Goolsby’s Long Leaf Pine award sparks more controversy for McCrory (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Some groups criticized Gov. Pat McCrory on social media this week for honoring former state Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, with the Long Leaf Pine award. “Gov. McCrory is bestowing one of NC’s highest honors on a former legislator who defrauded investors,” Progress NC Action tweeted. That’s a reference to the Secretary of State’s May order that Goolsby and a business partner stop offering investment advice after an investigation of the firm’s practices. In December, the governor gave the award to the Alamance County sheriff who’s currently fighting a federal lawsuit that accuses his department of racial profiling.
POLICIES & POLITICS
With control in many states, GOP will press agenda (Washington Post) -- Enjoying a majority of unprecedented breadth, Republicans plan a new tide of conservative initiatives targeting the Common Core, abortion, income taxes, labor unions and the EPA. … New Republican … legislators in North Carolina, North Dakota and elsewhere will prioritize cutting personal or corporate income tax rates. Tax revenue in many states is coming in slower than expected, presenting a challenge in many of the 49 states, including North Carolina, that require balanced annual budgets.
GOP’S Ellmers tops NC Congressional hopefuls in fundraising (Raleigh News & Observer) -- U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers beat out all other North Carolina Congressional hopefuls in fundraising this election season, totaling about $1.83 million. Her Democratic opponent, former “American Idol” contestant Clay Aiken, was the only unsuccessful candidate to break the $1 million mark. His final tally was $1.1 million. The final numbers, released by the Federal Elections Commission, don’t include spending by outside groups who weighed in on the race. The data includes contributions received up to Nov. 24.
Greenville mayor says a 2016 run against Sen. Richard Burr is ‘speculation’ (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Despite garnering mentions as a possible 2016 U.S. Senate candidate, Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas says he’s not eying a higher office.
Incoming NC GOP House speaker doesn't regret anti-gay past (Q Notes) -- The man likely to become the next speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives has an anti-LGBT past — and he doesn’t regret it. State Rep. Tim Moore, a Republican from Kings Mountain in Cleveland County, is set to become speaker of the House when the GOP-dominated chamber votes on the position on Jan. 14, the first day the General Assembly will convene for its 2015 session. In 2012, Moore supported the state’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment, which was overturned in October by federal judges following decisions at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear any appeals. But Moore’s anti-gay past goes much deeper, beginning when he was a college student. As speaker of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Student Congress in 1991, Moore, then a senior, attempted to prevent the campus LGBT student group, the Carolina Gay & Lesbian Association, from receiving student activity funding.
What To Expect From GOP Lead 2015 Legislature (TCN-TV) -- Republicans have had control of the full North Carolina legislature for four years now. For the past two years, Republicans have also had the seat in the governor's mansion. This means they have been able to set the agenda for the state and only have to work out differences within their own party.
Wake County to hire Richard Stevens to be new lobbyist (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The Wake County Board of Commissioners is expected to turn Monday to long-time Wake County manager and former state Sen. Richard Stevens to represent its interests before the General Assembly this session. County Manager Jim Hartmann is recommending hiring Stevens for $100,000 to be the county’s lobbyist. The contract means the new Democratic majority on the board of commissioners would rely on a man who has a reputation as a moderate Republican who could work across party lines.
Affordable Care Act Enrollees May Have to Pay Up at Tax Time (TWCN-TV) -- Those who received subsidies under the Affordable Care Act could owe the IRS if the credits they received to offset their insurance premiums were too high.
New DA Lorrin Freeman takes reins in Wake County (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Lorrin Freeman, the former Wake County clerk of court, was sworn in as the first female district attorney in Wake County.
A proposed ordinance targets tobacco shops in the city (Fayetteville Observer) -- Fayetteville's tobacco shops have caught the eye of local law enforcement.
