Daily dose: Perfect storm edition

The tax "plans" for DAG McCrory and the Tillisberger appear to be converging to create a storm of epic proportions, one that will swamp our ship of state, throwing thousands of steerage passengers overboard. Meanwhile, the ultra-rich have reserved seating in the lifeboats.

And, of course, it's all about Pat. As governor, HE has to make sure the numbers ad up to allow HIM to operate the government. What a friggin' freakshow.


'Tough negotiations' ahead (WRAL-TV) -- Gov. Pat McCrory says he and state lawmakers are "on the cusp" of a budget and tax package agreement, but he concedes "tough negotiations" still lie ahead before a deal is reached. McCrory said Friday that he and legislative leaders are "very close to an agreement" on cutting income and corporate tax rates to make the North Carolina more competitive with bordering states. "We’ve got a great line of communication, and we’re actively involved and working with the House and the Senate and have been since day one," he said. "Of course, the devil’s in the details for the next two weeks," he added. "As the governor, I've got to make sure the numbers add up to allow me to operate government in an efficient and effective way."

Explaining Early-childhood Education in House & Senate Budgets (N.C. Health News) -- Next to Medicaid, one of the most complicated parts of the Health and Human Services budget is the section that deals with early-childhood education. The Senate and House take quite different approaches to the area, with adjustments to different parts that, on the surface, don’t look that different. However, they are quite disparate. According to Michele Rivest, head of the North Carolina Child Care Coalition, there are three different parts of the budget to pay attention to.

Cowell says proposed state budget jeopardizes benefits for disabled officers (Raleigh News & Observer) -- State Sen. Pete Brunstetter, a lead budget writer, says the trust has more than enough money to pay benefits.

Harm-reduction Advocates Find Success in Current Legislative Session (N.C. Health News) -- It’s been a productive legislative session for those who advocate for safer interactions between someone who has used drugs and law-enforcement officers. The state Senate unanimously passed a bill on Wednesday that aims to protect officers from being stuck by a syringe during an arrest. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives last month and now must receive Gov. Pat McCrory’s approval before becoming law. If enacted, the law would protect a person who alerts an officer of the presence of a hypodermic needle or other sharp object prior to a search. That person would not be charged for possession of the object, even if it’s drug paraphernalia.

Bill legalizes gaming nights for nonprofits (AP) -- Nonprofit groups could host fundraisers in the style of a Las Vegas casino night under a bill in the North Carolina House.

Law puts limit on non-voter-approved debt in N.C. (Triangle Business Journal) -- Gov. Pat McCrory has put his signature on measure limiting the amount of non-voter-approved debt the state can issue for building projects. Two-term Republican House member Tommy Tucker of Waxhaw was primary sponsor of the bill, which passed by wide margins in both legislative chambers, 115 to 0 in the House. According to the law, after January 1 2013, the amount of “special indebtedness” the state issues can’t exceed 25 percent of its total bonded indebtedness.

McCrory signs ‘Back to Basics’ law (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law this week the “Back to Basics” bill, requiring students to learn cursive writing and multiplication tables. The bill was filed in response to the new Common Core curriculum, which was implemented over the past year and has been adopted by 45 states.

No permit, no problem? (Wilson Times) -- State Sen. Buck Newton says critics of his proposal to eliminate pistol purchase permits in North Carolina are going off half-cocked. Newton added a provision to do away with the sheriff-issued paper permits to a gun bill this week in a judiciary committee

Why nonprofits leaders are fretting tax code edits (Triangle Business Journal) -- A proposed change in the tax code has leaders of nonprofits up in arms

NC rural agency claims jobs that don’t exist, helps build big-box stores (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center portrays itself as working to heal North Carolina’s struggling rural counties. Its brochures and website feature tractors, farm animals and brick buildings lining small-town streets. Leaders highlight work on the “long-range future” of rural counties. But the private nonprofit organization also has used millions in taxpayer money to help build fast-food restaurants, golf resorts, discount stores and big-box retail outlets that include a Kohl’s in Southern Pines and a dozen Walmarts, records and interviews show. It spent $85,000 to help an electronic sweepstakes software company outfit a building in Greenville after lawmakers tried to shut the sweepstakes industry down.

