Daily Dose

If you have a run-off in your district, don't forget to vote today.

Senate nixes House coal ash bill, negotiating next (AP) — Legislation designed to clean up coal ash ponds at Duke Energy power plants in North Carolina is now heading to final negotiations after the Senate rejected the House version of the bill.

Senate, House still can't agree on final coal ash bill (Greensboro News & Record) -- The Senate unanimously rejected the House’s version of the coal ash bill Monday night. Now, leadership in both the Senate and House will appointment members to negotiate a version of the legislation all sides can support. House members tweaked several parts of the law, including putting an independent coal ash management commission under the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources. House leaders also added a provision that would allow Duke to get an extension on some of the coal ash pond closure deadlines. “Those two things alone really damage this bill in my opinion,” Senate Rules Committee Chair, Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, told senators.

NC voters see runoff primaries in 37 counties (AP) — A harsh intra-party fight for a clear shot at an open North Carolina congressional seat that's played out with claims of cronyism, lying, and incompetence wraps up Tuesday, along with about three dozen other primary contests that lacked a clear winner in May.

An Obamacare disconnect in N.C. (Politico) -- North Carolinians came out in droves for Obamacare enrollment, signing up at a rate that beat nearly every other red state. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to come out for the law — or the Democratic senator who supported it — at the voting booth in November. More than any other state, North Carolina may represent the huge disconnect between Obamacare’s success in getting people health insurance and its failure to help the Democratic politicians who voted for the law.

Hagan improves in N.C. as fight for the Senate Up in the Air (Roll Call) -- The bottom line looks about the same in the fight for control of the Senate in November — but some of the pieces of the puzzle have moved around dramatically over the past few months. Republicans need a 6-seat gain to take over the Senate next year. Three Democratic-held Senate seats continue to be headed to the GOP: Montana and open seats in South Dakota and West Virginia. … As I have noted for months, Republicans have two other top-tier opportunities in Alaska and North Carolina, as well as an additional interesting opportunity in Colorado. … North Carolina is something of a question mark, with Democrats feeling more upbeat about their ability to hold it in the fall. Knowledgeable observers agree Sen. Kay Hagan’s numbers crashed toward the end of last year, but they have recovered somewhat, and, more importantly, Democrats have scored points against GOP challenger Thom Tillis. Tillis is the speaker in North Carolina, where the General Assembly is extremely controversial and has poor poll numbers. Hagan appears to have a modest but clear lead at this point, and she certainly benefits from the fact that the Tar Heel State has been very competitive in the last two presidential contests. Obama won it narrowly in 2008 and lost it narrowly four years later. The president, then, isn’t as much of a drag in North Carolina as he is in places like Arkansas, Louisiana and West Virginia. We have had this race rated as a Tossup but believe that Hagan has improved her position and note the financial advantage that she has over the challenger. We are moving the race toTossup/Tilts Democrat, only a slight move but one that reflects how the race has changed recently.

Rise of Southern Democrats (UK Progressive) -- In the battle of Democrats to keep control of the Senate in 2014 and win a substantial victory in the presidential election 2016, the new rise of Southern Democrats is a very big deal. … In the great battle for North Carolina, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) is fighting back and gaining strength against an attempt by radical right forces to complete a hostile takeover of an enlightened state with a diverse electorate. … New-generation Southern Democrats attract, and hard-right Southern Republicans repel many Hispanics, moderates and moderate conservative women, as well as black voters energized by dynamic new leaders such as the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP.

Tillis Campaign: Hagan Can’t Defend Her “Disastrous” Spending Record (N.C. Political News) — While the Kay Hagan camp says a new television ad “distorts” her record, Republican challenger Thom Tillis’ campaign says the Hagan campaign has been unable to refute any of the ad’s claims with facts. A press release from Tillis’ campaign goes on to say “That’s because the points made about Hagan’s disastrous fiscal record are absolutely true.”