Rep. Paul Stam compiles 161-page list of NC House opening prayers (Raleigh News & Observer) -- NC Rep. Paul Stam has released 161-pages featuring every opening prayer made in North Carolina's state House chamber since 2011. The prayers were compiled for legal reasons; the American Civil Liberties Union took legal action in 2012 that challenged the explicitly Christian prayers often used at the General Assembly.
9 people die of flu in NC during Christmas week (AP) — State health officials say nine people died of complications from the flu during Christmas week, bringing the death toll for this season to 17.
NC flu deaths double in a week (WRAL-TV) -- The number of people in North Carolina who have died this season from the flu doubled last week, going from eight to 17, according to figures released Friday by the state Department of Health and Human Services.
Multistate crime spree leaves 2 dead, 3 wounded (AP) -- A father and son killed a North Carolina couple and set their home on fire, and then drove to West Virginia, where they wounded two police officers in a New Year's Day shootout during a traffic stop, authorities said Friday. Investigators began piecing together the crime when two Lewisburg, West Virginia, officers pulled over an SUV on Thursday on a highway outside the city, according to State Police. The SUV had a North Carolina license plate showing it had been stolen.
Granville community mourns couple killed in apparent random attack (WRAL-TV) Friends, family and Granville County neighbors shared concern and confusion Friday as word spread of the murders of Jerome and Dora Faulkner.
Oxford couple found dead in pickup truck in W.Va., N.C. home burned (Raleigh News & Observer) -- An elderly Oxford couple, Jerome and Dora Faulkner, were found dead in a pickup truck after West Virginia police stopped the vehicle reported stolen in Texas and two men shot and wounded the officers.
Nags Head named among top travel destinations for 2015 (WRAL-TV) -- Nags Head is ranked No. 2 on a domestic destinations list that includes Wildwood, N.J., Telluride, Colo., Prescott, Ariz., and Pompano Beach, Fla.
City hopes to get ballpark on historic register (AP) — Hendersonville officials are researching the history of Berkeley Mills Park in hope of getting the ballpark on the National Register of Historic Places.
Carolina Beach’s Fat Pelican makes list of best dive bars (Port City Daily) -- One of Carolina Beach’s oldest haunts has made it on a top list of the country’s best low-key places to have a drink.
Habitat pays property taxes (Wilson Times) Wilson Area Habitat for Humanity homeowners have paid $12,512.39 in 2014 property taxes to Wilson County and the city of Wilson. Homeowners pay their taxes through escrow accounts
SCHOOLS & UNIVERSITIES
J. Bradley Creed named Campbell University president (Fayetteville Observer) -- J. Bradley Creed's experience and background make him the right person to serve as Campbell University's fifth president.
Campbell University picks Alabama school's provost (AP) — The chief academic officer at an Alabama college will become the next president of Campbell University.
Campbell University names religion scholar new president (Raleigh News & Observer) -- J. Bradley Creed, the chief academic officer of Samford University in Alabama, will become Campbell University's next president, the university announced Friday.
One NC black man's call to the classroom (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Great teachers come from all backgrounds, but I know that my presence means something special to my kids. My kids look to me not just to teach them how to analyze a passage or uncover its theme but also as an example of a responsible, loving, professional black man.
Catawba College prof nears end of nearly 25-year history writing project (Charlotte Observer) -- Professional historian Gary Freeze is nearing the end of a nearly 25-year writing project that’s drawn him deep into a narrow slice of North Carolina’s past.
Invite educators to the table (Charlotte Observer column) -- I’ve never been a New Year’s resolution maker. The definition of New Year’s resolutions as a to-do list for the first week of January rings true for me. This year, however, I may have found the key to success. Instead of eliminating bad habits or establishing good ones, I’m focusing on what I can do in education. And just to be helpful, I’m writing resolutions for everyone else, too.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Solar industry welcomes order that leaves N.C. solar regs intact (Charlotte Business Journal) -- After reviewing utility proposals to severely limit solar developers' access to standard contracts and solar industry proposals to expand their use, the N.C. Utilities Commission has left solar regulations essentially unchanged. The commission also rejected proposals from Duke Energy and Dominion North Carolina Power to change the formula for determining the avoided costs that qualified solar and other power producers are entitled to receive. Those changes would have substantially cut the power prices paid to independent developers. Solar industry representatives and supporters contended the utility proposals would strangle solar development, which has been booming in the state for the last three years.
