State Politics

Political news from around NC (and beyond).

The 2011-2012 legislative session begins today.

The North Carolina Department of Insurance will hold a public comment session in Raleigh this morning on possible insurance rate increases. The North Carolina Rate Bureau, which represents all the insurance companies doing business in the state, filed a request to raise rates an average of 20.9 percent for this year. Kerry Hall is a spokeswoman for the Insurance Department.

The city of Raleigh is one step closer to banning smoking in public parks.

The City Council voted 6-to-2 to move towards a ban on smoking in city parks. The ban would apply to city parks like Pullen near NC State’s campus, but not to Moore and Nash Squares downtown, which are state parks.

Mayor Charles Meeker proposed the ban, saying it is a health and litter issue. The two council members who voted against it say it will be too difficult to enforce.

Raleigh will spend about $25,000 to put no smoking signs up at all city parks.

The US Food and Drug Administration will require certain tobacco products introduced or changed after February of 2007 to be reviewed by the agency. Tobacco companies will have until March 22nd to apply for products to be approved as “substantially equivalent.” That means the products pose no added risk to smokers than products already available in early 2007.

David Howard is a spokesman for the Winston-Salem-based R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company:

Ellmers Sworn In

Jan 5, 2011
Renee Ellmers
Ellmers campaign

North Carolina's newest Congresswoman, Renee Ellmers, was sworn in Wednesday along with the rest of the 112th Congress. Ellmers, who's a Republican, defeated longtime Democratic incumbent Bob Etheridge in the 2nd district. This is the first elected office she's ever held. She says all the pomp and circumstance is great, but she's ready to get to work. Her first priority is repealing the President's healthcare reform bill.

Basnight Steps Down

Jan 4, 2011
Marc Basnight
Laura Leslie

The longest-serving Senate Leader in North Carolina history is stepping down later this month.

New Rules For Officials, ABCs In 2011

Jan 1, 2011
NC State House
NCGA

The New Year today brings some new state laws with it, including tighter ethics rules for public servants.

Starting today,  members of powerful state boards and commissions have to disclose campaign donations they made and any fundraising they did for the officials who appointed them.

New State Laws For 2011

Dec 31, 2010
NC State House
NCGA

The New Year tomorrow will bring with it some new consumer protection laws and tax credits.

As of tomorrow, state law will ban lenders from auctioning off the foreclosed homes of active duty servicemembers.  Insurance companies will be required to provide hearing aids for children.  And real estate appraisal management companies will come under stricter state oversight.

North Carolina joins other state and local governments in fighting fraud and crime thanks to technology developed at SAS Institute.

Governor Bev Perdue thanked SAS over and over for its expertise in advanced analytics technology.  She says in these tough economic times it saves the government money to be able to improve public safety and reduce fraud.

Perdue says she remembers taking her concerns about Medicaid fraud to SAS:

2010 Census Results

Dec 21, 2010

Today, the first round of 2010 U.S. Census results will be released. States are anxiously waiting to find out if they get a new congressional seat or not.

I guess you can say today is Apportionment Day. Apportionment is the process dividing the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives among the 50 states.

Wayne Hatcher is the Census Regional Director based in Charlotte.

" In 2000 the state of North Carolina gained one additional district, the 13th district for the state.  It’s a big deal to gain a district, it’s a big deal to lose a district as well."

The U.S. Senate may take up the DREAM Act tomorrow. The immigration reform bill aimed at students is likely to be opposed by both North Carolina senators.

The Dream Act is a bi-partisan bill first introduced in Congress in 2001. It passed the U.S. House last week  It allows the children of illegal immigrants to attend college or enter the military, with the opportunity to pursue a path to legal citizenship. 

Perdue Undecided On Video Gambling

Dec 16, 2010
Bev Perdue
Laura Leslie

Governor Bev Perdue says she has not yet ruled out the possibility of asking lawmakers to legalize and regulate internet gambling.

Perdue To GOP: Walk The Walk

Dec 16, 2010
Bev Perdue
Laura Leslie

The new Republican majority hasn’t even taken power in the statehouse yet, but Governor Bev Perdue is already asking them for favors.  At a hearing Wednesday, Perdue urged lawmakers to limit the length of their sessions, and set up an independent panel to handle redistricting.

GOP Seeks Current-Year Cuts

Dec 16, 2010
Thom Tillis
NC General Assembly

The state legislature isn’t back in session till January. But incoming Republican leaders are asking Governor Bev Perdue to start cutting spending now.

At a special budget meeting Wednesday, leaders of state agencies painted a grim fiscal picture, projecting that next year’s revenue will fall around $3.7 billion short.  That means lawmakers will either have to raise revenue or cut spending by about 20%.

