Politics & Government

Political news

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.

House lawmakers have passed a measure that would restrict the ability of state officials to go after corporations that may be underreporting their income in the Tar Heel state.

Republican Majority Leader Paul Stam says House Bill 619 will help create jobs by encouraging companies to do more business in North Carolina.

Paul Stam: "The passage of this bill is probably more important to the economic development and prospects of this state as far as seeking investment from other states or even other countries than everything else we do in economic development."

Lawmakers in the House have voted to nullify a 2009 law that allows death row prisoners to contest their sentences on the basis of racial bias. The law, called the Racial Justice Act, allows a judge to commute a condemned prisoner's sentence to life in prison if he or she determines the case was tainted by race. Republican representative Justin Burr says the law has forced prosecutors to spend too much time reviewing old cases.

Lawmakers have passed a bill that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls.

State senators passed the bill as expected last night, but not before more than an hour of spirited debate. Republican Buck Newton told lawmakers requiring voters to bring ID with them to the polls will help combat instances of fraud.
 

Lawmakers in North Carolina's legislature have officially overturned Governor Perdue's veto of a Republican-penned 19-point-7 billion dollar budget. The Senate voted to reject the governor's veto this afternoon. House lawmakers voted to override after midnight early this morning. Republican Senator Richard Stevens is a lead budget writer.

North Carolina lawmakers are considering a bill that would require drivers under 18 to log 120 hours behind the wheel before getting a license. A parent or other qualified adult would have to sign off on the log. However teens could wait and get their licenses without taking driver's education classes when they turn 18. Lawmakers say the bill comes from recommendations by a task force charged with reducing teen highway deaths. State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Greer Beaty says the agency supports parents' involvement in teaching their children how to drive safely.

House lawmakers voted early this morning to override Governor Perdue's veto of a Republican-penned 19.7 billion dollar budget.

Pages