Politics & Government

Political news

Brookridge ribbon cutting
DHIC, Inc.

  Low-income people in Wake County got access some more housing options this week when officials dedicated a supportive housing development. Brookridge is a neighborhood of 40 studio apartments in south Raleigh.

Residents make 50 percent or less of the area's median income. Program manager Annemarie Maiorano says the development supports a population that is susceptible to becoming homeless or falling back into homelessness.

Home and business owners who file insurance claims in the wake of last weekend's storm and have a dispute with their insurer could be eligible for a state mediation program. 

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin activated the program earlier this week in anticipation of problems as many people put in claims for storm damage. 

Spokeswoman Kerry Hall from the state Department of Insurance says her office is starting to get calls from people with questions:

State house lawmakers have tentatively passed a controversial tort reform bill.

Senate Bill 33's Republican sponsors say capping non-economic damages for patients who're suing their doctors for malpractice would help create a friendlier climate for doctors to come to the Tar Heel state. They say the measure would rein in skyrocketing insurance costs for doctors. But Democratic representative Bill Faison- who's a well-known plaintiff's attorney- disputes that. 

Governor Bev Perdue says she's thankful the White House moved quickly to send federal assistance to North Carolina. 

Right now residents of ten counties qualify for low-interest federal loans or FEMA grants to repair their homes and businesses. Governor Perdue says she could have asked that more counties qualify, but it would have taken longer for federal assistance to come to the state. 

 State representatives have tentatively passed a reworked version of a bill that would move oversight of the state health plan from the legislature to the treasurer's office. 

State lawmakers have not come to an agreement over restoring unemployment benefits for 37 thousand people across the state.

Republican leaders in Raleigh say they plan to try to override the governor's veto of a bill that would have extended federal unemployment benefits. The governor vetoed the measure Saturday because it was tied to a provision that would've required her to cut next year's budget by 13 percent. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger says he thinks the governor made a bad decision. 

State lawmakers have voted to extend unemployment benefits for North Carolinians for up to four additional months. But the measure would also force the governor to accept a spending cut.

 Both the House and the Senate have now passed House Bill 383. It would extend unemployment benefits for about 37 thousand workers who otherwise would stop receiving their checks as of Saturday. Republican Paul Stam is the House Majority Leader.

The Department of Public Instruction will put cameras on school buses to identify drivers who don't stop when children are getting on or off the bus. State law requires drivers to stop when a school bus has its "stop arm" out. The pilot program will help identify the license plates and drivers of vehicles that fail to stop. DPI Transportation Services chief Derek Graham says the cameras will help law enforcement catch "stop arm" violators.

Lawmakers at the General Assembly have begun rolling out suggested budget cuts. It's part of the process of putting together the state's spending plan for the next two years. But with an estimated shortfall of about two billion dollars, cobbling together a budget this year is more painful than usual. That's especially true in the area of education, which takes up 60 percent of the state's budget.

This morning Democratic Representative Marian McLawhorn of Grifton was sitting in her office, reading through two official-looking packets that are already a little dog eared.

A state trust fund that provides money for water pollution cleanup could shrink significantly under the budget proposed by the state House. That's according to Richard Rogers, the Chief Executive of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. He says the House budget appropriates 10 million dollars to the trust fund, 80 percent less than the 50 million proposed by Governor Bev Perdue in her budget.

The North Carolina House has proposed budget cuts that include more than $170 million from public safety agencies. Part of that spending plan would eliminate nearly 400 jobs from the court system. Officials say services like drug courts and family courts would have to make significant cutbacks. John Smith is the director of the state Administrative Office of the Courts.

John Smith: "We were prepared to reduce our positions by as many as 200 positions and felt that we could continue to provide the services. This will be double that."

State senators have pardoned a Reconstruction-era governor who was impeached and driven from office nearly a century and a half ago.

Kay Hagan On The Budget

Apr 7, 2011
Kay Hagan
hagan.senate.gov

Congressional leaders and the White House have yet to reach an agreement to keep the federal government running. The current spending plan runs out at midnight tomorrow. Congressional leaders met at the White House Thursday afternoon and planned to meet later in the day. They need to strike a deal that can be agreed to by the President, the Republican-controlled House, and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Governor Perdue and the Republican-led legislature are entering what may be the public beginning of a contentious relationship.

At the beginning of this year's legislative session, the governor and Republican leaders pledged to work together in the spirit of cooperation. But the governor says she's tired of seeing lawmakers introduce and debate bills that have nothing to do with an enormous looming budget deficit of around 2 billion dollars.

Lawmakers in the state House want voters to decide on a constitutional amendment restricting the terms of the leaders of the General Assembly.

The Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate are currently allowed to serve as many two-year terms as they are able- as long as they keep winning the support of their chambers. But House Bill 61 would change that. Republican representative John Blust is from Greensboro, and says

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