Google Fiber Is Coming To North Carolina (WUNC-FM) -- Google Fiber 'Triangle' van parked in downtown Raleigh (WUNC-FM) -- The next cities to benefit from ultra-high-speed internet service will be in the southern United States. Google Fiber announced yesterday it is bringing its super-fast access to Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte and to the Raleigh-Durham area in the Triangle. There have been rumors for weeks Google was about to make a big announcement. Michael Slinger, Director of Business Operations for Google Fiber made it official.
With ceremony over, NC legislature re-gavels for session (AP) — The North Carolina legislature is back in town and ready to work for the year following a two-week break.
NAACP-led protests to resume at N.C. Legislature (AP) — The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP is leading the resumption of protests targeting policies backed by the GOP-led Legislature.
5 Reasons State House Speakers May Be Prone to Corruption (Governing Magazine) -- Sheldon Silver, who lost his job as one of the most powerful political posts in New York, is the fourth state house speaker to be indicted over the past year.
Today @NCCapitol: Handing out gavels (WRAL-TV) -- Welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Wednesday, Jan 28. Here's what's going on in and around the legislature. They're back: With the House and Senate set to convene their sessions at high noon, those with interests in changing state law are also assembling Wednesday in Raleigh. Religious freedom: Expect much discussion of some very different interpretations of religious freedom over the next week or so.
N.C. General Assembly ready to resume (Fayetteville Observer) -- People who want something from the government are lining up as the N.C. General Assembly prepares to get to work with its 2015 session of lawmaking today. The House and Senate convene at noon. Lawmakers are expected to begin filling the House and Senate clerk offices with bills as soon as they can. The lobbying began weeks ago and fires up in earnest today.
NC GOP education lawmaker wants end to elected superintendent (AP) — Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, a lawmaker active in setting education policy, wants to change the constitution to end elections for a state schools superintendent.
Incentives policies return to General Assembly's hot seat (Wilmington Star News) -- The battle over incentives that engulfed the General Assembly last session and is poised to become a hot-button issue this year.
Conservatives Resist McCrory's Request For Business Incentives (Daily Caller) -- Republican Gov. Pat McCrory is asking North Carolina lawmakers to increase funding for economic incentives, but the proposal is meeting resistance from conservatives.
McCrory official calls on legislators to renew historic property tax credits (Fayetteville Observer) -- Gov. Pat McCrory sent his secretary of cultural resources to Fayetteville on Tuesday to continue pressuring his fellow Republicans who control the General Assembly to revive a tax credit for people and developers who rehabilitate historic homes and buildings.
Lawmakers want details on McCrory infrastructure plan (WRAL-TV) -- Gov. Pat McCrory has for months floated the idea of a $1 billion bond to pay for needed infrastructure in rural areas, but lawmakers said Tuesday they want to hear more details about the plan before committing to it.
Leading from center: Moderate Dems unite for party's future (Richmond County Daily Journal) -- State Rep. Ken Goodman will lead a dozen moderate Democrats in a new legislative caucus to push for pro-business policies and woo independent voters in swing districts. As the General Assembly convenes today, Goodman is unveiling the N.C. Main Street Democratic Caucus, a group of self-described centrists who hope to change the political paradigm in Raleigh and improve the Democratic Party’s prospects in 2016.
Legislators invited to secret meeting on ‘religious freedom’ with NC Values Coalition (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The NC Values Coalition has invited state legislators to attend a briefing on “religious freedom” Wednesday afternoon as the General Assembly returns.
NC House chairmen named for next 2 years (AP) — The names of those leading North Carolina House committees for the next two years are notable both by who have been named chairmen of the most powerful committees and those left off.
More moped, scooter rules considered at NC legislature (AP) — The debate over regulating mopeds in North Carolina resumed Tuesday as legislators heard new rule suggestions from the Division of Motor Vehicles just months after the General Assembly mandated owners register the vehicles.
Ex state representative wants back in the ring (Hickory Daily Record) -- George Robinson remembers his time in the North Carolina State House fondly. And he hopes the Caldwell County Republican Party will want him back in his old seat.
