State Politics

Political news from around NC (and beyond).

U.S. House of Representatives

Voters head to the polls Tuesday for North Carolina's second primary where they will decide congressional races and a swing seat on the state Supreme Court.

One of the more competitive contests is in parts of the Triangle where two familiar elected officials are battling for one seat. It's the only race of its kind in the country - and redistricting is to thank.

On this episode of the WUNCPolitics Podcast, we take deep dive into the senate's budget, a shallower dive into some polluted reservoirs, and skim across the surface of some Congressional races. 

Managing Editor for News Dave DeWitt and reporters Jorge Valencia and Jeff Tiberii discuss the week's news.

Photo: Map of North Carolina
Flickr user Lindley Ashline

State Rep. Pricey Harrison, D- Guilford, wants to reinvigorate a bill to create a nonpartisan redistricting commission.

She joined a bipartisan coalition pushing for reform at a press conference last week.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie

Early voting is underway in North Carolina's second primary of the year. Two incumbent members of Congress face off against each other. Also on the ballot is a seat on the state's Supreme Court.

At the legislature, the Senate wraps up its budget proposal and lawmakers move behind closed doors to hash out a compromise between the House and Senate plans.

Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest.

Photo: Senate Leader Phil Berger  and Sen. Harry Brown
Jorge Valencia

Lawmakers in Raleigh are one step closer to finalizing a spending plan for North Carolina.

State senators on Thursday gave tentative approval to their version of the budget, with 33 Republicans voting in favor and 15 Democrats against. The plan would increase average teacher pay and would give pay raises for some state employees.

photo of the North Carolina Senate
Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC / Flickr

The North Carolina Senate reveals its version of the state's budget today.

Like the House plan, the Senate proposal raises teacher pay and other state employee salaries. And a Senate plan to change tuition structure at some state universities, including three historically black colleges and universities, is creating controversy. Plus calls for repeal of House Bill 2 continue with a rally of small business owners.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC capitol reporter Jorge Valencia about the latest.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The state Senate is debating its biannual spending plan this week.

Top Republicans are highlighting a modest increase in overall state spending. They’re also highlighting an average teacher pay raise of 13.5 percent, although details are still scarce on how the plan will provide for the increases.

photo of airport security lines
Kitt Hodsden / Wikimedia Commons

Memorial Day weekend is a peak travel time. And with more than two million travelers in TSA security lines over the holiday weekend, flying was as hassle-filled as driving.

Members of Congress have called for TSA reforms and the administration removed a top official last week. Are the changes enough to shorten the lines and keep the skies safe?

Host Frank Stasio talks with Time Warner Cable senior Washington reporter Geoff Bennett about the TSA challenges.

On this episode of the WUNCPolitics podcast, we play a rousing game of "Big Deal, Or No Deal?"

We will analyze Senator Phil Berger's plan for teacher raises, the House bill that revives the Coal Ash Management Commission, the presidential election in North Carolina, and much more.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie

High profile leaders from both sides of the political aisle try to move the state towards compromise on House Bill 2.

And at the capitol, lawmakers continue to negotiate details of the state budget. In particular, the two chambers do not have common ground on the amount and distribution of teacher pay.

And on the national stage, Trump says he officially has the delegates for the GOP nomination, and buzz continues about possible vice presidential selections.

Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest.

A picture of a coal ash pond.
Waterkeeper Alliance

State lawmakers are again wrangling with Governor Pat McCrory over coal ash cleanup.

The House has approved a bill reconstituting the coal ash management commission. Lawmakers organized this group once before. But McCrory sued fellow Republicans saying it usurped his power.

Photo: Senate Leader Phil Berger, a Republican from Rockingham County
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

A plan introduced Wednesday at the legislature by Senate Republicans would increase average annual teacher pay, and move North Carolina to the top of compensation in the southeast. The plan is significant in size, and represents a bargaining chip in the ongoing budget negotiations between the Senate and House.

Jorge Valencia / WUNC

It’s hard to imagine an industry in North Carolina that hasn’t somehow been affected by House Bill 2.  Restaurants say they’ve lost business. Hotels have seen conference organizers cancel conventions to protest the law. And start-ups say some investors are steering clear of North Carolina. But much of the work of dealing with the unwanted attention has been left to small businesses that don’t want to be associated with the law.

