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WUNC Politics

The WUNC Politics Podcast is a free-flowing discussion of what we're hearing in the back hallways of the General Assembly and on the campaign trail across North Carolina. 

  • The N.C. Senate’s budget is approved, setting up negotiations with the House over tax cuts and how much state employees will get in their paychecks. But the budget debate was overshadowed by this week’s veto override on new abortion restrictions. Sen. Kandie Smith, D-Pitt, joins WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Colin Campbell to sort through a busy week at the legislature. Smith also talks about her bill to add video streaming in the Senate and her bipartisan legislation to find alternatives to jail for people who fall behind on child support. And she shares some tips on barbecue in the Greenville area.
  • State legislators are considering how to spend about $1 billion in federal funding to address mental health care. Sen. Jim Burgin, R-Harnett, co-chairs health committees in the Senate and talks with WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Colin Campbell about his ideas for fixing mental health. Burgin also discusses new patient protection measures for hospital mergers and sales that he’s proposing with Attorney General Josh Stein. And he explains why he wants a Legislative Reform Commission to consider changing lawmaker pay and session lengths.
  • North Carolina’s legislature passed more than 100 different bills this week as it rushed to reach a “crossover” deadline. The agenda included several controversial pieces of conservative social legislation: A ban on abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, a ban on gender transition surgery for people under 18, and a repeal of the state’s concealed-carry gun permit requirements. To sort through the hectic action, WUNC’s Capitol Bureau Chief Colin Campbell spoke with Hannah Schoenbaum, political reporter for The Associated Press, and Dawn Vaughan, Capitol bureau chief for The News & Observer. The trio of journalists also point out noteworthy bills that escaped attention on crossover week.
  • A shift to electric and fuel-efficient vehicles has left North Carolina with a shortage of revenue to pay for roads and other transportation needs — even as the state’s population booms and traffic gets worse. WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Colin Campbell talks with Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham, about a bipartisan effort to find new sources of revenue to replace the gas tax. Woodard also discusses his proposal to address what he calls “one of the stingiest” unemployment benefit programs in the country, as well as this week’s legislative developments on private school vouchers and gun violence prevention measures. And he explains why Durham County’s Bahama community isn’t pronounced the way you might expect.
  • N.C. House Republicans are getting close to a consensus on how they’ll approach new abortion restrictions, medical marijuana legislation and private school vouchers. Speaker Tim Moore chats with WUNC’s Colin Campbell about where things stand and what to expect in the final months of the legislative session. And he shares details about his unusual trip to Ukraine during the legislature’s spring break.
  • Rep. Maria Cervania, D-Wake, is one of the first two Asian American women to be elected to the North Carolina legislature. She talks with WUNC’s Colin Campbell about why that representation is important, and why she’s creating a new Asian American Pacific Islander caucus. Cervania also discusses her opposition to legislation requiring sheriffs to cooperate with ICE, her bill to increase funding to combat e-cigarette use in teens, and her thoughts on Gov. Roy Cooper’s role in the House Democratic Caucus.
  • Days after Rep. Tricia Cotham cited personal attacks as part of her decision to switch to the Republican Party, state Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, shares his thoughts on today’s bitter political environment with WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Colin Campbell. Saine also talks about the highlights of the newly approved House budget, whether the favorable political landscape for sports betting could lead to casinos, and how the tiny crossroads community of Cat Square got its name.
  • State lawmakers are easing into their months-long session with bill filings, press conferences and committee meetings. Among the items on the horizon are budgets, abortion regulations and mental health funding. State Representative John Bell IV (R-Wayne), Senator Sydney Batch (D-Wake) and Rose Hoban, founder and editor at NC Health News, all share expectations for this legislative session. And later, Capitol Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii signs off, with some reflections following eight years on the political beat.
  • There was, a lot, that happened in state politics across the last 12 months: Redistricting fights, budget deals, a landmark Leandro ruling, a primary was delayed, Congressman Cawthorn and Governor McCrory suffered bad defeats, Roe was upended, and neither Medicaid nor sports gambling was yet expanded. In a review of 2022, Rob Schofield and Clark Riemer think back on the year, dole out some coal, and reflect on the departures of three long-serving members of Congress.
  • After losing every statewide race during the November midterm, Democrats are licking their wounds and considering what they should do next. On this episode of The Politics Podcast, a number of progressives discuss what the party can do better, policy worth pursuing, and who might be the face of their efforts.