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

Two ads on NC's Controversial Voting Law
North Carolina Board of Elections, Democracy North Carolina

The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP complained this week that state officials are misleading voters with their educational campaign about the state’s controversial election law. The measure will require voting officials to ask voters for photo identification.

The NAACP argues the ads should inform voters that they can cast ballots "with or without a photo ID. The board of election’s posters and flyers say, “Most voters will need to show acceptable photo ID.”

Photo: Jim Rose, regional president of Yadkin Bank in Raleigh, speaks before a crowd at the launch of the Connect NC campaign
Jorge Valencia

Governor Pat McCrory made his first public speech for a bond referendum on Tuesday, urging North Carolina voters to approve $2 billion in borrowing for public service investments such as building new science education and research facilities on college campuses, new facilities for the National Guard, and sewage renovations in small towns.

Photo: North Carolina license plates
Flickr User Eugena Ossi

Almost two dozen laws will go into effect on Jan. 1, impacting issues including health, transportation and firearm ownership in North Carolina.

Chapel Hill mayor Pam Hemminger
Town of Chapel Hill

After the fatal shooting of a Chapel Hill toddler, Mayor Pam Hemminger says she wants local governments to be able to pass their own gun ordinances. 

Hemminger says state legislators should reverse a law that took away local authority to pass gun regulations, such as bans on concealed firearms in public parks.

"It takes away our feeling of safety," Hemminger says.

Photo: North Carolina Supreme Court
Giant Sloth / Flickr

The North Carolina Supreme Court has upheld the state’s congressional and legislative maps for a second time, ruling that Republican state lawmakers did not illegally consider race when they drew voting districts.

The high state court, divided along party lines in a 4-to-3 decision, found that Republican lawmakers used race as one of several factors in drawing the maps after they took control of the General Assembly in 2011.

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.

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