assistance from the federal government to help pay premiums. About three-fourths of people with marketplace coverage — 8.8 million consumers — live in North Carolina and the 36 other states served by HealthCare.gov, the website for the federal insurance exchange. The other 2.9 million people are in states that created and operate their own exchanges. In North Carolina, 560,400 people selected health plans in the federal marketplace, and 515,500 of them qualified for subsidies averaging $315 a month.

SCHOOLS & UNIVERSITIES

McCrory seeks input from teachers’ group (WNCN-TV) — Gov. Pat McCrory outlined Tuesday what issues he wants a new group of teachers to examine. Tuesday marked the first day for new members of the Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee. About two dozen teachers from across the state make up the group. McCrory re-established the committee in 2013 and said they have helped him with policies such as teacher pay and other recommendations.

ROSS: Higher ed cuts come at a price (Higher Education Works) — Tom Ross, President of the University of North Carolina system, issued a sharp warning about declining support for public higher education in North Carolina and the nation. Repeated budget cuts to the state’s colleges and universities are part of a damaging trend, Ross told the Raleigh City Club’s first National Public Affairs Forum. “America’s societal commitment to investing in higher education appears to have eroded,” he said. “We spend about 30 percent less per student today than we did 25 years ago.”
Can working families still afford UNC? (Raleigh News & Observer column) — William C. Friday, the highly respected former University of North Carolina president, must be spinning in his grave. Few subjects were closer to Friday’s heart than keeping the 17-campus UNC system affordable to the residents of North Carolina.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

N.C. Fines Duke Energy $25.1 Million (New York Times) — North Carolina officials say they have hit Duke Energy, the nation’s largest electric utility, with the largest environmental fine in state history. The $25.1 million penalty, announced Tuesday by the State Department of Environment and Natural Resources, addresses the contamination of groundwater by coal ash from a single facility — the company’s Sutton Plant near Wilmington, N.C.
Environmental group launches ads against Duke coal ash plans (WNCN-TV) — An environmental group is making a plea to Gov. Pat McCrory for action against Duke Energy, using the voices of children. Members of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League stood outside the governor’s office Tuesday to announce a radio campaign against Duke Energy’s plan to store coal ash in Lee and Chatham counties.

EDITORIALS

Those baffling N.C. ethics forms (Charlotte Observer) — Were this the only instance of Gov. Pat McCrory filling out ethics forms improperly, it would be worth minimal notice. But it is not. It is a pattern with the McCrory administration: Fill out the ethics form incorrectly, have the ethics commission admonish you for that, then claim that it was an innocent misinterpretation of the form. … Voters should consider the facts and decide whether they are OK with error-filled ethics forms from elected officials of either party. And McCrory should do more to fulfill his campaign promise of leading a clean and transparent administration.
Right-wing commentator confesses closing UNC center was ‘political hit job’ (Raleigh News & Observer column) — To be fair, the UNC Board of Governors’ decision to close three research centers with fiercely progressive mandates was a political hit job.

Dressing up bigotry in NC as religious freedom (Raleigh News & Observer column) — Like every other lesbian or gay parent in North Carolina, I was thrilled when a federal appellate court brought marriage equality to the Old North State last July. Same-sex couples can now access the 1,000-plus benefits, rights and protections provided on the basis of marital status in federal statutes. I felt relief that my two young daughters will no longer carry the humiliation of knowing their parents are second-class citizens in the eyes of the law. This fact, however, does not sit well with GOP leaders in the General Assembly.

Burr, Tillis add their names to outrageous letter to Iran (Raleigh News & Observer) — Unfortunately, North Carolina’s two Republican senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, also signed with 45 others a letter to the leaders of Iran basically telling them that President Obama’s word was no good and whatever was negotiated to stem Iran’s nuclear program could be undone by the next president.