Senate Dems Stay With Nesbitt

Dec 14, 2010
Sen. Martin Nesbitt
NCGA

Asheville Democrat Martin Nesbitt will be leading the Senate Democrats in their first session as a minority party in more than a century.

Senate Dems To Choose Leaders

Dec 14, 2010

State Senate Democrats will meet in Raleigh today to do something they haven’t done in more than a century – choose a minority leader. 

Current President Pro Tem Marc Basnight has led the Senate for 18 years -- the longest-serving legislative leader in state history. But last month’s elections put an end to his tenure. When the Senate convenes in January, Democrats will be in the minority for the first time since Reconstruction.

The wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards is being laid to rest today.  Hundreds of supporters and some protestors have vowed to gather outside the service.

Elizabeth Edwards is being remembered as a mother, wife author and role model for many across the country.   It’s her celebrity that is drawing a radical, anti gay protest from Kansas to Raleigh.  George Reed is the executive director of the North Carolina Council of Churches. He says hundreds of people have joined the council in denouncing Westboro Baptist Church.

A coordinated effort among law enforcement, schools, and non-profits would help to combat the impact of gangs in Guilford County. That’s according to a study presented today by UNC Greensboro. Youth Focus, a non-profit for at-risk youth is one of the groups involved in that effort.

Executive Director Chuck Hodierne says he hopes the study will make the community more aware of the issue of gangs. He says gang activity is a very difficult problem to address directly:

Perdue, GOP Agree On Slimmer State Payroll

Dec 10, 2010
Gov. Perdue
Laura Leslie

Incoming Republican leaders are applauding a new plan by Governor Bev Perdue to streamline state government, cut state jobs, and save millions of dollars.

Black farmers in North Carolina and across the country are celebrating the signing of a bill authorizing payments to settle a racial bias lawsuit.

For decades – African American farmers have complained to the government about discrimination from the United States Department of Agriculture – or USDA.  With the stroke of a pen – President Barack Obama signed the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 – freeing up 1.15-billion dollars in settlement money. 

Tobacco workers employed by Lorillard plan to protest at an FDA meeting scheduled for tomorrow morning in Raleigh. The government is reviewing the safety of menthol cigarettes- Lorillard has a market share of about 35 percent of the product. The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 317-T in Greensboro is organizing the event. Randy Fulk is the union's international representative. He worked for Lorillard Tobacco for more than 36 years:

Pres. Barack Obama at Forsyth Tech
Jennifer Rotenizer, Winston-Salem Journal

There have been encouraging signs the economy is no longer shrinking – but growing.   President Barack Obama told a crowd in Winston-Salem yesterday he will continue to fight for investments in education and innovation – a move he says will help continue the country’s economic recovery.   The president’s words were welcomed by students and staff at Forsyth Technical Community College where they’re in the business of re-invention and re-training.

Rep. Tim Moore
NC General Assembly

State Republicans plan to introduce a bill that would require voters in North Carolina to present identification… possibly photo identification… before casting votes. Republicans have tried to pass this sort of bill before. But they’ve been the minority party.  They will take over the House and Senate in January.

Election Turnout Doesn't Match Hype

Dec 3, 2010
Bob Hall
Democracy NC

Despite all the media coverage of last month’s elections, the majority of North Carolina voters did not cast a ballot.

44% of the state’s registered voters cast a ballot in this year’s midterm elections. That’s better than 37% in 2006, but Bob Hall with Democracy North Carolina says it’s still pretty low.

All Raleigh City taxi cabs now have flashing lights in case the driver experiences a threatening situation. Police want citizens to call 911 if they see amber lights flashing from a taxi cab's trunk or grille. A city law requires all drivers to have the silent alarm system. Officials adopted the law after an unusually high number of cab robberies in 2008.

New State Laws Take Effect

Dec 1, 2010
Susie, the burned dog who inspired Susie's Law
Laura Leslie

New state laws take effect today on issues ranging from video gambling and Medicaid fraud to animal abuse.

Clinton In Greensboro

Nov 30, 2010
Clinton
Bryan Series

Former President Bill Clinton will speak in Greensboro tonight. He is appearing as part of Guilford College's Bryan Lecture Series.

Fifty years ago, on Feb. 1, four black college students sat down at a whites-only Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C. The "Greensboro Four," along with friends and supporters, returned to the counter every day for six months until the lunch counter was desegregated.

Their determination to resist Jim Crow laws inspired thousands of peaceful sit-ins and helped to end official segregation in the South. On Monday, in the same building that once housed the Woolworth's store, the International Civil Rights Center & Museum opens.

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