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.

Ways to Connect

A traffic stop in Fairfax County, Virginia
Fairfax Police Department

In 2009, a sheriff’s deputy in mostly rural Orange County pulled over slightly more than 100 drivers. In most cases, the deputy determined equipment in the driver’s vehicle was malfunctioning and in a few that the vehicle was traveling unsafely along the road. The deputy stopped drivers for reasons that starkly contrasted those of most Orange County deputies, who pulled over a majority for unsafe driving and a relative few for malfunctioning equipment.

Photo: A voting ballot
Flickr Creative Commons/ Ken Zirkel

A federal judge in Raleigh is hearing arguments this week on a case that challenges the legality of new electoral maps for the Wake County boards of commissioners and education. While several lawsuits have challenged the constitutionality of districts drawn by the Republican-majority General Assembly since 2011, this one focuses on the maps in only one county.

Photo: Pastors, rabbis, imams and dozens of people gathered Friday at the Raleigh Islamic Center for a prayer and a minute of silence for victims of recent terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., and Paris
Jorge Valencia

Earlier this week, a group of pastors and rabbis asked the imam at the Raleigh Islamic Center whether they would welcome a prayer outside of their building to show local support from other religious groups toward Muslims.

Chad Biggs (left), 35, and Chris Creech, 46, were the first gay couple to be wed in Wake County.
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

Three North Carolina couples have filed a suit challenging a state law that allows court officials to opt out of same-sex weddings for religious reasons, arguing the legislation illegally uses taxpayer money to favor a religious point of view and is intended to discriminate against a group.

Carmen Rodriguez, third from left, was one of six protesters who blocked traffic in front of governor's executive mansion
Jorge Valencia

When Carmen Rodriguez was 16, she was a high-achieving high school student in Mexico’s Oaxaca state. Her father, who owned a small construction company, provided for her and her siblings. She didn’t need to leave.

On Monday afternoon, Gov. Pat McCrory joined a few other Republican governors who wanted to close the door on refugees from Syria. The following morning, he appeared on Fox News and CNN. The chorus of governors was growing so loud that White House officials arranged a phone conference for Tuesday night.

Pat McCrory
Dave DeWitt

White House officials are scheduled to hold a conference call with governors on Tuesday night about Syrian refugees, as more than half of the country’s governors have said they will not welcome resettlement of Syrians in their states.

The call is in response to state leaders’ complaints that they do not have enough information on the vetting process of people being admitted into the country as refugees from the war in Syria, Gov. Pat McCrory told CNN today.

Mayor Pro-Tem Ann Howell was unseated in an election that was decided by one vote.
Town of Princeville

For years, Linda Joyner had been unsatisfied with the lack of recreational opportunities for children and teenagers in her small town in Eastern North Carolina. And she was unhappy about other things in the town of Princeville, population 2,000: the state government had taken over parts of the town administration, and the town did not have its own police department.
 

This year, she said, she got tired of hearing herself complain, registered as a candidate to the town’s Board of Commissioners, and knocked on more than 300 doors to ask people for her vote.

Mollie Young

The Republican majority in the North Carolina House of Representatives was often divided this year. In July, members met for hours behind closed doors and narrowly approved re-organizing the seats on the Greensboro City Council. In September, the 74 members of the Republican caucus were divided and eventually defeated a plan that would have overturned city and county nondiscrimination ordinances across the state.

Carmen Rodriguez, third from left, was one of six protesters who blocked traffic in front of governor's executive mansion
Jorge Valencia

Six pro-immigrant protesters were arrested outside of the North Carolina Governor's mansion in downtown Raleigh on Thursday after they blocked rush-hour traffic in protest of a controversial new law that encourages local police collaboration with federal immigration authorities.

The demonstrators walked into traffic lanes of Blount Street at about 4 p.m. as more than 200 people encouraged them with chants of "We are America!" and "No papers, No fear!" The six demonstrators locked their arms together with long plastic traps as a man quickly shackled their ankles together.

Jorge Valencia

Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday signed a law that makes North Carolina less friendly to undocumented immigrants by prohibiting city or county policies that prevent local police from collaborating with federal immigration agents.

Photo: Rosanell Eaton and Mary E. Perry
Jorge Valencia

A federal court judge in Winston-Salem is scheduled to hear arguments Friday on whether to throw out parts of three lawsuits that challenge North Carolina’s 2013 election law changes.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder is expected to hear from attorneys on whether he should dismiss portions of the suits that challenge the state’s new requirement for voters to show qualifying photo identification at polling stations.

Photo: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy
Public Domain / Wikipedia Creative Commons

Members of North Carolina’s Republican congressional delegation were calling for more conservative leadership after Representative Kevin McCarthy’s stunning withdraw from the race for Speaker threw Congress into turmoil Thursday.

Photo: Gov. Pat McCrory spoke at the North Carolina Emergency Operations Center about preparation for Hurricane Joaquin.
Governor's Press Office

Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency on Thursday morning as weather forecasters eyed the path of a large hurricane that may strike the Carolinas -- and much of the East Coast -- this weekend.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

One of the last-minute pieces of legislation the General Assembly passed Tuesday night is designed to make North Carolina less friendly to undocumented immigrants. House Bill 318 would ban what are known as "sanctuary cities." It would also ban police from accepting registration cards from consulates as a valid form of identification.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

North Carolina cities and counties would be prohibited from being “sanctuaries” for people living in the country illegally, under a bill tentatively approved by the Senate on Thursday.
 
The plan would prohibit local governments from directing their police officers to not collect people’s immigration information and report it to federal authorities. Senate Republicans gave the initial nod in a largely party-line vote of 34 to 11. The House of Representatives would have to agree before sending the bill to the governor.
 

Jorge Valencia / WUNC

Bill Would Ban The Sale Of Fetal Tissue From Abortions

Republicans in the Senate's rules committee cleared a bill on Wednesday  that would ban the sale of fetal tissue from abortions.

House Bill 297  is a reaction to a national controversy after an anti-abortion group’s undercover videos suggested Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue from abortions.  

The chambers of the NC State House
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

The North Carolina House and Senate approved on Tuesday afternoon a long-awaited plan to overhaul the state's Medicaid system. The proposal could affect more than 1.5 million people who receive health care through the publicly-funded program, but it could take years for it to be fully implemented.

Top Republicans celebrated on Tuesday as they passed a proposal they've been working on for four years. Medicaid serves about 1.8 million people who qualify as low-income or disabled, almost one fifth of the state population.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

North Carolina senators acted Monday on two plans that could have a wide impact on charter schools and the state's business recruitment efforts, and debated a plan to issue $2 billion dollars in bonds to renovate and put up new buildings. A recap: 

$2B Bond Package Focuses On Colleges And Universities, Leaves Out McCrory's Highway Plan 

State Senators unveiled a plan to borrow $2 billion in bonds for building construction and renovation.

Photo: Jerome Bias of Mebane drtives a 2001 Volkswagen Jetta
Jorge Valencia

The North Carolina General Assembly approved a two-year budget that includes a plan to lower income and corporate taxes and create new service taxes. Top Republicans say these measures will help create an environment in which the state’s economy will grow, while some Democrats say it unfairly shifts economic burden from large corporations to middle- and low-income families.

The budget includes more than 20 pages outlining changes to North Carolina's tax system. Part of the plan:

Jorge Valencia

Last month, volunteers from North Carolina and across the country gave free dental treatment to refugees near Turkey’s border with Syria. The trip had been organized by Deah Barakat, one of the three young Muslim Americans killed in Chapel Hill February of this year. After Deah and Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha were fatally shot, Project Refugee Smiles received more than half a million dollars in donations. The group of volunteers treated more than 700 people.

Jorge Valencia

 

Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore outlined a two-year spending plan this afternoon that would maintain funding for elementary school teaching assistants, high school drivers’ education classes, and gives state employees a one-time bonus of $750.

Dr. Sarah Arif of Cleveland and Farris Barakat help a boy at the temporary Syrian American Medical Society dental clinic at the Al-Salaam School in Reyhanli.
Alena Advic

Months before his neighbor barged into his Chapel Hill apartment and fatally shot him, his wife and his sister-in-law, Deah Barakat had decided he wanted to help people escaping the war in Syria.

Deah, a 23-year-old student at the University Of North Carolina School Of Dentistry, had seen and heard about the escalating violence ravaging parts of his parents’ native country, so he called a dentist who was running clinics for displaced Syrians, and he told him: he wanted to take Americans to the Middle East and treat refugees.

An imafe of a Bernie Sanders rally
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

After giving speeches in Georgia and South Carolina over the weekend, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders got on stage in front of a crowd of more than nine thousand people in Greensboro Sunday evening.

He pumped up the audience to the song "Rockin' In The Free World" by Neil Young, a tune that seemed  fitting for a rally.

“Alright, are you guys ready to make a political revolution?” Sanders asked on stage followed by an enthusiastic "Yeah!" from the crowd.

An image of Jeb Bush speech
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush gave a speech just south of Raleigh on Wednesday, outlining a tax overhaul proposal that he says would spur economic growth by dramatically lowering corporate and personal income taxes. 

Bush, speaking in the warehouse of a Garner manufacturing company, laid out a plan that he said would encourage businesses to invest domestically and would end income tax liability for millions of low-income households.

Pages