Daily dose

The power of power:

Utilities Commission expects to wrap up Duke Energy rate hike hearing (NEWS14-TV) -- A three-day hearing regarding Duke Energy's proposed rate hike could wrap up Wednesday. Company leaders are meeting with the North Carolina Utilities Commission, hoping to raise rates for nearly two million customers in the state. The nearly 5 percent increase will help pay for new and improved infrastructure, the company says. “We've retired older, less efficient power plants and replaced them with new, more sophisticated technology,” said Duke Energy spokesperson Lisa Parish. This is Duke Energy's third rate increase request since 2009 and there is plenty of opposition. Some say the increase will hurt struggling families and small businesses.


The Decline of North Carolina (New York Times Editorial) -- Every Monday since April, thousands of North Carolina residents have gathered at the State Capitol to protest the grotesque damage that a new Republican majority has been doing to a tradition of caring for the least fortunate. Nearly 700 people have been arrested in the “Moral Monday” demonstrations, as they are known. But the bad news keeps on coming from the Legislature, and pretty soon a single day of the week may not be enough to contain the outrage. … North Carolina was once considered a beacon of farsightedness in the South, an exception in a region of poor education, intolerance and tightfistedness. In a few short months, Republicans have begun to dismantle a reputation that took years to build.



Defense employees keep spirits up with furlough run (Washington Post) -- The event on Monday marked the start of furloughs for hundreds of thousands of Defense Department employees.



The Man Behind 'Moral Mondays' (Stateline) -- The Rev. William Barber II thinks the liberal coalition he organized to protest the North Carolina legislature’s rightward shift could be a model for movements in other Southern states.


Chaplain barred from inmates after arrest (Charlotte Observer) -- Rev. Jane Holmes can no longer minister Mecklenburg inmates after she was arrested during a “Moral Monday” protest.


Abortion Fight Flares in North Carolina (Wall Street Journal) -- North Carolina is considering new laws that would restrict abortion, drawing protests and illustrating the state's recent rightward shift.


Opposition to Recent Abortion Bill Drives Many Protesters (N.C. Health News) -- In what was probably the largest Monday protest yet at the General Assembly, two thousand or more people gathered to express their grievances with the legislature. And many said they were there because of an abortion bill passed by the Senate last week.


Four More Residents Arrested in Raleigh Protests (Southern Pines Pilot) -- Dianne Green, Janet Kenworthy, Julie Wick, and Maurice Holland, Jr., joined approximately 60 others arrested Monday evening as part of ongoing protests against the Republican Party-controlled legislature’s actions on a number of social, economic and fiscal matters.


Abortion proposal slows in House (WRAL-TV) -- After the Senate passed a raft of new abortion restrictions in less than 24 hours last week, the House responded to howls of public complaints by sending the proposal to a committee for a public hearing before it comes up for a floor vote.


Abortion bill backers, foes have their say at General Assembly hearing (Fayetteville Observer) -- A proposed state House bill focusing on abortion clinics drew an in-depth debate Tuesday, not only from state lawmakers but from others who waited close to a week to have their voices heard at the General Assembly.


House panel's abortion bill meeting draws crowds (AP) -- Hundreds of longtime activists and newcomers on the abortion issue converged Tuesday on a North Carolina House committee as it weighed legislation hastily run through the Senate last week to tighten regulations on abortion clinics.


House hears NC governor's abortion bill concerns (AP) -- House and Senate Republicans say they'll work with Gov. Pat McCrory's administration on a bill requiring new upgraded rules for abortion clinics in North Carolina. But it's unclear how long legislators are willing to work with him before passing it. Backers of a measure directing regulators to treat clinics like ambulatory surgery centers said Tuesday they've heard concerns of state health officials worried about the details and how the bill would be carried out. Rep. Ruth Samuelson of Charlotte says she's still hopeful the House will formally agree to the bill later this week. That would send the measure to McCrory's desk. State Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos wants legislators to spend much more time studying current abortion regulations before moving forward with the current bill.


