May 4, 2015

NC Politics in the News

Members of the North Carolina General Assembly worked long hours and passed over 200 bills in advance of their self-imposed “crossover” deadline of Thursday, April 30th. “Crossover” is the date by which a bill that is unrelated to taxes, fees or spending must be passed by one chamber in order for it to remain eligible for consideration by the other. Both chambers return to action today, where they will turn their attention to the state budget- writing process.

Economy and Economic Development

WILMINGTON STAR NEWS: N.C. Voters Could Decide Fate of $3 Billion Bonds
North Carolina has plenty of highway and building improvement projects that have languished over the years because of a lack of funds. The state also has a strong bond rating and plenty of capacity, according to the markets and the state’s financial experts, to take on new debt. With that in mind, Gov. Pat McCrory has proposed that two bond referendums be placed on the ballot this fall.

NEWS & OBSERVER: Records Show Broad Early Plans for Google Fiber in Triangle
A showy announcement with the governor and the mayor was only the beginning. As it turns out, threading thousands of miles of fiber-optic cable through a built-out city can be difficult, technically and legally. Three months have passed since the tech titan Google declared that it would make early deployments of Google Fiber, its high-speed Internet service, in Raleigh and several other North Carolina municipalities.

NEWS & OBSERVER: ‘Dirty Dancing’ Beats HGTV Show for NC Film Grants
The N.C. Department of Commerce picked a remake of “Dirty Dancing” over an HGTV home improvement reality show to receive state incentives in a first batch of film grant awards, according to records released this week. In early April, commerce officials announced three grants worth $10 million – effectively emptying funding for the annual program that film backers say is a poor substitute for the more generous tax credit incentive program eliminated last year.


WINSTON SALEM JOURNAL: Groups Wants School End Dates Out of Lawmakers’ Hands
It’s been 11 years since North Carolina lawmakers told public schools when the school year could open and close. But local school boards remain unwilling to dismiss their insistence that they and not the state should decide when classes are out for summer in their areas. A new politically diverse coalition of advocates and dozens of lawmakers agree with them.

WINSTON SALEM JOURNAL: Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Facing Teacher Shortage
A class of students at Jefferson Middle School is on its third math teacher this school year. The class’ original teacher retired after the first nine weeks of school. Next came retired math teacher Cindi Goins who took over for the second and third quarters as a long-term substitute. Recently, though, she had to give up the class when she reached a threshold of being considered a “full-time” worker, which would have forced her off of her retiree health plan onto a high-deductible plan.


NEWS & OBSERVER: NC Sea Level Forecast Cause for Relief This Time
Coastal residents said last Wednesday they don’t want state regulators to tell them how to cope with sea-level rise, and state regulators told them not to worry about it. There was relief all around as the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission held its first public-comment session on a report from geologists and engineers warning that the Atlantic Ocean is likely to climb roughly 6 to 8 inches higher on the North Carolina coast by 2045.

WRAL: House Votes to Weaken Renewable Energy Requirements
A vote in the House last Wednesday night substantially weakened the state's 2007 law requiring utilities to get a percentage of their power from renewable resources. The 2007 Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, or REPS, law requires utilities in the state to buy an increasing percentage of renewable power, such as solar or biomass, over time.


NEWS & OBSERVER: NC House Votes to Move Doctors Out of Death Chamber
Doctors would no longer need to be present at state executions under a bill that moved through the state House last week. The bill specifically broadens who is allowed to be in the death chamber, expanding the medical personnel from doctors to include nurses, physician assistants and paramedics.

In The Courts

WILMINGTON STAR NEWS: ‘Good Samaritan’ Law Changes Welcomed By Police, Health Professionals
When North Carolina legislators passed the “911 Good Samaritan Law” in 2013, they gave people who called 911 after witnessing a drug overdose immunity from minor drug possession and underage drinking charges. Two years later, a bill in the N.C. General Assembly aims to strengthen the law’s language and add legal protections for police and medical professionals.

NEWS & OBSERVER: Arrests Follow ‘Moral Monday’ Demonstrators Return to Raleigh
Demonstrators returned to the N.C. Legislative Building last Wednesday to mark the second anniversary of the start of the Moral Monday protests, and in keeping with the past two summers ago, people were arrested. The Rev. William Barber, head of the state NAACP and the chief architect of the movement that gained national attention, said the demonstrators have a growing list of issues they want legislators to give attention to this session.


WRAL: Workzone Fine Bill Runs Out of Gas
A bill that would have restricted the Dept. of Transportation’s use of higher speeding fines to protect its workers was turned into a study Thursday morning to avert a likely defeat. House Bill 136 would have banned the DOT and State Highway Patrol from imposing an additional $250 fine for speeding in a work zone unless workers are present and actively working at the time the speeder is caught.

WINSTON SALEM JOURNAL: High Ticket Prices at PTI Sending Travelers to Raleigh, Charlotte
Unless they’re on business trips, many travelers from the Piedmont Triad are chasing airline discounts to Charlotte or Raleigh for their vacations and other trips. Those airports have bigger crowds and expensive parking, but that’s where the discounts are, according to a quarterly report released last week by the U.S. Department of Transportation.


Harry Kaplan
Senior Vice President

Jeff Barnhart
Senior Vice President

Franklin Freeman
Senior Vice President

Bo Heath
Senior Vice President

John Merritt
Senior Vice President

Johnny Tillett
Senior Vice President

Kerri Burke
Vice President

Jillian Totman
Assistant Vice President

Sarah Wolfe
Assistant Vice President

Philip Barefoot
Research Assistant