Politics

Political news from around NC and beyond.

State senators have voted unanimously to approve reforms that would rename the state's crime laboratory and toughen up standards.  Under the bill, the state crime lab would be known as the North Carolina Crime laboratory. Lawmakers say it's a symbolic gesture designed to help give the beleagured institution a fresh start.

State senators have passed a bill that would allow law enforcement agencies to release transcripts or altered voice reproductions of 911 calls, instead of the original recordings.

Under state law, the names and addresses of 911 callers must be withheld from released recordings of those calls. But their voices are sometimes recognizable to criminal perpetrators, says Democrat Floyd McKissick of Durham.

Legislators have passed a bill that would block transportation officials from considering a proposed route for a toll road through Garner. The so-called red route would essentially cut the town of Garner in half. State officials say they don't want to build the road on that route.

A bill in the legislature that would require North Carolinians to show a photo ID at the polls has become a flashpoint of controversy among lawmakers. The measure’s Republican sponsors say the bill aims to fight voter fraud and ensure that every vote is counted. But Democrats believe the proposal is a regressive measure aimed at keeping many of their supporters away from the polls.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker gave his annual State of the City address today. Speaking at a Rotary Club meeting, Meeker summarized some of the city’s recent successes, including hosting the NHL All-Star game. He also laid out goals to continue expanding efforts at sustainability and transportation. Meeker says with unemployment rates dropping and sales stabilizing, it’s time to look ahead.

 

Duke Energy Corporation is providing a $10 million line of credit for next year's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. The credit was required by the Democratic National Committee as part of the agreement to bring the convention to the Queen City. The contract also says the convention's host committee must raise more than $36 million to cover production expenses. 

State senators have tentatively agreed to allow building new jetties along the Outer Banks.

State lawmakers tried to override two measures the governor has already vetoed during this legislative session.

North Carolina is facing one of the largest potential budget shortfalls in its history. Right now it amounts to 2.4 billion dollars, but that number could change. Two years ago, the Democratic-controlled legislature enacted temporary tax increases- including a one cent sales tax increase- to help balance the state budget. But Republican leaders who’re now in control say they don’t need the tax increase this time.

Governor Perdue plans to move nearly five hundred million dollars into the state's general fund to help pay tax refunds.

The governor says reserves are running low and that's why she needs to borrow from about a dozen different pots of money in order to pay North Carolinians their tax refunds. Republicans have cried foul, saying the governor has chosen to use money they'd like to access to ease the state's impending budget shortfall. Thom Tillis is the Speaker of the House:

Governor Bev Perdue plans to borrow five hundred million dollars from several state accounts to help pay tax refunds.

Governor Perdue says there's not enough money in the state's rainy day fund to cover the cost of all the tax refunds the state has begun to process. But she says there is enough money in about a dozen other funds that she can use.

Michael Zirkle Photography, Raleigh Historic Districts Commission, National Park Service

An old water line no one knew about has delayed the reopening of Raleigh’s Pullen Park. Renovations have been taking place for several years and planners hoped the park would be open this summer. But the water line combined with cold weather have pushed back the reopening. David Shouse is a senior park planner with the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department.

State lawmakers have passed a bill that would drop four end-of-course tests currently required for students in high school.

A bill that would limit the amount of monetary damages for patients harmed by doctors has passed the State Senate. The measure would limit awards to $500,000. It would also make it more difficult to sue emergency room doctors.

Republican Senator Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville says the bill would help lower malpractice insurance premiums for doctors and therefore bring more physicians to the state. He told fellow lawmakers he's been working on the measure for years.

North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan (D) is taking the lead in calling for changes to No Child Left Behind. The education legislation is due for reauthorization this year.

Hagan joined other senate democrats at a school in Washington DC in calling for reforming No Child Left Behind.

Future Of Earned Income Tax Credit In Doubt

Mar 2, 2011

Advocates for women's and children's issues gathered at the General Assembly yesterday. One bill they oppose is a change to the state's earned income tax credit.