One Republican goes rogue on abortion bills (Charlotte Observer) -- The battle lines among spectators were pretty clear at today's House hearing on a Senate abortion bill. They were even colorful: Pink-clad abortion rights activists on one side of the hearing room and blue-shirted abortion opponents on the other. The lines between legislators were pretty clear as well. Republicans for the bill. Democrats against. With at least one exception. Freshman GOP Rep. Charles Jeter of Huntersville said he's inclined to not support, or concur, with the Senate bill.


NC's proposed abortion bill slows down a notch (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The sweeping abortion bill the Senate rapidly approved last week slowed down in the House on Tuesday, where the state's public health regulators told lawmakers extensive questions should be answered before enacting it into law.


House committee adjourns without abortion bill vote (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Controversial new abortion restrictions introduced in the state Senate last week failed to make it through a House committee meeting Tuesday, with top state health officials urging lawmakers to slow down on the rushed effort. Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos addressed the House Health Care Committee on Tuesday in a special, two-hour public hearing on abortion restrictions added to an unrelated bill last week. The committee heard from more than a dozen members of the public and health administrators, then adjourned without taking a vote.


DHHS chief calls for more study of abortion restrictions (WRAL-TV) -- Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos urged lawmakers Tuesday to slow down on a break-neck effort to adopt new restrictions on North Carolina abortion clinics, saying some of the provisions need more study while others need to be clarified.


Secretary Of Health And Human Services Urges Lawmakers To Study Bill (WUNC-FM) -- The head of North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services has asked state lawmakers to review a bill that would enact new regulations on abortion providers. Secretary Aldona Wos told lawmakers at a committee meeting earlier today that her department and the governor are very concerned about patients' safety. News 14 Carolina broadcast the meeting.


Durham Clinic That Provides Abortions Vows To Reopen, Says New Regulations Unnecessary (WUNC-FM) -- A Durham clinic that performs abortions was closed last Friday, after an inspection by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. But the owner of that clinic says it will reopen. In a notice of administrative action delivered by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the Baker Clinic was cited because it "failed to ensure quality control was performed in blood banking" and "failed to perform quality control testing on one hundred-eight patients that received Rh(D) [blood type] testing."


Is Art Pope an official legislative liaison for Gov. McCrory? (Raleigh News & Observer) -- State Budget Director Art Pope is becoming a frequent face at the NC General Assembly, especially as spending and tax issues dominate the final weeks. His actions raise questions about whether Pope should register as a McCrory administration legislative liaison.


Senate leaders skeptical of McCrory’s show-piece public private partnership bill (WRAL-TV) – Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has been pushing for legislation to turn the state's job recruiting functions over to a public-private partnership. But GOP Senate leaders say they need to "thoroughly" examine the proposal and avoid problems found in other states.


Legislation aims to define terminal groins, lift state's cap (Wilmington Star-News) -- One thing the House language does, Catlin said, is clarify the definition of a terminal groin.


NC legislature OKs personal care service change (AP) -- A way to restore more Medicaid-funded assistance to people in North Carolina with dementia or Alzheimer's disease has received final legislative approval.


BIG GULP: Obesity lawsuits thwarted in bill going to McCrory (AP) – N.C. companies that manufacture, advertise or distribute food could soon have additional legal protections from lawsuits by people claiming their products led to their obesity.


Landfill uncertainty worries Camden (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- The “phantom reappearance” of a once-dead mega-landfill proposal in Camden could scare away new business prospects, county officials fear.


Minimum fines for passing school buses in NC bill (AP) -- North Carolina motorists convicted of passing a stopped school bus picking up or dropping off students would face a $500 minimum fine in addition to other punishments in legislation going to Gov. Pat McCrory's desk.


Charlotte airport authority bill back on fast track (Charlotte Observer) -- A new version of the authority bill could face a vote by the full House as early as Thursday.


