The Republican power grab in North Carolina (Business Week) -- Since January, Republicans in the N.C. General Assembly have introduced a series of bills that would curtail the ability of Democratic-led cities and urban counties to govern themselves. GOP legislators say Charlotte’s City Council can no longer be trusted to manage Charlotte Douglas International Airport, a major hub. State lawmakers also nullified a lease that let Raleigh use state property for a park and enacted changes limiting cities’ ability to annex land. Another bill would take away control of school buildings and construction from the Wake County Board of Education, which oversees schools in Raleigh and surrounding areas, and give it to county commissioners. “No one has come out to say specifically ‘this is political revenge against Democratic strongholds,’ ” says David Swindell, who teaches public policy at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “But these changes amount to an unprecedented attack on the state’s cities, which happen to be home to many of the state’s Democrats.” GOP Governor Pat McCrory, the former Charlotte mayor who took office this year, has conspicuously kept his distance from what’s happening in his hometown. “The governor has stayed out of it because it’s a local matter that doesn’t require the governor’s signature,” says his communications director, Kim Genardo.
Asheville council meets to weigh suing over NC law (AP) -- Asheville officials are holding a special meeting to consider suing to stop North Carolina legislation that would take away the city's water system without compensation and put it in regional control.
Asheville City Council to consider water lawsuit (Carolina Public Press) -- The purpose of the special meeting "will be to consider authorizing legal action regarding NC House Bill 488" and other related matters,
State bill could hurt Mecklenburg County waterways, officials say (Charlotte Observer) -- A measure before the N.C. legislature could wipe out ordinances that protect Mecklenburg County’s water-supply lakes and streams, local officials say.
At a disquieted capital, joint culture, recreation authority vote planned (Carolina Public Press) -- There’s a lot of anticipation that the Senate will be out with its state budget proposal next week, but this week could hardly be described as the calm before the storm.
Private ultra-conservative group ALEC carries sway in legislature (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, is drawing scrutiny in North Carolina, where House Speaker Thom Tillis is a national ALEC board member and dozens of ALEC-themed bills are being considered.
NC Senate plan would expand sales tax, lower rates (AP) -- N.C. Senate Republicans rolled out Monday evening the frame of their tax overhaul plan for North Carolina they say will cut income tax rates while expanding the scope of the sales tax. Senate leader Phil Berger, a Rockingham County lawyer, announced the release of a video and web site in which the Rockingham County attorney lays out some of the highlights of the plan. The video was designed as a preview as Berger and leaders of the chamber’s tax committee scheduled a news conference Tuesday to talk more about the details.
Berger releases video and website previewing tax reform plan;news conference Tuesday (N.C. Political News) – Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) on Monday announced the creation of www.nctaxcut.com and released a video (accessible below) previewing the Senate tax reform proposal. The website dubs the plan, which is called the North Carolina Tax Fairness Act, the “largest tax cut in North Carolina history.” Berger will present the plan and answer questions about it at a news conference on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. in the General Assembly’s press conference room. Audio will be streamed under “press conference room” at http://www.ncleg.net/Audio/Audio.html.
Senate tax plan emerges (WRAL-TV) -- GOP leaders say their tax plan will reduces sales, income and corporate taxes by curbing government spending.
Legislators Take Aim At Local School Boards (WUNC-FM) -- Being on a school board is a little like being the head chef at the local Applebee’s. You don’t get to choose the ingredients and it’s not your recipe, but if someone doesn’t like the Bourbon Street Steak, you’re going to hear about it.
NC Republicans will talk about tax code changes (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Senate Republicans are putting their best foot forward on an overhaul of North Carolina's tax code that will reduce tax rates but also will mean more services will be subject to the sales tax.
More arrested as NC legislature protests continue (AP) -- More than two dozen members of the NAACP and other activists were arrested Monday as part of continuing protests of Republican policies in the state capital, bringing to dozens the number of nonviolent demonstrators facing charges.
Wilson activist arrested in protest (Wilson Times) -- Veteran civil rights activist Bob Zellner hadn’t been arrested in a dozen or so years. But that changed last week. Zellner, a Wilson resident, was one of 17 people who was arrested.
Protests a 'political bomb threat?' (WRAL-TV) -- The leader of a local conservative group is urging local media not to cover the NAACP's protests at the General Assembly.
