State Politics

Political news from around NC (and beyond).

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

House lawmakers have approved a bill that would bring North Carolina closer to allowing a controversial natural gas extraction practice known as "fracking." Senate Bill 709 would also approve studying the potential of drilling for natural gas both on land and offshore. The measure would also require officials to set up the regulatory framework needed to produce the resource. Proponents of the bill say it would make the state more independent of foreign oil. But Democratic Minority Leader Joe Hackney says this measure would move too fast.

President Obama at Cree
Brent Kitchen

Business and political leaders gathered in Durham this afternoon for a visit by Barack Obama. He spoke at CREE manufacturing, a company that specializes in L-E-D lighting. Mr Obama announced a plan to train 10 Thousand new American engineers every year. The president's Jobs and Competitiveness Council took tours and met with business leaders earlier today. According to North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan, the president's plan is a step in the right direction.

Perdue Vetoes Budget

Jun 13, 2011

Governor Bev Perdue has vetoed the budget sent to her by the North Carolina General Assembly. The decision comes a week after the Republican-led House and Senate passed the bill, sending it to Perdue's desk. It's the first time in state history that a governor has vetoed a budget passed by the Legislature. Speaking from the Capitol's old Senate chamber yesterday, Perdue said the bill would hurt public education, the environment and health care.

Legislative Update

Jun 10, 2011
Governor Bev Perdue
governor.state.nc.us

There's been a flurry of activity at the legislature this week as lawmakers work to get their measures approved in time to be considered. The Republicans control both the House and the Senate, and they are taking significant steps toward shifting North Carolina policy to the right. Meanwhile, Gov. Bev Perdue considers the budget, which calls for steep cuts to public education.

Lawmakers have approved a controversial bill that would limit the amount of monetary damages for patients harmed by emergency room doctors' malpractice.

In most cases, the bill would cap a physician's malpractice responsibility at five hundred thousand dollars for death, disfigurement, permanent injury or loss of a body part. Republican sponsor Johnathan Rhyne says the measure is the result of a bipartisan effort between lawmakers. 

 Lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved a measure that would lift the cap on charter schools in the state. 

The legislation is the result of nearly two months of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans. Democrat Joe Hackney is the House Minority Leader. 

Joe Hackney: "Many of us rebelled at many of the provisions of what I'll call the long version bill of earlier in the session. So for many on our side this bill comes as a relief."

Lawmakers in the state House have approved a bill that would impose specialized counseling and a 24-hour waiting period on women who seek abortions. The measure would require that they receive state sponsored information about the procedure and alternatives to it. It would also mandate that the same health providers performing the abortion offer the woman an ultrasound beforehand. Republican Representative Ruth Samuelson of Charlotte is a sponsor of the measure. 

A group of African American residents in Brunswick County have taken their claims of environmental injustice to court. 

The Royal Oak community has a history going back to slavery.  Today, there are about 300 African American residents living in this unincorporated section of Brunswick County.  But their community also houses a waste transfer station, a sewage treatment plant, the animal shelter and the county’s only landfill.  Lewis Dozier is president of the Royal Oak Concerned Citizens Association.

Gov. Bev Perdue
Office of the Gov.

  Governor Bev Perdue and state education officials are touting the state’s improved high school graduation rate  - and criticizing Republicans for making cuts. 

Gov. Bev Perdue
bevperdue.com

  Governor Bev Perdue is studying the budget plan sent to her over the weekend by the Republican controlled General Assembly. It spends about $500 million less than the budget she proposed. 

 Lawmakers in the state House have approved a bill that would allow companies offering small loans to increase their interest rates. Jessica Jones reports the companies often target military customers. 

Earlier today, lawmakers in the state Senate tentatively approved a 19-point-7 billion dollar spending plan for the next two years. The framework of the plan was a reworked budget proposal released earlier this week after negotiations between Republican leaders in both the House and the Senate.

Republican budget writer Richard Stevens was the first lawmaker to speak about the plan- otherwise known as House Bill 200- on the Senate floor earlier today. He told his colleagues that he and other Republicans have produced the kind of plan they promised they would.

 Republican leaders in the legislature have come up with a new budget they hope members of both parties will pass. 

Two bonds being considered by the Raleigh City Council may end up on the ballot this fall. If passed, they would total $52 million for transportation and housing projects.

The transportation bond would be the largest, at $37 million. It would include the usual road paving projects, but for the first time, a transportation bond would also include money for greenways and bike lanes. Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker explained the need when he gave his state of the city address in March.