POLICIES & POLITICS
Cooper tells NC Democrats it's not early to think about 2016 (AP) — Prepping for a run to try to unseat Gov. Pat McCrory in 2016, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Tuesday he'll keep speaking out against GOP policies he believes are harming the middle class and teachers in the upcoming General Assembly session.
State Unemployment Rate Drops Slightly (TWCN-TV) -- The state has released the unemployment rate for December and it is continuing to drop to its lowest rate in six years.
NC unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent (AP) -- North Carolina's jobless rate dropped for the fourth straight month, falling to 5.5 percent in December when the state was one of the top four in the number of people joining the workforce. The revised rate for November was 5.9 percent, up slightly from the 5.8 percent originally reported. The rate, which was 6.9 percent in December 2013, has been falling since September.
State’s official jobless rate falls to 5.5 percent (Winston-Salem Journal) -- As North Carolina moved another step close to the traditional full employment threshold of 5 percent, debate about the meaning of the jobless rate decline continues among economists and politicians.
NC's union membership rate lowest in nation (Charlotte Observer) -- According to a Labor Department, 1.9 percent of wage and salary workers in North Carolina were members of unions last year, down from 3 percent in 2013.
NC Chamber leading effort to urge location of road funds (AP) — A collection of business groups and local governments say North Carolina state leaders must act to address a long-term transportation funding shortfall.
N.C. drivers pay 52 percent more after claim (Winston-Salem Journal) -- North Carolina motorists paid an average 52 percent more in auto insurance premiums after making a single $2,000 claim, according to an insuranceQuotes.com report released Tuesday.
Carolinas weigh in on chase for Volvo plant (Charlotte Business Journal) -- Who is in the running for the Volvo plant in the Carolinas isn't known. Spokespersons for both the S.C. and N.C. departments of commerce won't comment. Volvo is also tight-lipped about reports that it wants establish a U.S. assembly plant in the Southeast.
Belhaven, Vidant agree to facility (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- The Belhaven Town Council on Monday approved a memorandum to move forward with plans for Vidant Health System’s new multispecialty health care facility, Vidant officials said in a Tuesday news release.
Agreement met on multispecialty clinic (Washington Daily News) -- A deal has been made to move forward with Vidant Health’s proposal of building a new multispecialty healthcare facility in Belhaven.
Latinos Face Significant Barriers to Signing Up for Health Insurance (N.C. Health News) -- Many Latinos find themselves caught between immigration policies and health-insurance rules that make it difficult to sign up for coverage.
Mental Health Breakfast Assembles Advocates, Service Providers and Elected Officials (N.C. Health News) -- Medicaid expansion and reform is a topic of spirited discussion at the mental health care community’s annual gathering in Chapel Hill.
Off-road vehicle seller barred from doing business in NC (AP) — An off-road vehicle seller is barred by the N.C. Attorney General's office from doing business in the state after collecting more than $400,000 in payments and deposits and failing to deliver vehicles as promised.
Labor advocates convene in Asheville on cusp of new state legislative session (Carolina Public Press) -- Speakers assail North Carolina’s Republican leadership but propose paths forward that could involve bipartisanship.
Deputy industrial commissioners replaced, reappointed (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The chairman of the state Industrial Commission has replaced three deputy commissioners in the agency that hears workers’ compensation cases and personal or property damage claims against state entities. Four deputies at the N.C. Industrial Commission were reappointed. All terms are for six years.
Ellmers-sponsored bill on human trafficking passes US House (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A bill introduced by Rep. Renee Ellmers to help health care workers recognize the signs of human trafficking got quick approval in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Ex-Hagan campaign aide moves to national job (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Sadie Weiner, who was the chief spokeswoman for Kay Hagan's unsuccessful re-election campaign for US Senate last year, has landed a new job.
Charlotte, Triangle selected to receive Google Fiber service (AP) — Google says Charlotte and the Research Triangle area are getting its Internet and TV service that provides data at high speed.
Google bringing its high-speed Internet service to the Triangle (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Google will web the Triangle with thousands of miles of fiber-optic cable in the coming years, connecting homes and businesses in seven municipalities to the Internet through its high-speed Google Fiber service.
