Jessica Jones

Reporter

Jessica Jones covers both the legislature in Raleigh and politics across the state. Before her current assignment, Jessica was given the responsibility to open up WUNC's first Greensboro Bureau at the Triad Stage in 2009. She's a seasoned public radio reporter who's covered everything from education to immigration, and she's a regular contributor to NPR's news programs. Jessica started her career in journalism in Egypt, where she freelanced for international print and radio outlets. After stints in Washington, D.C. with Voice of America and NPR, Jessica joined the staff of WUNC in 1999. She is a graduate of Yale University.

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Politics & Government
9:55 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

House Tentatively Passes 21 Billion Dollar Budget

House lawmakers begin their second to last day of the short session.
Credit Jessica Jones

Lawmakers in the state House have tentatively passed a 21 billion dollar budget adjustment for this fiscal year. It would give teachers average 7 percent raises at a cost of 282 million dollars. Republicans say the spending plan is sustainable. But Democrats in the House are asking whether the combination of pay raises and this year’s lower tax rates will be sustainable over the long term. 

Leaders in the House began debating the budget conference report at 10 a.m. today. Appropriations Chair Nelson Dollar began by presenting what the bill stands for.

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Politics & Government
4:16 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

House Lawmakers Approve Measure That Would Weaken Environmental Regulations

In 2005, the General Assembly named the Southern Appalachian Brook Trout the official Freshwater Trout for the State of North Carolina.
Credit creative commons

State lawmakers in both chambers have approved a measure that would weaken environmental rules protecting rivers and streams in North Carolina.

Among other things, Senate Bill 883 would reduce the ratio of land that has to be mitigated when developers and others damage the banks of those waterways. That kind of damage is a major contributor to poor water quality.

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Politics & Government
10:43 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Attorneys Seek Speedy Resolution Of Same-Sex Marriage Cases

Jane Blackburn and Lyn McCoy speak at an ACLU news conference.
Credit Carol Jackson

ACLU attorneys challenging the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in North Carolina plan to ask a U.S. District Court judge in Greensboro for swift resolution of the issue. This comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit struck down Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on Monday. Since that court has jurisdiction over North Carolina, supporters of same-sex marriage here say it’s only a matter of time before this state’s ban crumbles as well.

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Politics & Government
5:00 am
Mon July 28, 2014

House and Senate Leaders Agree on Basic Budget Framework

Credit Jorge Valencia

Leaders of the state House and Senate have agreed on a framework for a budget for the fiscal year that has already started. They're expected to spell out the details this week.

Late Saturday afternoon, Speaker of the House Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger both tweeted that their chambers had agreed upon a budget framework. They said they'd release more details this week.

The spending plan is expected to include teacher raises of about 7 percent and save teacher assistants' jobs.

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Politics & Government
4:09 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

Governor McCrory Says He Could Veto State Budget

Credit NC Governor's Office

Governor Pat McCrory says he will consider vetoing a budget bill if he doesn't like what House and Senate budget negotiators come up with. The governor gave a brief interview just outside the Old Capitol earlier this afternoon.

Leaders in both houses still don't agree on some final key issues, which include how big teacher raises should be and how many teacher assistants to keep in classrooms. Governor McCrory said he met with the House caucus earlier today to spell out his priorities.

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Politics & Government
5:28 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Senate Tentatively Passes Medicaid Overhaul Bill

Credit NC General Assembly

Lawmakers in the state Senate have tentatively approved a bill that would overhaul North Carolina's Medicaid system. The measure would create an independent agency to oversee the state's health care system for low-income residents. The bill would also contract out Medicaid to managed care and provider-led organizations. They would receive a set amount of money per patient to provide care. Republican Senator Ralph Hise is a sponsor of the bill. He says it's necessary to help control ballooning Medicaid costs.

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Politics & Government
3:56 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

State Lawmakers Plod Along Without Budget In Sight

Credit NC General Assembly

Senate lawmakers considered a number of items today, while many House lawmakers took the time to pay homage to the late Republican Representative Jim Fulghum.

There's still no official word on whether budget writers might be close to an agreement on a spending plan for this fiscal year. So in the meantime, lawmakers are publicly pursuing other measures.

In the morning, a Senate Rules Committee approved a bill that would restore Fayetteville's red-light cameras, but the committee shelved another that would have allowed license-plate scanners on highways.

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Politics & Government
8:31 am
Wed July 23, 2014

'A Consummate Professional': Lawmakers Celebrate Retiring Special Counsel Gerry Cohen

Gerry Cohen, on the right, chats with lawmakers at his farewell party at the General Assembly.
Credit Jorge Valencia / Gerry Cohen

One of the most respected and beloved figures at the General Assembly is about to retire.

Gerry Cohen will soon finish his current job as the special counsel for the state legislature, where he was first hired as a staff attorney back in 1977. Later, he became head of the bill drafting division, where his encyclopedic memory and reputation for fairness made him a favorite among Democrats and Republicans alike.

Gerry Cohen’s office at the state legislature is filled with boxes of mementos and papers dating back several decades.

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Politics & Government
4:51 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan Criticizes State Legislature

Kay Hagan at the news conference 7/18/14
Credit Katelyn Ferral

Democratic U.S. Senator Kay Hagan was in Raleigh Friday afternoon to discuss a bill she and others have introduced in the U.S. Senate that seeks to restore womens' access to employer-covered contraception. The bill was defeated this week but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he plans to bring it up later this year.

When Hagan was asked what she thinks of the North Carolina General Assembly's late efforts to put together a budget for this fiscal year, she was quick to bring up her own record as a former state senator:

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Politics & Government
4:49 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Senate Measure Overhauling Medicaid Headed For A Vote

Credit NC General Assembly

A measure put forth by the state Senate to overhaul North Carolina's Medicaid program is headed for a vote in the chamber next week.

The proposal would allow both provider-led and managed care plans to serve patients who qualify for the health insurance program.

Senate leaders say their plan would help control costs. It would also create an entirely new department to oversee Medicaid in the state, headed by a corporate-like board. Republican Senator Louis Pate is a sponsor of the measure.

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