Daily dose: The cowardly lyin'

Top story today: Pat McCrory supports legislation that will allow the state to take over Asheville's water system. All because he wants to see what happens in the courts when Asheville sues the state. Predictably, he'll let the abomination become law without actually signing it. True leadership.

McCrory to let Asheville water bill become law (AP) -- Gov. Pat McCrory, former mayor of the state’s largest city, said Wednesday he will let a bill become law that would shift control of a western North Carolina water system so that expected litigation by the city of Asheville can run its course.

McCrory: Asheville water bill to become law (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Gov. Pat McCrory said Wednesday he will allow a bill to transfer the city's water system to become law without his signature, leaving the courts to sort out the issue out.

Pros And Cons Of Changing NC Tax System (WFMY-TV) -- A billion dollar’s worth of tax cuts? Sounds like something to celebrate. But, of course, there's a catch. Republican State Senator Phil Berger wants to slash the state income tax from 7.75 percent to 4.5 percent. The catch? You could end paying a lot more in state sales tax. Other states have this kind of a tax system to encourage more people and companies to locate there. Under the North Carolina proposal, the sales tax rate would drop slightly. However, the number of taxed services would climb. Right now, about thirty services are taxed. If approved, the proposal would increase that number to about one-hundred.

CPAs call GOP tax reform plan a ‘soundbite’ (Greensboro News & Record) North Carolina CPAs are pushing tax reform as a priority, but if you’re looking for their detailed analysis of proposals, we’re just not there yet. Even though Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger stood in front of a crowded press room to announce the basics of the tax plan he and other senators will push, we don’t feel any further along the road to reform. Put it this way: N.C. Association of Certified Public Accountants CEO Jim Ahler called Berger’s press conference yesterday “a fairly significant sound bite.”

Art Pope's committee visit shows path zero-based budgeting will take (Raleigh News & Observer) -- So, a House judiciary subcommittee was minding its own business Wednesday, working through a calendar of unremarkable bills, Art Pope slipped into the room. Pope, one of the most potent political figures in the state who also happens to be the budget director, quietly took an empty chair off to the side. That prompted committee chairman Rep John Blust, a Greensboro Republican, to move up his own bill from last on the agenda to accommodate Pope. Blust’s HB984 is the latest version of his longtime effort to move the state to zero-based budgeting, which requires department heads to justify everything in their budgets every year, rather than justify only deviations from the baseline budget year to year.

NC House wants voters to decide on leaders' limits (AP) — The North Carolina House wants voters to decide whether to limit how long people can serve as the General Assembly's top leaders.

Proposed amendment would limit terms of House, Senate leaders (WRAL-TV) -- A bill approved Wednesday in the House would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot calling for term limits for House and Senate leaders.

NC Senate bill requires abortion education (AP) — A controversial bill requiring North Carolina's health instructors to teach students that abortions can cause premature births in later pregnancies is headed to the Senate floor.

Senate to debate abortion 'risk' bill (WRAL-TV) -- A proposal to require schools to teach students that abortion causes pre-term births is headed for the Senate, despite dueling UNC experts and an unclear committee vote.

Bill would require students be taught abortion is risk factor for pre-term births (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A committee of the NC Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would require students be taught that abortion is one of the risk factors for premature births. There are conflicting studies about whether that is scientifically accurate.

Senate Committee Approves Abortion Teaching Bill (WUNC-FM) -- A bill that would make public educators teach students that abortions can cause preterm births is headed to the state Senate floor. It’s one of a raft of measures introduced this session aimed at restricting and reducing

Proposed restrictions on teen medical care spark debate (WRAL-TV) -- Area parents said Wednesday that they are torn over legislation that would require parental approval for a range of medical treatments sought by teens.

NC Senate advances bills for student expression (AP) — Bills protecting organizational rights of student groups and student-led prayer are advancing in the North Carolina Senate.

Bill would block 'all-comers' policies for student groups (WRAL-TV) -- Student groups would be allowed to bar people from leadership positions if they don't hold the views the group represents, under a proposal approved Wednesday by the Senate Education Committee.

