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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Illustration: Cadeceus
Flickr user takomabibelot

Roughly 480,000 people in North Carolina have signed up or been automatically re-enrolled for Obamacare plans by the end of January using the healthcare.gov system, according to government data released Friday. Almost 7.5 million in total have signed up across the country.

WUNC's Capitol Reporter Jorge Valencia was at Governor McCrory's State of the State speech Wednesday. He live-tweeted the proceedings:

Photo: Map of North Carolina
Flickr user Lindley Ashline

A coalition of Democratic and Republican state representatives wants to cede their responsibility to draw North Carolina's electoral districts, to non-partisan staff or a non-partisan commission.

They say they want to take politics out of the process, but similar efforts have failed for more than 20 years.

Photo: A voting ballot
Flickr user Ken Zirkel

Voting rights advocates argued in a Wake County court on Friday that a new state law requiring voters to show photo identification at polling stations is unconstitutional because it will create a barrier to voting, keeping primarily minorities from the ballot.

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper
N.C. Democratic Party

Attorney General Roy Cooper says he'll continue to criticize Republican policies during the legislative session that begins Wednesday, hinting once again hinting that he might run for governor in 2016.  
 

At a luncheon held by the women’s group Lillian's List, Cooper told a few hundred Democrats that he supports issues such as abortion rights and expanding Medicaid in North Carolina.

He hasn't announced his candidacy for governor, but he’s widely seen as the most likely Democrat to try to unseat Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.

Stephen LaRoque
North Carolina General Assembly

Stephen LaRoque, a former high-ranking member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting theft at a federal court in Greenville on Monday.

LaRoque, who resigned his house seat after he was indicted in 2012, entered a plea as part of a deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, allowing him to avoid a trial originally scheduled for next week. He will pay $300,000 in restitution and faces up to 10 years in prison, the attorney’s office said in a statement. Sentencing is scheduled for May 12.

Joseph Sledge and his attorney Christine Mumma 1/23/15
Jorge Valencia

A man held in a North Carolina prison for most of his life was released on Friday, after a special panel found he had been wrongfully convicted of a double murder in 1976.

Following a brief hearing in Columbus County, a specially appointed three-judge panel found Joseph Sledge had proven he was innocent of the stabbing deaths of a mother and her adult daughter in neighboring Bladen County.

Photo: UNC School of Law
Photo by Caroline Culler

Prosecutors, defense attorneys, activists and former police officers will discuss the deaths of unarmed minorities at the hands of law enforcement at a forum at the University of North Carolina School of Law today.

The forum, organized by law school professors, will include three panels examining civil rights, self defense, and the use of force from legal, historical and activist perspectives, said Associate Professor Tamar Birckhead, one of the organizers.

The Oakwood Inn Bed and Breakfast in downtown Raleigh
Jorge Valencia

Raleigh council members are continuing to debate how to manage the growing number of homes whose owners are listing on sites such as airbnb.com for short term rentals.
 

In a report he presented at a council meeting Tuesday, Raleigh Planning Director Travis Crane said the rental listings could represent additional income for property owners and the city, but can generate additional traffic and a parking crunch in residential areas.

Photo: Filming of Iron Man 3
Marvel

North Carolina will offer up to $10 million a year until 2020 to encourage video production companies to film in the state, as part of the new incentives package going into effect today.

The state's new grant program will give preference to filmmakers who use "economically distressed" locations or show attractions that could promote tourism to the state, according to guidelines drafted by the N.C. Film Office.

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