Daily dose: VRA eulogy version

The march backwards continues:

Ruling threatens progress (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- At a time when Republicans in the General Assembly are chipping away at access to polling stations through voter ID bills and shorter early voting periods, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively handed them a hammer with its Tuesday ruling


More madness below the fold:


Supreme Court Decision Prompts New Look At NC Voting Laws (WUNC-FM) -- The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down part of the Voting Rights Act affects a number of southern states, including North Carolina. Previously, the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court in Washington had to approve or pre-clear state laws that affect voting, including redistricting. It also had to approve local and municipal decisions in 40 North Carolina counties with a history of voting discrimination.


NC voter ID bill moving ahead with Supreme Court ruling (WRAL-TV) -- Voter identification legislation in North Carolina will pick up steam again now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down part of the Voting Rights Act, a key General Assembly leader said Tuesday.


Supreme Court Invalidates Key Part of Voting Rights Act (New York Times) -- The Supreme Court split along ideological lines with its ruling that Congress had not provided adequate justification for subjecting the states, mostly in the South, to federal oversight.


New Face of South Rises as an Extralegal Force (New York Times) -- The Deep South was, quite literally, a black and white world in 1965, when Congress approved the Voting Rights Act, sweeping away barriers that kept African-Americans from the polls. And the Supreme Court decision on Tuesday, which struck down a key part of the law, is certain to set off a series of skirmishes over voting regulations between the white Republicans who control Southern state legislatures and civil rights groups seeking to maximize black voter clout. But those who have studied the region closely say that a more unstoppable force is approaching that will alter the power structure throughout the South and upend the understanding of politics there: demographic change. And the Supreme Court decision on Tuesday, which struck down a key part of the law, is certain to set off a series of skirmishes over voting regulations between the white Republicans who control Southern state legislatures and civil rights groups seeking to maximize black voter clout. But those who have studied the region closely say that a more unstoppable force is approaching that will alter the power structure throughout the South and upend the understanding of politics there: demographic change.


On Voting Case, Reaction From ‘Deeply Disappointed’ to ‘It’s About Time’ (New York Times) -- Representative Melvin Watt, a North Carolina Democrat who favors the preclearance requirements that the Voting Rights Act established, called the court’s decision outrageous. But any remedy from Congress, he added, would be difficult to piece together.


Voting Rights Ruling Could Open Lawsuit Floodgates (NPR) -- Voting-rights advocates expect that states will enact voter ID laws that previously faced scrutiny.


Supreme Court blocks use of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act (Washington Post) -- Justices say Congress must update its formula for choosing states for additional federal oversight.


Ruling on voting rights may leave law in limbo (Washington Post) -- The Supreme Court put a challenge to Congress on the Voting Rights Act. But politics may get in the way.


Voting Rights Act Upended (Wall Street Journal) -- The Supreme Court nullified a core provision of the Voting Rights Act in an ideologically divided ruling that eroded a landmark of the civil-rights era and threw the issue into the lap of a gridlocked Congress.


Supreme Court kills Voting Rights Act federal oversight provision (LA Times) -- Civil rights groups denounce the Supreme Court's split vote to free some Southern states from seeking federal approval for changes in their election laws.


NC senator: Voter ID bill moving ahead with ruling (AP) -- A key leader in the North Carolina General Assembly says voter identification legislation will pick up steam again because the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down part of the Voting Rights Act.


Voting rights ruling could broadly impact N.C. (Charlotte Observer) -- “It looks like this is going to be a major decision that will impact North Carolina in some way, shape or form,” said Catawba College political scientist Michael Bitzer.


Ruling removes review of Guilford election laws (Greensboro News & Record) -- The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling today on the Voting Rights Act removes - at least temporarily - the federal review that a plan to redraw Guilford County school districts otherwise would have faced. It also opens the door to stricter voter I.D. requirements across North Carolina. “I don’t think that we would be able to come up with a remedy that would satisfy this Supreme Court,” Mr. Watt said, noting that before Congress reauthorized the act in 2006, it gathered 15,000 pages of evidence demonstrating that racial discrimination was still prevalent enough to justify the law. “Fifteen thousand pages. If that’s not enough, what would be?”


