GOP hypocrisy on parade:
Echoes of 'pay to play' in Tillis' post-PAC appointments (Raleigh News & Observer) --There is a remarkable coincidence in all this. It happens that the House appointed three men, who gave a total of $70,000 to the super PAC, to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. It’s perhaps the most prestigious board in the state, and Speaker Tillis is a man of no small influence when it comes to appointees.
But don’t anyone dare whisper “pay to play,” because when Republicans are involved, there’s no hint of that, of course. Shaw says, shucks, anyone can contribute to the PAC “without our involvement.”
Dogfight over Charlotte airport exposes regional rifts (Charlotte Observer) -- For years Charlotte’s legislative battles were often defined by geography. Urban vs. rural. “The Great State of Mecklenburg” vs. the rest of North Carolina.
NC weighs abortion ban for some insurance policies (AP) — North Carolina is poised to prohibit private insurance companies from covering customers who decide to have abortions if their policies are purchased through a health insurance marketplace.
Students give mixed reviews to voter ID bill (Charlotte Observer) -- Campus student leaders gave a mixed reaction to a bill that wouldn’t accept university IDs as a form of identification to vote.
Sales tax holiday expected to be eliminated (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Getting rid of the tax holiday, where such back-to-school items as clothing, computers and classroom supplies are exempt from sales tax, is part of a tax reform bill legislators approved Wednesday. McCrory has said he will sign the legislation, which would eliminate the holiday as of July 1, 2014. The bill also would eliminate the Energy Star tax holiday, which exempts certain appliances from sales tax. The N.C. Retail Merchants Association said the holiday is important to consumers, retailers and the overall state economy. “Without this weekend, the state’s business climate will suffer significantly as our residents will travel across state lines to shop tax-free weekends in surrounding states,” said Andy Ellen, president and general counsel for the nonprofit trade association, in a news release.
Brandon's special needs scholarship near passage (Greensboro News & Record) -- Legislation that would create a taxpayer-funded scholarship to help special needs students attend private schools passed the state Senate Thursday and is close to final passage.
Tax reform changes supported (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County would come out slightly ahead in the new state tax reform deal — marking a major turnaround from previous deals.
POLICY & POLITICS
NC's new Medicaid payment system a 'nightmare,' some providers say (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Many medical providers say North Carolina's new claims and medical service approval system is riddled with problems. The state Department of Health and Human Services warned providers to expect a few bumps after the new Medicaid billing system
Martin Rallies Press for Charges (Wall Street Journal) -- One week after a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin, people began to gather for nationwide rallies to press for federal civil rights charges against the former neighborhood watch leader.
Demonstrations Across the Country Commemorate Trayvon Martin (New York Times) -- Thousands gathered in dozens of cities on Saturday to mourn the unarmed black teenager shot to death early last year, and to add their voices to a debate on race that his death has set off.
Across nation, protesters urge ‘justice’ for Trayvon Martin (Washington Post) -- Disappointed by the Florida jury’s verdict, demonstrators call for federal action.
Hundreds participate in rally, march for Trayvon Martin (Winston-Salem Journal) -- A week after George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, young people and community leaders joined forces at Union Baptist Church for a rally and march demanding justice.
'Peace for Trayvon' rally calls for change to legal system (Wilmington Star-News) -- About 150 people attended the rally in Wilmington to express grief about Martin's killing.
About 400 march on behalf of Trayvon Martin in Fayetteville on Saturday (Fayetteville Observer) -- About 400 people participated in two rallies on behalf of Trayvon Martin on Saturday.
WNC protesters rally against Zimmerman verdict (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Protesters expressed their outrage Saturday over the acquittal of Trayvon Martin's killer, saying the unarmed Florida teen was targeted because of his race.
Human trafficking quietly destroying lives (WilmingtonStar-News) -- Victims often feel stuck in what experts describe as an invisible cage.
UNC faculty leader pushed rewrite of key report to keep NCAA away (Raleigh News & Observer) -- UNC faculty chair Jan Boxill said that the request came from other faculty on the council’s executive committee. “The worry is that this could further raise NCAA issues and that is not the intention,” she wrote in an email to the authors of the report.
Nutrition standards may make students healthier but hurt bottom line (Raleigh News & Observer) -- History shows that when the food becomes healthier, kids buy less. And with 20 percent of Wake County's school food service budget relying on the sale of snack foods, that could cause a revenue problem when new nutrition standards take effect
ECSU expects fewer freshmen (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- Elizabeth City State University anticipates about 200 fewer freshman students on campus for the fall semester, according to new enrollment projections released last week.
NC town commissioner facing charges (AP) — A Boiling Springs town commissioner has been charged with pointing a gun at state troopers.
11 of 14 stores sold alcohol to teen (Wilson Times) -- Buying beer and liquor over the counter at corner stores is too easy for Wilson teens, results of an undercover police sting show.
Pedestrian hit, killed by train in Burlington (WRAL-TV) -- A person was killed Saturday after stepping into the path of an Amtrak train as it approached the station in Burlington, officials said.