NAACP protest at legislature nets 30 arrests (WRAL-TV) -- Opponents to the vision of progress offered by North Carolina's Republican leaders say they're stepping up the nonviolent demonstrations until they're heard. On Monday, 30 people were arrested and charged with violating building rules, failure to disperse and second-degree trespassing.
More arrested as NC legislature protests continue (Raleigh News & Observer) -- More than two dozen members of the NAACP and other activists were arrested Monday as part of continuing protests of Republican policies in the state capital, bringing to nearly 50 the number of nonviolent demonstrators facing charges.
NC NAACP to announce 15-county campaign at rally (Raleigh News & Observer) -- North Carolina's top civil rights group is preparing another rally fresh off its most recent round of arrests at the General Assembly.
Thom Tillis issues a warning to Republicans about overreaching (Raleigh News & Observer) -- House Speaker Thom Tillis issued a warning last weekend to his fellow Repubicans about overreaching with their supermajority power. "I was the GOP minority whip in 2009," he began in a Facebook post. "My job was to get conservative Democrats to help us defeat liberal legislation. The Democratic leaders, heavily influenced by their most liberal members and far-left groups, could not resist the pressure to move too far to fast. They did not compromise and they went too far. "They got out of step with the citizens of NC and they lost their majority as a result. It was their lack of discipline that laid the groundwork for Republicans to have House/Senate super majorities, a GOP governor, and (lieutenant) governor," he concluded. "Our lack of discipline will lay the groundwork for their ascendency and if they succeed we will only have ourselves to blame." What generated the post is unclear. A Tillis spokesman declined to elaborate and answer specific questions. "Speaker Tillis was simply recapping what occurred under Democratic leadership before Republicans won a majority in 2010, and pointing out that the Republican majority should learn from the mistakes of Democratic leadership of the past," spokesman Jordan Shaw said Monday.
NC House gives initial OK to gun rights measure (AP) — The Republican-led House on Monday night tentatively approved a bill that would expand where concealed weapon permit holders can carry or store their pistols, while lengthening penalties for crimes committed with a gun.
Concealed weapon bill given tentative NC House OK (AP) -- The state House has given its initial approval to Republican legislation that would expand where concealed weapon permit holders can carry or store their pistols, while extending penalties for crimes committed with a gun.
House votes to relax gun laws in NC (WRAL-TV) -- State House lawmakers voted late Monday night to allow concealed weapons on college campuses, greenways, bike trails, at sporting events and in businesses that serve alcohol.
House OKs wider gun freedoms (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Guns would be allowed in restaurants and bars, on walking trails, and on college campuses under a bill that received tentative House approval Monday night with a 76-38 vote
2 bills in NC House would bolster charter schools (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Local school boards would have the authority to create charter schools and form more flexible arrangements with district-run schools under a pair of bills in the North Carolina House.
NC fishermen speak out about game fish bill (AP) — Dozens of North Carolina coastal fishermen are making their voices heard on legislation that would essentially prevent commercial boats from catching and selling three fish species.
Commercial, recreational anglers battle over coastal fish (WRAL-TV) -- Commercial fishermen pleaded with lawmakers Monday to scuttle an effort to prevent them from catching three species of fish.
Beer bills advance in House (WRAL-TV) -- Two proposals to make beer sales more convenient in North Carolina won state House approval Monday night.
NC House takes action on laws for alcohol sales (AP) — North Carolina lawmakers are moving closer to relaxing rules for selling beer to seated fans at stadiums.
Bill allowing taxpayers to sue over budgets gets sidetracked (WRAL-TV) -- A rift between top House leaders was on display Monday night as a bill allowing taxpayers to sue over taxes and spending is referred to the Finance Committee over the objections of House Speaker Pro Tempore Paul "Skip" Stam.
Six new state symbols pass House (WRAL-TV) -- State House lawmakers voted unanimously Monday night to add a frog, amphibian, marsupial, fossil, folk art, and art medium to the list of the state's official symbols.
House approves whirligigs as folk art of N.C. (Wilson Times) -- The North Carolina House on Monday night unanimously approved a bill designating artist Vollis Simpson’s distinctive whirligigs as the state’s official folk art.