NC workers' group balks at public worker changes (AP) -- House Republicans agreed Wednesday to help Gov. Pat McCrory change state personnel laws so that agencies can hire hundreds of additional policy makers and administrators who wouldn’t be subject to those laws and can consolidate appeals by fired employees or workers punished for poor job performance. …The State Employees Association of North Carolina doesn’t like several items in the bill, said Dana Cope, executive director of the 55,000-member union. One provision eliminates a separate grievance process for someone seeking a State Personnel Act-covered position who alleges another person was hired or promoted due to political considerations or affiliation. “Maintaining the SPA is crucial to stopping political patronage and nepotism in rank-and-file jobs,” Cope told the committee. If the political grievance procedure is eliminated, Cope said later, essentially all job protections and due process are lost because it would be difficult to prove political cronyism. Public employees deserve a system that rewards or punishes based on what they know, not who they know,” Cope told lawmakers.

Bill expands governor's ability to hire, fire state workers (WRAL-TV) -- The ranks of "at will" employees would grow under a bill moving through the state House. State employees said rank-and-file positions would also be subject to political whims under the measure.

Bill seeks to push Easley initiative to improve student readiness (WRAL-TV) -- State lawmakers are working on a bill that would create public-private partnerships to fund programs to help more North Carolina students prepare for college and careers. The Education and Workforce Innovation Act is expected to be heard in the state House Education Committee next week. The legislation – sponsored by four representatives whose districts include Carrabus, Union, Edgecombe, Martin and Johnston counties – would build programs that integrate workforce training and classroom instruction so students graduate with the competitive edge needed in a global economy. The Early College Academy at Wilson Community College is an example of the kind of program proponents say the act will fund. Up to 250 Wilson County students are in Early College,

More online legal notices in NC passes House panel (AP) -- A pair of bills to let local governments in many North Carolina counties post required legal notices online instead of running ads in local newspapers has cleared a House committee.

Repeal of literacy test headed to NC House floor (AP) — A bipartisan group of North Carolina lawmakers want to repeal a portion of the state constitution linked to the days of white supremacy.

NC House tentatively approves transportation bill (AP) -- Gov. Pat McCrory's effort to direct more money to high-impact transportation projects has received initial approval from the North Carolina House. The House granted tentative approval on a 96-22 vote Wednesday. The proposal ends a system of dividing funding equally among the state's 14 transportation divisions and instead places it in competitive pools at the state, regional and local levels. The system places a greater emphasis on ranking formulas that will be developed later.

New highway funding formula gets tentative House nod (WRAL-TV) -- The House on Wednesday approved Gov. Pat McCrory's plan to divvy up money for highway construction by emphasizing projects that will boost North Carolina's economy.

Diluted puppy mill bill heads to House (WRAL-TV) -- A bill that would attempt to regulate some puppy mills in North Carolina is headed for the House floor, but only after being so watered down that even its supporters aren't sure exactly what it would accomplish. House Bill 930 passed the House Judiciary B Committee Wednesday on a unanimous vote. It would apply basic welfare standards for food, shelter, veterinary care and exercise to breeders who have 10 or more breeding female dogs on the premises. However, it would not apply to breeders of show dogs, hunting dogs, sporting dogs or field dogs.

NC's First Lady speaks out on puppy mills (WRAL-TV) -- NC's First Lady Ann McCrory has made her first public foray into legislative advocacy on behalf of a bill regulating commercial dog breeders.

Timber interests pitted against green builders (WRAL-TV) -- House lawmakers gave tentative approval to a measure that opponents fear could undermine the LEED standard for green building. Backers say they are trying to promote the use of North Carolina timber.

Check-off for political parties ends in House bill (AP) — North Carolina's tax check-off program to help fund the state Democratic and Republican parties could be on the way out.

McCrory signs 2 bills into law related to newborns (AP) — Two bills dealing with newborn children have been signed into law by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory.

Wilson woman crusades for health screening (Wilson Times) -- Crystal Darak of Wilson was at Gov. Pat McCrory’s side Wednesday afternoon when he signed into a law a bill requiring pulse oximetry screening on North Carolina newborns.

House okays parity for cancer therapies (WRAL-TV) -- State House lawmakers tentatively approved a proposal Wednesday that would ban insurers from charging more for oral chemotherapy than IV chemo.

Cancer treatment bill tentatively passes NC House (AP) — A bill requiring health insurers in North Carolina to charge the same for oral cancer drugs as traditional intravenous medications has received initial approval from the House.

House to vote on execution ban for mentally disabled (WRAL-TV) -- State House lawmakers are expected to vote next week on a bill that would let judges take the death penalty off the table for capital defendants with severe mental disability.

