Jorge Valencia

Capitol Reporter

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. 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. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun. On Twitter: @jorgeavalencia.

Ways To Connect

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt

The first law Gov. Pat McCrory signs this year could be an agreement between the House and Senate to slowly drop North Carolina's tax on gas.
 

Under a plan approved by top members of each chamber last week, the gas tax would fall on Wednesday to 36 cents from 37.5 cents, then to 35 cents in January and to 34 cents in July 2016.

The measure would eliminate a plan previously approved by lawmakers that, according to legislative analysis, would've cut the gas tax significantly more, potentially costing dozens of jobs at the state Department of Transportation.

Photo: Income taxes
Flickr user Laura Gilmore

Top North Carolina Republicans say they want to cut personal and corporate income tax rates, continuing to lower rates after a round of breaks in 2013.
 

Three powerful members of the Senate rolled out a plan this week that they say will cut personal and corporate income taxes by $1 billion dollars each year. The plan would:

Photo: marijuana plants
Flickr user Coleen Whitfiled

A North Carolina legislative committee turned down on  a proposal to legalize marijuana for medical purposes Wednesday afternoon, marking the most progress a legalization bill has made in the state.

Twenty people addressed the House Judiciary Committee over an emotional hour-long meeting in which relatives of injured military veterans said marijuana can be used to treat chronic pain, while speakers from Christian organizations refuted its medical benefits. For advocates, the debate itself should be considered a victory, said bill cosponsor Rep. Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg).

Photo: Woman at a cash register
MIKI Yoshito via Flickr

Powerful members of the North Carolina Senate say they want to revamp how the state distributes sales taxes revenue to better favor economically struggling rural areas.

Local sales tax revenue would be distributed to counties across the state based on their population. Currently, 75 percent of local sales taxes stay in the county where they’re collected, and the remaining 25 percent is distributed statewide based on population.
 

Photo: Lot in Northeast Raleigh
Courtesy Michi Njeri

Members of the North Carolina House of Representatives are scheduled to vote Monday night on a contentious bill that would curtail home owners’ ability to block certain type of construction in their neighborhood.

Under the proposal, lawmakers would eliminate from state law “protest petitions,” a nearly century-old procedure that property owners can use to force a three-fourths vote from their city council to change the zoning classification of an adjoining property.

Photo: Flu vaccine
Flickr user Daniel Paquet

A bipartisan group of North Carolina senators are worried about a rise in contagious diseases, and they want to eliminate the state’s exemption of childhood vaccination requirements for parents who object for religious reasons.

The senators, under a bill they filed on Thursday, are proposing to change the vaccination schedule for children who attend public schools.

Flickr user Josh Mazgelis

A bipartisan group of North Carolina lawmakers is proposing a measure to get more fruits and vegetables to urban and rural areas devoid of grocery stores or healthful food options.

The plan, filed in separate bills in the House and Senate on Tuesday, would set aside $1 million for produce refrigerators and training for store owners in areas known as food deserts. There are more than 340 food deserts across 80 counties in the state, advocacy groups say.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory
wikipedia

Leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly violated the separation of powers among the three branches of government when they created three commissions in which lawmakers appoint the majority of the members, a judicial panel said on Monday. 

A crude oil mining site in Oxnard, Calif.
Faces of Fracking

The North Carolina House of Representatives approved a controversial measure that could exempt the state from creating its own air-quality standards for fracking.

Republican supporters say the plan will take a burden off state regulators while Democratic opponents complain existing federal regulations alone are insufficient.

A crude oil mining site in Oxnard, Calif.
Faces of Fracking

State environmental officials might not have to adopt air quality standards for fracking. A controversial measure that would passed a key committee in the legislature yesterday.

Rep. Mike Hagar (R-Rutherford), who sponsored the measure, says there are already federal rules governing air quality at fracking sites.

"We're not going to re-write rules that are already out there," he says. "That's inefficient. That costs the taxpayers money for people to go work doing stuff they don't need to do."

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