Berger Fundraising (the insider) -- The campaign of Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, raised $260,000 in the second quarter of 2014 and has collected more than $1.4 million for the two-year election cycle.

SHORT SESSION, DAY 63; Overtime 15, $750,000
McCrory compares NC Senate leaders to Basnight, Rand (Charlotte Observer) -- Republican Gov. Pat McCrory Monday stood by his threatened veto of a Senate budget bill, and compared GOP Senate leaders to past Democratic leaders Marc Basnight and Tony Rand. “I think some of my Senate Republicans, when they got the majority, they’re trying to replicate (the Democrats),” the governor told WFAE’s Mike Collins. “That’s frankly the culture I wanted to change. I don’t think two to three legislators ought to have that much power … that’s the stuff (Democratic Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid does in D.C.” The governor criticized Senate GOP proposals to raise teacher pay by 11 percent while cutting teacher assistants and Medicaid. McCrory has sided with a House proposal to raise teacher pay 6 percent while leaving teacher assistants in place. The Senate plan, he told Collins, is “just not financially reasonable.”

NC budget talks remain slow on education, Medicaid (AP) — North Carolina budget talks puttered along Monday as House Republicans held a public one-sided negotiations meeting and Gov. Pat McCrory tried to keep pressure on senators to trim their teacher pay proposal.

House leaders: Budget gulf remains wide (WRAL-TV) -- At a House conference committee meeting Monday, negotiators reported no progress on the biggest issues dividing the House and Senate budget plans.

NC House, Senate still cannot agree on budget (Raleigh News & Observer) -- This week legislative budget negotiations are starting out looking a lot like last week with Republican senators skipping a House budget meeting and the lead House negotiator recapping the stalemate.

Teacher raises and coal ash ponds face N.C. General Assembly (Fayetteville Observer) -- Teacher pay raises, Medicaid health care for elderly, blind and disabled people, and the best way to clean up toxic coal ash ponds are three major issues that state lawmakers are striving to resolve as the N.C. General Assembly tries to shut down its 2014 session of lawmaking.

McCrory visits Morehead City (WCTI-VT) -- Gov. Pat McCrory was in Morehead City Monday and threw the ceremonial first pitch in the 2014 Coastal Plain League All-Star Game at Big Rock Stadium. But before the game, Gov. McCrory sat down to talk about state issues. The governor said he was optimistic about getting a budget deal done this week, but he said in no way would he support cutting more than 3,000 teacher assistant jobs. "Most of the House package as it stands at the moment was most of what I proposed except for now, another two percent or three percent increase. So I've moved from a three percent raise to a six percent raise but I'm doing it again without cutting teachers assistants," Gov. McCrory explained. He also talked about moving the State Bureau of Investigation from the Attorney General's Office to the Department of Public Safety. "I anticipate that bill being passed and the main thing I want to do is keep the politics out of the SBI. I have no interest in any political involvement in the SBI and the Department of Public Safety head is a former SBI agent who will have total control over that," said Gov. McCrory.

Governor Takes In Morehead City Baseball Game (WITN-TV) -- North Carolina lawmakers are still at an impasse over the state budget and Gov. Pat McCrory told WITN Monday he isn't backing down from plans to veto the NC Senate's proposed budget, which would raise teacher's salaries by an average of 11 percent. The governor is hopeful that a resolution is on the way, but he's holding steadfast to his position that an 11 percent raise for teachers at the expense of what he says would be laying off thousands of teacher assistants and cutting Medicaid recipients, is not the way to go about it. McCrory was in Morehead City Monday to take in the Coastal Plains League All Star Game and throw out the first pitch. The real hard ball being played is taking place in the capital over the budget. How to pay for an increase in teacher salaries is at the center of the negotiations. McCrory says, "We're having a disagreement on whether we should reduce the number of teacher assistants and I'm strongly opposed to that and opposed to reducing Medicaid services to the elderly, the disabled."