Cigarettes bill stubbed out (WRAL-TV) -- The measure would have made the possession of more than 5,000 cigarettes a crime.

State Rep. Pierce, minority lawmakers demand audience with McCrory (Fayetteville Observer) -- Minority state lawmakers led by state Rep. Garland Pierce of Wagram demand an audience with the governor today to complain that the raft of Republican policy coming from Raleigh will hurt the state.

Legislative Black Caucus members invite themselves to McCrory's office (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Members of the Legislative Black Caucus are going to Gov. Pat McCrory's office Thursday morning to talk about their opposition to bills moving through the legislature. Rep. Garland Pierce, a Scotland County Democrat and caucus chairman, said members invited themselves over and aren't sure McCrory will be there. He won't be. McCrory's office said he can't meet Thursday morning, but he's trying to find another time. McCrory has met with the Black Caucus a few times this year, including a meeting where he came over to the Legislative Building. Those who attended didn't point to any points of agreement arising from that confab, other than legislators and McCrory agreeing that it's a good idea to talk. Caucus members have also been at the breakfasts McCrory has hosted at the mansion for legislators, his office said.
Commerce Dept. to act more like private marketing firm (WRAL-TV) -- Top advisers encouraged Gov. Pat McCrory to move toward privatizing the Commerce Department's job recruiting operations in a white paper drafted a month before the Republican took office. Key among the advantages of a public-private partnership is the ability to pay job recruiters based on performance and reward those who recruit businesses to the state, wrote the authors, who now occupy top policy jobs in McCrory's administration. McCrory publicly rolled out those plans in early April, although emails and documents obtained by WRAL News show plans to push for a conversion continued nonstop from his transition team through the early months of his administration.

Judges may hold another NC redistricting hearing (AP) — The judges hearing North Carolina's redistricting litigation want more information from attorneys about the role race played in the formation of congressional and General Assembly boundaries drawn in 2011.

Data shows blacks voted at higher rate than whites in 2012 (AP) -- New census data show that America's blacks voted in 2012 at higher rates than whites, in a historic first. Despite increasing population, the number of white voters declined for the first time since 1996. Blacks were the only race or ethnic group to show an increase in voter turnout, most notably in the Midwest and Southeastern U.S. The census analysis is viewed as the best source of government data on turnout by race and ethnicity. In all, about 66.2 percent of eligible black voters cast ballots in 2012, up from 64.7 percent in 2008. That compares with non-Hispanic white turnout of 64.1 percent, which fell from 66.1 percent. Latino turnout dipped slightly, from 49.9 percent in 2008 to 48 percent, while Asian-American turnout was basically unchanged at 47 percent.

Blacks Surpass Whites in Voter Turnout (Wall Street Journal) -- Last year's presidential election marked the first time since at least 1996 that African-Americans voted at a higher rate than whites or any other racial or ethnic group, data released by the Census Bureau show.

Free for All Over 'College for All' (Inside Higher Ed) -- A Brookings paper challenging the notion that "everyone should go to college" is itself challenged (from many sides) for overstating its case.

NC's First Lady speaks out on puppy mills (WRAL-TV) -- NC's First Lady Ann McCrory has made her first public foray into legislative advocacy on behalf of a bill regulating commercial dog breeders.

Murdock donates $50 million to research in Kannapolis (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Billionaire David Murdock, the Dole Foods chairman whose vision and money turned an abandoned Kannapolis textile mill into a multimillion-dollar nutrition research campus, announced a donation of another $50 million in operating support for the venture.

New Bern Mayor Bettis allegedly chokes wife, pushes her down stairs (New Bern Sun Journal) -- Carteret County sheriff’s deputies investigated a domestic altercation involving New Bern Mayor Lee Bettis and his wife Nicole Bettis at 2:10 a.m. Wednesday, according to a deputy’s report.

Sweepstakes industry raises the stakes after court ruling (Triangle Business Journal) -- North Carolina’s video sweepstakes industry is making a full-court press in an attempt to stay alive

Norquist in Greensboro, Raleigh next week (Greensboro News & Record) -- Grover Norquist, the bearded face of a no-new-taxes pledge signed by most Republicans in Washington, D.C., will be in Greensboro next week to gin up support for a tax reforms percolating now in Raleigh, according to Americans for Prosperity N.C., which is organizing the visit. Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, will attend a “dessert social” and hold a press conference at Kickback Jack’s on Battleground Avenue about 3 p.m. Thursday, AFP said in a news release.

