Daily dose: Thom Tillis's handwashing moment edition

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Freedom is not washing your hands? US senator picks bad day for health joke (The Guardian) -- If ever there was a good time to crack a joke about dismantling the basic public health infrastructure of the United States, it was not this week, with top Republicans on Capitol Hill questioning the fundamental science of vaccines. But newly minted Republican senator Thom Tillis jumped in anyway, bragging at a public forum about a shining point he had made in a debate about regulations on business. As the video that started to go viral on Tuesday made all too clear, his not-too-serious idea involved employees who might not wash their hands.

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GIVE HIM A HAND

Where some see dirty hands, others see liberty (Washington Post) -- Once we’re done debating whether children should be vaccinated, we can move on to other pressing public health questions, such as whether eateries can force their employees to wash their hands after they use the bathroom. At least one freshman U.S. senator thinks “nah.” Because freedom.

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Sen. Tillis' handy guide to food safety (McClatchy Newspapers) -- The case against over-regulation of business by government may have officially just jumped the shark. Or, in this, case, the employee washroom. Consider the laissez-faire view of the intersection of economics and public health from Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, until now not known as a food safety expert.

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Tillis takes hands-off approach to government regulation (WTVD-TV) -- North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis finds himself awash in a public health discussion. The senator's hands off approach to government regulation sparked a debate about hand washing. "We're one of the most heavily regulated nations in the history of the planet," Tillis told audience members at a Washington, D.C. think tank on Monday.

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Thom Tillis on Burdensome Regulations (New York Times column) -- It is often hard to tell whether Republican legislators are joking, because so many of the things they say are unintentionally funny. So I don’t know whether Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, was trying to be a latter day Jonathan Swift or was perfectly serious when he said restaurants are over-regulated and should not be required to tell employees to wash their hands after using the toilet.

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Tillis on whether employees need to wash hands after bathroom use (CBS News) -- Freshman Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, has some complaints about the heavy hand of regulation on businesses. The cleanliness of that hand might not bother him, though, given his comments at a Q&A Monday at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

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NC State Senator Says Restaurant Workers Shouldn't Have To Wash Hands (Fox News) -- Is it too much government to regulate that workers in restaurants should wash their hands after bathroom breaks? Senator Tom Tillis says the market should take care of this issue.

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GOP senator: Forcing food workers to wash hands in bathroom not necessary (The Hill) -- A freshman GOP senator argued this week that the government should not require food workers to wash their hands after using the toilet, saying "the market will take care of that." Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) called routine hygiene rules an example of government overreach at an event hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center on Monday.

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Thom Tillis: Keep Government Out of the Bathroom (Roll Call) -- Freshman Sen. Thom Tillis likes to tell a story about why he doesn’t believe government should require coffee shop employees to wash their hands after using the bathroom.

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Senator: restaurant employees shouldn't be required to wash hands (AP) -- Congressional Republicans are challenging several health regulations, with one senator suggesting restaurants shouldn't have to make their employees wash their hands after bathroom visits. Such restaurants would have to prominently disclose their decision, and then would probably go out of business, said newly elected GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina. But they should have that choice, he said.

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Sen. Tillis' Hand Washing Remarks Draw National Attention (TWCN-TV) -- Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina drew national headlines Tuesday after comments regarding hand washing rules in restaurants. Tillis made the remarks at a program in Washington that aired on C-Span. He argued businesses should be allowed to opt out of rules like required hand washing after restroom breaks as an example of overreach by the government.

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GOP freshman Tillis not sure restaurants should be required to make employees wash hands (UPI) -- Freshman Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., is raising eyebrows around Washington after controversial remarks he made suggesting that requiring restaurant employees to wash their hands may constitute government overreach.

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Thom Tillis Wants Markets to Kill Germs (Public Slate) -- Freshman Senator Thom Tillis has told listeners at a Q&A event that he wants markets to kill germs instead of soap and water.

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Senator: Restaurant workers shouldn't have to wash hands (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Let the market decide whether restaurant workers have to wash their hands, not the government, says U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. Tillis has been getting a lot of notice, not all of it favorable, since he told a Washington think tank Monday that it would be better if the government simply required that businesses post a sign saying whether their employees wash their hands rather than requiring workers to lather up before they go back on the job.