McCrory reaches out to NCAE for support for veto threat (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Trying to drum up support for Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget veto threat, his education adviser Eric Guckian sent an email to lobbyists for education-related groups, about a half dozen school superintendents, and N.C. Association of Educators leaders asking for backing.

McCrory: Airport belongs to city (Charlotte Observer) -- Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday reaffirmed his belief that Charlotte Douglas International Airport should stay in city hands and that politicians should “stay the heck out.” The airport, long run by the city, has been a source of contention since state lawmakers last year created an independent authority and then a commission to run it. The matter is tied up in court as both sides await a ruling by the Federal Aviation Administration. Though the House and Senate each approved a bill last month that clarifies the commission is a city agency, it’s still uncertain whether the City Council or the new commission will end up in charge of the airport.

Senate nixes House coal ash bill, negotiating next (AP) — Legislation designed to clean up coal ash ponds at Duke Energy power plants in North Carolina is now heading to final negotiations after the Senate rejected the House version of the bill.

Environmentalists wary as NC legislative session wraps up (Carolina Public Press) -- A slew of environmental provisions scattered through a handful of bills are, like the budget, likely to be settled this week in the hectic windup of the N.C General Assembly’s short session.

NC education bill would ditch Common Core (Hendersonville times-News) -- Just days before the N.C. House of Representative votes on a bill replacing the Common Core State Standards, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s education policy adviser visited Transylvania County parents and teachers to discuss Common Core’s history in the state. Jamey Falkenbury, director of operations at the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, gave a presentation Monday night at Food Matters Market in Brevard, detailing the inquiries into the Common Core that Forest’s office has made. He also discussed Senate Bill 812, which aims to take Common Core out of the state’s general statutes, and replace it with higher academic standards that the N.C. Department of Public Instruction can modify to meet the needs of students.

Advocates for autism treatment push bill before session ends (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Advocates for autism treatment are making one last push this legislative session to require health care insurers to cover behavioral therapy. Their hopes are on Senate Bill 493, which started life in the Senate as a regulatory bill about vehicle headlights and ended up – after going through the House – as a health and safety regulatory reform bill with a provision that requires insurers to cover the behavioral autism treatment up to $36,000 per year. The bill passed the House and has been waiting in the Senate for concurrence. With budget negotiations taking center stage, it is unclear whether the issue will be addressed during this legislative session. Nothing is likely to move through the Senate until the budget conference committee comes to a close, said Sam Blanton, a legislative assistant for Rep. Chuck McGrady, a Republican from Hendersonville who authored the autism provision.

NC lawmakers want review of abortion plate ruling (AP) — Republicans in the North Carolina legislature want the nation's highest court to review a ruling barring the state from issuing anti-abortion license plates unless they provide a similar option to pro-abortion rights motorists.

Poets piqued over governor's choice of laureate (Charlotte Observer) -- Gov. Pat McCrory's failure to follow protocol in selecting the new poet laureate of North Carolina has thrown the typically peace-loving literary community into a furor of what some might call epic proportions. McCrory's office on Friday issued a press release announcing Valerie Macon of Fuquay-Varina as the laureate who will serve a two-year term as "ambassador of N.C. literature." Joseph Bathanti, professor of creative writing at Appalachian State in Boone, fulfilled his term in June. The furor is not centered around Macon herself, who is 64 and works in Raleigh in the Department of Health and Human Services as a disability determination specialist. She's a New York native, a graduate of Meredith College in Raleigh and the author of two self-published books of poetry. No, the furor is about McCrory bypassing the protocol of a call for nominations by the North Carolina Arts Council. Each nominee has traditionally been asked to submit an application to the council that includes letters of recommendation; a list of publications, awards and honors; and a personal vision for the job. A committee of the state's leading poets, drawn from east and west and appointed by the council, then studies the applications and offers a recommendation to the governor. The governor has traditionally selected one of the recommendations. An email and a call to the governor asking why he failed to use standard procedure have not been answered. When asked who advised McCrory, McCrory spokesman Rick Martinez said that he did not know. Wayne Martin, executive director of the North Carolina Arts Council, said McCrory did not request the council's assistance. Martin said governors have asked the council for assistance when selecting the last three laureates.