NC lawmakers moving on Charlotte airport shift (AP) -- North Carolina legislative leaders are ready to move forward again on a bill transferring control of Charlotte's airport away from the city to an independent panel after efforts to create a study panel disintegrated.



In-State College Students Take the Hardest Hit (Wall Street Journal) -- Tuition at four-year state schools increased at a faster rate for in-state students than their out-of-state classmates over the past three years, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Education.


NC approves state package for 240 GE Aviation jobs (AP) — A subsidiary of one of the largest U.S. companies is getting a rich incentives package estimated at up to $27 million to add about 240 jobs at four North Carolina factories within five years.


State pledges $9.9 million to GE Aviation jet project (Durham Herald-Sun) -- State officials say they’ll contribute $9.9 million to a multi-government business incentive package that’s helped convince GE Aviation to build a new line of jet engines in North Carolina. Tuesday’s announcement came from Gov. Pat McCrory’s office, which said the move is about both retaining existing jobs and creating new ones. The package benefits four communities, including Durham. “We’re serious about building on existing industries in North Carolina, and this project is a perfect example of our commitment,” McCrory said in the formal announcement. The governor later tweeted that he’s “looking forward to seeing more ‘Made in North Carolina’ stamps” on engine parts.


GE expansion adds jobs to Wilmington, strengthens area's aviation sector (Port City Daily) -- New Hanover County is one of four beneficiaries of a GE Aviation investment slated to create 242 jobs across North Carolina over the next five years. Gov. Pat McCrory this morning announced the jet engine producer would expand its manufacturing operations in Castle Hayne as well as in Durham, West Jefferson and Asheville for an overall investment worth $195 million. The Castle Hayne site will add 35 new positions, the company said Tuesday afternoon; for all the new GE jobs statewide, a release from the governor’s office noted salaries will vary by position but come out to an average annual wage of $47,942 plus benefits. That’s higher than the average annual wages in all four benefiting counties.


Durham to get 50 of GE Aviation’s 242 new jobs (Triangle Business Journal) -- GE Aviation offered new specifics this afternoon on how an announced North Carolina expansion will impact headcounts at individual sites


GE Aviation plans 105-job West Jefferson expansion (Winston-Salem Journal) -- GE Aviation is taking a “the more the merrier” approach to its expansion plans in North Carolina, giving West Jefferson a significant role in producing aviation engines that will be lighter and more heat resistant. The company announced at last month’s air show in Paris it was adding production at its Asheville facility, where it will make jet engine components made of advanced ceramic matrix composite materials. On Tuesday, GE Aviation confirmed that its West Jefferson plant will be part of its overall $195 million capital investment over five years. Facilities in Durham and near Wilmington also will benefit from the expansion.


NC Secretary of Commerce: vision, variety lead to success (Sanford Herald) -- North Carolina Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker met with local leaders Tuesday afternoon and encouraged them to continue economic development through community revitalization. Brick Capital Community Development Corporation hosted Decker and leaders from the North Carolina Community Development Initiative at the W.B. Wicker Business Campus for an informal presentation and tour of the building. "It thrills me to be in this room with all of you because I say that economic development is community work," Decker said. The state has its role, she said, but it takes a variety of individuals with vision and skills to accomplish successful economic development in a community.


Italian snack maker sets up shop in north High Point (High Point Enterprise) -- N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker recently joined city officials to celebrate the opening of an Italian snack food maker in north High Point. LC America began operations in January at 8221 Tyner Road in a 68,000-square-foot plant previously occupied by Streuli Sales, a wooden door manufacturer. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the plant, which makes snack pellets, a semi-finished food that is sold to snack food manufacturers. The company, which is in the city limits of High Point but has a Colfax mailing address, employs about 23 workers. It’s the first North American manufacturing facility established by La Caselle, a snack food company out of Italy.


NC governor visits Medicaid system centers (AP) -- Gov. Pat McCrory has taken a first-hand look at North Carolina's new Medicaid claims billing system.


