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
5:00 am
Thu May 15, 2014

What Does The NC Senate Want To Do About The State’s Toxic Coal Ash Ponds?

A 2012 photo of a 2008 coal ash spill in Tennessee.
Credit Appalachian Voices / via Creative Commons/Flickr

The first piece of legislation leaders of the North Carolina Senate introduced in this summer’s legislative session looks at Duke Energy’s 33 coal ash ponds across the state.

That means that on Wednesday, their first day in session this year, the senate’s Republican leadership sent a clear signal that it’s a priority for them to resolve the state’s issue of toxic coal ash dumps. What they didn't send was a clear picture of how they want to resolve it.

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Politics & Government
9:52 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Protesters Greet NC Lawmakers With Pots And Pans On First Day Of Legislative Session

A group of grandmothers who call themselves the 'Raging Grannies' were among demonstrators outside of the North Carolina General Assembly's offices on Wednesday.
Credit Jessica Jones

Dozens of demonstrators clinked and banged pots, pans and spoons outside of the North Carolina General Assembly’s offices in Raleigh on Wednesday morning, protesting recent state laws, as senators and representatives met for their first day in session this year.

The demonstration, in which people held signs protesting issues such as a Voter ID law passed last year, low teacher pay, and low unemployment benefits, served as a prelude for a series of demonstrations set for Mondays while lawmakers are in session.

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Politics & Government
8:25 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Ex-Idol Clay Aiken Officially Secures Democratic Nomination For Congress

Clay Aiken, the former American Idol singer, secured the Democratic nomination for North Carolina’s second congressional district Tuesday, officially receiving enough votes to avert a runoff in his party’s primary elections.

Aiken received 40.9% of the vote, over his closest opponent, former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco, who got 39.4% of the vote, according to the State Board of Election’s official results released today.

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Politics & Government
8:50 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Five Actions NC Lawmakers Want To Take On Fracking This Spring

A rig and gas well operation in the Marcellus Shale in Jackson Township, Pa.
Credit WCN 24-7 via flickr

North Carolina lawmakers approved on Thursday the draft of a bill that outlines how drilling companies may be able to conduct a controversial type of natural gas extraction in the state.

The bill, which the General Assembly will deliberate when it convenes for session this month, includes provisions on the chemicals used for gas extraction, the possibility of water contamination, and local government ordinances.

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Politics & Government
7:39 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Supreme Court Justice Survives Ad Blitz, More To Come

From left: Eric Levinson, Jeanette Doran and Robin Hudson
Credit Campaign photos

Two experienced judges won the right to run for North Carolina’s Supreme Court on Tuesday night.

Incumbent Justice Robin Hudson got 43 percent of the vote and Superior Court Judge Eric Levinson got 37 percent to Raleigh attorney Jeanette Doran's 21 percent, according to the State Board of Elections.

Judicial races are usually sedate, but this one is getting attention because out-of-state funders spent more than half a million dollars in negative advertising against Hudson.

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Politics & Government
7:38 am
Wed May 7, 2014

The Incumbent NC Lawmakers Who Lost Their Seats In The Primary Elections

At least four North Carolina lawmakers were unseated in Tuesday night’s primary elections.

Representative Robert Brawley, a Republican from Mooresville, was defeated by a business owner and political newcomer. Last year, Brawley publicly criticized state House Speaker Thom Tillis and his bid for the GOP nomination for senate.

Brawley was connected to the Tea Party while his opponent John Fraley describes himself as a business conservative.

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Politics & Government
7:32 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Too Close To Call: Ex-Idol Clay Aiken And Keith Crisco Go Home Without Knowing Winner

The contest for the Democratic nomination to North Carolina’s second congressional district was still too narrow today for either of the leading candidates, former American Idol contestant Clay Aiken and local businessman Keith Crisco, to declare victory.

The outcome of the race could be more than a week, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

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Politics & Government
8:47 am
Fri May 2, 2014

The TV Ad That’s Rattling The Campaign For NC Supreme Court

Eric Levinson, Jeanette Doran, Robin Hudson
Credit Campaign photos

North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race isn’t the only one attracting lots of campaign money ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

Incumbent Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson is facing two challengers. She also faces more than a half-million dollars in negative advertisements from out-of-state funders.

Some say money is changing the non-partisan tone of court races in North Carolina. In this race, people are talking about one particular television ad that concludes with:  

“Justice Robin Hudson. Not tough on child molesters. Not fair to victims.”

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Politics & Government
8:39 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Why No One Is Challenging A Third Of NC Lawmakers In This Year's General Elections

Cumberland County, NC
Credit Cumberland County Government

The May 6 primary election is a week from today, and television air waves are crowded with ads for North Carolina’s US Senate seat. But some campaigns for the state General Assembly aren’t being advertised at all.

That’s because there is no challenger in about a third of the districts represented in the assembly.

In Central North Carolina, Representative John Szoka likes visiting elementary schools in his district.

“Now,” Szoka says, “we have a lot of state symbols, right? What’s the state bird? What’s the state tree?”

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Environment
10:50 am
Wed April 23, 2014

This Is How Much Money It Would Cost To Relocate Duke Energy’s 33 Coal Ash Dumps

A map of Duke Energy's 33 coal ash ponds and their operational status in 14 energy plants across the state.
Credit Duke Energy

Duke Energy told North Carolina law makers Tuesday that it would cost up to $10 billion and could take 30 years to remove all the company’s coal ash from areas near rivers and lakes across the state.  

In a hearing called specifically to address the coal ash basins, Duke’s North Carolina President Paul Newton told law makers the company needed flexibility to find faster and less costlier alternatives to ensure its ash won’t contaminate bodies of water.

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