Court ruling on Voting Rights expected to impact NC (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act could have far-reaching effects in North Carolina – affecting everything from voting districts to voter ID legislation.


Hagan 'Deeply Discouraged' (High Country Press) -- U.S. Senator Kay Hagan today released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.“I am deeply discouraged that the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the landmark Voting Rights Act that exists to prevent racially discriminatory voting practices. Though our country has come a long way since this law was enacted, injustice still exists and still threatens the rights of minority voters. It is clear that in striking down Section 4, the Supreme Court has effectively gutted Section 5 – the heart of the law. This is a step backwards. I hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join me in fighting for honest and just elections that afford everyone an equal opportunity to participate in the democratic process.”


Supreme Court decision frees Cumberland, other N.C. counties to make election changes (Fayetteville Observer) -- A former redistricting lawyer says Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling on voting rights means Fayetteville and Cumberland County officials will no longer need federal permission to make election changes or redraw district lines based on race.


LOD: Supremely Disappointing (Democracy Now) -- Here’s a bucket load of opinions about what today’s US Supreme Court decision means regarding the Voting Rights Act – plus one clear overview and a video report from WRAL-TV. The Court’s 5-4 conservative majority did not rule directly on the constitutionality of Section 5’s requirement of preclearance. Section 5 says certain jurisdictions with a history of discrimination must get pre-approval from the feds of any change in their election practice to make sure it doesn’t put a disproportionate burden on the voting strength of minority citizens.


SCOTUS ruling ends ‘pre-clearance’ in NC (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- Four area counties will no longer have to seek “pre-clearance” from the U.S. Department of Justice for voting-related changes, following a major 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.


Supreme Court strikes key Civil Rights Act provision (Kinston Free Press) -- A Kinston case, Nix v. Holder, was another one of the suits brought before the Supreme Court to challenge the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The U.S. Justice Department retroactively gave preclearance for nonpartisan elections in Kinston after initially nullifying the results of a 2008 referendum. Local businessman John Nix believes the DOJ approved the Kinston plan because it would have an easier time arguing against the Shelby County case. “It’s a very important decision,” Nix said. “It means the end of preclearance for hundreds of jurisdictions like Kinston — 16 states. And it will allow us to make changes to our voting procedures without needing permission in advance from the federal government.” Former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque began a petition drive in 2007 to get the referendum on the ballot after a nonpartisan election proposal failed in a City Council vote. LaRoque thanked Terence Pell of the Center for Individual Rights, and attorneys Michael Carvin and Hashim Mooppan of the Jones Day law firm for the work they did pushing the case. “All their hard work and that of Shelby County is what I think made this a reality,” LaRoque said.



PAY-TO-PLAY: Lender hosts Tillis event days after bill passes (AP) -- The man who helped direct a $1.8 million political and lobbying effort for consumer finance lenders is co-hosting a fundraiser for North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis' fledgling U.S. Senate campaign, less than a week after a bill hiking profits for the industry became state law.


Lawmakers approve temporary spending plan (WRAL-TV) -- The Senate and House on Tuesday approved legislation that will keep state government running after this weekend as lawmakers continue to negotiate on a compromise 2013-14 budget.


Lawmakers approve short-term spending plan (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The temporary plan lets state government keep spending as lawmakers try to hash out a budget and a tax plan. Here’s a look at where they’re stuck.


Tom Apodaca: Moral Monday protest was 'CRAP' (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Some Republican Buncombe County lawmakers on Tuesday downplayed a massive protest at the General Assembly aimed at their party's legislation.


'Moral Mondays' forcing changes in Wake arrest procedures (WRAL-TV) -- The high volume of arrests at Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina State Legislative Building has changed how protesters violating misdemeanor trespassing laws are being handled once they are arrested - changes that are raising the brow of at least one conservative group.


