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. On Twitter: @jorgeavalencia.

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Politics & Government
8:44 am
Wed August 20, 2014

NC Lawmakers Compromise On Plan For Duke Energy's 33 Coal Ash Ponds

North Carolina lawmakers have been under pressure to pass legislation in response a February spill of more than 39,000 tons of coal ash from a Duke plant onto the Dan River.
Credit Riverkeeper Foundation

Top Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly say they’ve agreed on a plan to manage Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds. The plan for Duke Energy's 33 ponds has been roughly six months in the making, but just weeks ago negotiations broke down between the senators and representatives who were writing it.

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Politics & Government
9:26 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

NC Gov Names Mark Martin To State’s Top Judicial Post

Justice Mark Martin
Credit Mark Martin

Gov. Pat McCrory has appointed a new chief justice to the North Carolina Supreme Court. The chief has influence over the highest court but also lower courts in the state.

McCrory appointed a new head of the court after Chief Justice Sarah Parker, who is stepping down at the end of August, reached the mandatory retirement age of 72. (Although the court is officially non-partisan, Martin is a Republican and Parker is a Democrat.)

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Politics & Government
9:18 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Why NC Lawmakers Couldn't Agree On A Coal Ash Management Plan This Summer

A Duke Energy power plant and coal ash ponds outside Asheville.
Credit Zen Sutherland

A few members of the North Carolina House of Representatives will be back in Raleigh for a skeleton session today, but no real business is expected to be conducted. Technically, they need to be there to keep the legislature in session. That’s because they couldn’t agree with their colleagues in the Senate on one of their main priorities this summer – what to do about 33 coal ash dumps around the state.

This story starts in February this year, and you might have seen it on national newscasts.

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Politics & Government
2:09 pm
Sat August 2, 2014

What the NC General Assembly Has Left Pending: Medicaid Overhaul, Coal Ash Clean-Up

North Carolina's Legislative Building
Credit Jorge Valencia

Gov. Pat McCrory has before him an annual spending plan for North Carolina, setting aside money to give public school teachers their first significant pay raise since 2008 - while cutting from public health, childhood development and other programs. McCrory has said he will sign the bill, and lawmakers said they have at least two other major pieces of legislation they will address this year. 

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Politics & Government
11:48 am
Thu July 31, 2014

NC House Committee Slams 'Closing Fund' For Economic Development, Recommends Historic Tax Credits

A tobacco warehouse in Durham. The House finance committee recommended on Wednesday that North Carolina continue to offer tax breaks to owners who who rehabilitate historic industrial structures.
Credit Flickr

While General Assembly leaders are in the final stages of sending Gov. Pat McCrory a state budget, they're rushing to wrap up bills on taxes and economic development.

Republican and Democratic representatives grilled Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker on Wednesday, asking why the governor wants to create  a $20 million "closing fund" to bring business to North Carolina.

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Politics & Government
5:00 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Sales Tax, Firearms, Ag Complaints: NC House, Senate Still At Work

A sylo in Swannaona, NC
Credit Flickr

North Carolina House and Senate leaders say they've finalized details for public school teacher pay raises and the state's budget, but lawmakers are rushing to tackle other issues ranging from sales taxes to farm pollution.

The Senate has already given its approval for the North Carolina Farm Act, and the House is giving it a closer look in its agriculture committee yesterday and its finance committee today.

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Politics & Government
8:00 am
Sat July 26, 2014

Discrimination Of LGBT Students Not Specifically Prohibited In Proposed Law

Credit Thomas Favre Bulle via Flickr

The state House of Representatives has sent Gov. Pat McCrory a bill updating laws on charter schools.  This comes over the objections of Democrats who asked that LGBT students be specifically protected from discrimination.

Democrats asked that Senate Bill 793 include a provision preventing charter schools, which are run by private companies with tax-payer money, from barring the admission of students who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

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Politics & Government
9:31 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

NC Senate Tentatively Approves Bill That Would Limit Wake County, Cap Sales Tax At 7.25%

The North Carolina senate has tentatively approved a plan to limit the sales tax to 7.25 percent in most of the state.
Credit Luz Bratcher via Flickr

North Carolina's sales tax would be capped at 7.25 percent in most of the state under a plan tentatively approved by the Senate on Wednesday afternoon.

The proposal would make it easier for most counties to raise sales taxes to the limit. It would also pull back the ability some counties currently have to implement raises above that limit.

The purpose is to even out sales taxes and create fairness between populous and not-so populous areas, bill supporters say.  

Sen. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph), says many people in rural places don't spend their money there.

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Politics & Government
10:00 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Republican Sales Tax Proposal Would Keep Wake County From Light Rail Plans, Democrats Say

A Senate committee is recommending a plan to limit the sales tax to 7.25 percent in most of North Carolina.
Credit MIKI Yoshito via Flickr

A state Senate committee is recommending a plan that would curtail the ability of four of North Carolina's most populous counties, including Wake, to raise their local sales tax.

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Politics & Government
6:23 am
Tue July 22, 2014

NC Senate Committe Relaxes Restrictions On Proposed County Tax Legislation

A Senate committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday morning on a measure that would limit sales taxes to 7.5 percent.
Credit Walmart via Flickr

A North Carolina Senate committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday morning on a measure that would restrict how much counties can raise their sales taxes and what they can spend the revenue on.

The Senate finance committee approved last week a bill that would allow counties to raise their sales taxes by a half-percent -- and to use the new revenue for either schools or for transportation costs.

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