NCDP Clips for Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

NCDP Clips for Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Tweet of The Day

LEGISLATURE 2015

NC Senate revenue change could prompt local sales tax increases (Raleigh News & Observer) — A Senate sales tax revenue redistribution plan unveiled this week would cost Durham and Wake counties millions by 2019, but county commissioners would get a new tool to make up the difference: the ability to raise their sales tax rate without voter approval.

House votes to eliminate protest petitions (WRAL-TV) — Residents would lose a tool used to fight unpopular zoning cases under a bill the state House tentatively approved Tuesday. Backers of the measure say it allows neighbors to "undemocratically" control somebody else’s property.

Panel OKs abolishing Map Act (Winston-Salem Journal) — The N.C. Department of Transportation is asking the N.C. Supreme Court to overturn a court of appeals decision that would force the state to compensate property owners whose lands have long been in the path of the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway. Also on Tuesday, the Transportation Committee of the N.C. House endorsed a bill to abolish the Map Act that created the designated highway corridors in the first place, sending the measure on to the House Finance Committee.

Senate GOP wants N.C.’s ferries to go private (Raleigh News & Observer) — A trio of Senate Republican leaders on transportation issues proposed in legislation filed Tuesday that North Carolina’s state-run ferries should be privately owned and operated.

Senate Passes Bill To Provide $5 Million To JDIG (N.C. Political News) — RALEIGH, N.C. — The state Senate on Tuesday passed a bill to replenish funds used by the state Department of Commerce to recruit businesses and jobs. Senate Bill 326, sponsored by Sens. Rick Gunn (R-Alamance), Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland) and Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson), provides an additional $5 million to the Job Development Investment Grants (JDIG) fund for the remainder of the year.

House takes another swing at jobs bill (Raleigh News & Observer) — In a sign that legislators remain at odds on incentives and corporate tax policy, House Republicans on Tuesday began work on a third economic development bill – with many of the same elements as an earlier House bill that Senate Republicans don’t like.

Advocates call – again – for Medicaid expansion (WRAL-TV) — Despite unwavering opposition from Republican legislative leaders, Democrats and allies are calling again for the state to accept the federal expansion of Medicaid.

Rate bill on fast track (Wilson Times) — Legislators are working to fast track legislation to allow N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency assets to be sold to Duke Energy Progress.

Historic tax credits, medical marijuana on agenda (WRAL-TV) — The House takes up historic tax credits as the Senate follows through on a plan to reduce the power rates for some in eastern North Carolina. A House Judiciary Committee meeting on medical marijuana is also garnering attention.

Free community college proposal moving through House (WRAL-TV) — A bill that would provide two years of community college tuition-free to top North Carolina high school students cleared its second House committee in a week Tuesday morning but continues to face skepticism from some lawmakers.

SCHOOLS & UNIVERSITIES

$27.6 million more needed just to keep CMS current programs (Charlotte Observer) — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is projecting it will need an additional $27.6 million from the county to keep its programs and staffing the same next year. The increases are largely driven by expected raises for beginning teachers, preserving teaching assistant positions and the required funding for enrollment growth at the county’s charter schools.

Guilford superintendent seeks extra $26 million to keep status quo (Greensboro News & Record) — Guilford school leaders want to have money to provide driver education, as state law requires. They want to avoid increasing class sizes again. They want to provide resources students and teachers need, such as textbooks.

THE SPILL
Duke Energy to appeal $25.1M fine by NC regulators (AP) — Duke Energy will appeal a $25.1 million fine by North Carolina environmental regulators over pollution that has been seeping into groundwater for years from a pair of coal ash pits at a retired power plant.
Commissioners left powerless by legislature in fight against Duke Energy’s coal ash (Sanford Herald) — If residents want to see who voted to place coal ash in Lee County, go to the Legislature’s webpage and pull Senate Bill 729 from the 2014 session. Make sure you see who sponsored the bill. They are the ones who developed the plans to place coal ash in clay mine pits in North Carolina. The bill gave Duke the right to place coal ash in the county without approval of the local government.

EDITORIALS
Crammed Down Local Throats (Southern Pines Pilot) — Wait a minute. Aren’t all those Republicans in charge of the North Carolina General Assembly the ones who are always so loudly proclaiming their ideological conviction in favor of local control and against overreaching central government?
Tell the election success stories, too (Washington Post column) — In the era of super PACs and outsized corporate influence in politics, Maine State Rep. Sen. Dianne Russell is an inspiring success story — and not the kind we’re used to hearing when it comes to campaign finance. Instead, we hear about the Koch brothers, who plan to spend nearly $1 billion in the months leading up to the 2016 election. We hear about Republican presidential wannabes lining up to court billionaire casino kingpin Sheldon Adelson, in what has come to be known as “The Sheldon Primary.” And if we’re paying close attention, we hear about places like North Carolina, where Koch ally Art Pope has essentially bought the Republican Party, as well as a stint as the state budget director. Incidentally, Pope used that lofty position to attack the state’s public financing of judicial elections, opening the door for his political network to exert even more influence on the process.