Year-End Decision Holds Big Impact For NC Solar In 2015 (WFAE-FM) North Carolina energy regulators quietly released one of their most significant, long-awaited decisions of 2014, just as the year was ending. The state Utilities Commission had spent nearly the entire year re-evaluating the rules for solar energy. On Wednesday, the commission decided to leave substantially intact the rules which underlie a solar energy boom in North Carolina.
Why Gas Feels Cheap—and Why It’s Not, Historically Speaking (Wall Street Journal) -- Gas prices are now more than a dollar below the 2014 average, a level that is cheap relative to a recent run of record highs but not yet near the 17-year stretch from 1986-2003.
Gasoline-Tax Increase Finds Little Support (New York Times) -- Advocates like Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee find it tough to penetrate Washington’s antitax mood, even as gas prices fall and federal transportation funds face huge deficits.
Three win utility bill refund for energy-efficient recipes (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- Three Rocky Mount residents recently used their culinary skills to save some money on their utility bills.
A solution for Asheville: 100 Megawatts of Change (Asheville Citizen-Times column) -- A solution for Asheville: 100 Megawatts of Change (Asheville Citizen-Times column) -- I believe 100 megawatts of various distributed energy resources (including solar) and demand management (i.e. Smart Grid, general energy efficiency) can replace Asheville’s two coal power units … and eventually both combustion turbine natural gas units. Starting when? Starting with the Asheville Community Energy Plan … and an organization that helps make energy innovation real.
N.C. Wildlife Commission to hold public hearing (Winston-Salem Journal) -- The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will hold a public hearing Jan. 15 on proposed changes to the state’s wildlife management, game lands and fishing regulations. The hearing will be at 7 p.m. in The Walker Center at Wilkes Community College, 1328 S. Collegiate Drive, Wilkesboro.
Get your copy of 30-year NC sea-level forecast (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission’s expert panel of geologists and coastal engineers submitted a draft report Wednesday with its new forecast for varying rates of sea-level rise on the North Carolina coast over the next 30 years – so where is this report?
Is it time for tax cuts repeal? (High Point Enterprise column) -- The state’s dependence on the sales tax threatens to divide the rural and the urban counties of our state. It might be time to repeal tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens and corporations. When the North Carolina General Assembly shifted a greater part of the state’s tax burden to the sales tax, they did not have the foresight to predict how the change would hurt rural counties.
A look back and ahead (Charlotte Observer) -- Each year, the Observer's editorial board looks ahead to some critical questions Charlotte and North Carolina face in the upcoming 12 months. Today, we answer last year's questions, then ask three more about issues that will shape the quality of life for millions of North Carolinians in the year ahead. Was N.C. energy efficient? North Carolina faced a crossroads with energy in 2014. Would Gov. Pat McCrory, who has long promised an "all of the above" approach to energy options, support all energy options or only the more controversial exploration of fracking and off-shore drilling? Will N.C. face a shortfall? Republicans running the legislature in Raleigh cut corporate and personal income taxes in 2013 and broadened the sales tax base, hoping to fuel private-sector growth. The economy has grown, but it remains to be seen if future expansion will cover the cost of the tax cuts.
Warning lights are blinking.
NC must rethink changes in child care subsidies (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A new change in state child care subsidies is having painful effects on North Carolina families and child care providers.
he perfect chancellor (Greensboro News & Record) -- UNCG’s next leader hangs out with students, teaches classes, raises millions, coaches and sings beautifully, too.
We should be broadening the economic pie (Wilmington Star-News column) -- Fundamentally, there has been too much rhetoric and, in some cases, vitriol around competing economic interests.