Locals participating in Raleigh protests say 'It's a moral thing' (Sanford Herald) -- As weekly Moral Monday protests in Raleigh have grown, opposing Republican-sponsored bills in the General Assembly, Lee County activists have also increased their presence at the demonstrations. Ann McCracken, president of the Lee County Democratic Party, said she attended one of the early gatherings on her own, and the passion she saw there convinced her to bring others to future protests. She went with a half-dozen others to the protest this past Monday, which Raleigh law enforcement officials reported was the largest yet, with 2,500 to 3,000 protesters — 120 of whom were arrested. Neither McCracken nor her compatriots set out to be arrested for civil disobedience Monday, but she said she respects those who did and expects their number to grow. "You don't have to stay [in custody] long, but just to do that is amazing to me," she said.


Moral Monday Continues (Raleigh Public Record) -- Protestors continue to meet at the state legislature building on Mondays. This was Week 8 for the growing protests.


NC senator: Voter ID bill moving ahead with ruling (AP) -- A key leader in the North Carolina General Assembly says voter identification legislation will pick up steam again because the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down part of the Voting Rights Act.


Ruling removes review of Guilford election laws (Greensboro News & Record) -- The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling today on the Voting Rights Act removes - at least temporarily - the federal review that a plan to redraw Guilford County school districts otherwise would have faced. It also opens the door to stricter voter I.D. requirements across North Carolina.


NC Senate bill adds divisive new fracking measures (AP) -- What's often considered an annual environmental housecleaning bill in the North Carolina Legislature is drawing fierce criticism after some new provisions on hydraulic fracturing were added.


Camden moves to block landfill (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- Camden commissioners took steps Monday to legally block the county’s one-time partner in a mega-landfill project in northern Camden from possibly reviving the controversial project under proposed state legislation.


GOP lawmakers push bill to keep fracking chemicals secret (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A state Senate committee voted Tuesday to allow shale gas exploration companies to engage in fracking in the state without fully disclosing the chemicals they plan to inject underground. The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources said energy companies can withhold chemicals they consider to be competitive trade secrets. The secret information would have to be disclosed to health officials only in the event of a fracking accident that constituted a public emergency. Tuesday’s vote alarmed environmental advocates, who had hoped North Carolina would impose the nation’s strictest chemical disclosure rules. “There is no rule the public cares about more than public disclosure, what is being put in their water,” said Molly Diggins, director of the state office of the Sierra Club. “The path has been toward maximum disclosure. This legislation is a pre-emptive strike to prevent the development of such a rule.”


NC abortion education bill heads to House floor (AP) -- A bill requiring North Carolina educators to teach that abortions are linked to later premature births is headed to the full House.

House panel OKs bill on teaching premature birth causes (WRAL-TV) -- A proposal to require health teachers in North Carolina public schools to inform students of risk factors related to premature births moved one step closer to law Tuesday.


NC legislators drop bid to curb Tesla sales (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Tesla bypasses auto dealers and sells its plug-in electric car directly to consumers, by phone or online. Legislators dropped a Senate proposal, pushed by the state’s automobile dealers, that would have required Tesla to sell through dealers.


Groups make last-ditch plea to save extended unemployment benefits (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Nearly two dozen advocacy organizations – representing labor, churches, senior citizens, immigrants and assorted other liberal social groups and individuals – on Tuesday again pleaded with the governor and legislators to extend unemployment benefits. Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill earlier this year cutting the amount of unemployment money people can collect and reducing the length of time they can receive them. That action made the state ineligible for federal emergency funds, and as a result, some 70,000 people now receiving extended benefits will be cut off on July 1.


NC state personnel overhaul expanding political appointees passes Senate panel (AP) – Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's proposal to shorten the grievance process for state employees and hire more at-will political appointees is headed to the full Senate.


McCrory to celebrate transportation money overhaul (AP) -- Gov. Pat McCrory will celebrate one of his policy achievements at the General Assembly with North Carolina legislative leaders at his side.


Gov. McCrory signs building code changes into law (Mecklenburg Times) -- Gov. Pat McCrory has signed a bill that puts an end to the drastically different building codes across different municipalities that have led to some confusion among builders in the state. House Bill 120, which was known in the Senate as Bill 108, on March 12 passed the N.C. House in a 99 to 18 vote before moving into the Senate. On June 12, the Senate voted to pass the bill, which McCrory signed into law June 19. The law imposes a state-wide uniform building code, much to the relief of many in the building industry. “If you want to get your car titled in the state, it’s the same everywhere,” Rep. Bill Brawley, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in March. “But if you read building codes, it’s different everywhere, and we can’t have that.”