McCrory to visit Wilson today (Wilson Times) -- Gov. Pat McCrory will be having breakfast in Wilson on Wednesday. McCrory, a Republican, was invited to speak at the Wells Fargo agriculture department.


Stern letters exchanged between current, previous NCDOT chiefs (Raleigh News & Observer) -- After Transportation Secretary Tony Tata heard reports that his predecessor, Gene Conti, misused DOT images and information, Tata warned Conti to stop. Conti has said he did nothing wrong.


Berger says he hasn't decided on Senate run (WRAL-TV) – Republican Senate Leader Phil Berger says he'll decide whether to run for U.S. Senate "by the end of the month." If he decides to get in the race, he'll face House Speaker Thom Tillis in the Republican primary.


Berger still not ready to decide on US Senate bid (AP) -- The Republican leader of the North Carolina state Senate says he should make a decision by the end of July about whether to enter the race to try to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.


A.C.L.U. Sues Over Ban on Gay Marriage (New York Times) -- he Supreme Court returned the battle over same-sex marriage to the states two weeks ago, and Deb and Susan Whitewood are among the first to pick up the fight. A couple for 22 years with two teenage daughters, the Whitewoods filed suit on Tuesday to overturn Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage, one of the first of an expected outpouring of cases around the country to cite the court’s majority opinion that same-sex couples are denied a “status of immense import” and their children deprived of “the integrity and closeness of their own family.” … The A.C.L.U. plans to file suit soon in two other states, Virginia and North Carolina. In Michigan, a federal judge blocked a state law denying domestic partner benefits to public employees, citing the Supreme Court rulings. And on Wednesday the A.C.L.U. and Lambda Legal plan to seek summary judgment in Illinois in two year-old gay marriage cases.


ACLU to seek challenge of NC gay marriage ban (AP) -- The American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday it was gearing up to attack North Carolina's year-old constitutional prohibition against same-sex marriage.


ACLU will fight N.C.’s ban on gay marriages (Greensboro News & Record) -- The ACLU hopes to expand an existing case — amending a 2012 lawsuit involving North Carolina’s ban on second-parent adoption. That case includes a Greensboro couple.


North Carolina joins front line in gay marriage fight (Charlotte Observer) -- North Carolina – along with a Charlotte couple and their children – joined the front line Tuesday in a national challenge to same-sex marriage bans.


LGBT activists urge Burr, Hagan to support non-discrimination bill (Charlotte Observer) -- Advocates for a bill in Congress that would protect employees regardless of their sexual orientation touted the legislation Tuesday, calling it essential for attracting a competitive workforce to North Carolina.


Prison closures are price of NC sentencing reform (Raleigh News & Observer) -- An ambitious initiative to keep ex-offenders from returning to prison depends on money to pay for probation officers and community treatment programs. Closing some prisons is the plan to pay for it.


Breeding Bacteria on Factory Farms (New York Times) -- A study suggests that keeping animals in confinement and feeding them antibiotics can lead to disease in humans that may not be easily treated. … The latest study concerning antibiotic resistance was published last week in the journal PLoS One. It looked at livestock workers in North Carolina (the nation’s second biggest hog-producing state, after Iowa), including those in what the study’s authors called “industrial” livestock production and those on farms where the animals were raised without antibiotics and grown on pasture. In this study, the S. aureus bacteria with genetic markers most closely linked to livestock were found in far greater numbers in workers on the industrial farms.


Health care groups split with state chamber over sales tax refunds (Winston-Salem Journal) -- A controversial legislative plan to cap sales tax refunds for nonprofits has led at least two health care groups to pull their membership from the N.C. Chamber.



Chantal nearing hurricane strength, could impact Carolinas this weekend (N.C. Political News) -- Tropical Storm Chantal is nearing hurricane strength. If the storm survives its trip across the mountains of Hispaniola, it could impact the Carolinas this weekend or early next week. As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Chantal had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph — only 9 mph shy of hurricane status. Minimum central pressure was at 1006 mb, or 29.71 inches. Chantal was located at 15.2 N, 63.7W or about 270 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The storm was racing to the west-northwest at 26 mph.