On director’s salary, Rural Center finds a way (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Beginning last July, lawmakers put a restriction on a wide range of state-funded nonprofits, including the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center. They limited state money for the salary of nonprofit employees to $120,000. The Rural Center’s president, Billy Ray Hall, is paid a salary of $214,000, according to a report to the legislature. Tax filings, which include benefits such as health and dental insurance and a retirement plan, show his annual compensation is about $283,000. The Rural Center said in February that the extra salary for Hall and other top officials is paid by “a combination of other funding sources ... including earnings on investments and corporate contributions.”

A sewer grant, but sparse development in Shelby (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The Villages of Hallelujah Acres was supposed to be a large mixed-use development on the outskirts of Shelby, with cottages, a chlorine-free pool, 1,000-seat amphitheater, organic orchards and the headquarters of a healthy living catalog and retail business run by the Rev. George Malkmus. More than five years after the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center put $149,000 toward a sewer line to help make the project happen, its mostly grassy fields are dotted with hay bales, sliced up by roads that lead to dead ends. Malkmus owns a $400,000 home there, alone near a large pond, and there are five other homes. But that’s it.

Charlotte group rallies for gun background checks (Charlotte Observer)-- Groups also gather in Durham, Wilmington to mark six-month anniversary of Newtown, Conn., school shootings

NC Gov. Pat McCrory cheers on UNC energy savings (AP) -- Gov. Pat McCrory is praising a University of North Carolina system energy efficiency initiative estimated to save $25 million.

Thousands still without power in wake of storm (AP) -- Gov. Pat McCrory is praising first responders for their swift response to powerful thunderstorms that swept across North Carolina, killing three people and leaving thousands without power.

Senate Democrats in GOP-leaning states double down on support of Obamacare (Newser) -- Far from reversing course, Senate Democrats who backed President Barack Obama's health care law and now face re-election in GOP-leaning states are reinforcing their support for the overhaul even as Republicans intensify their criticism. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana will face voters in 2014 for the first time since voting for the Affordable Care Act _ also known as "Obamacare" _ three years ago. They aren't apologizing for their vote, and several are pursuing an aggressive strategy: Embrace the law, help voters use it and fix what doesn't work. … Hagan and her North Carolina colleagues paid special attention to pharmaceutical companies that develop drugs called "biologics." They negotiated 12-year monopolies for those drugs, a win for the biomedical sector that dominates the "Research Triangle" around Raleigh. Veteran North Carolina political observer Gary Pearce, a Democrat, said Hagan also could benefit from the fact that leading GOP candidates expected to challenge her come from the new legislative supermajorities that have pursued a long list of conservative priorities, including rejecting Medicaid expansion that North Carolina hospitals wanted. A Republican primary fight among top statehouse Republicans, Pearce said, could leave Hagan "in a good position to paint Republicans in a right-wing corner."

Asia trade regs, "Yarn Forward" will affect NC (Greensboro News & Record) -- U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan's press folks have been after me hard to write about this thing, along with pretty much everything else the senator is involved in. They will work you like an NBA ref to see their boss' name in the newspaper. But they're right on this one: Yarn Forward and other aspects of the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership merit coverage. It's basically the biggest trade agreement since NAFTA, but deals with the Pacific Ocean side of Asia. Among other things, North Carolinians would like to sell more cigarettes there, and not face unfair competition on textiles.

UNC system will review campus security, sexual assault policies (Raleigh News & Observer) -- UNC President Tom Ross announced the creation of a group that will look at policies and procedures for sexual assault cases and crime reporting, as well as the operations of campus police agencies.