Legislators Wade Into Debate Over Breast Cancer Screening (N.C. Health News) -- Legislators are poised this week to require physicians to talk to their mammogram patients about dense breasts.


NC charter oversight board pulled by House panel (AP) -- An effort to create a state panel separate from North Carolina's State Board of Education to oversee charter schools is apparently over in favor of beefing up a current advisory panel.


Fourth mental hospital back-burnered (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The proposal to build a fourth state psychiatric hospital went no where this session, but the legislator pushing for it says the idea's not dead. Rep. Justin Burr, an Albemarle Republican, gave the usual GOP explanation for why the state can't spend much money -- Medicaid costs too much -- but said he still wants to work on getting a hospital to serve Mecklenburg and about a dozen other counties. "It will live to fight another day,"Burr said. He plans to work on it in the months between the long and short sessions, and continue to talk to other lawmakers about why the state needs another hospital.


Detoured 75 mph NC bill revived as study (AP) -- An effort that was detoured in the House to raise the speed limit on some North Carolina roads to 75 mph may be restarted in the form of a study.


Tillman's charter bill: Teacher background checks not required now (Greensboro News & Record) -- There's been some misunderstanding of the way state Sen. Jerry Tillman's Senate Bill 337 would affect current state policy on background checks for school employees. They simply aren't required right now for teachers, just for "school personnel responsible for the fiscal affairs of the school."



McCrory offers a modest tax vision (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Gov. Pat McCrory offered his own vision for a tax overhaul Tuesday, suggesting a much more modest tax cut than Republican lawmakers desire. In a document sent to GOP legislative leaders, the governor’s office outlined a proposal that would gradually reduce state income taxes and expand the sales tax to dozens of additional services, such as car repairs and appliance installations. In the first year, it actually would add $345 million to state revenue, and the modest cuts in revenues from tax breaks in subsequent years would limit spending only by a fraction of what House and Senate Republicans leaders are proposing.


New P-R Offensive: One-on-one with the governor (High Point Enterprise) -- Gov. Pat McCrory, whose boyhood roots reach to Jamestown and Guilford County, took time Tuesday morning for an interview with The High Point Enterprise on topics ranging from the upcoming end of extended unemployment benefits to a recent dustup over McCrory throwing a baseball that coincided with a demonstration at the state Capitol. The governor’s office contacted the Enterprise Monday afternoon and offered the opportunity for a 10-minute, one-on-one phone interview. An aide to the governor said McCrory is doing interviews with newspapers and media outlets outside the beltway of the capital in Raleigh and the Research Triangle.


Army to Cut Its Forces by 80,000 in 5 Years (New York Times) -- Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said Tuesday that the Army would institute the largest organizational change since World War II by eliminating combat forces from 10 bases across the United States, part of a planned reduction of 80,000 active-duty troops over the next five years. The announcement supports the Army’s effort to downsize the active-duty force to 490,000 as the military winds down from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cuts were a result of the 2011 Budget Control Act that required $487 billion in military spending cuts over a decade. This is the fourth round of budget cuts for the military since President Obama took office. Under the plan, the Army will cut its brigade combat teams to 33 from 45 by 2017 at bases in North Carolina, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, Texas and Washington State. The brigades will be cut from Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Knox, Ky.; Fort Hood, Tex.; Fort Bliss, Tex.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.


Leaders in cities near Fort Bragg react to cuts (AP) -- Some officials and business leaders in cities in the vicinity of Fort Bragg feel the elimination of a brigade at the Army post will be offset with gains in other areas.