McCrory picks poet laureate without input, rankles poetry community (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Gov. Pat McCrory’s appointment of the virtually unknown Valerie Macon as North Carolina’s new poet laureate has rankled many in the state’s poetry community.

McCrory bypasses N.C. Poet Laureate selection system (Charlotte Observer) -- Gov. Pat McCrory announced Friday that he's chosen a new poet laureate for the state of North Carolina to serve as "ambassador of North Carolina literature" for the next two years. She's Valerie Macon of Fuquay-Varina, a New York native, a graduate of Meredith College and long-time North Carolinian with two collections of poetry, "Shelf Life" and "Sleeping Rough." Both are chapbooks published by Old Mountain Press of Sylva, a company that advertises it's been "assisting authors (to) self-publish their books since 1992." Macon has won awards from the N.C. Poetry Society, the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poets Series and the Writers Guild, Inc. The surprise? Only that McCrory completely by-passed the time-honored process of selecting this prestigious position, which includes a state-wide call for recommendations to the North Carolina Arts Council. The nominated poets then have sent a portfolio that included poems, a vision for the position, awards, publications and honors. In recent years, a committee of poets appointed by the Arts Council, has studied the portfolios, voted on the nominations and sent its recommendation or recommendations to the governor. Traditionally, only then did the governor officially appoint the new poet laureate. Macon will succeed Joseph Bathanti, who has served as poet laureate for the past two years.

A self-published poet laureate? (Wilmington Star-News) -- Normally, when North Carolina’s governor appoints a new poet laureate, it draws about as much attention as the camellia judging at the county fair. Gov. Pat McCrory, however, isn’t getting a break.

Former poets laureate take high road on McCrory's appointment (Charlotte Observer) -- Many poets in the state are incensed that Gov. Pat McCrory bypassed standard procedure in selecting Valerie Macon of Fuquay-Varina as the new N.C. poet laureate, to follow the current poet laureate Joseph Bathanti and serve the state for two years. Macon, who's 64, and a graduate of Meredith College, has two poetry chapbooks that are self-published. Other poets laureate, in this state and throughout the nation, typically have a stellar list of publications, awards and honors. But two former poets laureate, Kathryn Stripling Byer of Cullowhee and Fred Chappell of Greensboro, want to help support Macon.

Sheriff says Hewett died after an altercation in jail (Wilmington Star-News) -- Whether the stun gun played a role in his death could be determined by an autopsy today.

'Suicidal male' call close to time of Hewett's death (Wilmington Star-News) -- New Hanover County 911 received a call Saturday about a suicidal male at the New Hanover County jail

Belhaven’s GOP mayor marches to DC to save hospital (Carolina Mercury) -- The Republican mayor of Belhaven, NC began an almost 300-mile march to Washington, D.C., Monday to advocate for Medicaid expansion and call on national leaders to intervene in the closing of Vidant Pungo Hospital. The critical access hospital, which provided emergency medical services to more than 25,000 people in Beaufort and Hyde counties, was shut down by Vidant Health on July 1 despite an agreement reached during federal mediation aimed at transferring control of the hospital to the town of Belhaven. The next closest hospital, also owned by Vidant Health, is 30 minutes away — a 90 minute drive from the center of Hyde County.

Study says changes to unemployment benefits hurting rural areas (Winston-Salem Journal) -- A series of General Statute changes to the state’s unemployment insurance benefits is proving more harmful than helpful, particularly in rural areas, according to a study released Monday by the N.C. Budget & Tax Center. The report by the left-leaning group cites three main issues with the sharp reduction in UI benefits, the latest of which took effect July 6 when the maximum number of weeks for new claimants dropped from 19 to 14 and the minimum from 12 to seven.