Late Sen. Ed Jones recalled by NC General Assembly (AP) -- Former legislative colleagues from both political parties are remembering state Sen. Ed Jones as a man of dignity who inspired loyalty and cared about education.
City council criticizes consultant over airport study (Charlotte Observer) -- Charlotte City Council members struggled Monday night to understand how a consultant they hired concluded that Charlotte Douglas International Airport should be run by a new, regional authority.
POLICY & POLITICS
Coastal governors call for more offshore drilling (AP) — Six coastal governors have called on Washington to open up more waters to offshore drilling and to make permitting a quicker, more efficient process.
NC Baptist chief Harris looking at US Senate bid (AP) — The pastor of a large Charlotte church who is also president of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention says he's prayerfully considering a 2014 bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Kay Hagan.
Burr Visits LexisNexis in Cary (Cary Citizen) -- U. S. Sen. Richard Burr visited the Cary office of LexisNexis as part of a three-day tour which included stops at Ft. Bragg, the NC Ports Authority in Wilmington and other area businesses and government agencies. This visit was a chance to conduct a pulse check with constituents from the local business community, tour the office facility and conduct a question and answer session with employees.http://carycitizen.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gif
King council approves gun measures to broaden carrying rights (Winston-Salem Journal) --nless there is legal pushback, properly certified residents of King will soon be allowed to bring their handguns onto city property. The King City Council approved a motion during its regular meeting Monday night to alter the town’s ordinance prohibiting concealed handguns on city property. The amendment — which was approved 3-1 — will allow residents with concealed weapons permits to carry their firearms into city-owned or operated buildings and related properties. The council also unanimously approved a motion to allow licensed individuals to carry concealed handguns in public parks and recreational facilities.
Ports Authority OKs another level of review on wood pellet contracts (Wilmington Star-News) -- Any contract will need to be reviewed and approved by the board.
Sale of NCSU forest protested (Raleigh News & Observer) -- N.C. State’s new Chancellor’s Residence got some elaborate but temporary landscaping Monday when 600 small loblolly pines were displayed at the driveway entrance.
Interstate 95 Public Meetings to be Held this Month (N.C. Political News) -- The N.C. Department of Transportation starting next week will hold four public meetings in communities along the Interstate 95 corridor for attendees to learn about the results of the I-95 Economic Assessment, as well as the next steps in the process of improving the highway. Attendees will be able to discuss the study one-on-one with NCDOT officials in an informal setting and will also have the opportunity to submit written comments or questions.
New Connections to Latin America Open Up for N.C. Ports (N.C. Political News) -- Maersk Line is adding port calls in Panama and Costa Rica to its weekly South Atlantic Express (SAE), currently connecting the Port of Wilmington with Central America. Shippers and receivers using Wilmington can now directly access Manzanillo, Panama and Puerto Moin, Costa Rica, in addition to Puerto Cortes, Honduras and Santo Tomas, Guatemala in northern Central America. New trade lanes to South America’s west coast and the Caribbean for Port of Wilmington customers are also open via transhipments at Manzanillo, Panama. Markets in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Trinidad and Tobago are now accessible through this option. Over the road service to El Salvador and Nicaragua continues to be available from Puerto Cortes and Santo Tomas.
Transportation Secretary Tata Announces New Appointees (N.C. Political News) -- State Transportation Secretary Tony Tata today announced three appointments to fill vacant positions at the N.C. Department of Transportation. “We have a very talented team at NCDOT and these individuals will make our team even stronger,” said Tata. State Port Authority and Global TransPark Logistics Director Sherman Lupton, a 30-year Navy veteran, has been named Director of Logistics. His focus will be to ensure these important assets are leveraged with other infrastructure and resources to meet business needs and grow North Carolina’s economy. He will earn a salary of $140,000. General Counsel Shelley Blake will be the new agency general counsel. Blake has been in private practice as an attorney and is an adjunct professor at N.C. Central University School of Law. She starts May 28 at a salary of $118,000. Brian LiVecchi started work as deputy agency counsel on April 24. He has most recently been in private law practice. His salary is $75,000.
Billionaire Murdock to make another gift to NC Research Campus (WRAL-TV) -- David Murdock, the billionaire owner of Dole Food and founder of the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis, will announce another gift to the campus on Wednesday. Murdock has already invested more than $700 million of his own fortune in the project.