Google Fiber bringing ultra-fast Internet to Triangle (WRAL-TV) --Life in the Triangle is about to get faster – at least online. Google officials confirmed Tuesday that Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Morrisville, Garner and Carrboro are among the latest U.S. cities to be outfitted with Google Fiber, which promises Internet speeds 100 times faster than existing connections and a high-definition television service.
Google Fiber picks Charlotte for high-speed Internet – now what? (Charlotte Observer) -- Officials from the technology giant and the city said the next step is a detailed design process, followed by a massive, sometimes disruptive construction project.
Google: Building network will be ‘disruptive’ (Charlotte Observer) -- Google acknowledges that building its new super-fast Internet network in Charlotte will come with some growing pains, but stresses the long-term benefits.
What you need to know about Google Fiber (Charlotte Observer) -- Google Fiber is a gigabit Internet service boasting speeds up to 100 times faster than normal broadband, making activities such as video chatting and big file downloads easier. AT&T says with its gigabit service a consumer can download 25 songs in a second, a TV show in 3 seconds and an HD movie in 36 seconds.
FAQ: Everything you want to know about Google Fiber in Charlotte (well, almost) (Charlotte Business Journal) -- Google says Charlotte can expect faster Internet speeds when it launches Google Fiber here.
So, Google Fiber Is Coming to Your City. What Are the Next Steps? (Gov. Executive) -- A tlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham are the next cities on Google's expansion list. But it will take time and a lot of planning to make it a reality.
Google Expanding Fiber Service to Charlotte, Raleigh (TWCN-TV) -- Google Fiber is coming to Charlotte and the City of Oaks after the company announced the expansion in both the Queen City and Raleigh Tuesday afternoon, offering customers another option for high speed internet.
NC businesses propose protection for gay, lesbian workers (AP) -- Some Charlotte businesses are proposing protections for employees who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Son of slave who served in US Colored Troops dies RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A man who was the son of a slave who served in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War has died in New Bern.
Reynolds, Lorillard shareholders set to vote on $25B merger (AP) -- Shareholders are set to vote on the planned $25 billion merger of cigarette makers Reynolds American Inc. and Lorillard Inc.
SCHOOLS & UNIVERSITIES
Years Without Raises Lead to Campus Brain Drain (Higher Education Works) -- Weakened by years without raises for instructors, North Carolina’s public universities are losing the war for faculty talent. In the past two years, 3 out of 4 faculty members who received outside offers decided to leave our state’s public universities. In all, 320 of the University system’s best instructors were lured away.
Top UNC leader cites ‘coincidence’ in Ross replacement timing (AP) — It was a coincidence that the oversight board for North Carolina's public university system began rewriting its 18-year-old rules for finding a new president just before the current leader was forced out, the board's chairman said Tuesday.
Survey ranks North Carolina as worst state for teachers (Kinston Free Press) -- Ratings based on salaries, safety and unemployment.
Fewer People Want To Be Teachers, Education Leaders Look For Solutions (WUNC-FM) -- Fewer North Carolina students are enrolling in teaching programs, a problem education leaders say they are trying to tackle by strengthening recruitment, improving teacher preparation and supporting pay increases. The number of undergraduate and graduate students declaring education majors dropped by 12 percent between 2013 and 2014. It’s a statistic education officials repeated and mulled over during Tuesday’s UNC Board of Governors Education Summit held by the SAS Institute.
McCrory, Board of Governors tout education reform (Daily Tar Heel) – Gov. Pat McCrory spoke on Tuesday as part of a UNC Board of Governors’ summit on education in the state. He outlined a number of reforms he’d like to see, namely reducing the time it takes for prospective teachers with private-sector experience to begin in the classroom. Bureaucracy in the education system, he said, impedes people with experience in STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — fields from becoming educators by taking too long to get certified to teach.
Changes in teacher training proposed for NC (Raleigh News & Observer) -- As enrollment declines in the state’s education programs, the UNC system is proposing major changes in teacher training.
