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.

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Medicaid illustration: A Caduceus symbol and a dollar sign
Neff Conner / Flickr

A North Carolina House committee has approved a plan to remake the state’s costly Medicaid program by allowing hospitals and physicians to manage the money spent to care for each patient.

The plan, which would shift much of the financial risk of growing Medicaid costs to provider-led entities, was approved after more than two hours of heated debate in the House of Representatives health committee. The bill is expected to be scheduled for a hearing in the appropriations committee on Thursday morning.

Photo: An Interstate in North Carolina
Jimmy Emmerson / Flickr

Rep. Harry Warren likes to wear flag pins on his jacket: One with the U.S. flag, and another with the North Carolina flag. On Tuesday morning, he sported them as he stood in front of the House of Representatives’ powerful finance committee, arguing the federal government has been ignoring a problem, and that the state government should take action.

“The question before us is whether or not we as an elected body want to take some strong legislative steps to hold undocumented folks accountable to obey North Carolina law,” Warren said.

An image of a handgun
RabidSquirrel / pixabay

Lawmakers could debate a plan to loosen North Carolina's gun regulations as early as Thursday. The Republican majority has struggled to reach a consensus for weeks on the bill called the Second Amendment Affirmation Act as citizens from across the state have lobbied them.
 

NC General Assembly
Jorge Valencia

North Carolina senators voted on Monday night to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of a bill that would allow some court officials to opt out of same-sex marriage duties based on “sincerely held religious” objections.

The Senate, in a largely party-line vote of 32 to 16, confirmed its support to give magistrates the option, although they would be required to stop performing all marriage duties.

7-time Mayor of Charlotte and Republican nominee for Governor of North Carolina. At Cary Innovation Center, July 11, 2012.
Hal Goodtree / Creative Commons/Flickr

Post updated: 3:55 p.m.

Gov. Pat McCrory says he will veto Senate Bill 2. In an email, McCroy said he plans to stop a plan to give magistrates the ability to opt out of performing weddings based on strongly held religious beliefs.

Opponents of the measure have called it a pathway to descrimination of same-sex couples. Supporters call it a religious freedom measure. McCrory's announcement comes just hours after state lawmakers approved the bill.

Photo: Craig Johnson (left) and Shawn Long (center) with their son Isaiah Johnson.
Equality NC

North Carolina lawmakers pushed through two of the year’s most controversial measures on Wednesday afternoon, limiting debate and quickly ushering proposals that could reduce some same-sex couples’ access to marriage ceremonies and extend the waiting period for abortion procedures.

While House and Senate members debated in separate hearings, the measures over gay marriage and abortions are intertwined social issues that attract vigorous advocacy from conservative and liberal groups.

Photo: A graffiti painting at an intersection in Asheville
It's Tea / Flickr

State lawmakers are expected to send Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday a bill that would make graffiti vandalism a felony if performed by repeat offenders.

Under House Bill 552, which was approved unanimously by the House and is expected to get final approval from the Senate, anyone who has two or more prior convictions for graffiti vandalism or violates the law against it at least five times within two months could be charged with a felony. The offender could face up to 39 months in jail.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt

North Carolina House representatives are introducing parts of their two year spending plan.

Education, Health and Human Services, transportation, and judicial appropriation committee meetings take place throughout Thursday as policy makers begin to digest parts of a $21 billion state spending plan.

Photo: 10 people were arrested outside the offices of North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger.
Jorge Valencia

Police officers arrested 10 protesters at the North Carolina General Assembly on Friday, as the protesters chanted and called on Republican lawmakers to put a referendum on a statewide ballot to raise the minimum wage.

Officers handcuffed the protesters outside the office of Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) after they refused to leave the building past its posted 5 p.m. closing time. 

Officers took protesters to the Wake County Detention Center and charged them with second degree trespassing, said police Chief Jeff Weaver.

An image of a handgun
RabidSquirrel / pixabay

One morning this month, Kaaren Haldeman, an anthropologist in Durham, sent her three sons to school and drove to downtown Raleigh. There, down the hallways of the North Carolina General Assembly building, she led two mothers who were pushing babies in strollers.

“Have you been in this building much?” she asked them. “It's like a labyrinth.”

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