Democratic leaders at the legislature say they're unhappy with the Republican-authored Senate budget proposal that would cut Smart Start. It's a nationally recognized early childhood program for low-income families across the state. The Senate plan would strip funding for the program by 20 percent, as does the House budget proposal passed a few weeks ago. But the Senate proposal would also dissolve the parent organization that oversees Smart Start and shift its administration to the Division of Child Development. Democrat Joe Hackney is the Minority Leader in the House.

Republican leaders in the state Senate have released a $19.4 billion dollar budget that would still make deep cuts to education. The Senate plan would give more money to public schools and universities than a House plan passed a few weeks ago, but community colleges would receive less funding. The proposed Senate budget would also lower personal income taxes, exempt small businesses from paying some taxes and establish merit pay for teachers. Phil Berger is the President Pro Tem of the Senate.

A bill that opponents of abortion rights have pushed for years is moving through the state legislature. House Bill 854, known as the "Woman's Right to Know Act," would mandate counseling, a waiting period, and an ultrasound before a woman could receive an abortion. Supporters of the bill say the measure would give women more information to make an informed choice. But opponents say the measure is designed to intimidate women.

 The governor and Republican legislative leaders have reached an agreement on how to fund the State Health Plan.

 Governor Perdue vetoed a health plan bill last month because she wasn't happy with the idea of teachers paying premiums. Under that plan, all state employees would've had to pay premiums for the first time. But now the governor and Republican leaders have agreed not to charge healthy workers any premiums at all.

Durham health officials want to ban smoking in a number of public places, including all county and city grounds, athletic fields, playgrounds, and bus stops. Gayle Harris is director of the Durham County Health Department.

State senators have passed a bill that would promote a controversial method of extracting natural gas popularly known as fracking. Senate Bill 709 would also open the coast to offshore natural gas drilling in conjunction with other states. Republican Senator Bob Rucho is the bill's main sponsor.

 State lawmakers have passed a measure that would make it harder for cities and towns to build their own Internet broadband systems. 

 The controversial bill passed the Senate earlier this week and returned yesterday to the House for concurrence. Supporters say it's not fair that municipalities don't have to follow the same regulations that commercial providers do. But a few Democratic lawmakers still fired whatever shots they could at the measure. Democrat Bill Faison represents Caswell and Orange counties. 

Lawmakers in the state House have tentatively approved a 19 billion dollar budget that makes deep cuts to education and health care. 

 Legislators debated the Republican penned budget for nearly ten hours yesterday. Republican representative Mitch Gillespie of Marion told colleagues it's the most responsible budget that could be put together in a slow economy. 

State senators have tentatively passed a bill that would make it more difficult for municipalities in North Carolina to build their own Internet broadband systems. 

 Right now a handful of municipalities across the state provide their own internet broadband services to residents at subsidized rates. But cable companies are wary of the do-it-yourselfers. They say it's not fair that municipalities don't have to follow the same regulations to set up broadband services.

Surry County communications operators are testing a developing 911 call system to improve emergency response networks. A grant program is funding a test system called Next Generation 911 from Greensboro-based Synergem Emergency Services. Surry County communications director Roger Shore says the system allows 911 operators to field calls more efficiently.

State senators have passed a new bill that attempts to close a 500 million dollar shortfall in the state health plan. Governor Bev Perdue vetoed an earlier health plan bill two weeks ago, saying teachers weren't consulted about the premiums workers would have to pay, along with other costs. The new bill would also require workers to pay premiums, but with some changes. Republican Senator Tom Apodaca is the bill's main sponsor. 

Charles Meeker
charlesmeeker.com

  Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker will not seek another term in office this fall. He made the announcement earlier today. 

Charles Meeker is known for staying very calm under pressure and not letting his emotions get the best of him. This morning, though, he cracked a little when talking about the success of his pet project - the opening of Fayetteville Street.

Transportation officials are slowly opening new lanes this week on Interstate 40 in west Raleigh. It's part of the North Carolina Department of Transportation's long-term plan to expand freeways in the Triangle. DOT spokesman Steve Abbot says the section of I-40 between Harrison Avenue and Highway 1 will widen from four lanes to six.

Steve Abbot: "That is one of the biggest bottlenecks of traffic in the Triangle and we widen that just to alleviate traffic, make things safer and help traffic flow better. We are on target to be finished about the end of June of this year."

Republican lawmakers have completed many spending recommendations that are part of crafting next year's budget.

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.

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