Jorge Valencia

North Carolina legislative building
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

​North Carolina's House Bill 2 and the state budget dominated the headlines during this year's legislative short session. But the bills that got less attention could also have a huge impact across the state.

One of them places regulations on the footage caught by police body cameras, and declares those tapes are not public records. That same bill also establishes the first statewide needle exchange program.

Photo: The North Carolina General Assembly's Legislative Building
Jorge Valencia

Republican leaders at the General Assembly are working to wrap up the short session.

Today the Senate is considering a flurry of bills, including some of the most controversial legi slation of the session. One proposal could change the way police officers do their work and another could reorganize the Asheville City Council.

Ryan Gibson of Raleigh is among the hundreds of people who filled a parking lot outside of the gay night club Legends in downtown Raleigh to support the victims of the Orlando shooting.
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

Just one day after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, many questions remain.

Thus far, investigators have confirmed that on Sunday morning, alleged shooter Omar Mateen attacked a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and injuring 53 others. According to reports, Mateen pledged his allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call during the attack but no direct link has been confirmed between him and the terrorist group.

photo of Congress
Lawrence Jackson, whitehouse.gov.

North Carolina held its second primary of the year Tuesday and voters cast their ballots for representatives in Congress and a seat on the state's highest judiciary.

photo of the North Carolina Senate
Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC / Flickr

The North Carolina Senate reveals its version of the state's budget today.

Like the House plan, the Senate proposal raises teacher pay and other state employee salaries. And a Senate plan to change tuition structure at some state universities, including three historically black colleges and universities, is creating controversy. Plus calls for repeal of House Bill 2 continue with a rally of small business owners.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC capitol reporter Jorge Valencia about the latest.

Photo: A voting ballot
Flickr Creative Commons/ Ken Zirkel

For the first time in 15 years, North Carolina voters will consider a bond referendum on their primary ballot. The funds from the $2 billion ‘Connect NC Bond’ would go toward general improvement in higher education, infrastructure, and state parks, with nearly half of the funds slated for projects in the UNC System.

A picture of lights on a police car.
Alejandro Mejía Greene/JubiloHaku / Flickr Creative Commons

The Wake County District Attorney says the preliminary autopsy report for Akiel Denkins shows that he was shot four times; once in the chest, once in each arm, and once in the right shoulder. 

Denkins, who is black, was shot and killed by Raleigh Police Officer D.C. Twiddy, who is white, on Monday. Police say Twiddy pursued Denkins on foot, they struggled, and Denkins drew a gun before Twiddy fired his own weapon. 

The reports conflict with initial statements from eyewitnesses, which claimed that police shot Denkins several times in the back as he was running away.

Image of police tape
Tony Webster / Flickr Creative Commons

Residents of southeast Raleigh are raising questions about the circumstances around a Raleigh officer fatally shooting 24-year-old Akiel Denkins.

Eyewitnesses say the white officer shot Denkins as he fled on foot. Police say the officer was trying to serve a warrant related to drug charges, and found a firearm near Denkins' body. Community members gathered last night for a march and vigil.  

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC reporter Jorge Valencia about the shooting and community response.

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. 

A picture of a gavel on a table.
Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

Lawmakers have until Friday to redraw two North Carolina congressional districts after a federal appeals court said they were unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

A three-judge panel from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said the 1st and 12th districts were drawn primarily on race. 

Republican lawmakers have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to grant a stay of a lower court’s ruling to keep the districts intact with the March primaries just weeks away. However, they are also moving forward with plans to redraw the districts.

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.

New Laws In North Carolina

Jan 7, 2016
North Carolina legislative building
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

A new year means new laws on the books. The state now requires doctors performing abortions after the 16th week to send ultrasounds to state health officials. Supporters say it protects women’s health, but opponents say the law violates patient privacy and is meant to intimidate physicians.

Plus, when you head to the polls in March, you’ll now need a photo ID due to a law passed in 2013 that goes into effect this year. 

Gavel
www.stockmonkeys.com / Flickr Creative Commons

A new lawsuit challenges the law that allows magistrates to opt out of presiding over same-sex marriages if they oppose it for religious reasons.

Plaintiffs claim the measure is discriminatory and elevates a specific religious belief. But proponents of the law say it balances freedom of religion with the rights of same-sex couples.

N.C. Political Roundup

Nov 24, 2015
Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC)
United States Government

The United States House of Representatives passed a bill last week to restrict Syrian and Iraqi refugees admission to the United States until more stringent security measures are in place.

Rep. Walter Jones (R - N.C. 3rd District) was one of two GOP members to vote against the bill, saying it was too hastily passed and requires further discussion. 

Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree / Flickr Creative Commons

Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill into law last week that restricts policies of so-called sanctuary cities and requires local law enforcement to work with immigration officials. The law also bans the use of non-governmental identification by police and other governmental agencies. 

North Carolina legislative building
Wikimedia Commons

North Carolina lawmakers passed measures in the middle of the night on Tuesday after an eight-month long session. The final push ended the longest session of the General Assembly since 2001. Among the bills crammed into the session: immigration restrictions, the $2 million transportation bond referendum and a cap on light rail spending.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Gov. Pat McCrory said this morning he will sign the budget compromise the state Senate approved this week.