Ross asks to see Nyang’oro, Crowder emails with UNC athletic counselors (Raleigh News & Observer) -- UNC President Tom Ross said Friday he wants to review the email correspondence that shows a cozy relationship between the tutoring program for athletes at UNC-Chapel Hill and the former department chairman who was involved in creating dozens of bogus classes that helped keep them eligible to play.

Becton confident ECSU campus now safe (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- Elizabeth City State University’s soon-to-be interim chancellor said he’s “fully confident” the campus is safe now that changes have been made to the leadership of ECSU’s police department and security has been beefed up.

NC colleges consider more out-of-state students (AP) -- The board of governors for the University of North Carolina system is considering whether to admit more out-of-state residents to the colleges and universities.

Cigarettes and Senators (Huffington Post) -- Money talks. Frequently it finds its voice only when it is given to others. Consider Sens. Richard Burr (R - N.C.) and Mitch McConnell (R - KY). Sen. Burr, having received $534,000, has the distinction of being the recipient of more money from cigarette companies than any other member of Congress, according to statistics compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. His colleague (and the minority leader of the Senate) Mitch McConnell has received $456,000. The money that cigarettes have paid the two men, as well as some of their colleagues, makes them understandably sensitive to the well-being of their donors and they have expressed their gratitude by letting Europe know that it can't follow in Australia's footsteps and impose restrictions on how its donors are portrayed to the public. But first, a bit of history.

NC veterans' personal data left in recycle bin (AP) -- The Veterans Affairs hospital in Fayetteville says documents containing the personal information of nearly 1,100 veterans were found in a recycling bin two months ago.

Rutherford Dems call for Voller's resignation (Raleigh News & Observer) -- More trouble for state Democratic Party chairman Randy Voller. The Rutherford County Democratic Party's Executive Committee on Thursday passed a resolution calling on Voller to resign because of the “irresponsible and controversial decisions lost the confidence of Democratic voters, elected officials, and longtime financial supporters.'' Earlier in the week, Nina Szlosberg-Landis, the party's vice chair resigned citing her inability to work with Voller. Voller, the Pittsboro mayor, was elected in January, has come under fire because some of his spending decisions including a fund raising trip to Las Vegas with friends.

NC crime lab wins international seal of approval (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Forensic Quality Services, a Florida-based organization that audits and inspects crime labs, told the State Bureau of Investigation this week that the lab had met the standards required by the highest global standard for forensic science laboratories.

State announces new hunting program (Kinston Free Press) -- Permit provisions now in effect would allow people to skip hunter’s education, get limited license.

Helping to build Greenville (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Blood relation has little to do with family ties for the Taft family. After 60 years working for the Tafts, Margie Stafford has become much more than an employee.

3rd death reported from NC storm (AP) -- A third person has died after the powerful thunderstorms that swept across North Carolina, knocking out power to tens of thousands of people.

Medical examiner resigns in hotel death probe (Charlotte Observer) --The N.C. medical examiner’s office learned two weeks ago that carbon monoxide might have killed an elderly woman in a Boone hotel, but failed to alert local authorities about the threat until after an 11-year-old boy died in the same room.

BofA gave bonuses, gift cards for meeting foreclosure quotas (Bloomberg News) -- Bank of America Corp. rewarded staff with cash bonuses and gift cards for meeting quotas tied to sending distressed homeowners into foreclosure, former employees said in court documents.

NC's high-tech job picture improves in May, but ... (WRAL-TV) -- IT job openings increase in May The daily average number of information technology jobs across North Carolina increased for the fourth consecutive month in May. However, openings remain well below those of a year ago. Software jobs are down by more than 50 percent. One category that is up: "Offshore team coordination."

