Daily dose

It's called hydraulic despotism:

State sets sights on Greenville water (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- The N.C. General Assembly’s Republican majority claims to advocate for smaller government, but it has compiled a contradictory record by passing several bills that exert state control over resources managed by county or municipal government.



State Democratic Party urges Democrats to descend on legislature on Monday in abortion protest (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The state Democratic Party is putting out the word that it wants a big crowd at the Moral Monday protest on Monday to show opposition to the anti-abortion bill making its way through the legislature. "As I'm sure you know, Republican extremists in the State Senate pushed through anti-choice legislation that, if enacted into law, would put North Carolina on the path toward Texas-styled conservatism,'' writes Robert Dempsey, the Democrat's executive director. "Our rights are under attack at every level in a move that unparalleled in our state government. Dempsey asked that Democrats assemble at state party headquarters before the rally near the legislature and that they wear pink to show solidarity with women's rights. A House committee is scheduled to take up a bill enacting new anti-abortion restrictions on Tuesday morning.


NC Senate abortion bill set for House panel debate (AP) -- A North Carolina House panel is scheduled to review a bill approved by the Senate this week that would implement new state rules on abortions. The House Health Care Committee said Friday the legislation will be considered Tuesday. Senate Republicans were criticized by abortion rights advocates and Democrats for adding abortion regulations to an unrelated bill the House had already approved. A spokesman for Speaker Thom Tillis says House leaders think the reworked bill needs a hearing.


What McCrory said in Oct. 24, 2012 campaign debate on Abortion restrictions (WRAL-TV) -- Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory discuss abortion restrictions during the third and final gubernatorial debate on Oct. 24, 2012. Q: What further restrictions on abortion would you agree to sign? PAT McCRORY: “None!”


Stam predicts McCrory will sign abortion bill (WRAL-TV) – Despite McCrory’s emphatic pledge, state Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) predicts Gov. McCrory will sign anti-abortion bill.


Steinburg, Cook vote for abortion ed bill (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- State lawmakers have passed a bill that if signed into law will require North Carolina middle school students to discuss abortion in the classroom and learn about the risks associated with the procedure.


State abortion limits are forcing both parties to rethink political calculus (Washington Post) -- Issue is now poised to figure more prominently in 2014 and 2016 than strategists would have expected. In North Carolina, the state Senate adopted a sweeping bill Wednesday that includes a ban on sex-selective abortions and on abortion coverage in insurance offered in the state’s health exchange. It also requires abortion clinics be held to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and have a transfer agreement with a local hospital.


Abortion restrictions in N.C. bill set up political, moral standoff (Washington Post) -- Arguments over legislative tactics obscure questions about whether most of the state's abortion clinics will be forced to close.


After Ruling, States Rush to Enact Voting Laws (New York Times) -- Experts predict an increase in lawsuits in states that are no longer covered under the Voting Rights A ct after the Supreme Court ruling last month. The next flash point over voting laws will most likely be in North Carolina, where several voting bills had languished there this year as the Republicans who control the Legislature awaited the Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which had covered many counties in the state. After the ruling, some Republican lawmakers said that they would move as soon as next week to pass a bill requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls. And some Republicans there are considering cutting back on the number of early voting days in the state, which were especially popular among Democrats and black voters during the 2012 presidential election.


NC musicians write songs to support weekly protest (AP) -- North Carolina musicians have formed a new organization to record a compilation of original protest songs to support the weekly Monday protests organized by the state chapter of the NAACP against the policies of the Republican-controlled Legislature.


Bill Changes Charter School Expansion (WUNC-FM) -- Charter schools in North Carolina may soon be able to expand without getting approval from the State Board of Education.