The House is expected to give the $21.7 billion spending plan final approval tonight or tomorrow morning before it heads to the governor's desk. 

Dr. Sarah Arif of Cleveland and Farris Barakat help a boy at the temporary Syrian American Medical Society dental clinic at the Al-Salaam School in Reyhanli.
Alena Advic

Months before his neighbor barged into his Chapel Hill apartment and fatally shot him, his wife and his sister-in-law, Deah Barakat had decided he wanted to help people escaping the war in Syria.

Deah, a 23-year-old student at the University Of North Carolina School Of Dentistry, had seen and heard about the escalating violence ravaging parts of his parents’ native country, so he called a dentist who was running clinics for displaced Syrians, and he told him: he wanted to take Americans to the Middle East and treat refugees.

NC General Assembly
Jorge Valencia

Members of the General Assembly are back in Raleigh after a week-long vacation. They still must pass a budget for the next two years and consider several other bills, including Medicaid reform and Gov. Pat McCrory's bond proposal.

And Greensboro challenges the legislature’s measure changing voting districts for the city council. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC capitol reporter Jorge Valencia about the legislature's agenda for the rest of the summer.

The North Carolina legislative office building
Wikipedia

State lawmakers passed a temporary spending measure this week to keep North Carolina’s government running for 45 days.

The move allowed lawmakers to avoid the midnight deadline tonight that marks the end of the fiscal year. Legislators to continue to debate differences over tax structure, education spending and Medicaid. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC capitol reporter Jorge Valencia about the latest. 

Photo: The North Carolina seal in front of the state legislative building
Jorge Valencia

Lawmakers take up the state's budget with a month-end deadline looming. Senate leaders passed their plan this morning. It increases pay for new teachers but cuts back on teaching assistants. 

The $21 billion plan also puts Medicaid under the control of an outside agency. But the Senate plan differs greatly from the House proposal and the Governor's plan. Lawmakers need to reconcile the differences before June 30 or pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded.

Couple leaving courthouse after gay marriage
Wikipedia

 

  House lawmakers passed a Senate bill today to allow local magistrates to refuse to perform marriages. The measure passed 66-44 after debate that centered on religious freedom arguments. The bill comes after several magistrates resigned in protest over same-sex marriages.

The measure will head to Governor McCrory's desk and he has 10 days to sign or veto the bill. 

In the Senate, legislators consider a bill to extend the waiting period for an abortion from 24 to 72 hours.

Photo: U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker
Jorge Valencia

Federal prosecutors charged 13 current and former law enforcement officers in connection with a drug shipment network in North Carolina. 

Authorities say seven officers connected to the Northampton County Sheriff's Office conspired to distribute controlled substances from North Carolina to South Carolina and Maryland. Some also face money laundering, extortion and weapons charges.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC reporter Jorge Valencia about the indictments.

NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

State lawmakers passed nearly 100 bills in two days to meet this session's crossover deadline, the time when non-budgetary measures have to pass at least one chamber of the General Assembly to stay alive.  

Bills about the death penalty, education policy and environmental regulations are among those that still have legs.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC capitol reporter Jorge Valencia and WUNC education policy reporter Reema Khrais about the measures that survived or failed to meet the crossover deadline.

The Durham police department.
Ildar Sagdejev / Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Justice has confirmed racial discrepancies when it comes to gun-related violence in Durham. 

 The report released yesterday shows that from 2009 to 2012, the homicide rate for young black men in Durham was eight times higher than the national average.

NC Legislative Building
Dave DeWitt

Lawmakers in the state House have until the end of the day to file any bills they have not yet submitted. 

Hundreds of proposals are already up for debate this session. One plan would require university professors to teach four courses per semester to keep their salaries. 

Gun wall featuring rifles and assault riffles.
Michael Saechang - flickr.com/photos/saechang

Craig Stephen Hicks, the man accused of killing three young people in Chapel Hill this February, could face the death penalty. A Durham County Superior Court judge ruled Monday that the prosecution brought forth enough incriminating evidence to make him eligible for a death sentence.

Pac-Man like pie chart with three counties eating the majority of JDIGs award money.
twitter.com/myncsenate

Some of the state's most powerful senators are trying to revamp the distribution of sales tax so rural areas get more of the revenue.

A measure in the Senate proposes tax revenues be distributed according to population to allow some of the money spent in big city shopping centers to return to rural areas to better build infrastructure. Opponents say the plan does not take into account the population shift due to tourism and the funds needed to maintain tourist destinations. 

Image of the North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh, North Carolina
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Jmturner

State legislators have made headlines this week.

The House offered support for Governor McCrory’s economic incentives package while Senate leadership proposed their own plan. 

Legislators also offered measures to eliminate religious exemptions for student vaccinations and proposed legislation that would hinder citizens' abilities to fight large developments across the state. And a three-judge panel unanimously sided with Governor McCrory and two former governors in a lawsuit against the legislature on the appointments of three environmental commissions.