Politics & Government

Political news

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

North Carolina cities and counties would be prohibited from being “sanctuaries” for people living in the country illegally, under a bill tentatively approved by the Senate on Thursday.
 
The plan would prohibit local governments from directing their police officers to not collect people’s immigration information and report it to federal authorities. Senate Republicans gave the initial nod in a largely party-line vote of 34 to 11. The House of Representatives would have to agree before sending the bill to the governor.
 

Former U.S. Congressman Barney Frank
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr Creative Commons/ USDA

Representative Barney Frank served in Congress for more than three decades.

His momentous career was marked by personal and political achievements; he was the first member of Congress to voluntarily come out as gay, he helped bring about the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and he co-authored the far-reaching Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. 

Jorge Valencia / WUNC

Bill Would Ban The Sale Of Fetal Tissue From Abortions

Republicans in the Senate's rules committee cleared a bill on Wednesday  that would ban the sale of fetal tissue from abortions.

House Bill 297  is a reaction to a national controversy after an anti-abortion group’s undercover videos suggested Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue from abortions.  

NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

A long overdue state budget is now in place. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill on Friday, more than six months after he released his own budget proposal.

The approval officially ended a stalemate that extended budget negotiations nearly three months beyond the fiscal year deadline. 

The governor says he got about 90 percent of what he wanted, but a few items were left on the table.

The Forgotten Angolan Massacre

Sep 23, 2015
A shot of Luanda, the capital of Angola
David Stanley / Flickr Creative Commons

On May 27, 1977, an uprising within Angola’s ruling Marxist-Leninist party, MPLA, turned into a national massacre. Hundreds and possibly thousands of Angolans were murdered.

Lara Pawson, a former BBC correspondent in Angola, learned about the massacre and was determined to uncover the truth. She discovered how the trauma from 1977 still affects Angolans today. A nationwide chilling effect furthers the government’s goal of hiding this event.

The chambers of the NC State House
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

The North Carolina House and Senate approved on Tuesday afternoon a long-awaited plan to overhaul the state's Medicaid system. The proposal could affect more than 1.5 million people who receive health care through the publicly-funded program, but it could take years for it to be fully implemented.

Top Republicans celebrated on Tuesday as they passed a proposal they've been working on for four years. Medicaid serves about 1.8 million people who qualify as low-income or disabled, almost one fifth of the state population.

North Carolina Legislature passes a tax reform bill.
W Edward Callis III

A package of economic incentives aimed at luring businesses to North Carolina is one vote away from reaching the Governor’s desk.

The Senate swiftly approved the bill on Tuesday, while the House gave a tentative approval, 84-24, after a lengthy and lively debate.

The plan would increase funding for the Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program from $15 million to $20 million a year.

It could go as high as $35 million if the state attracts a large project, like an auto plant, that invests at least $500 million and adds at least 1,750 jobs.

A picture of a voting sign.
Tom Arthur / Wikipedia

Volunteers hit the streets for National Voter Registration Day Tuesday, asking neighbors if their registration is current.

There are 6.3 million voters registered in North Carolina. Whether they are all registered in the counties they plan to vote in come Election Day is a different story.

Josh Lawson of the State Board of Elections says many voters have shown up at the polls in the past to find they weren't actually registered in the county they planned to vote in.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

North Carolina senators acted Monday on two plans that could have a wide impact on charter schools and the state's business recruitment efforts, and debated a plan to issue $2 billion dollars in bonds to renovate and put up new buildings. A recap: 

$2B Bond Package Focuses On Colleges And Universities, Leaves Out McCrory's Highway Plan 

State Senators unveiled a plan to borrow $2 billion in bonds for building construction and renovation.

NC General Assembly; State Legislature.
Dave Crosby / Flickr Share-Alike

The North Carolina legislature gave final approval to a $21.7 billion budget early Friday morning. The vote ended a stalemate that pushed budget negotiations three months past their original deadline. The final deal maintains funding for teacher assistants, cuts the income tax rate to 5.5 percent and expands the sales tax. 

NC State House
NCGA

Following 11 weeks of waiting, dozens of closed-door negotiations and an undetermined number of offers, proposals, phone calls, arguments, lobbyist exchanges and dinner deliveries - we have a budget deal.

"This budget is a net tax cut," proclaimed House Rules Chair David Lewis (R-Harnett) on the floor Thursday night.

"We know this is a good budget, there is a lot of stuff in this budget we like."

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Gov. Pat McCrory said this morning he will sign the budget compromise the state Senate approved this week.