A Senate bill saying residents would be presumed to have properly used deadly force in the case of a home, car or workplace invasion has tentatively passed the state Senate. State law currently only deals with home invasions. Democratic Senator Dan Blue of Raleigh voted against the measure, because it expands the definition of a home and a workplace to include tents. Blue says a number of homeless people live in tents they erect in downtown Raleigh.

State senators have tentatively approved a bill that would eliminate North Carolina's current cap on charter schools. The schools receive public money, but they function independently of local districts. Right now only one hundred charters are allowed to operate in the state at any given time. Democrats introduced a number of amendments on the Senate floor they said would help more at-risk children attend charters. But they were outvoted by the Republican majority.

Democrat Gladys Robinson is from Greensboro:

Governor Bev Perdue has vetoed the first bill approved by the new Republican majority at the legislature.

Governor Bev Perdue released her proposed budget in Raleigh earlier today. The $19.9 billion dollar plan would protect existing teacher and teacher assistant jobs, but it would eliminate about ten thousand other state jobs through cuts and through the reorganization of state agencies.

The state Senate has passed a bill that would block the federal requirement that everyone have health insurance or face a penalty. The measure passed easily by 30 to 18 today. Republican Senator Austin Allran of Hickory says the measure accomplishes three things-first, it says people in North Carolina should not be required to have a health insurance policy or be a member of a health care plan.

www.flickr.com/photos/bevperdue

North Carolina's Governor, Bev Perdue, gave her second State of the State address to legislators last night.

The Governor did her best to be optimistic, despite the specter of an enormous projected billion-dollar budget shortfall looming in the background. While she praised tough decisions that have already been made to cut costs, Governor Perdue said difficult choices will be required to keep the state in the black. Jessica Jones reports from the state capitol.

For years, advocates of charter schools have pressed legislators to pass a law that would allow more charters to operate in North Carolina. The schools receive public money, but they function independently of local districts. Right now only one hundred of them are allowed to operate at any given time in the state. But the new Republican-controlled legislature is likely to eliminate that limit completely. And that would make some charter school advocates very happy.

The Governor plans to address state legislators tonight in her annual State of the State Address.

Perdue At Emerging Issues Forum

Feb 8, 2011

Governor Bev Perdue says North Carolina's health care system needs better coordination in order to be more efficient and deliver better care.  Perdue spoke at the annual Emerging Issues Forum in Raleigh yesterday. This year, state and national experts are discussing health care innovation.  In her speech, the governor highlighted North Carolina innovations, such as a 2 million dollar federal grant towards a statewide I-T effort. The project will screen for dangerous medication interactions in older patients who get prescriptions from many doctors:

Pat Green
Pat Green Facebook re-election page

The sheriff of Franklin County abruptly resigned over the weekend.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Green has been with the department for more than 25 years.  Green said he was stepping down because of “major health and personal matters.” But Green’s abrupt departure may have a lot to do with a recent request from Franklin County District Attorney Sam Currin. He asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into missing money from the sheriff’s office. No word on how much money. Green was first elected as sheriff in 2006.

James Guseh with NCCU students Desiree Lewis, Timeika White and Kaia Clarke
Leoneda Inge

Presidential politics in Africa and in the African Diaspora has flooded the news in the New Year. There is the stand-off in the Ivory Coast where nations around the world continue to beg a losing presidential candidate to cede power to the winner. And just recently – a former dictator of Haiti returned home – raising questions of his intentions as the country tries to rebuild. A professor at North Carolina Central University says he can’t change the world – but he can help change his home country of Liberia.  So he’s running for president.  

The North Carolina legislature has begun a new session at a historic time in its history. Republicans now hold a majority in both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time in more than a century. But it's going to be a difficult year. Lawmakers face a potential 3-point-7 billion dollar budget deficit. Jessica Jones reports they say they're ready to meet that challenge.

The 2011-2012 legislative session begins today.

The North Carolina Department of Insurance will hold a public comment session in Raleigh this morning on possible insurance rate increases. The North Carolina Rate Bureau, which represents all the insurance companies doing business in the state, filed a request to raise rates an average of 20.9 percent for this year. Kerry Hall is a spokeswoman for the Insurance Department.

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