Pat McCrory

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
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In the wake of the Paris attacks, the U.S. House passed a bill to ban all refugees from Syria until stringent background checks are conducted.

And the two leading candidates for North Carolina governor, Republican incumbent Pat McCrory and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper, both say the state needs to stop admitting Syrian refugees until the federal government provides assurances about security concerns. The debate raises new questions about the government's surveillance methods and privacy matters.

A 7-hour committee meeting carried on Wednesday at the Capitol. Refugees, open meetings and prison maintenance contracts were among the topics.
Jeff Tiberii

Two members of the Governor's Cabinet say the renewal of prison maintenance contracts to a campaign donor did not violate any laws.

State Budget Director Lee Roberts and Department of Public Safety Director Frank Perry answered questions from lawmakers during a grueling seven hour meeting of the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations at the Capitol on Wednesday.

On Monday afternoon, Gov. Pat McCrory joined a few other Republican governors who wanted to close the door on refugees from Syria. The following morning, he appeared on Fox News and CNN. The chorus of governors was growing so loud that White House officials arranged a phone conference for Tuesday night.

Assistant Secretary for the Division of Employment Security celebrated the state's unemployment trust fund surplus, on Thursday. Governor McCrory stood over his left should, while Secretary of Commerce John Skvarla looked on as well.
Jeff Tiberii

State officials are celebrating a $1 billion surplus in the North Carolina unemployment trust fund. The Wednesday announcement represents a significant swing from just two and a half years ago when the state owed the federal government $2.8 billion. This past May, the state paid down its debt a year before the due date. The savings have continued.

"Today I am very proud to announce the following - that we have built up our unemployment reserve fund to more than $1 billion," said Governor Pat McCrory before a crowd at the Employment Security Commission.

Pat McCrory
James Willamor / Flickr Creative Commons

Governor Pat McCrory reportedly used his personal influence to help his friend and major political donor, Graeme Keith Sr., renew a $3 million contract with the state.

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. 

Jorge Valencia

Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday signed a law that makes North Carolina less friendly to undocumented immigrants by prohibiting city or county policies that prevent local police from collaborating with federal immigration agents.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

Political announcements abound. Attorney General Roy Cooper makes his gubernatorial bid official. The Democrat will face at least one primary challenger before the party’s nominee tries to unseat Governor McCrory.

Former GoTriangle leader and state legislator Deborah Ross announced her challenge for United States Senator Richard Burr's seat. She joins fellow Democrats Kevin Griffin and Chris Rey in their Senate bids. And Democratic presidential hopefuls faced off in their first debate on Tuesday.

Roy Cooper announces his bid for governor before a crowd in Rocky Mount.
Jess Clark

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced his run for the democratic nomination for governor last night in Rocky Mount.

Cooper’s announcement was no surprise. The attorney general has been open about his desire to run since at least 2013. He took the stage at Nash County Community College near his hometown of Nashville, in eastern North Carolina.

“It is time for our state to work for everyone, not just the few," Cooper told the crowd. "That’s why today I am announcing that I am a candidate for governor of North Carolina.”

Kelly Holden stands in front of his truck a few days after rain and flood waters damaged some of the fruit and vegetable crops on his 250 acres of land. His family has been farming in Brunwisck County since the 1750s.
Jeff Tiberii

Farmers across eastern North Carolina are assessing crop damage following heavy rains and flooding. Some growers have lost entire fields while others will wait weeks to determine what can be harvested. As local and state officials scurry to place a value on what was lost, members of the agriculture community say they’re glad the harm wasn’t worse.

Governor Pat McCrory addressed a gaggle of local officials and media members on Tuesday in Brunswick County. He says the main focus now is determining how to best help farmers in the eastern region of the state effected by weekend storms.
Jeff Tiberii

Many farmers in eastern North Carolina continue to assess crop damage following weekend storms. Flooded fields are expected to result in depleted peanut, sweet potato and cotton harvests this fall. Governor Pat McCrory expressed concern about the agriculture industry at a Tuesday briefing.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

North Carolina cities and counties would be prohibited from being “sanctuaries” for people living in the country illegally, under a bill tentatively approved by the Senate on Thursday.
 
The plan would prohibit local governments from directing their police officers to not collect people’s immigration information and report it to federal authorities. Senate Republicans gave the initial nod in a largely party-line vote of 34 to 11. The House of Representatives would have to agree before sending the bill to the governor.
 

Jorge Valencia / WUNC

Bill Would Ban The Sale Of Fetal Tissue From Abortions

Republicans in the Senate's rules committee cleared a bill on Wednesday  that would ban the sale of fetal tissue from abortions.

House Bill 297  is a reaction to a national controversy after an anti-abortion group’s undercover videos suggested Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue from abortions.  

NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

A long overdue state budget is now in place. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill on Friday, more than six months after he released his own budget proposal.

