State Politics

Political news from around NC (and beyond).

A picture of a yellow NCDOT truck.
ncdot.org

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is expanding its driver assistance patrols to interstate between major cities. The Incident Management Assistance Patrol, or IMAP, has increased its number of yellow trucks on areas between Charlotte and Raleigh. That includes Davidson, Randolph, and Rowan Counties along I-85. IMAP directs traffic in the event of major accidents and helps with broken down vehicles to improve congestion. Sam Whittington is the Regional Instant Management Engineer for the Triad.

Women in North Carolina will soon be required to undergo state counseling, an ultrasound and a 24-hour waiting period before getting an abortion. That’s according to a new law passed yesterday by state legislators. The governor had vetoed the “Woman’s Right to Know Act” during the regular legislative session, but the North Carolina House overrode that veto yesterday by one vote.

North Carolina lawmakers have finalized new redistricting maps for the state senate and for 13 congressional districts. Jessica Jones reports the new boundaries are expected to benefit Republicans.

The GOP-drawn maps for the state House, state Senate and the U.S. Congress are now law. It's estimated the newly drawn Congressional map could get several more Republicans elected to Congress.

Many Democrats are opposed to the newly drawn boundaries, saying they crowd African-American voters into special districts so their vote won't have as much influence.

The state Department of Transportation has awarded a contract for what it says is the most cost-effective plan to build a new Bonner Bridge. The existing bridge that connects Hatteras Island to the northern Outer Banks is nearly 50 years old and cost the DOT more than $26 million to repair over the last decade. The contract awarded to PCL Civil Constructors and HDR Engineering is the cheapest of the three proposals at $216 million, but also got the lowest technical score from state officials.

State lawmakers in the House have overturned the governor's veto of a bill that would place additional restrictions on abortions.

Legislators voted 72 to 47 yesterday to resurrect the bill. It would require women to receive state counseling and an ultrasound before undergoing the procedure. Republican representative Ruth Samuelson is one of the bill's sponsors. She says the measure will help women make better decisions.

Fiscal policy experts and money managers came together today at UNC-Chapel Hill to debate the country’s impending debt crisis. 

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan told the crowd – it’s time for shared sacrifices as the country gets close to hitting its 14-point-3 trillion dollar debt ceiling.

Kay Hagan:  "And I think that’s where the public is going to have to get involved and say, you know, Washington, it’s time to put those partisanship battles aside, this is serious stuff."

State lawmakers have overriden two of Governor Perdue's vetoes during a special session today.

Lawmakers are back in session to vote on proposed redistricting maps as they do every ten years. But they're also working to resurrect a number of bills the Governor red-stamped earlier this year.

Local election season officially gets underway today. Candidates are able to file for election in both Wake and Durham.

The most crowded race is expected to be for Mayor of Raleigh. Incumbent Charles Meeker has announced he will not seek re-election. That has opened up the field to a number of candidates.

A state legislative committee has approved congressional and state Senate redistricting maps, which are redrawn every ten years.

The Republican-led committee approved the maps earlier today. But committee leaders got into testy exchanges with Democrats, who accuse Republicans of crowding African-American voters into more districts to dilute their statewide vote. Democratic Senate Leader Martin Nesbitt tried to get Republican Senator Bob Rucho, chair of the Redistricting committee, to admit to what's known as "packing."

State lawmakers have officially introduced new proposed congressional and legislative maps as part of the redistricting process.

North Carolina's U.S. senators say they're on board with a new proposal to decrease the national debt. A bipartisan proposal released Tuesday from a group of six senators would attempt to cut the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. The plan from the so-called "Gang of Six" cuts spending from the defense budget, Medicare and Medicaid. It also increases some tax revenues. Democratic Senator Kay Hagan says she supports the proposal.

A ruling by a State Superior court judge has revived the battle over the state budget.

Members of Congress from North Carolina are weighing in on the talks in Washington about the debt ceiling. The country could default on its debt after August 2nd if a deal isn't reached between Congress and the White House. Much of the impasse centers around taxes. Second district Representative Renee Ellmers says she is with her Republican colleagues who say tax increases are off the table.

The Bonner Bridge connects Bodie and Hatteras Islands on the Outer Banks
ncdot.org

State officials are accepting bids today for construction of the new Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks. The span will be built just to the west of the current bridge over the Oregon Inlet. Victor Barber works for the North Carolina Department of Transportation. He says three companies will submit bids with the winner being chosen by late this afternoon.

The town of Chapel Hill is cracking down on residents who illegally park their cars in their front yards. Town officials say citation officers will start giving out tickets for those who violate the town ordinance at the beginning of next month. The issue came to light after residents reported widespread violations in the Pine Knolls and Northside neighborhoods. Rae Buckley of the Chapel Hill planning department says those areas are popular among UNC students who rent houses. But she says lawn parking causes concern for permanent residents.