Army to cut brigades at 10 US bases (WRAL-TV) -- In a massive restructuring, the U.S. Army is slashing the number of active-duty combat brigades from 45 to 33 and shifting thousands of soldiers out of bases around the country as it moves forward with a longtime plan to cut the size of the service by 80,000. Officials say the sweeping changes would eliminate brigades at 10 Army bases in the U.S. by 2017, including in Texas, Kentucky, Georgia, Colorado, North Carolina, New York, Kansas and Washington. The Army will also cut thousands of other jobs across the service, including soldiers in units that support the brigades, and two brigades in Germany have already been scheduled for elimination. At Fort Bragg, the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division will be eliminated, spokesman Tom McCollum said. But three other brigades on post will be expanding by one battalion each, he said. "This is almost a wash," McCollum said, noting a battalion is between 600 to 1,200 soldiers and a brigade is about 3,500 soldiers.


Army to cut brigades at 10 U.S. bases, including at Fort Bragg (Fayetteville Observer) -- In a massive restructuring, the Army is slashing the number of active-duty combat brigades from 45 to 33, including troops at Fort Bragg, and shifting thousands of soldiers out of bases around the country as it moves forward with a longtime plan to cut the size of the service by 80,000.


Long-awaited new Medicaid claims system to go live (Winston-Salem Journal) -- The first major test comes Monday for the McCrory administration’s focus on overhauling information technology in state government. The state Department of Health and Human Services will go live at 6 a.m. with NCTracks, its new Medicaid claims-processing system, using software developed by vendor Computer Sciences Corp. At a $484 million contract cost for development, implementation and on-going support, NCTracks represents the biggest IT project in state government history, DHHS spokesman Ricky Diaz said Tuesday.


The last days of a Senate seat-warmer (Washington Post) – North Carolina native Mo Cowan wraps up six months as Massachusetts’ temporary senator, with no plans to come back.


Former McCrory aide leaving Charlotte law firm (Charlotte Observer) -- Brian Nick, a former strategist for Gov. Pat McCrory, is leaving his job at a Charlotte law firm to return to the political media company he formerly worked for. Earlier this year Nick went to work for Moore & Van Allen, the law firm that had employed McCrory. Nick said he’s returning to Strategic Perception to “pursue some projects that are more political in nature.” “MVA is a wonderful firm with exceptional people,” he said Tuesday, “and I very much appreciate the opportunity and experience.”


N.C. 16th in country in manufacturing job creation (Winston-Salem Journal) -- North Carolina was ranked 16th in the country in terms of manufacturing job creation at a net gain of 10,900 from December 2009 to March 2013, according to data by the National Association of Manufacturers. Michigan is atop the list at 88,100 jobs, primarily spurred by the remarkable comeback of the Big Three U.S. automakers. Texas is a distant second at 57,500 jobs.


US Airways CEO reassures Hagan, Burr about Charlotte hub (McClatchy Newspapers) -- The office of U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., said Tuesday that US Airways chief executive Doug Parker sent her and Republican Sen. Richard Burr a letter with assurances that Charlotte wouldn’t lose its hub status in a merger with American Airlines. A Government Accountability Office report last week said the merged carrier might shift flights from Charlotte Douglas International to other hub cities, especially Miami. “The combined airline could be expected to rationalize its network over time,” the GAO wrote in testimony submitted to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, “including where it maintains hubs.”


Heating Manufacturer to Expand in Buncombe County (N.C. Political News) – Gov. Pat McCrory and N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker announced Tutco, Inc. will expand its manufacturing facility in Buncombe County. The company plans to create 90 jobs and invest more than $500,000 over the next three years in Arden. “Our state’s strong legacy in manufacturing continues to encourage companies like Tutco, Inc. to expand in our great state,” said Governor McCrory. “We’re proud of our manufacturing heritage and want to reignite that reputation.” Tutco is the world’s largest supplier of open coil heating elements. Producing 35,000 to 38,000 heaters a day, the company holds 80 percent of U.S. patents in open coil heating technology. Tutco heating components can be found in commercial applications, including refrigeration, HVAC, appliance, lab equipment and vending.


Saffo plans bid for re-election as Wilmington mayor (Wilmington Star-News) -- Ultimately, he decided to run again because he wants to see some projects through.


States Put Heat on Bitcoin (Wall Street Journal) -- State regulators are warning virtual-currency exchanges and other companies that deal with bitcoin that they could be shut down if their activities run afoul of state money-transmission laws.