The House is expected to give the $21.7 billion spending plan final approval tonight or tomorrow morning before it heads to the governor's desk. 

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

This summer, North Carolina lawmakers unveiled controversial education proposals - like ending funding for driver's education, and slashing money for teacher assistant positions to pay for more teachers. After months of press conferences, closed-door negotiations and loud floor debates, lawmakers released details of their budget deal this week. Below are some of the K-12 education highlights: 

Taxes
www.irs.com

Politicos across the state are sifting through the 429-page budget bill - as well as the generally easier-to-follow 207-page money report - after its release late Monday night. The spending plan for the two fiscal years beginning July 1 is complicated, dense, and spotted with policy changes - including money for Medicaid reform and changes to the tax code, among other provisions.

Jorge Valencia

Last month, volunteers from North Carolina and across the country gave free dental treatment to refugees near Turkey’s border with Syria. The trip had been organized by Deah Barakat, one of the three young Muslim Americans killed in Chapel Hill February of this year. After Deah and Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha were fatally shot, Project Refugee Smiles received more than half a million dollars in donations. The group of volunteers treated more than 700 people.

An imafe of a Bernie Sanders rally
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

After giving speeches in Georgia and South Carolina over the weekend, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders got on stage in front of a crowd of more than nine thousand people in Greensboro Sunday evening.

He pumped up the audience to the song "Rockin' In The Free World" by Neil Young, a tune that seemed  fitting for a rally.

“Alright, are you guys ready to make a political revolution?” Sanders asked on stage followed by an enthusiastic "Yeah!" from the crowd.

North Carolina State Legislature
Dave Crosby / Flickr

Republican legislative leaders say they're getting closer to reaching a deal on the state budget and will likely vote on it next Wednesday or Thursday.

On Twitter, Republican House Speaker Tim Moore wrote that he met with Senate Leader Phil Berger until midnight on Tuesday, trying to craft a final spending plan.

Senate budget writer Harry Brown says the House and Senate have come to terms on most of the budget items, including spending for driver's education. 

An image of Jeb Bush speech
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush gave a speech just south of Raleigh on Wednesday, outlining a tax overhaul proposal that he says would spur economic growth by dramatically lowering corporate and personal income taxes. 

Bush, speaking in the warehouse of a Garner manufacturing company, laid out a plan that he said would encourage businesses to invest domestically and would end income tax liability for millions of low-income households.

About 1.8 million people in North Carolina receive healthcare through Medicaid. The program provides for those who are low income and is funded by federal and state dollars.

A recent state audit found that the organization overseeing most Medicaid patients has saved taxpayers more than a billion dollars since 2002. Still, state lawmakers have been poised for years to overhaul the system, and it appears now that a deal is close.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

North Carolina lawmakers say they need more time to reconcile differences about the state budget.

They passed another continuing resolution yesterday that funds the government through September 18.

It's the third time they have had to create a stop-gap spending measure since the fiscal year started nearly two months ago.

Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina has again hinted at requesting a vote to remove House Speaker John Boehner from his position. 

State Senator Tom Apodaca
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

State lawmakers continue to negotiate a state budget and are touting improvement, but are also asking for additional deliberation time.

Policymakers announced progress on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon. Senator Harry Brown (R-Onslow) said subcommittees now have target spending amounts, and an agreement on salary adjustments for state workers has been reached in principal.

Charmaine McKissick-Melton at a ceremony for Sigma Tau Delta, an English honor society.
Chi Brown / NCCU Office of University Relations

In 1963, the Durham School Board extended the desegregation of schools to elementary school students. Third-grader Charmaine McKissick-Melton and her brother, Floyd Jr., were two of the first African-Americans to integrate North Durham Elementary School.

NC General Assembly
Jorge Valencia

Republican leaders in the state house and senate have finally reached an agreement on at least part of the state budget.

They have made a deal that sets the budget at $21.735 billion. They still need to iron out agreements on state employee raises and funding for teaching assistants.

  Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC Capitol bureau chief Jeff Tiberii about the latest.

U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) focused on national security at a Raleigh luncheon Thursday afternoon. The 20-year veteran of Congress has ascended to Chairman of the Intelligence Committee. He has spent this week in North Carolina talking to donors and constituents. Among the topics were:

- The proposed nuclear deal with Iran:

"I don't think the American people are for this. I think the opposition will continue to grow. And I think that over time if this happens this will be looked at as a foreign policy disaster - of this administration."

Aeyron Scout drone
creative commons

More drones could soon take to skies across the state.

Lawmakers approved legislation Wednesday that paves the way for local government and civilian permitting of unmanned aerial vehicles.

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