McCrory: Education bureaucracy slows filling needed teacher jobs (WRAL-TV) -- Gov. Pat McCrory was frank when discussing education during an education summit in Cary on Tuesday. “Too often the bureaucracy, and yes, the education bureaucracy, gets in the way of talented people filling job openings desperately needed in our schools and in our workplace.,”
Education Leaders Address NC Teacher Shortage 'Crisis' (TWCN-TV) -- State education leaders and lawmakers are working to address North Carolina’s shortage of high quality teachers, something they’re calling a crisis. More than 200 people gathered in Cary on Tuesday for the UNC Board of Governors Education Summit.
NC GOP education lawmaker wants end to elected superintendent (AP) — Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, a lawmaker active in setting education policy, wants to change the constitution to end elections for a state schools superintendent.
Early learnings from parents who applied for Opportunity Scholarships (EdNC) -- As the first year of the Opportunity Scholarship opened, I decided to ask Opportunity Scholarship parents why they chose to enroll their children in private school. This research has only just begun, so there are not yet any clear-cut findings, but National School Choice Week seemed an appropriate time to share some of the early themes that are beginning to emerge from what parents have shared so far.
Obama drops bid to end college savings tax break (Washington Post) -- The administration retreated after a strong backlash to the proposal, which would have curtailed a major tax benefit of the popular 529 college savings accounts.
Obama Relents on Proposal to End ‘529’ College Savings Plans (New York Times) -- The president, facing pressure from both parties, dropped from his budget a proposal to effectively end college savings accounts known as 529s.
WNC schools wrestle with growing e-cigarette use (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Amid growing use of electronic cigarettes among teens, Haywood County schools are changing how they classify the devices.
Ex-UNC athletes: Lawsuit aims to protect college athletes (AP) — Two former University of North Carolina athletes suing the school and NCAA say the goal is to ensure athletes receive a quality education.
Former UNC athletes take to Twitter to gain support for lawsuit (WRAL-TV) -- Two former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student-athletes who are suing the school and the NCAA to ensure other student-athletes receive a proper education took to Twitter on Tuesday to garner support for their case.
UNC-Chapel Hill Looks to Start Anti-Hazing Committee (TWCN-TV) -- UNC-Chapel Hill could soon launch a new initiative to stop hazing.
Campus police investigate death of UNC Wilmington student (AP) — Police at UNC Wilmington are looking into the death of a senior whose body was found in his on-campus apartment.
Ipads, sheep and solar farms: Students learn about sustainable energ (EdNC) -- On a Monday in November, middle school students in the Rowan-Salisbury School System received iPads. By Friday, they were out visiting a local solar farm, using their iPads to take photos, video, and notes. Seven students from each of the three 8th grade science classes at Erwin Middle School were chosen to attend, and those students will use the experience to teach the rest of the 8th graders a unit on alternative energy in March 2015.
Emory recommends testing air at Hanes, Lowrance as parents call for schools to be shut down (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Beverly Emory, superintendent of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, on Tuesday recommended immediate testing of air quality at Hanes and Lowrance middle schools as parents urged school officials to shut the schools down.
System must ensure students are protected from groundwater contamination (Winston-Salem Journal editorial) -- It’s troubling that Hanes and Lowrance middle schools sit adjacent to contaminated groundwater in northern Winston-Salem, although Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school officials say that the air quality inside the buildings has not been affected. But what’s really troubling is the fact that the school system wants to put a $15.4-million replacement for Lowrance on top of that contamination.
Two N.C. universities listed among 'most efficient' in America (Triangle Business Journal) – Appalachian State and UNC Wilmington are two schools do more with less, according to a national magazine.
Wrong equation yields wrong answer on school letter grades (Kinston Free Press column) -- There are no perfect models.
The Fraud of the Student-Athlete Claim (New York Times Editorial) -- A lawsuit from two former University of North Carolina athletes raises the question of whether getting a meaningful education is part of college sports.