State business court to hear Berger appeal in July (Port City Daily) -- A court date has been scheduled for former New Hanover County commissioner Brian Berger’s appeal of his removal from the board last month.


Judge Weighs Tossing School-Cheating Charges (Wall Street Journal) -- A conspiracy case stemming from one of the largest school-cheating scandals in U.S. history could be scuttled or drastically diminished if a judge rules that investigators coerced some educators into talking.


Local company, 200 jobs threatened by federal bill (Sanford Herald) -- Congressional leaders, including Rep. Renee Ellmers, are taking action this week to change a proposed federal law that could shutter a local manufacturing plant, employing more than 200 people.


Waxhaw mayor may face censure for DWI charge, alcohol purchases (Charlotte Observer) -- Waxhaw Mayor Daune Gardner, who faces an August court date on a driving while impaired charge, used her town credit card to buy alcohol three times since September, town records show.


Asheville police officer claims cover-up request (AP) -- An Asheville police lieutenant says Police Chief William Anderson tried to "coerce" him into making false statements about a wreck involving the chief's son.



Arden plant adding 90 jobs (AP) -- A company that makes heating coil elements says it will expand its plant in Arden, adding 90 jobs.


DB Global Technology, Inc. to Create 431 Jobs in Wake County (N.C. Tech News) – Gov. Pat McCrory and N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker announced DB Global Technology, Inc., which provides software application development and maintenance services in support of Deutsche Bank AG (DBAG), will expand its software development center in Wake County. The company plans to create 431 new jobs in North Carolina by the end of 2016 and invest over $13.5 million in its Cary location. “High-tech research companies like DB Global Technology, Inc. know that North Carolina is just the place for their business to grow,” said Governor McCrory. “The additional IT jobs that they’ll create will strengthen the Cary corporate mix and be an example to others of the strong talent pool and attractive quality of life that characterizes this region of the state.”


Western NC hospital votes to wear black scrubs (AP) -- Nurses at Mission Hospital in Asheville are making a fashion statement. Of the hospital's 2,000 nurses, 52 percent favored black scrubs, while 48 percent chose royal blue. The vote took place earlier this month. Management will give nurses the option of wearing white. The idea is to eliminate confusion among patients who sometimes can't tell a nurse from a housekeeper or a lab technician. The hospital's emergency department started a trial run on the black scrubs in February. The rest of the nurses have until May 2014 to switch to black.


Truck-Stop Royalty Shaken by FBI Fraud Investigation (Wall Street Journal) -- An FBI investigation into Pilot Flying J has shaken a company -- with several major sites in North Carolina -- that fuels the nation's trucking industry and has put the spotlight on the hard-charging Haslam family.


Rocky Mount tax preparer arrested on felony counts (AP) -- A Rocky Mount tax preparer is facing felony charges of filing fraudulent tax returns.


James Franco shooting film in Winston-Salem area (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Actor-director James Franco will shoot a film in the Winston-Salem area next month, and an open casting call will be held Sunday.


UNC tapped for national project to transform STEM education (UNC News Bureau) -- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been named a project site for the Association of American Universities’ (AAU) five-year initiative to improve the quality of undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields at its member institutions.



President's Climate Action Plan Could Boost NC Business (Public News Service) -- In the future, North Carolina air may be cleaner and business greener if President Obama's plan to cut carbon pollution in America is put into action. Obama on Tuesday announced additional funding and plans for clean-energy technology and regulating carbon pollution.


Obama Outlines Ambitious Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gases (New York Times) -- President Obama proposed far-reaching regulations on power plants and energy efficiency, using executive actions that will not need Congressional approval.


Clean Air Act, Reinterpreted, Would Focus on Flexibility and State-Level Efforts (New York Times) -- President Obama is staking part of his legacy on a big risk: that he can substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions by stretching the intent of a law decades old.


Obama unveils ambitious agenda to combat climate change (Washington Post) -- Announcement part of sweeping climate strategies announced by president to fight global warming.


Obama Details Climate Policies (Wall Street Journal) -- The far-reaching plan to fight climate change would profoundly reshape the way the U.S. produces and consumes electricity.