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Senator Says Restaurant Employees Shouldn't Have to Wash hands (ABC News-Radio) -- You can walk into almost any restaurant bathroom and see a health-code mandated sign that reads “Employees must wash hands before returning to work.” But one senator is suggesting that businesses should be free to ditch that regulation. In a question-and-answer session Monday at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, argued that restaurants should be allowed to “opt out” of certain regulations – such as employees washing their hands. Such a rule, he says, is an example of how America is “one of the most regulated nations in the history of the planet.”

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GOP senator says feds shouldn't force food workers to wash hands (AL.COM) -- Anyone who has used a restroom in a restaurant has seen the sign: Employees are required to wash their hands. It's about hygiene, after all. That, however, is way too much government intervention, according to one freshman GOP senator. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, said the government should not require food workers to wash their hands after using the restroom, as long as they post a sign saying such hygiene practices aren't required.

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(Marketwatch) -- For North Carolina’s newest senator, having employees wash their hands is an issue the free market should decide.

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Sen. Thom Tillis Stumbles and Goes Viral out of the Gate (Camel City Dispatch) -- When it came across the wire this morning it looked like just another politician saying something stupid. Sen. Thom Tillis had told a group of students that regulations should be lifted from restaurants that require employees to wash their hands after going to the toilet. By Tuesday afternoon the story had gone viral and Sen. Thom Tillis had officially and very publicly embarrassed North Carolina for the first time since leaving the North Carolina General Assembly.

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Sen. Thom Tillis pooh-poohs hand-washing regulations (MSNBC) -- Sen. Thom Tillis’ constituents might want to think twice before shaking his hand. The Republican senator from North Carolina said on Monday that he’d support letting restaurants opt out of hand-washing requirements for employees.

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Tillis' hands get second look after comments on washing them (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Sen. Thom Tillis’ hand-washing regimen came under national scrutiny after comments he made at a forum in Washington this week. Tillis said requiring hand-washing in restaurants was an unnecessary government regulation at a Bipartisan Policy Center Q&A.

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LEGISLATURE 2015

McCrory ready for biennial speech to legislature (AP) — Gov. Pat McCrory is ready to give lawmakers and North Carolina television viewers his take on the first two years of his term and what he wants to accomplish in the next two.

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McCrory expected to focus on jobs in State of the State (WRAL-TV) -- When Gov. Pat McCrory takes the podium during his second State of the State address Wednesday night, lawmakers and analysts expect jobs to be, well, Job One. "In the meetings that I've had with him, that's what we're talking about," said House Speaker Tim Moore. "We're not talking about anything else. The governor seems to be genuinely concerned about the state of the economy and really wanting to send forth ideas to deal with that."

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McCrory's balancing act in State of the State (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory must thread a political needle in his State of the State address Wednesday night, between his instincts as a pro-business pragmatist and the GOP conservative base that dominates the legislature.

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Why This State Of The State Speech Might Be Different (WFAE-FM) -- Wednesday night, Gov. Pat McCrory will give the annual State of the State address. This is, of course, an annual event. But this speech could have more influence on North Carolina politics than in years past.

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McCrory Ready for Biennial Speech to Legislature (TWCN-TV) -- Gov. Pat McCrory is ready to give lawmakers and North Carolina television viewers his take on the first two years of his term and what he wants to accomplish in the next two.

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NC bills would rewrite redistricting method (AP) — Democrats and Republicans at the North Carolina General Assembly sought again on Tuesday to take most redistricting powers out of their own hands in the name of fairness and competitive elections.

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NC House Bill Would Do Rewrite on Redistricting Method (TWCN-TV) -- A bipartisan effort to take the pens for redrawing legislative and congressional districts out of the hands of General Assembly members is trying to build momentum with the legislature back in session.

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Redistricting bills face Senate resistance (Charlotte Observer) -- Lawmakers from both parties Tuesday renewed their effort to take politics out of one of their most politically charged jobs – redistricting.