The approval officially ended a stalemate that extended budget negotiations nearly three months beyond the fiscal year deadline. 

The governor says he got about 90 percent of what he wanted, but a few items were left on the table.

NC General Assembly; State Legislature.
Dave Crosby / Flickr Share-Alike

The North Carolina legislature gave final approval to a $21.7 billion budget early Friday morning. The vote ended a stalemate that pushed budget negotiations three months past their original deadline. The final deal maintains funding for teacher assistants, cuts the income tax rate to 5.5 percent and expands the sales tax. 

BOEM

North Carolina is one step closer to offshore wind turbines. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management - the federal agency that supervises offshore wind power development as well as offshore oil drilling - announced earlier today the completion of an environmental review of three potential sites off the North Carolina coast.

BOEM found no significant environmental or socioeconomic issues that should stop the issuing of wind energy leases.

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. 

Taxes
www.irs.com

Politicos across the state are sifting through the 429-page budget bill - as well as the generally easier-to-follow 207-page money report - after its release late Monday night. The spending plan for the two fiscal years beginning July 1 is complicated, dense, and spotted with policy changes - including money for Medicaid reform and changes to the tax code, among other provisions.

Henry McCollum, left, spent 30 years, 11 months and seven days on death row. Leon Brown was imprisoned at the age of 15 and spend the first decade in solitary confinement. In 2014 the men were released after DNA evidence implicated another man.
Courtesy of Patrick Megaro

Two North Carolina men who were wrongfully convicted of murder and spent 30 years in prison are receiving financial compensation. Henry McCollum and his half-brother Leon Brown are each getting $750,000 from the state. The men were released a year ago after DNA evidence helped to exonerate them. Henry McCollum said no amount of money can make up for the lost time. The 51-year-old is hoping to make the most of his future.

Aeyron Scout drone
creative commons

More drones could soon take to skies across the state.

Lawmakers approved legislation Wednesday that paves the way for local government and civilian permitting of unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Bonner Bridge connects Bodie and Hatteras Islands on the Outer Banks
ncdot.org

The last legal obstacles have been cleared to begin the process of rebuilding the Bonner Bridge.

Governor Pat McCrory announced today that the final terms have been settled between the state and environmental groups. The 52-year old Bonner Bridge spans the Oregon Inlet.

“This marks another historic milestone in finally replacing the critical lifeline bridge for residents and visitors of the Outer Banks and supporting our continued efforts to connect North Carolina,” McCrory said in a press release. 

teacher in a blur with classroom
Bart Everson / Flickr/Creative Commons

School leaders, not the state, should decide if they want to hire teachers or teacher assistants, according to Governor Pat McCrory.

In their budget proposal, state senators are calling for schools to cut back on the equivalent of about 8,500 teacher assistants and use the extra money to hire about 2,000 teachers and reduce classroom sizes. House lawmakers would keep funding intact.

On Thursday, McCrory chimed in on the debate, arguing that decisions over staffing should come from principals and superintendents who understand the needs of their students.   

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

Seventeen GOP presidential contenders took the stage last night in a two-tiered appearance on Fox. Did the event help or hurt poll leaders Donald Trump and Jeb Bush?

Plus, the debate over Planned Parenthood funding continues on the Hill.

And Jon Stewart ends his 16-year run on The Daily Show.  

Coal fired power plant in Wyoming
Greg Goebel / Flickr Creative Commons

Earlier this week the Obama Administration announced its EPA Clean Power Plan that directs states to lower greenhouse gas emissions from coal-burning power plants by around 32 percent by 2030.

Rick Brajer
Dave DeWitt

Governor Pat McCrory announced Wednesday Aldona Wos is resigning from her position as the secretary of the state's Department of Health and Human Services.

Pat McCrory
Dave DeWitt

The state House Finance Committee passed a $4 billion transportation and infrastructure package Tuesday morning. 

Lethal injection room
Wikipedia Creative Commons

Doctors in North Carolina would no longer be required to oversee or participate in executions under a bill heading to Governor Pat McCrory's desk.

House lawmakers gave final approval to the measure Wednesday that allows physician assistants, nurse practitioners or paramedics to oversee executions.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis skipped out on a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about ISIS last week and instead met privately with former Vice President Dick Cheney. This follows Tillis’ loud campaign criticism of former Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan for her attendance record at meetings related to ISIS.

Meanwhile, Gov. Pat McCrory has signed a bill that widely protects Confederate monuments in the state. 

wind farm
Dave DeWitt

Locals around here call the flatlands west of Elizabeth City “The Desert.” What was once a swamp was drained by timber companies, and, finally, became farmland.  

And it’s almost always windy, as farmer Horace Pritchard explains.

“If you can see and hear the wind right now, that’s the way the wind blows here 90 percent of the time,” he says.

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.

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