McCrory willing to review Medicaid expansion later (AP) — Gov. Pat McCrory says he'd be willing to consider expanding Medicaid in North Carolina through the federal health care overhaul law once the state's system is repaired after years of cost overruns.

McCrory: 'Door open' to Medicaid expansion (Washington Post) -- North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said Monday he would leave the door open to expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act if federal officials allow his state to craft a plan that fits its own individual needs. In an interview on WFAE, Charlotte’s NPR affiliate, McCrory defended North Carolina’s refusal to expand existing Medicaid programs until fixes are made. “We decided not to [expand the program] because first of all the existing Medicaid system in North Carolina is broken,” McCrory said. “I felt, before you expand something, why don’t you fix the services to those people in which Medicaid was originally designed.”

McCrory defends leadership, says he, not Art Pope, is boss on budget (New Bern Sun Journal) -- Asked whether his budget director, wealthy businessman Art Pope, would be the deciding factor on a budget veto, Gov. Pat McCrory said, “No.” Dispelling the often-voiced idea from critics that he is “Art Pope’s man,” the governor said: “He knows his numbers and where the skeletons are and where money has been hidden in the past and it’s very helpful. I make final decisions and my secretaries and budget director will go along. “We have healthy debate every Tuesday morning,” McCrory continued. “I consider him part of my cabinet. He respects the office of governor and my authority to make the final decision, and one of the reasons is his loyalty. He takes direction extremely well even when he differs. “He knows numbers. I need a numbers wonk — I used to say ‘nerd,’ but now I say wonk and I say that as a compliment. More governors need wonks who can actually count the money and be accurate about it. Art Pope is an important part of my team.”

No joke: Did Pat McCrory give Jon Stewart too much credit? (Charlotte Observer) -- When Pat McCrory was the guest on Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins Monday morning, a caller asked him if there was any progress on the film credit issue. Film credits are under fire by lawmakers who want to change the http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-KxEIZYNnOXM/U8RV6tZ0-hI/AAAAAAAAA5U/FK3VAVXe27U/s1600/Jon+Stewart.pngsystem, which now give production companies a 25 percent credit up to $20 million on qualifying expenses. A Senate proposal would award grants totaling $20 million, a third of the total of $61 million that the incentive program paid out last year. The House budget contains a similar provision but leaves final amounts to be negotiated with the Senate. McCrory wants a system of tax breaks more closely tied to film-related jobs and specific expenses. On Monday he said the Daily Show had received $400,000 in credits when it filmed in Charlotte during the 2012 Democratic National Convention. But the state Film Office lists a different amount. Citing a report from the Department of Revenue, it shows that the Daily Show got a credit of $273,346. The governor's office could not be reached. Supporters say the industry provides 4,200 full-time and over 15,000 part-time jobs, with economic benefits in the millions.

Is the key to a budget deal bologna? (WRAL-TV) -- Gov. Pat McCrory told a Charlotte radio station Monday that the key to a tax deal last year - a sandwich-fueled lock-in at the state Capitol - might be the trick to getting a budget deal done this year. He also left open the possibility that he would advocate for expanding Medicaid to cover more people in the future.

NC pastors call for support on marriage ban (AP) — Pastors from across the state will rally to call on Gov. Pat McCrory to defend traditional marriage before a Court of Appeals judge is set to rule on the issue.

KKK recruitment drive reaches Sandhills (WRAL-TV) -- Residents across the Sandhills have reported receiving fliers asking them to join the Loyal White Knights of the Klu Klux Klan.

