Pat McCrory

Photo: Rosanell Eaton and Mary E. Perry
Jorge Valencia

The federal trial challenging North Carolina's new voting regulations continues Tuesday morning in Winston-Salem.

Inside the courtroom yesterday were opening arguments and testimony from seven witnesses. An attorney for the plaintiffs, Penda Hare, called this case a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement, one she says will have a lasting and decisive impact on African American and Latino voters for years to come.

Outside the courthouse was a massive Moral Monday protest and a march through downtown.

Photo: North Carolina Supreme Court
Giant Sloth / Flickr

The North Carolina Supreme Court scrutinized arguments Tuesday in a case that could shift the balance of power between the state’s executive and legislative branches. Attorneys representing Gov. Pat McCrory and two former governors argued against state lawmakers appointing members to three environmental boards that perform administrative duties. 

Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty license plate
North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles / https://edmv.ncdot.gov/VehicleRegistration/SpecialPlate/Detail?PlateID=62#term=

Two of the most powerful officials in the state are pointing fingers at each other in a dispute over who has the authority to stop the production of Confederate license plates. Governor Pat McCrory and Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger claim to lack the authority to mandate that the DMV to no longer issue the controversial plates.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

The North Carolina legislature voted to override a veto by Governor McCrory. The move puts a measure into law that allows magistrates who disagree with same-sex marriage to opt out of performing marriages.

And Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton speaks out against voting restrictions like the one’s passed by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013. Republican leaders push back, saying voting regulation is a state issue. 

Chad Biggs (left), 35, and Chris Creech, 46, were the first gay couple to be wed in Wake County.
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

The N.C. House of Representatives voted Thursday to override Gov. Pat McCrory's veto of Senate Bill 2, though no real debate was allowed. 

The bill - which is now law - permits magistrates and county register of deeds employees to exempt themselves from offering same-sex marriage duties because of "sincerely held religious" objections. 

Photo: An Interstate in North Carolina
Jimmy Emmerson / Flickr

Rep. Harry Warren likes to wear flag pins on his jacket: One with the U.S. flag, and another with the North Carolina flag. On Tuesday morning, he sported them as he stood in front of the House of Representatives’ powerful finance committee, arguing the federal government has been ignoring a problem, and that the state government should take action.

“The question before us is whether or not we as an elected body want to take some strong legislative steps to hold undocumented folks accountable to obey North Carolina law,” Warren said.

Henry McCollum and Leon Brown are getting full pardons from the Governor after spending more than three decades in prison. The victim in this case was Sabrina Buie. In 1983 the 11-year-old girl was raped and murdered in Robeson County.  Brothers McCollum and Brown were tried and convicted for the murders. They never stopped declaring their innocence. Six years ago their case was reopened, and in 2014 the men were exonerated, due in part to DNA evidence. On Thursday Gov. Pat McCrory granted pardons, after months of review.

Statement from the Henry McCollum and Leon Brown:

Jockey's Ridge State Park
Dave DeWitt

Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head is North Carolina’s most famous giant pile of sand—and the tallest natural sand dune in the eastern United States.

But here’s a little secret: Even a remarkable all-natural phenomenon like Jockey’s Ridge needs a little man-made help.

Pat McCrory
Dave DeWitt

Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed two bills this week that stirred controversy as they passed through the state legislature. 

House Bill 405- dubbed by opponents as an "ag-gag" bill- would have allowed businesses to sue employees who secretly recorded animal abuse or other illegal activity. The bill applied to farms, along with businesses like restaurants and daycare centers.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

The North Carolina General Assembly gets a veto from Governor McCrory on their measure to exempt some magistrates from performing marriages. And the Patriot Act is set to expire this weekend.

Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree / Flickr Creative Commons

Post updated: 3:55 p.m.

Gov. Pat McCrory says he will veto Senate Bill 2. In an email, McCroy said he plans to stop a plan to give magistrates the ability to opt out of performing weddings based on strongly held religious beliefs.

Opponents of the measure have called it a pathway to descrimination of same-sex couples. Supporters call it a religious freedom measure. McCrory's announcement comes just hours after state lawmakers approved the bill.

Photo: 10 people were arrested outside the offices of North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger.
Jorge Valencia

Police officers arrested 10 protesters at the North Carolina General Assembly on Friday, as the protesters chanted and called on Republican lawmakers to put a referendum on a statewide ballot to raise the minimum wage.

Officers handcuffed the protesters outside the office of Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) after they refused to leave the building past its posted 5 p.m. closing time. 

Officers took protesters to the Wake County Detention Center and charged them with second degree trespassing, said police Chief Jeff Weaver.

Pat McCrory
Dave DeWitt

Governor Pat McCrory and Senate Leader Phil Berger expect debate on an economic development measure this month. The powerful Republicans had lunch together Tuesday, and hours later spoke at an NC Chamber event in Raleigh.

McCrory said he “expects action and debate in the next two weeks and I think that’s very good news.”

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory
wikipedia

Governor Pat McCrory is halfway through his first term, but with the General Assembly working its way through this year's long legislative session, the success of Gov. McCrory's agenda remains unclear. 

With two years of experience as governor, McCrory continues to find ways to maneuver his political priorities. Craig Jarvis, political reporter for the News & Observer, says the governor  got off to a rough start his first year in office in 2013, but this year his support has grown.

Dorothea Dix campus
Ted Buckner / Flickr/Creative Commons

State officials voted unanimously Tuesday morning to sell the Dorothea Dix Hospital campus to the City of Raleigh for $52 million. This deal is more than a decade in the making.

The long-term plan is to transform the 300-plus acre site into a downtown park. Governor Pat McCrory said he hopes it becomes a destination for citizens across the state.

Photo: NC Legislative building
Jorge Valencia

A busy Tuesday at the General Assembly ended with mixed results for proposals on religion, taxes and redistricting.

A bill that could allow private businesses to refuse service to someone based on personal religious beliefs could stall in the House. 

Meanwhile, the House and Senate agreed to lower North Carolina's gas tax by 3.5 cents over the next year. And a House committee approved a measure that would redistrict Wake County's Board of Commissioners.

North Carolina legislative building
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.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

Governor Pat McCrory and state Senate leaders clashed this week over how to distribute sales tax revenues.

Meanwhile, in the House, lawmakers passed a bill to restore historic preservation tax credits but a medical marijuana proposal died in House committee. Advocates say just having a chance to speak was a victory.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Political Junkie Ken Rudin about the latest in North Carolina political news.

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.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory
wikipedia

Leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly violated the separation of powers among the three branches of government when they created three commissions in which lawmakers appoint the majority of the members, a judicial panel said on Monday. 

Gov. Pat McCrory
Governor's Office

    

Gov. Pat McCrory filed new forms with the State Ethics Commission that show previously undisclosed travel expenses. 

The governor now says outside groups paid for seven of his trips in 2013, totaling more than $13,000. The money comes from appearances at national governors' conferences, including four backed by the Republican Party. 

The governor says it is appropriate for those groups to pay for his travel. Critics say failure to show the expenses on the original form follows a pattern of nondisclosure at the governor's office.

Governor Pat McCrory has amended a state ethics form to include travel expenditures that were previously omitted. 

The form, submitted on Friday and officially filed Monday, shows seven trips valued at more than $13,000.

Governor Pat McCrory unveiled his budget plan yesterday.

Education tops the governor's priority list but critics say it doesn't go far enough. Meanwhile, in Washington, Senate democrats are calling for a vote on North Carolina native Loretta Lynch's confirmation as attorney general. Both North Carolina senators have pledged to vote against her confirmation. 

Gov. Pat McCrory
Governor's Office

Governor Pat McCrory is proposing raises for new teachers, tax incentives for corporations and a cut to the University system. On Thursday morning, the governor laid out his budget proposal for the next fiscal year.
 

Governor McCrory detailed his spending blueprint for the fiscal year that begins July 1st. His 298-page, $21.5 billion proposal is just the first step in a long process.

Governor Pat McCrory released his budgetary agenda today.
Wikimedia Commons

    

Governor Pat McCrory set forth his budgetary agenda today.

The proposed budget included emphasis on increased educational spending. The most recent projections show a $270 million shortfall, but state budget director Lee Roberts says the deficit is small relative to the overall budget.

The legislature will consider the governor's proposal in the next few weeks.

Guest host Phoebe Judge talks with Roberts about the budget priorities. 

Unemployment lines
Wikimedia

The North Carolina Senate has approved a proposal that would change a panel that hears appeals for unemployment insurance, but Governor Pat McCrory vetoed a similar bill last year.

The plan would shorten the amount of time board members serve on the panel and stagger the terms between each member. It would also require people getting unemployment benefits to contact five instead of three potential employers every week.

The State Of The State

Feb 5, 2015
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree / Flickr Creative Commons

  Governor McCrory took the dais for his state of the state address last night. 

WUNC's Capitol Reporter Jorge Valencia was at Governor McCrory's State of the State speech Wednesday. He live-tweeted the proceedings:

Gov. Pat McCrory
Governor's Office

Governor Pat McCrory is calling for Medicaid reform, a $1 billion transportation project, and fewer tests for students.  McCrory delivered his State of the State address to lawmakers last night in Raleigh.

The governor’s 80-minute speech before a packed house chamber on Wednesday offered more praise and pomp than policy and proposals.

He touted the first two years of his administration before laying out an occasionally detailed vision about what he hopes is next.

Tom Augspurger (l), USFWS, taking core sample during February 8th reconnaissance of Dan River coal ash spill. (l-r) Tom Augsperger, USFWS, John Fridell, USFWS, Rick Smith, Duke Energy. Photo by Steve Alexander, USFWS..
Steve Alexander / USFWS

In retrospect, running a storm pipe under an unlined coal ash pit was a bad idea. One year ago today, such a pipe under such a pit leaked 39,000 tons of toxic ash into the Dan River.

A week after the spill, Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks all but admitted the design was flawed.

“It was not a design that we placed in our other plants, certainly, and it was not the original design of the plant,” he said then. “So it’s something we’ll have to look at in our investigation.”

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