Obama outlines broad plan to curb climate change (LA Times) -- President Obama laid out an ambitious campaign to address climate change.


Obama's scaled-down climate-change agenda (Politico) -- Barack Obama finally gave his big climate speech Tuesday — the one environmentalists have been waiting for since he first took office.


Climate speech: The war on coal (Politico) -- Coal-friendly lawmakers sound off on what the plan means for their constituents.


Limited GOP options on climate plan (Politico) -- Republican aides Tuesday were already discussing ways to try to slow walk or block the new rules.


Obama hints at Keystone approval (Politico) -- The speech set groundwork for Obama to later say he demanded the highest safeguards for the pipeline.


Obama's Climate Change Plan Builds on State Leadership (Governing) -- With little hope of passing any substantial legislation through a gridlocked U.S. Congress, Obama is instead issuing presidential memorandums and other executive actions to combat climate change in three ways. His plan, which he outlined Tuesday, builds on state action around renewable energy development and energy efficiency, while calling on continued involvement of the states and localities to address the issue.


Duke will have much at stake with new carbon standards (Charlotte Observer) -- Duke had little to say directly about Obama’s climate plan Tuesday, praising his call for a diverse mix of energy sources.


Duke Energy wants Greenpeace testimony stricken from rate hearing (Charlotte Business Journal) -- Duke Energy Carolinas wants N.C. regulators to prevent Greenpeace from raising issues about its Cliffside coal plant, the Dan River natural gas plant


NC legislators drop bid to curb Tesla sales (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Tesla bypasses auto dealers and sells its plug-in electric car directly to consumers, by phone or online. Legislators dropped a Senate proposal, pushed by the state’s automobile dealers, that would have required Tesla to sell through dealers.


Groups opposed to Duke Energy rate hike to protest Charlotte meeting (NEWS14-TV) -- Protesters will take to the streets Wednesday night to speak out against a request for higher utility rates by Duke Energy. The groups plan to demonstrate ahead of a public meeting by the North Carolina Utilities Commission. The company wants to raise rates by 5 percent for Charlotte and Triad customers. Leaders say the rate increase would bring in an extra $205 million in the first two years and $235 million a year after that. The money is expected to help pay for capital improvement projects. If approved, the rate increase would take effect in September. Protesters will gather for the rally at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse at 5 p.m. and the hearing begins at 6 p.m.


NC the focus of major weather study (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Scientists from across the country have kicked off an intensive study of North Carolina precipitation, with a particular focus on Western North Carolina, to improve understanding of weather events that could result in loss of life or property.


Duke Researchers Find Methane in Drinking Water near Fracking Sites (N.C. Health News) -- In a study to be released this week, researchers from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment found gases related to fracking.


Well Sealing Cited in Leaks, Not Fracking (Wall Street Journal) -- Poorly sealed natural-gas wells—not hydraulic fracturing of shale-rock formations—are likely to blame for dissolved gas found in private water wells, a new study found.


Invasive bug poses threat to NC trees (WRAL-TV) -- The North Carolina Forest Service says it is trying to manage an invasion of a species of insect that poses a threat to the state's trees. Last month, the state became the 20th in the United States to identify the presence of the emerald ash borer, an Asian beetle first discovered in the United States near Detroit in 2002. The insect bores into ash trees, lays eggs that hatch and larvae feed off the tree, ultimately killing it within 2 to 5 years.


NC Senate committee says full chemical disclosure not required to frack (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A state Senate committee voted to allow shale gas exploration companies to engage in fracking without fully disclosing the chemicals they inject underground. The senators said energy companies can withhold anything they deem to be a “trade secret.”


Tracking Giants of the Cape Fear (Coastal Review) -- State researchers catch and tag Atlantic sturgeon that prowl the Cape Fear River. The tags allow researchers to follow the movements of the endangered fish. Keeping track of them will help protect these ancient giants.