Wolfpack Ball Players' Pickup Game With 11-Year-Olds (WUNC-FM) -- NC State's Wolfpack has had the entire season to prepare for its World Series shot this weekend, but when they arrived at the hotel in Omaha this week, a couple players managed to get in a last minute pickup game with a Little League team on the lawn of their hotel. NC State communications caught players Logan Ratledge and Jake Armstrong on film batting with an 11-and-under team from Colorado Thursday afternoon. Nearby hotel and car windows were spared –they used a wiffle ball.

NC Gov. Pat McCrory cheers on UNC energy savings (AP) -- Gov. Pat McCrory is praising a University of North Carolina system energy efficiency initiative estimated to save $25 million.

McCrory lauds on UNC on cooperation, energy savings (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Gov. Pat McCrory cheered the University of North Carolina systems action to cooperate among the campuses for an energy efficiency initiative estimated to save $25 million.

Tearing Down Silos With UNC-Wide Cooperation Making Universities More Energy Efficient And Cost Effective (News Release) – Gov. Pat McCrory applauded action by the UNC Board of Governors today in approving groundbreaking lighting and other energy-saving efforts that avoid $25 million in energy costs through a unique system-wide guaranteed energy savings contract involving 13 UNC campuses, the UNC General Administration and several affiliated organizations.

Regulators defer Duke Energy request for hearing on industrial breaks (Charlotte Business Journal) -- N.C. regulators have pulled Duke Energy Carolinas’ proposed discount rate for large industrial customers out of the current rate case.

Customers complain about wait to get power back on (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Some Duke Energy customers think the response to power outages is slower than it used to under Progress Energy. But Duke Energy officials say they now have more resources to deal with outages.

Nuclear Plants, Old and Uncompetitive, Are Closing Earlier Than Expected (New York Times) -- Even reactors still licensed to operate may close, because the price of the electricity they generate doesn’t warrant costly repairs and maintenance.

Green wheels: UNCSA gets a 'pickle car' (Winston-Salem Journal) -- When it comes to “green” cars, UNC School of the Arts officials say that theirs is the real dill. Robert L. “Rob” King III, the chief executive of Bob King Automotive Group and chairman of the UNCSA board of trustees, has donated a lease for a Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car to UNCSA’s Advancement Division.

Men get prison for poaching in WNC (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- A judge sentenced seven men to time in prison for poaching wildlife and other illegal hunting activities on national forests in Western North Carolina, law enforcement officials announced Friday.

Forest Service plans prescribed burns for Croatan (AP) -- The U.S. Forest Service is conducting a prescribed burn this weekend on up to 1,000 acres in the Croatan National Forest along North Carolina's coast.

Dwane Powell: Look at those outsiders thinking they’re all moral –

Darts & Laurels (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Darts — To the arrest Monday of a newspaper reporter who was covering the weekly Moral Mondays protest of GOP policies at the General Assembly in Raleigh. Charlotte Observer religion reporter Tim Funk was arrested while interviewing a crowd of clergy members who were protesting. Funk was wearing media identification.

Democracy undone by ending funding for NC court races (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A tale of Art Pope and the end of judicial election funding shows the public’s will thwarted.

Backwards - State school budgets cut first, ask questions later (Fayetteville Observer) -- For Cumberland County schools, this year's budget could go two ways: It could be bad, or it could be worse.

Open files of political appointees (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Gov. Pat McCrory wants to raise the limit on political appointees in state government from 1,000 to 1,500. During the administration of his predecessor, Gov. Bev Perdue, the limit was 400. Republicans in the legislature, smelling a McCrory victory that would elect a Republican governor for the first time in 20 years in North Carolina, raised the limit last year to 1,000. These jobs would be exempt from the civil service protections of the State Personnel Act.

Hagan, Burr endangering Hatteras (Charlotte Observer) -- Why do both of North Carolina’s U.S. senators want to pull the plug on a law that brought more tourists, more money and more birds and sea turtles to Cape Hatteras last year than any year in recent memory?

NC is an unwanted No. 1 in tax rate (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Among all 50 states and the District of Columbia, North Carolina has the highest rate of income tax on the first taxable dollar.