Burr calls VA's fix 'smoke and mirrors' (McClatchy Newspapers) -- The Department of Veterans Affairs handled disability claims pending for two years or more in a way that made the backlog appear smaller than it really was, the department’s inspector general said in a report on Monday that was requested by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican from Winston-Salem, and several other senators. The Office of the Inspector General said VA regional offices were required to issue provisional ratings for certain types of older cases that needed more evidence. Provisional cases were removed from the backlog, even though the veterans hadn’t received a final decision. In addition, the investigation found that many claims in the sample that was reviewed were processed inaccurately.

McFarlane says Dorothea Dix negotiations should move faster (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane voiced concern Monday about slow negotiations over the Dorothea Dix property, two months after Raleigh's latest offer to buy the former state psychiatric hospital campus for a city park.

Feds, State and County Officials Argue Over Medicaid Application Backlog (N.C. Health News) -- Thirteen states, including North Carolina, have received letters from federal officials about their Medicaid application backlogs.

Two Triangle hospitals face Medicare penalties (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Two of the Triangle's biggest hospitals, WakeMed in Raleigh and UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, face several million dollars in Affordable Care Act penalties because they have allowed too many infections and serious health complications in Medicare patients.

Hagan Cosponsors Bill To Allow Students To Learn At Their Own Pace (N.C. Political News) -- U.S. Sen.r Kay Hagan announced she is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation that would allow students in institutions of higher education to learn at their own pace and progress once they have mastered academic subjects, rather than simply advancing students based on the amount of time they spend in a class. The competency-based education model would offer academic institutions flexibility in determining how they award credit and offer students more personalized learning experiences through opportunities such as online and blended learning, dual enrollment and early college high schools, and community-based learning.

NCDOT Asks Citizens How to Spend Billions of Dollars (Public News Service) -- North Carolina's Department of Transportation wants to hear about the aging bridge or two-lane highway you may utilize every day as part of your commute.

NC city bars 13 landlords for code violations (AP) -- The city of Fayetteville has barred 13 landlords from renting their properties for one year after they accumulated numerous code violations or failed to register under an inspection program.

Killion resigns from elections board (Wilson Times) -- Joel Killion resigned as board secretary of the Wilson County Board of Elections Monday at the request of the Wilson County Republican Party.

JCC students can no longer borrow money from the federal government (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Johnston Community College has opted out of federal student loans. Last year, about 20 percent of JCC’s students borrowed $7.5 million to go to school, which all disappears starting this month.

Tobacco Giants Reynolds and Lorillard to Merge in $27.4 Billion Deal (New York Times) -- Reynolds American agreed on Tuesday to buy its smaller rival, Lorillard, for $27.4 billion, uniting two of the country’s biggest tobacco producers in a bet that bigger is safer in a declining industry. Under the terms of the deal, Reynolds will pay $68.88 for every Lorillard share. Two other companies are also involved in the complicated transaction. The Imperial Tobacco Group plans to buy several billion dollars’ worth of brands — including Kool, Salem and Winston cigarettes and Blu e-cigarettes — from the combined company for $7.1 billion. And British American Tobacco, which already owns 42 percent of Reynolds, will buy additional shares to maintain that same level of ownership in the combined company and help finance the deal.

GE Aviation On Track For Record Orders (Wilmington Business Journal) -- Workers at GE Aviation’s plant in Castle Hayne will be busy for the next several years, thanks to a second record-breaking year of orders for the company’s jet engines.

NC doctor urges African-Americans to donate blood (AP) — A Charlotte doctor is appealing to African-Americans to donate blood to help battle sickle-cell disease.

72-year-old driver causes crash, raises questions (AP) — It's been almost two decades since Morgan Shepherd last ran a full Sprint Cup season, and his last national series victory was in 1993.

Cary may land 1,200 jobs – again (Raleigh News & Observer) -- An IT and engineering services firm is considering creating 1,237 new jobs in Cary. The project would be the second major economic development deal that the town has landed within the past 16 months.

Honeymooners on the way to the beach busted with meth lab in car (AP) — Two honeymooners heading for the beach have been arrested in Leland after police say they found the contents of a mobile meth lab and a cache of drugs in their car.