Eden officials on coal ash spill: 'Our rivers are thriving' (Greensboro News & Record) – A year ago thousands of tons of coal ash was dumped into the Dan River from a retired Duke Energy steam station. Since then, Eden officials have fought a public relations nightmare. On Tuesday Paul Newton, Duke Energy's president of N.C. operations, aid the company intends to continue ensuring the coal ash spill doesn't effect Eden. "Duke Energy is all about the prosperity of the communities it touches so it is very hard and very humbling to stand before you with even the thought or suggestion that anything Duke Energy did was in any way detrimental to this community."
Eden sends message: Dan River is great (Greensboro News & Record) Officials want people to know its safe to live and play on the river after the coal ash spill.
Residents right to question Duke plan for ash (Fayetteville Observer editorial) -- Elected leaders in Lee and Chatham counties aren't happy about Duke Energy's plans to dump coal ash into clay pits within their jurisdictions. Residents in Sanford, Broadway and the Colon community aren't thrilled either.
Rockingham County Hopes To Shake Ash Spill Legacy (WFDD-FM) -- It’s been nearly a year since the Duke Energy Coal Ash spill was discovered in the Dan River near Eden. More than 39,000 tons of toxic sludge made its way into the river.
Obama floats offering first-ever drilling lease in Atlantic (AP) — The Obama administration floated a plan Tuesday that for the first time would open up a broad swath of the Atlantic Coast to drilling, even as it moved to restrict drilling indefinitely in environmentally-sensitive areas off Alaska.
Feds Announce Atlantic Drilling Plan (Coastal Review) -- The Obama Administration announced plans to potentially open portions of the Atlantic coast, including offshore North Carolina, to oil and natural gas drilling for the first time in 30 years.
Obama administration to open Atlantic coast to drilling (Yahoo News) -- The Obama administration on Tuesday announced it would open parts of the Atlantic coast to fossil fuel drilling. That will come as good news to a coalition of governors with close ties to industry that was the subject of a Center for Public Integrity investigation last fall.
McCrory-led coalition and big oil lobbyists very cozy in offshore drilling group (Center for Public Integrity) -- For the past three years, a group of eight, mostly Republican governors from coastal states – now led by N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory -- has been lobbying the Obama administration to expand access to the nation’s offshore oil and gas deposits, working through an organization called the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition. While the message from the governors that morning would have come as no surprise to Jewell, less clear, perhaps, was that the governors were drawing on the research and resources of an energy lobbying firm acting on behalf of an oil industry-funded advocacy group.
Obama administration opens up southern Atlantic coast to offshore drilling – but restricts it in Alaska (Washington Post) -- For the first time, it will withdraw some areas in Alaska that had been previously approved for drilling.
Offshore Atlantic Part of 5-Year Drilling Blueprint (Wall Street Journal) -- The Obama administration proposed to eventually open up part of the Atlantic to oil and natural-gas production while also saying it would restrict waters off Alaska’s shore to drilling.
Obama's Plan: Allow Drilling in Atlantic (New York Times) -- The Obama administration moved Tuesday to open up a vast stretch of East Coast waters to oil and gas drilling, a decision that could have a profound impact on the economic and environmental future of states from Virginia to Georgia. The move also adds a new dimension to the legacy of President Obama. … the new offshore drilling plan won praise from some of them. Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina, a Republican who is a fiercely conservative opponent of Mr. Obama’s energy and climate change policies, said in a statement on Tuesday that Mr. Obama was “taking a step in the right direction to help North Carolina become a significant energy-producing state.”
N.C. One Step Closer To Oil Exploration Off Coast (WUNC-FM) -- The Obama Administration today released a proposal to possibly open the Atlantic Seaboard – including the coast of North Carolina - to oil exploration. The proposal is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s five-year plan. Testing from the 1980s estimated that as many as 3.3 billion gallons of oil could be off the Atlantic coast.
Obama fires first in coming 'battle royal' over Atlantic drilling (McClatchy Newspapers) -- President Barack Obama moved Tuesday to open the Atlantic Ocean to drilling, beginning a mammoth battle over the environmental effects and raising the question of how much oil and gas lies under the sea and whether it’s even economical for it to be drilled. Gov. Pat McCrory, who leads a big-oil-backed coalition, called the plan “a step in the right direction to help North Carolina become a significant energy-producing state.” But McCrory criticized as too limiting a 50-mile buffer between drilling and the East Coast that’s included in the proposal.