State transportation secretary coming to New Bern (New Bern Sun Journal) -- N.C. Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata will be in New Bern later this month as part of an eastern swing to survey the area and to listen to regional concerns about proposed DOT policy changes.
Former DA’s trial set for August (Port City Daily) -- Former District Attorney Rex Gore’s criminal trial for felony conspiracy to obtain property by false pretenses has been scheduled for August.
Business climate climbs under GOP rule, according to new survey (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Small businesses likes what they see with the new Republican rule in Raleigh. A new survey found that small business owners believe the business climate in North Carolina has improved during the past year. Last year they gave it a C-plus, ranking it 26th in the nation in business friendliness. This year they give it a B plus ranking it 13th in the country. That is according to a survey conducted by Thumbtack.com of San Francisco in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation. The foundation polled 7,700 owners across the country, like photographers, plumber and graphic designers.
New Bern Mayor Bettis charged with DWI; Bettis says he was tired (New Bern Sun Journal) – Rising GOP star New Bern Mayor Lee W. Bettis Jr., 48, was arrested and charged with driving while impaired and two other traffic charges in Havelock on Monday morning.
Another name thrown out for 12th District race (Charlotte Observer) -- Add another name for the potential vacancy in the 12th Congressional District. George Battle III
2 Camp Lejeune Marines killed in Afghanistan (AP) — Two members of a Marine Corps Special Operations Battalion based at Camp Lejeune have been killed in Afghanistan.
Greenville ranked No. 2 for most unmarried moms (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- A new U.S. Census report finds that a North Carolina city is No. 2 in the country for its percentage of recent unmarried mothers, and two South Carolina cities are in the Top 10.
Buncombe works to lure mystery company (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Buncombe County government is working to lure a significant expansion of a local manufacturing plant in the Asheville area it is identifying for now only as 'Project X.'
Campbell University first in state to offer homeland security bachelor's degree (WRAL-TV) -- Campbell University will become the first college campus in North Carolina to offer a bachelor's degree in homeland security, beginning this fall.
Norfolk Southern worker killed in NC mudslide (AP) — A Norfolk Southern worker has been killed after he was trapped in a mudslide while checking track conditions in the North Carolina mountains.
Charlotte's startup community survey finds more companies, more hiring (WRAL-TV) -- The Business Innovation & Growth Council's second survey of the entrepreneurial community in the Queen City uncovers more new and emerging ventures. Plus, companies are looking to hire hundreds this year. We've got the numbers.
Bennett College picks Florida A&M exec as new president (Triad Business Journal) -- Bennett College has named Rosalind Fuse-Hall as its president-elect, to take over at the all-woman African-American private school in Greensboro
Middle school teacher accused of taping female student (AP) -- A Catawba County middle school teacher has been suspended with pay after his arrest on a peeping charge.
NC couple accused of zip-tying 4-year-old girl (AP) — North Carolina authorities are accusing a couple of using zip ties to bind their 4-year-old daughter's wrists and ankles to a baby gate.
Dan Aykroyd in Wilmington for film (Triangle Business Journal) -- Dan Aykroyd of "Saturday Night Live" fame – granted, that was many years ago – has been spotted around Wilmington.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Energy bill shows voice vote unreliable (WRAL-TV) -- Interviews with members show that had Senate Finance Committee Co-chairman Bill Rabon counted the votes, a measure to end a key renewable energy requirement would have failed FOR:18 and AGAINST:(no more than) 17.
NC county votes to end Alcoa dam licensing fight (AP) -- Officials in the North Carolina county that's home to a closed Alcoa aluminum smelter are removing a hurdle to the corporation renewing a license for dams that once powered the plant and now produce electricity for sale
Coastal governors call for more offshore drilling (AP) — Six coastal governors have called on Washington to open up more waters to offshore drilling and to make permitting a quicker, more efficient process.
Duke Energy Assesses 1700-Acre Chatham Co. Tract For Business Potential (WUNC-FM) -- A large parcel of undeveloped land near Siler City has been chosen by Duke Energy to take part in the utility's Site Readiness Program. The utility selected a total of 17 sites in the Carolinas, ten of which are in North Carolina. Duke Energy's Jeff Brooks says the 1700-acre Chatham County tract will be assessed for its potential to lure large industry and manufacturing to the area and calls it a "win-win" for everyone.