Historic Hillsborough inn may soon be history (WRAL-TV) -- What once was once the longest-running hotel in North Carolina might soon be history if the owner can persuade Hillsborough officials to let him demolish it.

WRAL achieves another technology first with 4K documentary (WRAL-TV) -- With it's documentary "Take Me Out to the Bulls Game," WRAL will became the first local television station to in the country to produce a program in the new broadcast technology called 4K, or Ultra High Definition.

Residents Voice Opposition To Fracking In Davie County (Winston-Salem Journal) -- John Caudle used to drink directly from the creeks and streams that cut through his family's property in Farmington. Pollution later crept in, making that an ill-advised move. Now, Caudle worries that hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, could further damage the area's creeks and pollute the air.

McCrory outlines visions for energy, transportation (New Bern Sun Journal) -- North Carolina’s governor hopes to move the state forward with help from natural gas energy from offshore drilling, fracking and a pipeline from Pennsylvania. Just back from the National Governors Association meeting where he was named to the organization’s nine-member executive board, McCrory was welcomed to Morehead City Monday by Mayor Jerry Jones and introduced by Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck. The governor was candid and direct in his comments and responses to questions from business leaders about tax reform, education, job creation, insurance, transportation and environmental concerns. “We have got to get lower cost energy to industry,” McCrory said. “We want to get natural gas exploration. There haven’t been tests in 25 years. Now tests exist to give readings.” New seismic technology can now be used to determine whether there is anything under the earth and sea to warrant fracking and offshore drilling here, the governor said. “We want to make it safe and sound and participate,” he said. “We may find out we don’t have any, but we’ve been sitting on the sidelines far too long inland and offshore. Then we can make the deals with the feds, business and environmental concerns, including beach re-nourishment.” McCrory said information now being circulated about the recent state law limiting the disclosure of information about the chemicals used in fracking “is an exaggeration of the law that is stirring up emotions.”

Environmentalists wary as NC legislative session wraps up (Carolina Public Press) -- A slew of environmental provisions scattered through a handful of bills are, like the budget, likely to be settled this week in the hectic windup of the N.C General Assembly’s short session.

Report: Apple gets greener, with help of N.C. data center (Charlotte Business Journal) -- Apple cut water usage by 20 percent at its state-of the art data center in Maiden, N.C., as part of the tech company's efforts to up its game on sustainable business practices.

Why Your Mac Is Using Less Dirty Energy (Green Tech Media) -- In March, Apple CEO Tim Cook made a bold proclamation to shareholders: If you don't like the company's environmental strategy, drop the stock. During an investor meeting, a lawyer with the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank skeptical of climate change, continued to challenge Cook about his company's environmental initiatives. Finally, after three questions, Cook responded. "We do things because they are right and just and that is who we are. [...] I don’t think about helping our environment from an ROI point of view," he shot back, receiving applause for the response. … Apple has been widely criticized for its failure to report emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an international nonprofit that tracks environmental performance for the largest investors in the world. But that has finally changed. Upon releasing its latest sustainability report this week, Apple also said it would start supplying its emissions data to CDP. It attributed the change in policy to shareholder demand for clearer data. … 20 Percent: That's how much water Apple saved at its state-of-the-art data center in Maiden, North Carolina by using a cooling system that reuses water 35 times throughout the facility. At campus facilities, Apple has achieved a 40 percent reduction in water used for landscaping. It also started implementing a company-wide conservation and recycling program. However, those efforts were no match for Apple's expansion plans, which boosted water consumption per employee by 9 cubic meters due to construction of a new campus.

1800s-era sunken logs are now treasure; here are the men who find them (LA Times) -- Hewitt Emerson stuffed himself into a wetsuit, took a deep breath and plunged from a barge into the murky black waters of the Edisto River.