RuPaul's Drag Race, HB2, Equality NC, Race
Courtesy of Salima Al-Ismaili

Big name entertainers have canceled several North Carolina concerts and shows because of their opposition to House Bill 2.  But not RuPaul’s Drag Race, which performed Sunday in Durham.

Lots of fans for RuPaul’s Drag Race at DPAC came to see their favorite queen—men dressed as flamboyant women, for entertainment.

Faith leaders voiced their support of House Bill 2. The clergy also denounces comparisons between Civil Rights struggles and LGBT equality efforts.
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

A group of clergy convened in front of the State Capitol Building to stand in solidarity and support House Bill 2 on Tuesday morning.

The group of about 40 pastors - both black and white from across the state - spoke for more than an hour in the foreground of a George Washington statue.

photo of North Carolina State Capitol Building
Nathanial Johnson / Flickr

Last night, Charlotte City Council members declined to vote on a repeal of the nondiscrimination ordinance that prompted House Bill 2. The possible vote was part of a compromise deal with some state lawmakers.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie

 The countdown to the conventions is on. Just a short time ago, it looked like the GOP convention would be the stage for the most drama. But Donald Trump has steadily eliminated his competition. And now all eyes are on the democratic ticket. Will Bernie Sanders go all the way to the Philadelphia convention? And how does his decision affect Hillary Clinton's chances to once again reside in the White House? In North Carolina, lawmakers are working on the state's budget, but they do so against the backdrop of continuing controversy over House Bill Two. Does that affect their priorities?

The chambers of the NC State House
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

House lawmakers have given final approval to a budget proposal. The plan passed its most important vote 103 to 12 Wednesday night with bipartisan support. 

NC NAACP, Voter ID, Ben and Jerry's
Leoneda Inge / WUNC

North Carolina Central University was the back-drop for the unveiling of a new flavor of ice cream by Ben and Jerry’s.  It’s called “Empower Mint.”

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield stood side-by-side with North Carolina NAACP’s the Reverend William Barber to reveal the new flavor, with a voting rights theme.

Janet Cowell

The State Employees Association of North Carolina, or SEANC, wants Democrat Janet Cowell to resign --- either from her elected job as treasurer, or her newer, appointed positions to two corporate boards.

On the fourth edition of the WUNCPolitics podcast: three distinctly different views on HB2. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, UNC President Margaret Spellings, and high school student Hunter Schafer. They have very different ideas - and have reacted in different ways - to the law passed by the General Assembly in March. 

A SolarBee
Medora Corporation

The Department of Environmental Quality has pulled the plug on SolarBees.

DEQ says it's removing the devices from Jordan Lake. SolarBees have been churning water at several spots on the lake in an attempt to reduce algae blooms, but a report from DEQ says there has been no improvement in water quality. 

The agency is reevaluating other measures that would limit runoff from the surrounding area, but developers are pushing back. 

NC House Democrats Seek to Expand State LGBT Protections

May 11, 2016
rainbow flag
Ted via Flickr/Creative Commons

Democrats in the North Carolina House have filed a bill to expand state protections to include sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status and familial status.

Greensboro Representative Chris Sgro is one of the sponsors of House Bill 1078, dubbed the “Equality for All Act”.  He called it the most comprehensive set of non-discrimination protections ever introduced in the General Assembly.

Photo: UNC Board of Governors Chair Louis Bisette and UNC President Margaret Spellings
Jorge Valencia

The leaders of the 17-campus University of North Carolina system say they are not violating federal anti-discrimination protections by following the state’s new bathroom access law, and are seeking legal representation in a lawsuit against federal authorities.

Gov Pat McCrory speaks to reporters about the state's HB2 lawsuit
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has sued the U.S. government and the Justice Department, asking federal courts to clarify a controversial new state law that limits transgender access to bathrooms.

The Justice Department in turn filed its own lawsuit against the state, saying the law restricting use of public restrooms by transgender people constitutes a pattern of discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity.