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
8:33 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Fracking Commission Seeks To Cut Water Contamination Liability For Drilling Companies

A rig and gas well operation on the Marcellus Shale in Scott Township, Pennsylvania.
Credit WCN247 via Flickr

The head of the commission appointed to write North Carolina’s rules for hydraulic fracturing for natural gas asked lawmakers Tuesday to halve the area for which drilling companies would be responsible in case of water contamination.

James Womack, chairman of the state’s Energy and Mining Commission, asked that drilling companies be held liable for contamination up to 2,500 feet from excavation sites. Under Senate Law 143, which was signed in 2012, mining companies are liable up to 5,000 ft.

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Politics & Government
7:36 am
Wed January 29, 2014

New Nonprofit CEO Slows Partial Privatization Of NC Commerce Dept.

Richard Lindenmuth began work in his position of interim CEO of the Economic Development Partnership in early January.
Credit NC Department of Commerce

Gov. Pat McCrory’s plan to move parts of the state’s business recruiting functions to a private nonprofit have been delayed, as the new organization’s managers are setting up a plan for the transition and finding costs to cut, officials said Tuesday.

Parts of the state Commerce Department will be transferred to the Economic Development Partnership no sooner than July this year, according to a department letter given to legislators Tuesday. Two of the department’s divisions had been scheduled to be moved by June and three more by December.

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Politics & Government
8:00 am
Sat January 25, 2014

Live By The Coast? Insurers Want Permission To Raise Rates Dramatically

Calabash is a small fishing town in Brunswick County, North Carolina
Credit Town of Calabash

Aaah, the coast. Those salt breezes. The tasty fresh seafood. The high insurance rates? Not if some mayors and business owners across North Carolina's coastal region have their say. The groups are banding together to contest a proposal to increase home insurance rates in counties that line the coast of North Carolina.

The industry group for insurance companies in North Carolina has requested the state's permission to increase rates up to 35 percent in coastal counties. In other parts of the state, the rise in rates would average 25 percent.

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Law
5:00 am
Wed January 22, 2014

NC Appeals Court Considers Public Input On Lethal Injection Protocol

North Carolina death row inmates are housed at Central Prison in Raleigh. No executions have been carried out in the state since 2006.
Credit Ted Buckner via Flickr

Members of the North Carolina Court of Appeals appeared to show Tuesday that they wanted to return to a lower court a seven-year-old case over the lethal injection chemicals the state uses in executions.

A three-judge panel heard arguments on whether the state Department of Public Safety should have followed a public rule-making process when it switched its execution procedures from a three-drug chemical mixture to a single-drug injection.

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Law
5:00 am
Mon January 20, 2014

If NC Changes How It Executes Death Row Inmates, Does The Public Have A Say?

Death row inmates are housed at Central Prison in Raleigh. No executions have been carried out in North Carolina since 2006.
Credit North Carolina Department of Public Safety

The North Carolina Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday morning on whether the state must follow a public rule-making process when changing its procedures for executing death row prisoners.

Arguments center on the Department of Public Safety switching its protocol for executions from a lethal injection of a three-drug mixture to a single-drug solution. (The change happened last fall.)

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Politics & Government
11:47 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Rocky Mount To Get Federal Help Spurring Job Creation

Edgecombe Community College is planning a biotechnology center for its Rocky Mount campus to house health care education programs.
Credit Edgecombe Community College

The city of Rocky Mount will get help with projects to stimulate job growth, revitalize blighted neighborhoods, and move grocery stores to areas that don’t have any from a team of federal experts that will work with the city for at least a year.

City administrators will get full-time help from two employees of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and from a team of outside consultants who are experts in subjects such as economic development, local and federal officials said Thursday.

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Politics & Government
9:58 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Panel Recommends Fracking Companies Maintain Some Chemical Secrets

A rig and gas well operation at the Marcellus Shale.
Credit wcn 247 / Flickr

The panel that is writing the rules that may become North Carolina’s fracking laws will not require drilling companies to disclose which chemicals they use to extract gas.

Members of the Energy and Mining Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the rule, which stumped them for more than a year and drew  input from environmental and business groups.

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Politics & Government
10:47 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

NC Grocery Store Owners Look For Reprieve From Local Tax

Mack MckLamb, president of Dunn-based grocery chain Carlie C’s, told lawmakers on Monday the Local Privilege License Tax unpredictable across the state. 'We operate sixteen stores in 12 different cities that have 12 different methods to do it,' he said.
Credit Charlie C's

The legislative committee that reviews North Carolina’s tax laws debated on Monday a tax that cities and towns levy on businesses to allow them to operate within their municipality limits.

The tax, which state lawmakers have tried to change at least five times in the last 10 years, allows local governments to charge companies a flat rate or a percentage of their revenues. It includes retailers but exempts businesses such as insurance and law offices.

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Law
3:43 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Durham Police: Officer Frisked But Did Not Find Gun Jesus Huerta Used To Shoot Himself

Friends and relatives posted pictures like these of Jesus Huerta around Durham, NC
Credit Leoneda Inge

A teenager who Durham police say fatally shot himself while in custody last year used a .45 caliber pistol that he had concealed and an officer did not discover while frisking and arresting him, police said Friday.

Officers had picked up 17-year-old Jesus Huerta the morning of Nov. 19 because his family reported him as a runaway, police said, but emergency dispatchers did not relay warnings from the family that Huerta had threatened to kill himself.

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Politics & Government
5:00 am
Fri January 10, 2014

NAACP: NC’s Voter ID Law Discriminates Against Hispanics And Teenagers

Rosanell Eaton, 92, and Mary E. Perry, 84, plaintiff's in the NAACP's suit, attended U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem for a hearing in December.
Credit Jorge Valencia

The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP has expanded its lawsuit against the state’s new Voter ID law to argue that it discriminates against Hispanics and to challenge its elimination of pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds.

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