The lowdown on fracking in NC (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Sometimes, the Answer Man column turns into a mini-dissertation. Today is one of those days, and fracking is one of those subjects. Here’s the question, with my smart-aleck response and the real deal.

Federation Hits Milestone on Lockwood Folly (Coastal Review) -- The N.C. Coastal Federation's recently completed oyster restoration project marks the end of years of work in the river, at least for now.

Duke Energy Progress acknowledges 'payment posting delay fiasco' (WRAL-TV) -- Customers of Duke Energy Progress are fired up about another issue - delays in when payments are posted. It wasn't the customer's fault, yet it triggered late fees.

A walk to improve health care (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- I am walking to Washington from our Vidant Pungo Hospital in Belhaven to highlight four issues:

Walk to Raleigh instead (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- I am baffled why the mayor of Belhaven would walk to Washington to save his hospital. He could save his shoe leather and sore muscles by walking instead to Raleigh and complaining to the governor and legislature.

No need to name an official poet (Richmond County Daily Journal) -- Maya Angelou, who died May 28 in Winston-Salem, is North Carolina’s most celebrated — and arguably most important — figure in contemporary poetry. While she was known informally as America’s poet laureate, she never held the official post of poet laureate consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress. She also never held the title in the Tar Heel State. Angelou’s work wasn’t diminished by the absence of a state seal on her letterhead. Her influence wouldn’t have been magnified tenfold if a governor or president had bestowed an honorary title. If anything, Angelou’s independence helped make her work more authentic and relevant. The enduring resonance of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” shows us that the power of the written word can surpass political power. North Carolina doesn’t need a government-anointed poobah of poetry.

Does the state really need this paid position? (Wilson Times) -- The governor’s pick for poet laureate has caused some head-scratching in North Carolina literary circles — but for all the wrong reasons.

Tempers flare; no budget in sight (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- Two weeks into the new fiscal year, the N.C. General Assembly seems no closer to passing a revised state budget than it was before legislators convened in May.

Landmark solution opportunity (Henderson Dispatch) -- Politics are and, regardless of belief in Common Core or displeasure with it, that’s a failing choice for our students. North Carolina’s not alone either — we’re one of 27 proposing to delay or repeal Common Core. Everybody wants strong standards. But thoughtful reasoning needs to rule over the politics, especially in a state with one education battle too many already consuming us and our state budget. Gov. Pat McCrory, he who has caught his britches on a fence post a time or two already, has changed his vocabulary. In June, he said repeal was not a smart move. This month he spoke of common ground, and he lamented current education woes getting linked to Common Core. He’s more right than wrong on both and with a better tone. Leading to the middle would be in touch with his moderate conservativeness. Currently, via the budget debacle, McCrory can be heard in the ears of educators who have loathed most everything Republican since Reconstruction. That’s a resource he needs to capitalize on. If he is indeed leading an economic comeback he hopes the nation notices, doubling down with a potential landmark education solution would make for an explosive summer success.

Brannon better choice in runoff (Winston-Salem Journal) -- The runoff election for the Democratic nomination in the 5th Congressional District has attracted little attention, but Democrats should still turn out today and vote in this one.

Hewett's death raises questions that law enforcement must answer ASAP (Wilmington Star-News) -- When an inmate – especially one as high-profile as former Brunswick County Sheriff Ron Hewett – dies in jail, the public naturally has questions.

Despite doomsayers, Obama leads a recovery (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A boost in jobs and a shrinking deficit are promising signs of an economic rebound.

When nobody hears the cries of poor, black women (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- After leaving her daughter on a subway platform in New York City, Frankea Dabbs has been cast as this summer's poster child for the pathological, sorely depraved black mother - a caricature that haunts black mothers living at the intersection of race, gender and class oppression.

Ruling shows why N.C. should change process (Fayetteville Observer) -- In district after district, from Congress to the General Assembly, many North Carolina voters will have little choice this fall.