Looking for Answers to Help a Terrapin (Coastal Review) -- Diamondback terrapins were once abundant in our coast's marshes, creeks and sounds. Their population has declined and researchers at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington hope to find some answers.
With oil drilling, be careful what you wish for (Fayetteville Observer) -- Gov. Pat McCrory was in Texas Monday, sitting on a panel of coastal governors who advocate expanded offshore oil and gas exploration. In an opinion piece in the Durham Herald-Sun, McCrory cited North Dakota, with its 3.3 percent unemployment rate and booming economy as an example of what petroleum exploration can do. That state has an oil rush on its hands, thanks to hydraulic fracturing. What the governor didn't mention was the problems North Dakota is facing. In 2011 alone, it recorded more than 1,000 spills of oil or fracking fluids, and those are only the ones that were reported. The rush of oil workers has spurred the rise of shantytowns. Rents in oil country are at New York City levels. The crime rate in oil boomtowns - especially violent crime - is soaring. Yes, it is time to find out what's out there. How much oil and gas lie beneath our ocean and our land? How can we safely extract it, and when should we do it? Should we start when there's already a glut of gas and oil coming from other states? Let's move ahead, but let's learn from North Dakota's experience too.
Energy assist is routine, not an outrage (Fayetteville Observer) -- A proposal to repeal North Carolina's mandate that utilities participate in the "renewables" market is back on its feet and reeling around the state Senate. Its opponents should hit it harder this time.
Prosperity can be overwhelming (Durham Herald-Sun) -- Certainly, it's tempting. Just like Gov. Pat McCrory, we can look at North Dakota's booming economy, towns with 1 percent unemployment, and think: That could be us. No, that SHOULD be us. what the governor didn't mention in his offshore energy grab manifesto are the negative impacts that North Dakota has suffered since the Bakken formation boom. It's one of those "be careful what you wish for" moments. In a 2012 Bloomberg article, reporter Jennifer Oldham chronicled how newfound prosperity overwhelmed rural communities such as Williston, N.D., pushing housing, utilities, police and emergency services to their limits. before we go leaping headlong into plans to drill, baby, drill, let's learn from North Dakota's mistakes and make sure that we're ready for the price of prosperity.
Garbage-truck bill just adds to swelling stench from Jones Street (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Plenty of bad legislation gets filed in the General Assembly every year. Some of it really stinks. But this one raises malodor to a new level.
Legislation to limit state borrowing is worthwhile (Winston-Salem Journal) -- The state constitution is clear: Voters must approve any bonds that the state sells pledging North Carolina’s full faith and credit.
Adults must take responsibility for gun safety (Hickory Record) -- Firearm tragedies such as the one in Kentucky are not a function of the gun, but of carelessness. Untrained and inexperienced hands must have direction at all times where guns and other dangerous things are involved. It doesn’t matter if the perpetrator is old or young, a criminal or innocent, when you pull the trigger, tragedy can happen. … We have no quarrel with people owning guns. We have no problem with parents giving their children firearms. But small kids don’t need and should never have unlimited access. Firearm safety isn’t difficult. But it takes experience and focus. Those are qualities most little children don’t have. But they do have grown-ups to guide them. It’s a duty we must fulfill with all our might.
Don’t let ideology trump the success of public campaign financing for judges (Wilmington Star-News) -- Judges are supposed to cultivate an image as impartial arbiters of the law, not as politicians beholden to politically motivated contributors to their campaign kitty.
The mentally ill should be treated, not locked up (Raleigh News & Observer) -- People with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other illnesses are filling North Carolina’s jails and prisons. The state must take a different approach toward the mentally ill.
More counselors crucial to increasing safety in NC schools (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- The 2013 School Safety Act (Senate Bill 589) recognizes that school safety must go beyond just an increase in school resource officers. It provides $10 million over two fiscal years for local school districts to use for additional school psychologists, counselors and social workers
Reform campaign finance (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- The campaign for one vacancy on the N.C. Supreme Court last year highlighted the limitations of a system of public financing that aims to limit the influence of money on the state’s highest courts.