Jorge Valencia

Capitol Reporter

Jorge Valencia joined North Carolina Public Radio's reporting team in 2013. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station in 2012. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun. On Twitter: @jorgeavalencia.

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Politics & Government
9:31 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

NC Senate Tentatively Approves Bill That Would Limit Wake County, Cap Sales Tax At 7.5 percent

The North Carolina senate has tentatively approved a plan to limit the sales tax to 7.25 percent in most of the state.
Credit Luz Bratcher via Flickr

North Carolina's sales tax would be capped at 7.25 percent in most of the state under a plan tentatively approved by the Senate on Wednesday afternoon.

The proposal would make it easier for most counties to raise sales taxes to the limit. It would also pull back the ability some counties currently have to implement raises above that limit.

The purpose is to even out sales taxes and create fairness between populous and not-so populous areas, bill supporters say.  

Sen. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph), says many people in rural places don't spend their money there.

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Politics & Government
10:00 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Republican Sales Tax Proposal Would Keep Wake County From Light Rail Plans, Democrats Say

A Senate committee is recommending a plan to limit the sales tax to 7.25 percent in most of North Carolina.
Credit MIKI Yoshito via Flickr

A state Senate committee is recommending a plan that would curtail the ability of four of North Carolina's most populous counties, including Wake, to raise their local sales tax.

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Politics & Government
6:23 am
Tue July 22, 2014

NC Senate Committe Relaxes Restrictions On Proposed County Tax Legislation

A Senate committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday morning on a measure that would limit sales taxes to 7.5 percent.
Credit Walmart via Flickr

A North Carolina Senate committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday morning on a measure that would restrict how much counties can raise their sales taxes and what they can spend the revenue on.

The Senate finance committee approved last week a bill that would allow counties to raise their sales taxes by a half-percent -- and to use the new revenue for either schools or for transportation costs.

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Politics & Government
7:01 am
Mon July 21, 2014

NC General Assembly Stories We’re Following: Week Of Monday, July 21

The North Carolina General Assembly's Legislative Building
Credit Jorge Valencia

The state House and Senate are entering their fifth week of negotiations over the state’s $21 billion budget. The Senate is scheduled on Monday night to take on at least one other major piece of legislation and two bills intended to beef up policing in North Carolina.

Medicaid Overhaul

The point of this legislative session is for the General Assembly to make adjustments to the state’s budget. But talks are moving so slowly, that Senate leaders last week said they might as well take up an overhaul of the Medicaid system.

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Politics & Government
4:47 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Public Will Be Able To Comment On NC’s Fracking Rules At Hearings In Raleigh, Sanford and Reidsville

A drilling site in northeastern Louisiana.
Credit Daniel Foster via Flickr

The North Carolina commission that is drafting rules for hydraulic fracturing will host public comment hearings next month.
 
Members of the Mining and Energy Commission have spent nearly two years writing more than 120 rules. They cover issues including where drilling companies can frack and whether they have to disclose the chemicals they use in the process.
 
Amy Pickle, the commission's rules chairwoman, says she expects plenty of comments on whether fracking should happen at all.
 

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Politics & Government
7:28 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Police In NC Could Start Tracking License Plates On State Highways

The North Carolina Department of Transportation could give law enforcement agencies photos of license plates on state highways under a new proposal tentatively approved by the state Senate.
Credit Flickr user Tom

The North Carolina Senate has tentatively approved a bill that would allow police to use photo cameras on state roads to track license plates.

The idea is that the cameras would take pictures of license plates, and police could use them to, for example, find a fugitive. Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford) says that could have helped Guilford County investigators on a recent case.

"Had this technology been available, at a right of way, it would've been possible to track down the individual who had committed the crime," Robinson says.

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Politics & Government
10:19 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Moped Drivers: Should They Be Requried To Register Their Mopeds And Buy Insurance?

Credit Lars Elmo via Flickr

A North Carolina Senate committee wants to require moped owners to register their mopeds and buy insurance.

In North Carolina, mopeds owners can travel on roads without registering their vehicle at the Department of Motor Vehicle, owning insurance or having a valid driver's license.

Some members of the General Assembly have been trying for years to change that. Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Hendersonville), told the senate finance committee on Tuesday morning that there's no financial liability for a moped driver if he crashes into a car.

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Environment
6:09 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Jordan Lake’s Managers Authorize Lake-Stirring Trial To Prevent Algae Growth

A SolarBee machine
Credit Medora Corp.

State environment officials expect to install 36-solar powered water mixers into Jordan Lake by the end of the month, as part of a two-year trial to find out whether the mixers can prevent algae from growing in the lake, they said.  

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Politics & Government
9:57 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Three Pending Bills Remain In The General Assembly As The End Of Session Nears

Credit Ian Usher via Flickr

As budget writers at the North Carolina General Assembly are meeting this week to work toward an agreement on the state's spending plan, there about a dozen more bills they have not yet approved.
 
Some, such as a bill to clean up Duke Energy's 33 coal ash ponds to prevent contamination to the state's waterways, or a bill to repeal parts of the national Common Core academic standards for public school student performance, have been promoted as high priorities by lawmakers since they convened in May, and are likely to be negotiated and sent to Gov. Pat McCrory for signature.

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Politics & Government
8:43 am
Tue July 8, 2014

NC Utilities Commission Reconsiders Solar Energy Cost, Possibly Affecting Industry's Future

The construction of a photovoltaic array at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, NY.
Credit Brookhaven National Laboratory

Environmental groups say hearings underway in Raleigh could determine whether North Carolina’s solar energy industry continues to grow at a rapid pace.

North Carolina has recently become one of the country’s top solar states. It’s number four, after California, Arizona and New Jersey.

Duke Energy and Dominion Power are required to make or buy certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources, including solar, wind and hog and poultry waste. The state utilities commission is reviewing how much energy companies should have to pay for that energy.

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