Applause, concern greet move toward drilling off Carolinas (AP) — Lawmakers generally applauded while conservation groups worried Tuesday when the Obama administration included tracts off the coast of the Carolinas in a draft proposal of areas that could be opened to oil and gas exploration later this decade.
Atlantic Oil ,Gas Drilling: Threat to NC's Natural Heritage (Public News Service) -- President Obama's proposal to open the North Carolina coast to oil and gas drilling is drawing opposition from some communities and conservation groups. A five-year draft proposal to allow oil drilling in the Atlantic Ocean was released Tuesday, and federal leaders have said it could make nearly 80 percent of undiscovered resources available and recoverable. But Dave Rogers, state director for Environment North Carolina, said the plan could hurt tourism, marine life and the coast.
Carolina Beach leaders cautious about offshore drilling plan (WECT-TV) -- Carolina Beach's top two leaders expressed apprehension about the Obama administration's plan to potentially open North Carolina's coast to offshore drilling.
NC governor applauds move Carolinas offshore drilling (Raleigh News & Observer) -- North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says moving closer to drilling offshore of the Carolinas is a step in the right direction.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Ipads, sheep and solar farms: Students learn about sustainable energy (EdNC) -- On a Monday in November, middle school students in the Rowan-Salisbury School System received iPads. By Friday, they were out visiting a local solar farm, using their iPads to take photos, video, and notes. Seven students from each of the three 8th grade science classes at Erwin Middle School were chosen to attend, and those students will use the experience to teach the rest of the 8th graders a unit on alternative energy in March 2015.
UNC host Clean Tech Summit Feb. 19-20 (UNC News) -- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will host its second annual N.C. Clean Tech Summit Feb. 19-20. The event highlights the latest innovations, trends and challenges and North Carolina’s central role in the growing clean technology industry.
Cree to light up Sunday's Super Bowl with its LEDs (WRAL-TV) -- You may have seen ads showing up on TV touting Cree's LED bulbs. But on Sunday Cree's biggest advertisement for its lighting technology takes center stage, lighting up the Super Bowl in Phoenix.
Courts should be a budgetary priority (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- Most state government agencies are important cogs that help keep roads safe, kids educated and people healthy.
The folly of 'religious freedom' to ignore the law in NC (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Just how far should religious freedom go in North Carolina? Should a state employee be able to ignore the law, citing his religious beliefs? Where would that end?
Move state forward (Greensboro News & Record) -- Republicans start the 2015 General Assembly session in the same position they held two years ago: They can enact any legislation they want. Democrats aren’t strong enough to influence decision-making in Raleigh, unless Republicans are divided.
Today's session brings potential for compromise (Richmond Daily Journal) -- The N.C. General Assembly resumes its 2015 regular session at noon today. While Raleigh insiders are predicting a lower-key legislative year with fewer partisan duels and more cooperation, only time will tell if consensus-building really is in the cards.
A chance for compromise? (Wilson Times) -- State lawmakers will tackle teacher pay, consider tax breaks to lure new industry to North Carolina and take a hard look at building roads and bridges this year.
Another innocent man (Wilmington Star-News) -- Joseph Sledge spent 36 years in a North Carolina prison for two murders he did not commit.
Paul Lawler – Replace Water St. deck but don't subsidize developer (Wilmington Star-News) -- The proposals submitted by developers will cost taxpayers millions and include significant subsidies for a private apartment development.
For Rep. Ellmers, Quite a Bad Week (Southern Pines Pilot) -- Guess who had the worst week in Washington last week. President Obama? House Speaker John Boehner?
Trying to keep alive NC Rep. George H. White's legacy (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Efforts are underway to remember last black congressman of 19th century. White decided to not seek re-election in 1900 in the face of the second straight Democratic-led white supremacy campaign that would lead to the disenfranchisement of most black voters in North Carolina.