FRANK DEFORD: Let's Separate The Schoolin' From The Sports (NPR) -- We usually think of college sports in terms of classic big-time schools, polls and bowls. But, in fact, our athletics are intertwined with — and complicate — all higher education. The University of North Carolina, Wilmington provides a typical recent case. The Seahawks field teams in 19 Division One sports, but unfortunately, like many colleges, UNCW athletics are in the red, so the chancellor, Gary L. Miller, assembled a committee, which recommended the elimination of five sports: men's and women's swimming, men's cross country and indoor track and softball.


Bill that would bring more landfills is bad idea (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Switzerland has its Alps and Colorado its Rockies. Here in North Carolina, we have our Great Smokies in the west. We don’t need the Great Trash Mountain Range in the east.


NC landfill bill would send us back to dumping on the poor (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Just two weeks ago, Guilford County Sen. Trudy Wade introduced a single-page bill to improve controls on garbage trucks. Quickly her bill became an 18-page piece of legislation that eliminates the environmental and social justice controls


In Raleigh, Full Speed to the Rear (Southern Pines Pilot) -- “To the victor belong the spoils,” goes the old saying. It originally meant that a winning army got to loot the conquered countryside. More recently, it has referred to the various perks that fall into the hands of the winner in a political election.


A wrong vote on voting rights (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The United States has changed since the Voting Rights Act came into being, but Martin Luther King’s dream isn’t reality for many. Crippling the act won’t help and will in fact hurt the pursuit of that dream for some.


Statistics are outdated; voting vigilance isn’t (Charlotte Observer) -- We share President Obama’s dismay over the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, yet we also recognize the opinion is fundamentally correct. Or, flipped the other way: We agree the ruling was legally sound, but also know Congress must urgently respond in a way that ensures all Americans have unfettered voting rights.


How Art Pope killed a popular judicial financing program (Center for American Progress) -- This is the story of how one very wealthy man stopped a government program endorsed by three North Carolina governors (two Republicans and a Democrat), most of the judges from both parties on the state’s top courts, and hundreds of civic and business leaders. The program began a decade ago to give judicial candidates an alternative to relying on wealthy donors with business pending in the courts. Under the new program, candidates could qualify for a public campaign grant if they refused large donations, accepted spending limits, and showed strong public support by raising hundreds of small donations from voters.


Senate should follow House, reinstate respected teaching fellows program (Wilmington Star-News) -- Among the items still in limbo during the super-secret budget negotiations being held behind closed doors is the fate of one of the state's best-received education initiatives, the N.C. Teaching Fellows Program. The state House's version of the budget would reinstate the program as of the 2014-15 budget year; the Senate's version would stick firm to a 2011 law that killed the scholarship program.


Getting It Right On Solar Farms (Southern Pines Pilot) -- Last month, the Moore County Planning Board went off on an unusual tangent by rejecting an amendment to the county zoning ordinance that would have allowed solar farms. The Board of Commissioners deserves praise for correcting that error this past Tuesday.


Proposal may help mental health system (Wilson Times) -- Telemedicine, using technology to reach distant locations to provide specialty medical care, has been highly successful in treating patients in small, rural hospitals where few specialists practice.


To Me, Gov. Holshouser was Always Just 'Daddy' (Southern Pines Pilot) -- The text of a tribute delivered at the funeral of former Gov. James E. Holshouser Jr. last Friday at Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church. The speaker is Holshouser’s daughter.


Low pay may bring NC teacher shortage (Raleigh News & Observer) -- State Superintendent June Atkinson sounds warning bells about a sure-to-come teacher shortage.


Taking care of the kids (Greensboro News & Record) -- More North Carolina children are growing up in homes whose parents lack secure employment. More children are part of single-parent families. There are more teen dropouts who don’t have jobs.


Teaching teachers (Greensboro News & Record) -- A disturbing new report gives low marks to most of our schools of education. Better teacher training is needed now.


Steckel - Medicaid staff to be vigilant, creative (Fayetteville Observer column) -- Last week, Gov. Pat McCrory and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos met with all of the employees in North Carolina's Medicaid agency to remind us about the importance of our work and the responsibility we have to the people of North Carolina.




VRA vs 2nd A

...a sad day for North Carolinians, where it will soon be easier to purchase a firearm than to vote.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR