Laura Lee

Managing Editor

Laura Lee is the managing editor of The State of Things. Born and raised in Monroe, North Carolina, Laura returned to the Old North state in 2013 after several years in Washington, DC. She received her B.A. in political science and international studies from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2002 and her J.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law in 2007.

Laura briefly strayed from her Tarheel allegiance in 2011 to obtain a masters degree in journalism from the University of Maryland where she was an Eleanor Merrill Fellow.  Prior to WUNC, Laura worked for NPR on the Washington desk, All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation. She was previously WUNC's assistant news director for talk programming. 

Ways to Connect

Can Bernie Sanders use grassroots action to catch up to Hillary Clinton?
Phil Roeder / Flickr Creative Commons

Trump’s path to the White House looks more likely as he wins primaries in South Carolina and Nevada. Will Super Tuesday allow another GOP candidate to take the lead?

And will Bernie Sanders be able to leverage small donors and grassroots action against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton?

Also, the four democrats who seek Richard Burr’s senate seat meet for a debate next week.

Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest in political news.

Image of Theodore Roosevelt
Library of Congress

The 2016 race for the White House is full of expectations from both sides of the aisle about the role of the 45th president. How has that office evolved? And what does history tell us about how presidents are judged?

A picture of a gavel on a document.
Brian Turner / Flickr Creative Commons

The North Carolina legislature votes today on new congressional district maps. The move is required by a ruling of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals that declared the current districts unconstitutional because of racial gerrymandering.

Lawmakers are expected to move the primary date for the congressional races from March 15 to June 7 and reopen the filing period for those races. The measure also calls for the elimination of runoff elections. 

The modern day race for political office includes a series of competitions for endorsements and money. And the race for chief executive of North Carolina is no exception.

Republican Governor Pat McCrory and Democrat Roy Cooper have each raised millions of dollars in advance of a gubernatorial election that is expected to be among the closest in the country.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree / Flickr Creative Commons

North Carolina voters will head to the polls to cast their primary ballots in about one month. As the election draws near, candidates are working hard to gain support, particularly financial backing.

The end of January marked the deadline for campaign committees to report their end-of-year financials, and WUNC examined contributions to the two frontrunners in the governor’s race: incumbent Pat McCrory and democratic challenger Roy Cooper.

Cooper received smaller donations than McCrory on average, but the attorney general raised more money overall. 

The Republican presidential field has thinned with Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina dropping out. Ohio Governor John Kasich remains and will try to keep up the momentum follwing his second-place finish in New Hampshire.
Alex Hanson / Flickr Creative Commons

The race for the White House heats up as voters in Iowa and New Hampshire made their choices. Several candidates, including Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina, dropped out after poor showings in the first two contests.

And in North Carolina, the March 15 primary is in flux because of a court ruling declaring two congressional districts unconstitutional.

What Is In A Kiss?

Feb 10, 2016
A new multimedia installation in Raleigh looks at the intimacy of the kiss on public display.
Prayitno / Flickr Creative Commons

When Thomas Edison put the first kiss on film at his Black Maria studio in 1896, it was nothing short of scandalous. The 23-second, silent, black and white footage put the intimate on public display.

A new interactive multimedia project in Raleigh explores the intimacy of the kiss by inviting members of the public to have their kisses filmed in the same style as that first infamous lip-locking.

Litigation, legal, gavel
Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal appellate court declared North Carolina's 1st and 12th Congressional Districts unconstitutional because they were gerrymandered on race. The court ordered legislators to redraw the districts within two weeks.

The ruling puts many issues surrounding the March 15 primary, including early voting and absentee ballots, in question.

US Embassy Canada / Flickr Creative Commons

North Carolina is one of the leading states in solar energy. 

But the recent elimination of some tax credits and the possibility of solar permitting may slow the growth of solar energy in the state. And the Department of Environmental Quality is considering a change to the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards that could affect renewable energy production in the state. 

North Carolina is considering changes to state health insurance plans that would eliminate the 80/20 plans.
TaxRebate.org.uk / Flickr Creative Commons

The Board of Trustees that manages the state health insurance plans for government employees is considering major changes to the state health plan.

The board is considering proposed elimination of the 80/20 plan. The measure is in response to a legislative order to reduce costs for the more than 690,000 employees and retirees who receive health benefits through the state. 

Donald Trump made news by skipping the GOP Fox News debate, instead holding his own event in Des Moines.
Marc Nozell / Flickr Creative Commons

The Iowa caucuses are just a few days away, and presidential candidates are making their final pushes before the primary season begins.

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump did not attend the Fox News debate last night and instead hosted his own event in Des Moines.

How did his absence affect the debate? And campaign finance data from 2015 has started rolling in. Who leads the money race?

Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest.

Phil Roeder / Flickr Creative Commons

The federal trial over North Carolina’s new voting requirements began yesterday in Winston-Salem.

The key issue is the photo identification requirement passed by the North Carolina legislature that’s set to go into effect during the March primary. Republican leaders say the measure is designed to prevent voter fraud.

Opponents, including the state’s NAACP chapter, argue that the law effectively disenfranchises minority voters.

Polls show Donald Trump continues to lead the Republican race ahead of the Iowa caucus on Feb. 1.
Ninian Reid / Flickr Creative Commons

The Iowa caucuses are less than a week away and early voting for North Carolina’s primary starts in just more than a month.

Campaigns are heating up, but how are voters responding? And are North Carolinians more or less politically engaged this cycle than in previous years?

Snow Scene
Billy Wilson (thebillywilson.com) via Flickr

Many regions of the Old North State are blanketed in snow today. As North Carolinians dig out from the storm, we dug back through the archives for these five snow day finds: 

Val Kerry / Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama has repeatedly called for the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, but this month marks 14 years since the first detainees landed on Cuban shores.

Several detainees have participated in hunger strikes in protest of their imprisonment. A federal judge has ordered the release of videos showing guards force-feeding detainees but the government has until Friday to appeal the ruling.

Host Frank Stasio talks with VICE News reporter Jason Leopold about the latest.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

The North Carolina primary is just two months from today and the campaigns are in full swing.

Republican hopefuls met in another presidential debate last night in South Carolina and Democratic contenders face-off on Sunday.

The President's State of the Union address could affect the race for the White House. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the debates, the President’s address and the latest in political news. 

Image of US Capitol
ttarasiuk / Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama gave his final State of the Union address last night. He outlined his vision for the coming year and detailed what he sees as the biggest challenges for the nation moving forward.

Host Frank Stasio gets a recap and analysis from Geoff Bennett, Washington reporter for Time Warner Cable News, and Political Junkie Ken Rudin.

There are more than 70,000 missing black men in North Carolina.
Nicolas Alejandro / Flickr Creative Commons

Note: This is a rebroadcast from earlier this year.

Young African-American men are dying and being incarcerated at higher rates than African-American women and white men and women.

2015
Credit http://christmasstockimages.com/

With the New Year’s countdown just hours away, “The State of Things” producer take a look back at some of the show highlights in 2015.

Family eating meal
Wikipedia

This is a rebroadcast of a show that aired in November 2014.

During the holiday season, perhaps more than any other part of the year, families embrace or reject traditions.

Some polls show Ted Cruz leading in Iowa, but Donald Trump continues to do well nationally.
Marc Nozell / Flickr Creative Commons

The Republican presidential candidates met again this week in their fifth debate. Texas Senator Ted Cruz is leading the field of GOP contenders in Iowa but Donald Trump is still polling strong nationally. 

The democratic candidates will meet for another debate on Saturday.

Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the race for the White House and other recent political news. 

Margaret Spellings
Dave DeWitt

More than 100 demonstrators interrupted the UNC Board of Governors meeting today in Chapel Hill. They were there to protest the hiring of Margaret Spellings as the new president of the UNC system. 

Today's meeting is the last for outgoing president Tom Ross, who was forced out of the position earlier this year.

Image of United States map in Lower Ninth Ward by John Rosenthal.
John Rosenthal

When photographer John Rosenthal vacationed to New Orleans in 2007, he was stunned by the condition of the Lower Ninth Ward. Contrary to the images that he had seen on television and in newspapers, he found the community to be one not in chaos but at a standstill.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

Governor Pat McCrory made his re-election bid official this week as candidate filing began.

And Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump will be in Raleigh tonight to convince North Carolinians to send him to the White House.

Meanwhile, the country's 355th mass shooting this year prompts renewed debate about the political influence of the NRA. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest.

Run, Don't Walk

Nov 24, 2015
Adele Levine used to work in physical therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Adele Levine

When Adele Levine decided to become a physical therapist, it wasn't because she felt a higher calling. She wanted a good job with decent hours and a comfortable wardrobe. 

After she graduated, she took a position at Walter Reed Army Medical Center--the nation's leading medical facility for amputee veterans. Her patients were some of the most severely injured in the nation's wars. Levine and her patients found camaraderie and friendship, often using dark humor to cope with their dark days.

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