Fayetteville ministry looks to help inmates (AP) -- Stanley Ragin bowed his head. He clasped his hands in front of himself as he sat down.
How a secretive medical panel uses data that distorts doctors’ pay (Washington Post) -- An AMA committee exaggerates time of procedures, a Post investigation finds.
Fundraiser for Fisher House (Jacksonville Daily News) -- N.C. Department of Agriculture recently partnered with Piggly Wiggly to raise money for Camp Lejeune-based Fisher House Foundation, which provides lodging, supplies and services to unite families and loved ones with those enduring illness, injury or combat injury.
Man convicted in UNC student death: Move 2nd trial (AP) — A man convicted of killing the University of North Carolina student body president in 2008 wants his trial in the death of a Duke University graduate student moved out of Durham.
50 Years of Tough Questions and ‘Thank You, Mr. President’ (New York Times) --Ms. Thomas covered every president from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama, but her career ended ignominiously over remarks she made about Israeli Jews.
Pioneering journalist Helen Thomas dies at 92 (AP) -- Helen Thomas, the irrepressible White House correspondent who used her seat in the front row of history to grill 10 presidents and was not shy about sharing her opinions, died Saturday. She was 92.
Journalist Helen Thomas dies at 92 (Washington Post) -- The irrepressible White House correspondent used her front-row seat of history to grill 10 presidents.
Journalist Helen Thomas Dies at 92 (Wall Street Journal) -- Helen Thomas, a pioneer for women in journalism and an irrepressible White House correspondent, died Saturday. She was 92.
Helen Thomas, pioneering journalist, dies at 92 (LA Times) -- Known for her persistent and blunt questioning of 10 presidents, Helen Thomas broke down a succession of barriers to women in the Washington press corps and became a White House fixture.
Helen Thomas did so much right, is tombstoned for one wrong (Washington Post) -- Do disgraced women not fight back because they gave at the "toughness" office? Or because they look down on smarmy shamelessness?
What Helen Thomas taught us (Washington Post) -- In her later years, Thomas felt freer to unleash her political biases, and that became the sad coda to her career. But what should endure is what she taught us earlier, which is that reporters exist to disrupt the peace.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Cape Fear sturgeon population rebounding quickly (Wilmington Star-News) -- Sturgeon are migratory fish that spend the majority of their lives in saltwater
Solution to Asheville coal ash pollution disputed (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Sampling of test wells surrounding the massive coal ash lagoons at Duke Energy's Asheville power plant leaves no doubt that the groundwater has been contaminated.
Tax plan has little reform or promise (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- State leaders praised the tax accord announced last week as a job creator. “It sends a positive signal … that North Carolina is open for business,” said Gov. Pat McCrory. In fact, the bill may very well cost North Carolina jobs. There is not one shred of evidence that cutting taxes leads to job creation, but it is self-evident that when the budgets of government agencies are cut, public employees lose their jobs.
Path to prosperity? (Greensboro News & Record) -- North Carolina Republicans have delivered on their promise to cut taxes. Is it really that easy to attract new jobs?
Rural North Carolina left in the dust, changes needed (Fayetteville Observer column) -- I don't know all the good, the so-so and the outright waste that the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center is responsible for over the years.
Making NC competitive with our neighbors may pay off (Gaston Gazette) -- Overall, the GOP wanted tax rates more competitive with North Carolina’s neighbors. It’s a reasonable goal. The current top individual and corporate rates here are the highest in the Southeast. Small wonder that new businesses are hesitant to take root here. Let’s see if they are now.
Sen. Berger drinks from GOP's grail on economic solutions (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Senate leader Phil Berger and I have gotten above our upbringin’. Both of us are sons of the great American working class – the people who built this country and fought its wars, but who have seen hard times in recent years as plants were shuttered. Our fathers worked for the same saw manufacturer and came home with the same steel splinters in their hands. My father was a saw smith who never wore a tie to work until he “retired” and went to work as a bank security guard. … People often draw different lessons when they rise through the American class system. For some, their success is proof that through hard work and discipline anybody can better themselves, and they want to pull the ladder up behind them. Others see all the help they got along the way – the public schools, the public universities, the student loans – and want to make sure that other people have the same opportunities. I can’t speak for state Sen. Phil Berger, but I fall into the latter category.
'Poor and prejudice' shouldn't be our country's story (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Perhaps the most critical problem we have in this country today is a pervasive prejudice against the poor. A study of attitudes toward public welfare in New York State showed that a third of the population believed that welfare recipients were chiselers
Push for paper ballots could cause more problems than it solves (Wilmington Star-News) -- It would seem the State Board of Elections is better equipped than legislators to determine voting policies.
Keep school board in charge of building (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- When Rocky Mount High School opened its doors a year ago for all the world to see, visitors marveled at its state-of-the-art features.
McCrory, memory: an ethical task (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Far too frequently politics is considered solely a matter of power, interests and competition. We forget, then, that a central act of any polity is to offer its people participation in a process of remembering.