'White History' sign could prompt changes in Hope Mills parades (WRAL-TV) -- Town officials are considering adopting tougher rules for participation in parades in Hope Mills after an entry in the Independence Day parade prompted complaints. Farmer Donnie Spell, who has driven his tractor in the Hope Mills parade for years, tacked a sign saying "White History Month – Hug Wht Ppl" to a trailer filled with watermelons that he pulled down Main Street during Thursday's event. Spell's tractor also featured a Confederate flag, which officials said he's flown before during the Independence Day parade.


Hope Mills officials receive complaints about offensive parade float (Fayetteville Observer) -- Several spectators at the Hope Mills Fourth of July parade have complained to town officials that they're offended by a float that appeared in the parade Thursday.


Ministers involved in 'Moral Mondays' call off talks with lawmakers (Charlotte Observer) -- One lawmaker’s effort to start a dialogue between Republican legislators and ministers active in the “Moral Monday” protests has ended abruptly after the ministers accused him of bad faith for disclosing the talks. Sen. Jeff Tarte, a Cornelius Republican, started the behind-the-scenes conversations in what he called a bid to find common ground. Twice he convened a group of 10 lawmakers and about a dozen religious leaders.


Gov. Tackles Controversial Issues (WLOS-TV) -- Gov. Pat McCrory took a break from touring storm damage today in Madison County to address this week's controversial vote on abortion restrictions. "Even if I agree with some of these issues, it's still got to be done right in the right way and right process," said McCrory. While visiting storm damaged Madison County Friday, McCrory criticized fellow Republicans in the state legislature "There was no notice to my health secretary about late night amendments to a very serious subject," said McCrory. His rebuke comes after GOP senators held a recent late night vote to pass a controversial bill some say would force nearly every abortion clinic in the state out of business. "I was critical of the Democrats when they did late night type of procedures without warning and I’ll be just as critical of the republicans when they do the same thing," said McCrory. The governor also tackled other controversial issues like his plan to close the Highway Patrol dispatch center in Asheville and whether that will affect public safety. "We'll be reviewing that and I promised the sheriff here that we'll be reviewing. I want to make sure I here all sides of the story before a final decision is made," said McCrory. The governor also speaking out on NAACP Moral Monday protests, saying he supports their right to assemble with one exception. "The only problem I have is when they blocking business from having to be done and breaking the law," said McCrory.


Gov. McCrory Tours Storm Damage (WLOS-TV) – Gov. Pat McCrory spent the morning touring flood ravaged Madison County. He got a firsthand look at some of the hardest hit areas on the western edge of the county. The governor makes it clear repairing the mess up is going to take some time. Gov. McCrory arrived in Madison County just before 8 a.m. He toured some of the worst hit areas with the sheriff and other elected officials. Then he met with D.O.T. leaders to discuss roads washed out or blocked by large rocks. Along the way, stopping to comfort residents who've suffered property damage from the relentless rainfall. Back at the local firehouse News 13's Mario Boone got a chance to ask Gov. McCrory when residents can expect state help. Gov. McCrory says, "our work crews are out here 24 hours. The dilemma is if rain continues, it's tough to repair something while it's still raining."


McCrory tours flood ravaged Madison County (WNCT-TV) -- North Carolina governor Pat McCrory spent part of the day touring flood damaged Madison County. The governor toured some of the worst hit areas with the sheriff and other elected officials. Heavy rains have washed away roads, damaged homes and crops in the county. The cost of the damage is expected to run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. "It's serious damage, that's first of all, we've got transportation damage, which I'm concerned about the safety of the people here, because we have shoulders of roads that are caving in, we've got mud slides and rock slides and if this rain continues it's going to be tough to repair it," said Gov. Pat McCrory, (R) North Carolina.


McCrory assesses rain, storm damage in the state (Mountain Xpress) -- Days of heavy rainfall in Western North Carolina are causing flooding and landslides in several mountain counties, damaging roads and impacting travel. Gov. Pat McCrory, state legislators, N.C. Department of Transportation engineers and local law enforcement toured some of the hardest hit areas in Madison County. They saw the storms’ impacts firsthand and talked with residents about their commitment to rebuild damaged roadways as quickly as possible. “We spent the morning checking in with residents of Madison County where storm debris litters properties and several roads were either impassable or damaged,” said Governor McCrory. “Sheriff Buddy Harwood took us to several hard hit areas and we are here to help.”