Oldest town in for a discount (Washington Daily News) -- Between 2000 and 2010, the Town of Bath saw many homes built on the shores of the creek, even as its population dropped by 26 people. Now, the town will have a new addition, one likely not readily associated with the oldest town in North Carolina: a Family Dollar. Though months in the making, according to Bath Commissioner John Taylor, Monday saw the first activity on the N.C. Highway 92 (Carteret Street) lot that will eventually become the chain discount store. Like any commercial chain, uniformity determines the outward appearance, thereby making the brand of Family Dollar recognizable. However, as the first commercial chain to set up shop in the historic town, Bath’s Family Dollar will look a bit different as required by town ordinances — it has to fit in with the historic character of the town.


Mayodan is "preferred" site for Ruger plant, but deal not quite done (Triad Business Journal) -- Did someone jump the gun on the Ruger announcement by any chance? Sturm Ruger & Co. announced Monday that it had selected a 220,000-square-foot building in Mayodan for its third manufacturing plant as part of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing. But the notice, which was released late yesterday and was sparse on details, took both Rockingham County and Mayodan city officials by surprise. Rockingham County and city of Mayodan officials were even told Tuesday to hold off on speaking with media outlets because the Connecticut-based gun maker (NYSE: RGR) apparently took issue with the wording of the notice and wanted to clarify that while the building is a preferred site, the expansion is still subject to the approval of an undisclosed amount of local and state incentives.


Firearms manufacturer picks Mayodan as preferred plant site (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Rockingham County is on the verge of gaining its second large firearms manufacturer with the announcement by Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. that it has chosen a 220,000-square-foot plant in Mayodan as its preferred expansion site. The company said in a brief statement that a plan for the expansion “is expected to be finalized in August.” The company has not said how many workers it expects to hire, but a public-relations group hired by Ruger said it could range between 300 and 500 at full production capacity. Greyhill Advisors, a site-selection consulting firm based in Austin, Texas, and New York, handled for Ruger a recent interview session for potential local job applicants. Greyhill spokesman Daniel Kah has said the majority of people hired will be local residents.


Deadly holiday at Carolina beaches sparks concerns about rip currents (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Officials in Brunswick County will consider adding beach warning flags and lifeguards after a July Fourth holiday that saw seven people drown in rip currents along both Carolinas' coasts - nearly twice the number of deaths in an average year


Kroger adds Harris Teeter to supermarket network (AP) — Kroger, already the country's largest traditional supermarket operator, is expanding its reach in key southeastern and mid-Atlantic states by snapping up regional grocer Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc.


Kroger Buys Rival Grocer Harris Teeter, Citing Potential for Growth (New York Times) -- The Kroger Company has agreed to acquire Harris Teeter Supermarkets for $2.4 billion as it seeks to expand in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions.


Outdated practice of annual cervical-cancer screenings may cause more harm than good (UNC News Release) -- For decades, women between the ages of 21 and 69 were advised to get annual screening exams for cervical cancer. In 2009, however, accumulating scientific evidence led major guideline groups to agree on a new recommendation that women be screened less frequently: every three years rather than annually.


Bears from closed NC park find new home in Texas (AP) — Eleven bears from a now-closed North Carolina animal park have a new home in Boyd, Texas.


Deck collapses at Ocean Isle Beach home, injures 18 (WRAL-TV) -- Eighteen people were hospitalized with broken bones and lacerations Tuesday night after a second-story deck collapsed at a home in Ocean Isle Beach, police said.


Durham man denies providing improper benefits to Hairston (WRAL-TV) -- A convicted felon with ties to University of North Carolina basketball player P.J. Hairston told WRAL Tuesday the UNC athlete has not received any improper benefits from him.


Animal rescue center closes because of founder’s health problems (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Amy Hobbs has helped 1,500 dogs find a loving home through the H.A.R.T. Foundation, but after health complications, she will have to put that part of her life on hold.



