Tuesday News: Put up or shut up


HOUSE COMMITTEE DEMANDS EVIDENCE TO BACK UP TRUMP'S WIRETAPPING CLAIM: The Trump administration asked Monday for more time to submit evidence to the House Intelligence Committee to back up President Donald Trump’s claim that President Barack Obama had wiretapped him in the waning days of last year’s presidential campaign. Jack Langer, the House committee’s spokesman, said the panel had agreed to extend its Monday deadline but asked that whatever evidence the administration had be submitted before the committee’s first open hearing on Russian election meddling, now set for next Monday. “If the committee does not receive a response by then,” Langer said, “the committee will ask for this information during the March 20 hearing and may resort to a compulsory process if our questions continue to go unanswered.”

LIVE COVERAGE OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY SAUSAGE-MAKING: Among the meetings WRAL.com plans to carry live online Tuesday are the following: House Education meets at 10 a.m. to take up House Bill 322, which will modify North Carolina's school performance grade systems. The bill would place more emphasis on the amount a student learns during the school year rather than testing. That would mean more schools would be more highly rated under the school grading system. House Judiciary II meets at 1 p.m. to debate House Bill 63, the Citizens Protection Action, a bill meant to discourage illegal immigration. The state Senate will take up Senate Bill 75, a constitutional amendment that would cap the state's income tax rate at 5.5 percent. The state's current tax rate is 5.499 percent. If the bill passes the House and the Senate, voters would then have a say on whether to add the measure to the North Carolina constitution.

BERGER'S BLOATED STAFF BUDGET UNDER SCRUTINY: According to the Raleigh News & Observer, Berger released his staff’s salaries this week in response from a public records request from the newspaper which had previously published salary records for Speaker of the House Tim Moore’s staff and for the staff and Cabinet secretaries of Gov. Roy Cooper. The report states that Berger has more full-time employees and has a slightly higher total payroll than Moore. Berger’s office includes 15 permanent staff members earning a total of $1.07 million.

OP-ED: RUN NC LIKE A BUSINESS, ADOPT PLAN TO BOOST PUBLIC EDUCATOR PAY, STICK TO IT: Any business management consulting firm examining the way our public schools operate would conclude that the employees are vastly underpaid. When no one debates our 50th in the nation rank in principal pay – 50th! that’s a problem. It’s embarrassing. Teacher pay ranks 41st in the nation, and that’s certainly no way to run a successful business. North Carolina must do better. Like any other business looking to compete and be the best, North Carolina public schools need to have a nationally competitive teacher and principal compensation plan. Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget proposal is a move in the right direction -- to be the best in the Southeast in three years and at the national average in five – recognizing that those exact figures will change over time. Teachers on every step of the salary schedule get a pay boost. Those with the most experience are valued, not penalized as under previous legislative compensation plans.

NC ATTORNEY GENERAL JOSH STEIN DEFENDS JOURNALISM AT OPEN GOVERNMENT COALITION: N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein spoke to journalists and government employees Monday at Elon University, describing the current climate amongst politicians and reporters as “uncharted territory in modern history in the United States.” Stein, the keynote speaker at Sunshine Day, an event held by the N.C. Open Government Coalition, affirmed the work of journalists in preserving democracy. “We have a president who not only says the media is the enemy of the people, he asserts that stories not to his liking are fake news,” Stein said. “He keeps CNN, The New York Times and Politico at arms’ length at briefings, and at the same time he embraces marginal organizations that fit his political ideology.” A Democrat, Stein described how some public information archivists were racing to download federal databases for fear the data “could be taken down any day” under President Donald Trump’s leadership, among other examples of how his administration is allegedly holding truth and objective facts in a relatively low regard.