Lawsuit Seeks to Eliminate Arsenic in Animal Feed (Public News Service) -- North Carolina's poultry and hog farmers could face changes in what goes into their animal feed if a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is successful. The agency continues to allow an organic form of arsenic in feed given to chickens, turkeys and hogs.

I-95 meeting to be held in Wilson (Wilson Times) -- The N.C. Department of Transportation will release the results of an Interstate 95 economic assessment during several public meetings, including one in Wilson, this month.

Lee BOE holds hearing on alleged voter fraud (Sanford Herald) -- The Lee County Board of Elections held a hearing regarding supposed voter fraud — alleged by Lee County Commissioner Jim Womack (who also leads the state mining and energy commission), who did not appear at the hearing as ordered by the local board — Wednesday night.

Bill could end popular fish dishes in North Carolina (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- A Tuesday evening special at Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe in Nags Head featured pan-seared fresh speckled trout served with sauteed shrimp, bok choy and a baked potato.

Medical software firm Allscripts plans 350 NC jobs (AP) — Medical software company Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc. plans to hire another 350 workers in North Carolina's Research Triangle region over the next 4 ½ years to expand its research and development work, chief executive Paul Black said Wednesday.

Advanced manufacturing jobs coming to Greenville (WCTI-TV) -- North Carolina Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker announced Wednesday afternoon that hundreds of manufacturing jobs will be coming to Greenville. According to Decker, ASMO will be investing $50 million to bring 200 more jobs to its Greenville plant on Sugg Parkway. The positions involve the manufacturing of auto parts and hiring will take place over the next three years. The company will be partnering with Pitt community College for training, Decker said. Grants from both the state and Pitt County made the expansion possible.

ASMO expanding, adding jobs (Greenville Reflector) -- A local automotive parts manufacturer is expected to add about 200 jobs in Pitt County, the state secretary of commerce announced on Wednesday.

Japanese auto parts maker to add 200 NC jobs (AP) — A Japanese auto parts manufacturer plans to add more assembly lines and hire another 200 workers at an existing North Carolina factory by the end of 2016.

Quintiles set to go public on Thursday with $944M stock offering (WRAL-TV) -- The Durham pharmaceuticals services provider on Wednesday evening priced its initial public offering of more than 23.6 million shares of common stock at the price of $40 per share. The company is set to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "Q."

Hospital rates vary for same procedures (Winston-Salem Journal) -- The cost of most common inpatient health-care procedures is higher – in many instances significantly – at academic medical centers than at traditional hospitals, according to Medicare data made available for the first time Wednesday.

WCU mourns the passing of Provost Angi Brenton (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Angela Laird Brenton, 60, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Western Carolina University since Aug. 1, died Wednesday after a three-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

Autopsy shows UNC junior died from huffing computer cleaner (Raleigh News & Observer) -- An autopsy released Wednesday shows the son of a UNC Board of Governors member died this year from huffing, or inhaling, computer cleaner spray. Chapel Hill police officers found Stedman English Gage, 22, face-down and unresponsive in his bed Feb. 22 at his off-campus home on West Patterson Place in Chapel Hill.

ECU's first black student dies (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Almost a half century after graduating from East Carolina University, Laura Marie Leary Elliott finally attended her first Pirate football game last fall.

Patent filing claims solar energy ‘breakthrough’ (McClatchy Newspapers) -- In a U.S. patent application, a little-known Maryland inventor claims a stunning solar energy breakthrough that promises to end the planet’s reliance on fossil fuels at a fraction of the current cost – a transformation that also could blunt global warming. Inventor Ronald Ace said that his flat-panel “Solar Traps,” which can be mounted on rooftops or used in electric power plants, will shatter decades-old scientific and technological barriers that have stymied efforts to make solar energy a cheap, clean and reliable alternative. “This is a fundamental scientific and environmental discovery,” Ace said. “This invention can meet about 92 percent of the world’s energy needs.”