A bison on RG Hammonds' farm in Lumberton roams close to his golf cart
Leoneda Inge

There’s a section of eastern North Carolina where the Lumbee Indians call home.  The Lumbee have a long history of farming and ranching.  But just like African American and women farmers, they were discriminated against by the federal government.   And just like those groups – Native Americans filed a class-action lawsuit – and won. This week – lawyers are back in Pembroke, North Carolina helping the Lumbees file their claims for long-awaited compensation. 

Map Draws Ire, Praise

Jul 8, 2011

Every ten years, a state legislative committee draws up new maps for Congressional districts, as well as for state senate and representative.
And every ten years, those who draw up the maps call them fair, while their political opponents cry gerrymandering. It seems to happen here more than anywhere. Many analysts and political watchers call North Carolina the most gerrymandered state in the country.

A Raleigh task force has recommended a $300 million light rail route for the downtown area. It's part of a proposal from Triangle Transit Authority to complete commuter train and light rail systems from Orange to Wake Counties by 2025. Eric Lamb is Raleigh's transportation planning director. He says the proposed route leaves the existing tracks at Morgan Street and splits into two tracks that wrap around the Capitol Building at Wilmington and Salisbury Streets.

People across the state will have a chance to speak out on the latest Congressional redistricting map. Public hearings are being held today in 7 locations.

Since it was released late Friday, the map has generated more than a little partisan political bickering. Republicans are calling it fair; Democrats say it’s gerrymandering at its worst. State Senator Bob Rucho is the chair of the legislative committee that drew the map. He says this redistricting process has been much more open than in years past.

Preparations are being made to pay thousands of dollars to Native American farmers and ranchers who were discriminated against by the U-S-D-A.

Voters in Durham County will decide on a half-cent sales tax designed to increase revenue for a future rail line in the Triangle. Commissioners voted unanimously last week to place a referendum on November's ballot. It would raise more than $18 million to fund Triangle Transit Authority's proposal for a train network connecting Chapel Hill to Garner. Wake and Orange Counties decided to put off referendums until next year. Durham commissioner Ellen Reckhow says it makes sense for the county to take the lead on the project due to its central location in the Triangle.

North Carolina's newly proposed Republican-drawn congressional districts would make it challenging for several Democratic incumbents to keep their seats.

Governor Bev Perdue has now made decisions on all the bills on her desk. Perdue vetoed four bills before last night's midnight deadline.

If you're keeping score, that's 15 vetoes for the Governor this legislative session. The latest group includes a bill that would have allowed more exploration of offshore oil drilling. It also would have allowed hydraulic fracking, a controversial method of natural gas extraction.

A state audit has revealed further details of financial mismanagement at NC Central University. The report shows that the director of the Historically Minority Colleges and Universities Consortium diverted more than a million dollars to a secret fund only she controlled.

The proposed move of a federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement office in Cary is raising hackles among some residents. ICE officials want to move from a Cary business park to another location. One of the sites being considered is in a shopping center where a supermarket was housed. Susan Moran is a spokesperson for the town of Cary.

Susan Moran: "If the ICE facility were to relocate there and be more than 12 thousand square feet, and that building is 59 thousand square feet, it would absolutely violate the zoning conditions for that area."

Governor Perdue has vetoed a bill that would have required women seeking abortions to receive extensive counseling and an ultrasound before the procedure.

Victims of North Carolina's April tornadoes are entering their last week to apply for disaster aid. The Federal Emergency Management Administration extended the deadline from last week to July 5th. The extension came after the state said less than a quarter of victims who claimed they needed assistance had submitted applications. Officials also added Alamance County to the list of North Carolina disaster areas last week. North Carolina Emergency Management spokeswoman Julia Jarema says some residents are still assessing the damage done to their homes.

Eugenics Victims Speak

Jun 23, 2011

Between 1933 and 1974, the state of North Carolina sterilized thousands of people in an effort to supposedly improve society. About 76-hundred men and women were lied to, coerced, or forced into medical procedures that left them unable to bear children, often when they were children themselves. This spring Governor Bev Perdue convened a task force to study the issue and determine how to compensate victims who are still living. That task force met in Raleigh yesterday to hear those victims’ stories.

Educational experts testified in a Wake County courtroom yesterday in a hearing over how the state's recently passed budget will affect North Carolina's schools.

Public Health Cuts in State Budget

Jun 20, 2011

State public health leaders are regrouping after the budget passed last week, determining how to do more with less.

At first glance, it seems like the state's division of public health got a big bump - going from 160 to 190 million dollars next year. But state Health Director Jeff Engel says that's a one time infusion, as state budget writers eliminated the Health and Wellness Trust Fund and shifted this year's allocation to his department.

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