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Bills would take politics out of drawing districts (Greensboro News & Record) -- Legislators show support for creating an independent redistricting commission.

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Senate seeks to bill DPI for lawsuit (WRAL-TV) -- The first bill taken in up a Senate committee this session would charge the Department of Public Instruction $100,000 for the state's legal fees to fight a DPI lawsuit.

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NC Senate panel OKs transfers for lawsuit, standards panel (AP) — The State Board of Education has sued a North Carolina government rule-making panel over whether the board must get the panel's approval on specifics of how it carries out public school policies.

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Senate Bill: $275,000 To Common Core Commission, $675,000 to Coal Ash Commission (WUNC-FM) -- State Senators are allocating money to fight a lawsuit and fund commissions. Here's how the money would be spent.

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NC House Democrats want incentives sweetened again (AP) — Democrats at the General Assembly say economic incentives in North Carolina need to be sweetened again so more middle-class adults can get better-paying jobs.

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N.C. Democrats to GOP: Let's work together to grow economy (Wilmington Star-News) -- Democrats say a bipartisan effort is needed if it wants to remain competitive with neighboring states and grow the economy.

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Lawmakers may disappoint veteran teachers again this year (WRAL-TV) -- Teacher turnover in North Carolina declined last year for the first time in five years, but a state Department of Public Instruction report shows an increasing percentage of teachers moving to other states or changing careers.

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Bill filed in response to State Fair accident (WRAL-TV) -- Lawmakers want to raise the penalties for illegally operating amusements like The Vortex ride that injured five people at the 2013 State Fair.

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2 new lawmakers seated at North Carolina General Assembly (AP) — Replacements for two North Carolina lawmakers who resigned last month have been seated at the General Assembly.

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POLICY & POLITICS

Burr, McCrory lead despite low approvals (Public Policy Polling) -- Pat McCrory and Richard Burr have mediocre approval numbers but lead their potential opponents for reelection next year who tend to have low name recognition. 41% of voters approve of the job McCrory is doing to 45% who disapprove, numbers almost identical to his 41/46 approval spread in early January (Full results here). This makes 19 polls in a row where McCrory's approval numbers have been under water. Nevertheless McCrory leads both of his potential Democratic opponents- it's a 44/39 advantage over Roy Cooper and a 44/34 one over Ken Spaulding.

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NC to get $21M as states, feds settle S&P ratings complaints (AP) — North Carolina will collect $21.5 million from credit rating agency Standard & Poor's in a nationwide settlement involving practices blamed for triggering the country's financial crisis, the state's attorney general said Tuesday. A large portion of the funds, Atty. Gen. Roy Cooper said, should be used to restore funding for the state’s scholarship for top students who want to become public school teachers.

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NC auditor: Better tracking needed on major IT projects (AP) — North Carolina state government does a poor job of keeping track of whether information technology projects are actually saving money, State Auditor Beth Wood's office said Tuesday.

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Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon indicted on voter fraud (Charlotte Observer) -- A Mecklenburg County grand jury indicted former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon this week on an election fraud charge stemming from an illegal vote Cannon cast last fall, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

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Ex-Charlotte mayor, indicted for casting illegal vote (AP) — Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon has been indicted for election fraud because he cast a vote in the November elections after he had already pleaded guilty to corruption.

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NC court: No basis for traffic stop doesn't bar license loss (AP) — A North Carolina appeals court says evidence tossed out of court in a drunken driving case can still be used to revoke a driver's license.

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Hundreds express opinions, most opposed, to NC poultry plant (AP) — Sanderson Farms says it is no longer planning to build a $95 million poultry processing plant in Cumberland County, but that didn't stop hundreds of people from turning out for a public hearing in which most speakers opposed the project.

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Fred Hutchins, legislator, longtime Triad attorney dies (Triad Business Journal) -- Fred S. Hutchins Jr., who spent decades as an attorney and judge in Winston-Salem, died Sunday at age 82. Hutchins was with the law firm Crumpler, Freedman, Parker and Witt until 2014, and he had also worked for other firms. From 1976 to 1986, Hutchins served as an administrative law judge for the state labor department. From 1973 to 1977, he served in the state legislature.