An inventor’s winding path to solar energy (McClatchy Newspapers) -- Ron Ace says he recognized the many impediments to capturing and storing solar energy while working as a researcher in a University of Maryland molecular physics laboratory some 40 years ago and dismissed the possibility that the sun ever could be a major source of power. Turning away from solar, he thought he’d never look back. In the ensuing decades, Ace churned out more than 700 inventions, ranging from energy-saving devices to scratch-resistant eyeglass coatings and a cutting-edge laser instrument for measuring precursors to ozone in the upper atmosphere. During his 10 years at Maryland, he built prototypes of 350 of his inventions, and they all worked, he said.

Research Triangle region is a global leader in shaping intelligent energy future (WRAL-TV) -- Even as leaders in North Carolina's General Assembly debate a possible repeal of the state's incentives and requirements for sustainable energy, the Research Triangle region's cleantech sector continues to grow. On Tuesday, for example, networking giant Cisco became the latest member of the cleantech regional cluster effort that is organized by the Research Triangle Regional Partnership. Ten years ago, North Carolina’s inaugural Sustainable Energy Conference hosted a few hundred government, academic and nonprofit representatives discussing ways to improve environmental protection and energy efficiency in the state. Fast forward to a few weeks ago and more than 1,000 people – including executives from top energy companies around the globe – convened to vision and plan how to change the energy landscape for the Research Triangle Region, North Carolina and the world. The recent 10th annual N.C. Department of Commerce State Energy Office-hosted event offered a telling glance at the pace of innovation and scale of opportunity that smart, clean energy technology offers as both a driver of business and economic growth and provider of solutions for pressing global energy and environmental challenges.

Timber interests pitted against green builders (WRAL-TV) -- House lawmakers gave tentative approval to a measure that opponents fear could undermine the LEED standard for green building. Backers say they are trying to promote the use of North Carolina timber.

NC House gives tentative approval to anti-LEED bill (Charlotte Business Journal) -- The N.C. House of Representatives approved 78-34 a second reading of a bill that is expected to bar public projects from using the U.S. Green Building

Roaming Orcacoke Inlet (Coastal Review) -- A trip through the inlet feature sites of Civil War forts, Blackbeard's lair, the deserted village of Portsmouth and baby pelicans on Beacon's Island.

NC State Uses Herbs And Spices To Clean Produce (WUNC-FM) -- Researchers at N.C. State say oils extracted from herbs and spices could act as a natural disinfectant for fruits and vegetables. A joint project with the University of Tennessee aims to find an alternative to chlorine used on produce grown for mass consumption. Dr. Penelope Perkins-Veazie is a horticultural science professor at N.C. State's research campus in Kannapolis. She says pungent spices tend to be best at fighting harmful germs. "They have a very distinct odor, like cinnamon, for instance," Perkins-Veazie says.

Sierra Club to host panel discussion on fracking (Winston-Salem Journal) -- The Sierra Club will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Single Brothers Workshop, 10 Academy St., in Old Salem. The program will be a panel discussion on Hyrdofracking: Issues and Answers. The panel members will be Elaine Chiosso with Haw River Assembly, David Dalton and Mary Kerley, two of the founding members of Nofrackinginstokes.org, and Cassie Gavin, the N.C. Sierra Club Chapter lobbyist.

Creative vote endangers clean-energy law's future (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- A time-honored maneuver in North Carolina politics is for a legislative committee chair to call a voice vote and declare the outcome he wanted.

Taxing the truth (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Sen. Phil Berger proposes making taxes ‘fairer’ by pushing the tax burden downward.

Allowing guns in cars on campuses would be bad move Winston-Salem Journal) -- UNC system president Tom Ross is right to oppose the state bill that would allow guns to be kept in locked vehicles on college and university campuses. He, UNC chancellors and UNC campus police chiefs think it would hurt their ability to keep students safe. We agree.

NCGA has the wrong remedy for schools (Wilmington Star-News) -- Raleigh’s solution: Improve public schools by taking away their tools.

A positive NC history worth preserving (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- This week, William Chafe and Jacquelyn Dowd Hall were arrested at the General Assembly. They chose the path of civil disobedience – along with 29 others – as a means of calling attention to the headlong assault on our state’s history by the governor.

Bill would harm at-risk kids (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Nearly 20 years ago, representatives of children in North Carolina’s poorest communities challenged the constitutionality of the public education available to them, claiming it was unequal to students dwelling in most prosperous counties.

The value of judicial public financing is clear (Charlotte Observer) -- N.C. lawmakers are poised to upend a successful program that’s been keeping special interest money from dominating the selection of judges in this state. Here’s the public’s take: Don’t do it.