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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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."

Concertina wire surrounding a prison
Kate Ter Harr / Flickr/Creative Commons

Corrections officers from North Carolina prisons could carry concealed firearms while off duty without a permit under a legislative proposal that seeks to help them protect themselves from a growing number of threats from prison gangs.

Durham County prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Craig Stephen Hicks if he is convicted of the fatal shooting of three young Muslim Americans in Chapel Hill last month.

Durham District Attorney Roger Echols filed a notice of intent last week in Durham County Superior Court, saying he would pursue the charges at a preliminary hearing to be scheduled for the week of April 6th.

A picture of a gavel on a document.
creative commons

An atheist group filed a federal lawsuit to compel the North Carolina Department of Corrections to make space available for group studies by atheists in the same way it does for religious inmates.
 

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, was brought by Kwame Teague, an inmate being held for life on a 1996 first-degree murder conviction. Teague has requested space for a study group since 2012.

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

The North Carolina Senate approved on Wednesday a plan to allow magistrate judges who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds to refuse to preside over any wedding.

The proposed legislation, which passed on a mostly party-line 82 to 16 vote, is a direct response to federal court rulings in October of 2014 that struck down North Carolina’s constitutional ban on same-sex unions.   

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