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Charlotte streetcar project recommended for federal grant (AP) -- President Obama's budget proposal includes a $75 million grant to expand Charlotte's streetcar project.

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GENERAL NEWS

Felix Sabates shutters Bentley Charlotte dealership (Charlotte Business Journal) -- NASCAR team owner and Charlotte Hornets investor Felix Sabates has closed his Bentley dealership after a little more than a year in business, citing seven-figure losses.

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Moore County hopes to score with industrial park (Fayetteville Observer) -- An industrial park shared by Moore and Montgomery counties is seeking to host companies that would supply an automobile factory if it comes to North Carolina, the head of Moore County's economic development organization said Tuesday. The two counties are working together on the 3,000-acre Heart of North Carolina MegaPark. Two thirds of the park is in Moore County, with the rest in Montgomery County.

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Charlie Sifford, first black PGA golfer, dies at 92 (Charlotte Observer) -- Charlie Sifford, a Charlotte native who would become the first African-American to play on the PGA Tour, died Tuesday in Cleveland. He was 92.

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SCHOOLS & UNIVERSITIES

Senate seeks to bill DPI for lawsuit (WRAL-TV) -- The first bill taken in up a Senate committee this session would charge the Department of Public Instruction $100,000 for the state's legal fees to fight a DPI lawsuit.

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NC Senate panel OKs transfers for lawsuit, standards panel (AP) — The State Board of Education has sued a North Carolina government rule-making panel over whether the board must get the panel's approval on specifics of how it carries out public school policies.

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Study finds disparities in local school funding (EdNC) – There is a large and persistent resource gap in public school funding between the highest and lowest wealth counties in the state, according to the annual study of local school finance the Public School Forum of N.C.

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NC school districts sweating release of performance grades (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Performance grades of A-F meant to give clear window into school accomplishment. Critics say grades will stigmatize schools with many low-income children.

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Official wary of grading schools (Greensboro News & Record) -- Superintendent says test-based system ‘not necessarily a fair reflection of the school.’

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NC school board sets conditions for online charter schools (AP) — North Carolina's statewide school board is nearing approval of the state's first online schools run by companies but leaning heavily on parents to guide students sitting at home.

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State Board of Education to vote on virtual charter schools (EdNC) -- When the State Board of Education meets on Wednesday and Thursday, they are expected to vote on approval for two virtual charter school applicants. What do you think? The General Assembly’s budget last session required the board to approve two virtual charter schools for a pilot program, which has led to speculation that the Board has no choice but to say yes to both of these schools.

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Entrepreneur High appeals to save itself (Charlotte Observer) -- A Charlotte charter school that closed its doors last month has appealed a state decision that would shut it down permanently.

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N.C. school advances training in collision repair (AP) — Auto manufacturers, collision repair chains, and insurance companies are helping a North Carolina community college launch a new training center promising good jobs.

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New Wake County raises geared toward veteran teachers (Raleigh News & Observer) -- In efforts to help recruit and keep teachers, the Wake County school board approved Tuesday pay raises targeted at the most experienced educators and took steps to provide more job security for younger teachers.

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GOLDEN LEAF: Scholarship program announced for North Carolina students (Washington Daily News) -- A nonprofit recently announced the kick-off of its scholarship program, for which it will award up to 215 grants to students attending public universities.

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2 school employees accused of stealing, pawning property (AP) — Caswell County sheriff's deputies accuse two school employees of stealing and pawning school property.

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The teacher shortage (Greensboro News & Record editorial) -- North Carolina is heading for a serious teacher shortage, judging by the number of students enrolled in UNC education programs. It’s down 27 percent over four years.

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Union Co. school board member Marce Savage resigns (Charlotte Observer) -- Marce Savage has resigned, and had been under fire by fellow board members who had raised concerns over her expenses. The resignation was announced at the end of a lengthy board meeting by the school board chairman.