Are Brunswick County beaches as safe as they could be? (Wilmington Star-News) -- Some Brunswick beaches have beach patrols and ocean rescue squads, but no dedicated lifeguards.


Retired prison warden remembers the tumult of Velma Barfield execution (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A letter written by Velma Barfield, the first women to die of lethal injection, epitomizes what Jennie Lancaster sought to achieve during her career with the Department of Correction.


NC pension plan fares better than most states in Moody's report (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A new independent report that aims to provide a more realistic evaluation of state pension plans across the country rates North Carolina's funding gap as the sixth-lowest in the nation. Still, the report by Moody's Investors Service contends that the funding gaps of all the states are under-reported.


Federal officials to investigate retaliation complaint against UNC (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights will look into whether UNC-Chapel Hill retaliated against a student, Landen Gambill, who complained about the university's handling of sexual assault cases and later faced an honor court charge.


Former soldiers bring their leadership, experience to NC classrooms and beyond (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The Troops to Teachers program has produced more than 15,000 teachers, largely for high-need schools, since the program was started nearly 20 years ago. Anthony Kajencki, who teaches at Northern High School in Durham, is part of the program.



GE Aviation, state still working out details (Wilmington Star-News) -- Incentive package key to expansion in Wilmington, other areas


A Celebration of Cheese in North Carolina (New York Times) -- The Western North Carolina Cheese Trail showcases artisanal and farmstead cheesemakers in the state. The new Western North Carolina Cheese Trail plots out a road trip highlighting 10 artisanal and farmstead cheesemakers located across the scenic western wedge of the state.


K-9 takes a bite out of KFC robbery suspect (Wilson Times) -- A Wilson police dog bit a man suspected of robbing a KFC restaurant at gunpoint Thursday and restrained him until officers could take him into custody.


New Smartphone App Provides Guide To Outer Banks Beaches (WUNC-FM) -- Have you ever visited the North Carolina coast only to have a hard time finding the right public beach access? That’s the situation that Sara Brubaker found herself in when she moved to the Outer Banks three years ago. So Brubaker got in touch with the app development company Inductive Ideas LTD to find a solution to the problem. The result is a new smartphone app called Take Me to the Beach, a guide to Outer Banks beaches that provides information about public access, beach amenities, lifeguards, and distances from beaches to food and drink.


Not a big chugger: N.C. ranks No. 35 in beer consumption (Triangle Business Journal) -- North Carolina ships more beer than most states, but hop heads haven’t exactly taken over the drinking scene here.


Felon who rented car in Hairston case clarifies ties to UNC, athletes (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Haydn "Fats" Thomas, the convicted felon who rented the SUV that North Carolina basketball player P.J. Hairston was driving at the time of his arrest, has business ties to an adjunct faculty member at the UNC School of Dentistry



Duke Energy CEO wants pay-as-you-go construction (AP) -- The newly installed chief executive officer of Duke Energy Corp. wants to change how the utility is regulated in the Carolinas and Florida so that America's largest electric company can more easily pass along the cost of big power plants a little at a time.


Duke Energy Carolinas to face critics at rate hearing (Charlotte & Observer) -- When Duke Energy Carolinas goes to Raleigh next week for its latest rate hike hearing, the usual dry testimony will be spiced by claims the Charlotte utility is scamming consumers.


Battle Continues in a Documentary Sequel on the Perils of Fracking (New York Times) -- Josh Fox’s “Gasland” movies grew out of a company’s effort to pay him for exploration rights to his land, which lies above the Marcellus Shale formation.