NC Utilities Commission chair makes pointed comments in Duke Energy rate hearing (Charlotte Business Journal) -- N.C. Utilities Commission Chairman Ed Finley cloaked some pointed critiques of state officials in questions to an economic consultant


Duke Energy's profit margin is questioned (Charlotte Observer) -- Attorney General Roy Cooper’s staff spent much of a Tuesday hearing probing the profit margin for investors built into Duke Energy Carolinas’ request for a 5.1 percent rate hike.


Landfill uncertainty worries Camden (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- The “phantom reappearance” of a once-dead mega-landfill proposal in Camden could scare away new business prospects, county officials fear.


Cree LED lighting to illuminate UNC campuses in energy-saving effort (WRAL-TV) -- The University of North Carolina system aims to reach an enery-savings goal in part by using products from a North Carolina company – Cree. The UNC General Administration has chosen energy efficient Cree LED lighting for 13 UNC campuses and several affiliated organizations. The university system is aiming to reduce energy usage by at least $25 million over seven years.



The Decline of North Carolina (New York Times Editorial) -- Every Monday since April, thousands of North Carolina residents have gathered at the State Capitol to protest the grotesque damage that a new Republican majority has been doing to a tradition of caring for the least fortunate. Nearly 700 people have been arrested in the “Moral Monday” demonstrations, as they are known. But the bad news keeps on coming from the Legislature, and pretty soon a single day of the week may not be enough to contain the outrage. … North Carolina was once considered a beacon of farsightedness in the South, an exception in a region of poor education, intolerance and tightfistedness. In a few short months, Republicans have begun to dismantle a reputation that took years to build.


Proposed rules are about cutting abortion access, not protecting women (Wilmington Star-News) -- It's difficult to ignore the similarities between Republican legislators and their Democratic predecessors.


City declines to aid in its own amputation (Charlotte Observer) -- North Carolina’s legislature had Charlotte locked in a masterful trap: Heads we win, tails you lose. Pay me now or pay me later. And you’ll look bad doing it.


Boone hotel deaths: Probe shows need for tougher regulations (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Perhaps the most disturbing revelation to come out of the ongoing investigation of carbon-monoxide poisoning at a Boone hotel is that the death of the third victim, 11-year-old Jeffrey Lee Williams of Rock Hill, S.C., may have been easily preventable.


Water system issue continues (Wilson Times) -- Swift action and solid communication won Greenville a reprieve in the state Senate last week when the chamber voted unanimously to amend a bill that threatened the city’s control


Right the Wrongs of Redistricting (Southern Pines Pilot) -- It may be legal, but it ain’t right.


Redistricting ruling underscores unfairness (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- A special three-judge panel’s unanimous approval of North Carolina’s redistricting plans upholds the legal standing of new legislative and congressional districts all over the state – and yet reminds us again of what’s wrong with our system.


Redistricting ruling shows need to remove politics from mapping process (Raleigh News & Observer) -- If the party in power can’t be expected not to abuse redistricting, the courts must take a fresh look at voting rights law in light of tactics that use the letter of the law to abuse its intent. The plaintiffs should appeal to the state Supreme Court and, if necessary, to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Selling NCSU's Hofmann Forest a violation on many levels (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Hofmann Forest is owned by the State of North Carolina! So in effect, here we have a private foundation deciding to sell an 80,000-acre forest that belongs to you and me, and the NRF is doing it right at the bottom of the timberland market ("sell low" must be a business lesson from another children


Insurance legislation not as bad as portrayed (Fayetteville Observer column) -- As a North Carolina resident and an insurance company executive, I am frustrated with the misconceptions surrounding an amendment to SB180. This piece of legislation will bring competition and innovation to North Carolina's auto insurance market as it modernizes the way auto rates are set in the state.


Save the Mountain Resources Commission (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- 'This resource provides the information necessary to protect our region's abundant and unique natural resources, promote development and planning