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THE SPILL

Vice mayor calls for legal action again Duke Energy (Danville Register & Bee) – Danville Vice Mayor Gary Miller is calling on Duke Energy to keep its promise of a year ago to compensate the city for the impact of the coal ash spill last year. During the Danville City Council meeting Tuesday night, Miller pointed out that the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors is considering legal action against Duke Energy, and suggested the city do the same.

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Duke Energy CEO addresses Wilmington Chamber (WECT-TV) -- Duke Energy's CEO told Wilmington business leaders Tuesday that the Dan River coal ash spill, which happened just over a year ago, had a “profound” impact on the utility company. Lynn Good, the head of the nation's largest electricity provider, provided the keynote address at the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce's annual banquet. “The issues at Dan River over the last year have been challenging for the company and we've worked actively to address them as quickly as possible,” Good said. “And our hope and expectation is that we will continue to earn the trust and confidence of our customers and communities everyday as we go forward.”

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In NC, too little action on coal ash (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Every day, 3 million gallons of polluted coal ash water flow into North Carolina rivers from Duke Energy’s coal ash lagoons. Every day, groundwater is being contaminated. Every day, there is the risk of another catastrophe. It is long past time for DENR and Duke Energy to act to clean up North Carolina’s coal ash mess and protect all 14 communities and rivers across North Carolina.

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CEO: Duke Energy making 'great progress' (Wilmington Star-News) -- Duke Energy is making "great progress" toward long-term solutions to closing its coal ash basins, the utility's president and CEO said following a speech Tuesday at the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce's 148th annual meeting.

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Duke CEO speaks at chamber's annual meeting (Wilmington Business Journal) -- At Wilmington Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting Tuesday, a year and a day after news broke of the spill from Duke Energy’s coal ash pond into the Dan River, company president and CEO Lynn Good acknowledged that Duke has considerable work to do.

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ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

Dems call for more incentives to boost NC economy (WRAL-TV) — House Democrats on Tuesday called for a renewed commitment to providing incentives to businesses to bring jobs to North Carolina … including for renewable energy production.

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Duke Energy update: Green power program going slowly (Charlotte Business Journal) -- Duke Energy continues to find its plans for providing large customers with renewable energy under special contracts a long slog, but the company tells regulators interest in the pilot program remains strong. In its first annual filing for the Green Source Rider, approved in December 2013, Charlotte-based Duke says it is in negotiations with data centers, manufacturers and college campuses as potential customers.

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DOE selects for Solar Energy International for military base training (Solar Daily) -- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is piloting an intensive solar workforce training program-Reach for the Sun-to provide transitioning military personnel the highest quality professional skills.

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Low Energy Prices Offer Opening for Subsidy Cuts (New York Times) -- Middle Eastern and developing countries have long kept oil cheap for political reasons, but a new global energy picture presents an opportunity to stop.

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Ocean Isle Applies for Groin Corps Permit (Coastal Review) -- Town leaders are now banking on the construction of a 750-foot terminal groin to fend erosion on the east end of the island.

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EDITORIALS

An effort to put elections back in voters’ hands (Charlotte Observer column) -- One of us is a Democrat in the state Senate, the other is a Republican in the state House. There’s plenty we disagree on. But something big is bringing us together: It’s time for North Carolina to move to an independent redistricting system.

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Petty politics should not have forced Howard out (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Experience, hard work and service count. The new state House leadership would have done well to remember that lesson. It’s disappointing to hear that long-time Republican legislator Rep. Julia Howard of Mocksville has been removed from committee leadership positions in the state House, as the Journal’s Richard Craver reported last week. She will no longer serve as senior chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, in addition to losing leadership posts on the Ethics Committee and the Program Evaluation Oversight Committee.

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A Punch in the Gut to Small Business (Southern Pines Pilot) -- What does North Carolina need more than anything else right now? Many observers would say the answer is economic development.

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Money for courts should be NC priority (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Legislative leaders have said today’s $200 million shortfall is a pittance within the overall state budget. If that’s the case, they should have no trouble finding the $30 million that Mark Martin is requesting to shore up one of our state’s most essential components.

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Tillis: Kill handwashing rules for restaurants (Charlotte Observer) -- Our newly minted U.S. Senator Thom Tillis has found himself at the center of a viral video today.

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