Fracking chemical disclosure divides North Carolina officials (Facing South) -- Requiring public disclosure of chemicals used in fracking for oil and natural gas has proven to be a controversial issue in the states -- and in North Carolina the issue has pitted a regulatory commission against the state lawmakers who created it. Last week the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) voted unanimously to protest the state Senate's effort to take away its authority to set rules about fracking chemical disclosure. The legislature set up the commission last year after voting to allow fracking in the state and charged it with creating an oil and gas regulatory program.


NC regulators strike Greenpeace testimony on Duke Energy rates (Charlotte Business Journal) -- Regulators considering Duke Energy Carolinas’ proposed 5.1% N.C. rate hike won’t hear testimony from Greenpeace,


Rain causes flooding, landslides in western NC (AP) -- Several days of heavy rain are causing flooding and landslides in western North Carolina, where roads are closed because of storm damage.


Region farmers say they need at least a week without rain to dry out their fields (Fayetteville Observer) -- Cape Fear region farmers are hoping for a drier July after nearly a month of deluges dropped between 10 to 16 inches of rain across the Sandhills, leaving fields flooded and crops drowned.


Helicopter plucks stranded NC kayaker from river (AP) -- Authorities say rescuers from the N.C. Highway Patrol used a helicopter to pluck a marooned kayaker from the rain-swollen Haw River.


Swollen rivers keep water rescue crews busy (WRAL-TV) -- Water rescue crews were busy with distress calls Friday as people in kayaks, canoes and inner tubes hit area rivers for the holiday weekend. Above-average rainfall and strong storms in recent weeks means many area rivers are swollen and filled with debris.


4th person drowns in rip current off NC beach (AP) -- A fourth person has drowned off a Brunswick County beach, where the risk for rip currents remains high. Brunswick County coroner Greg White says 57-year-old Randall Joyce of Pfafftown drowned Thursday in the surf off Holden Beach.


N.C. beach drivers unhappy about pedestrian upgrades (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- Beach drivers and the National Park Service are at odds again. The agency seeks public comment on 29 proposed projects - including 15 parking areas and 11 handicap-accessible boardwalks - that would make it easier and safer to reach the beach along Cape Hatteras National Seashore.


Dwane Powell: Republican disdain for NC women unsealed (Raleigh News & Observer) – Cartoonist Dwane Powell just couldn’t sit out this legislative session, not with all the fun things to draw.



PAY TO PLAY: Speaker Tillis raises doubts as he raises money (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Republican State House Speaker Thom Tillis, gearing up for a U.S. Senate campaign against incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan, already has a big fund-raising operation in progress. That puts contributors in a good position for trying to influence legislation under consideration by the chamber Tillis rules.


Brad Wilson - UNC System Key to N.C.'s Future (Wilmington Star-News column) -- Among all our institutions in North Carolina, the university system has the greatest potential to guide us into a better future. It is up to us to ensure that it does.


Why NC shouldn’t put judicial seats up to the highest bidder (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- NC must maintain the public funding system established as a response to the US Supreme Court decision that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited funds to tell citizens for whom to vote. Such campaign funding is not mere speech; it is a means of gaining influence.


Holiday drownings provide a reason for towns to rethink approaches to safety (Wilmington Star-News) -- The towns in question also derive tremendous revenues from the people who visit their beaches


Sweepstakes halls face catch-22 (Wilson Times) -- Video sweepstakes halls operating in the city of Wilson have the worst of both worlds. On one hand, city officials will charge the businesses $1,000 for each computer monitor, a nuisance fee.


How NC tax-reform plans could fray safety nets that churches supply (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- The Senate bill and a proposal from the governor's office would require some sales-tax payments from the largest nonprofits; for churches, the primary effect would be on large construction projects. But we believe this sets a dangerous precedent


Short-sighted NC lawmakers cut funds to life-enhancing arts (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Don't NC legislators know that every dollar invested in Arts Council grants results in almost $20 created in the arts? Arts and cultural organizations and audiences generate more than $62.3 million in revenues for the state.