NC House

Photo: Proposed legislative maps of 2016
North Carolina General Assembly

Federal judges are being asked to approve the new North Carolina congressional maps approved by state lawmakers last week. Earlier this month, three voters successfully sued after claiming the previous maps were racially gerrymandered.

North Carolina General Assembly

North Carolina lawmakers met a Friday deadline to complete a court-ordered rewrite of the state's congressional voting maps. They also postponed the congressional primary until June 7. 

The new plans will move forward after the U.S. Supreme Court late Friday declined Republican lawmakers' request to stay the lower court order. Here are some of the key takeaways from the redesign:

Why did the General Assembly re-draw the maps?

Mollie Young

The Republican majority in the North Carolina House of Representatives was often divided this year. In July, members met for hours behind closed doors and narrowly approved re-organizing the seats on the Greensboro City Council. In September, the 74 members of the Republican caucus were divided and eventually defeated a plan that would have overturned city and county nondiscrimination ordinances across the state.

Reema Khrais

This summer, North Carolina senators pushed a plan to cut thousands of teacher assistants. Educators from across the state rallied against the idea, and in the budget compromise unveiled this week, lawmakers decided to keep funding for teacher assistants.

But there’s a catch, and it’s one that many educators say is problematic.

Under the budget deal, schools would be required to use money for teacher assistants for only that. Nothing else.

Neuse River
Dave DeWitt

A public hearing Tuesday at the General Assembly was dominated by speakers asking legislators not to roll back environmental protections.

A picture of people in voting booths
Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr Creative Commons

North Carolina senators have approved a plan that moves the state's presidential primary to March 15. For decades, North Carolina voters have chosen presidential candidates in May, usually after they already know the nominee.

An image of a person rallying outside a voting rights trial in Winston-Salem
Kimberly Pierce Cartwright / WNCU Public Radio 90.7 FM

The first week of a federal trial challenging North Carolina’s voting regulations is wrapping up in Winston-Salem. The plaintiffs - a group including the U.S. Department of Justice,  the NAACP, and League of Women Voters - aim to prove whether House Bill 589, enacted in 2013 by a Republican-led state legislature discriminated against minority voters.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

North Carolina House representatives are introducing parts of their two year spending plan.

Education, Health and Human Services, transportation, and judicial appropriation committee meetings take place throughout Thursday as policy makers begin to digest parts of a $21 billion state spending plan.


Republican leaders in the state House say they do not plan to consider North Carolina’s version of a religious freedom law that has been controversial in other parts of the country.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The first law Gov. Pat McCrory signs this year could be an agreement between the House and Senate to slowly drop North Carolina's tax on gas.

Under a plan approved by top members of each chamber last week, the gas tax would fall on Wednesday to 36 cents from 37.5 cents, then to 35 cents in January and to 34 cents in July 2016.

The measure would eliminate a plan previously approved by lawmakers that, according to legislative analysis, would've cut the gas tax significantly more, potentially costing dozens of jobs at the state Department of Transportation.

Photo: marijuana plants
Flickr user Coleen Whitfiled

A North Carolina legislative committee turned down on  a proposal to legalize marijuana for medical purposes Wednesday afternoon, marking the most progress a legalization bill has made in the state.

Twenty people addressed the House Judiciary Committee over an emotional hour-long meeting in which relatives of injured military veterans said marijuana can be used to treat chronic pain, while speakers from Christian organizations refuted its medical benefits. For advocates, the debate itself should be considered a victory, said bill cosponsor Rep. Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg).

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.

Photo: Rep. Tim Moore and NC House GOP Leadership
Jorge Valencia

North Carolina Republicans have nominated a new State House Speaker to succeed U.S. Senator-elect Thom Tillis. Tim Moore is an attorney and small business owner from Kings Mountain, a small town about 30 miles west of Charlotte. He's been in the House for six terms.

The Republicans in the House of Representatives chose Moore in a closed-door meeting. They locked themselves in a conference room at Randolph Community College. Moore needed at least half the votes plus one to win, and that was exactly what he got.

Rep. Tim Moore is the GOP's choice for Speaker of the House
NC General Assembly

North Carolina House Republicans selected Cleveland County Rep. Tim Moore as their choice for Speaker of the House of Representatives, making him the almost-certain successor to U.S. Senator-elect Thom Tillis in one of the state's three most powerful public offices.

Moore, 44, an attorney in rural King's Mountain and seven-term representative, received 37 votes in the first-round of voting - likely a comfortable victory in a race against five other candidates.

Some North Carolina legislators say they were surprised and upset to hear that their House Chamber is undergoing renovations.

They say they didn’t green light the $125,000 expense, and that it didn't go through the legislative services commission. The project received approval from the office of House Speaker Thom Tillis, who is transitioning to U.S. senator.

“Quite a surprise,” said House Republican Representative Julia Howard. “I am shocked that they’re taking the red curtains down, that’s a piece of our history. It does disturb me.”

A picture of a coal ash pond.
Waterkeeper Alliance

The North Carolina General Assembly is sending Governor Pat McCrory a plan for Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds. It could become the first legislation in the country to try to mitigate the pollution from ashes left over from burning coal.

Duke Energy's coal-burning plant and the adjacent coal ash ponds by the Dan River.
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.

Photo: A tobacco warehouse in Durham

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.

Duke Energy's coal-burning plant and the adjacent coal ash ponds by the Dan River.
Riverkeeper Foundation

The state House of Representatives has signed off on a plan to close and clean up Duke Energy’s 33 coal ash ponds.

The ash in the ponds is a contamination threat to waterways. And Duke Energy says it could cost up to 10-billion dollars to remove all of it.

In a House debate today, Democratic leader Larry Hall asked who would pay for the clean up.

"The rate payers really should not be penalized further in this bill," Hall said."That's the big elephant in the room."

The cleanup for the 2008 Tennessee coal ash disaster. Image taken March 2012.
Appalachian Voices / via Creative Commons/Flickr

At the General Assembly, lawmakers are getting close to finalizing a bill outlining the future of Duke Energy’s 33 coal ash ponds. Lawmakers have been looking into the situation since February, when 39,000 tons of ash leaked from one pond and coated the Dan River with gray sludge.

The issue of 100 million tons of coal ash in ponds across the state has been slowly growing over the past century.

Utility companies burned coal to generate electricity, cooled off the ashes by mixing them with water, and dumped them into unlined ponds.

Aerial photo: Duke Energy's coal burning facility near Salisbury, N.C.
Waterkeeper Alliance

Members of a North Carolina House of Representatives committee are expected to debate on Wednesday a new proposal to prevent contamination from 33 coal ash ponds Duke Energy owns across the state.

The proposal, which was released to members of the House environment committee on Tuesday, would move a commission overseeing the cleanup under the oversight of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources (under a previous proposal, the commission would have been independent) and grants the governor authority to appoint the chair of the nine-person body.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Senate and House leaders are expected to begin meeting in conference committees this week to make adjustments to the two-year budget plan. 

They have until June 30th to resolve differences and send their spending plan to Governor Pat McCrory.

Medicaid funding and teacher pay raises are expected to be the key sticking points in negotiations. But many Republicans, like Representative Craig Horn (R-Union), say they’re optimistic about the process.

NC House

Lawmakers in the state House have tentatively passed a 21 billion dollar budget plan. It would give teachers average 5-percent raises and state employees flat $1,000 raises, plus benefits.

Last night, lawmakers amended their budget plan with a provision that would provide grants to the film industry. And they continued debating the wisdom of relying on money from the lottery for funding.

NC General Assembly

Leaders of the state House have unveiled a 21.1 billion dollar budget proposal that differs sharply from the Senate’s plan that passed a week and a half ago. Under the House’s plan, public school teachers would get five percent raises. Teacher assistants would keep their jobs, and state employees would receive pay increases of 1,000 dollars.

Speaker of the House Thom Tillis laid out his chamber’s budget proposal at a news conference in the General Assembly’s press room. As he spoke at the podium, about thirty of his colleagues in the House stood behind him in a long row.