Pat McCrory

The North Carolina General Assembly is back to work in Raleigh and lawmakers are filing dozens of bills.

Shelby Stephenson (left) is North Carolina's new Poet Laureate.
shelbystephenson.com

North Carolina's new poet laureate, Shelby Stephenson, will be installed Monday, February 2, 2015. 

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper
N.C. Democratic Party

Attorney General Roy Cooper says he'll continue to criticize Republican policies during the legislative session that begins Wednesday, hinting once again hinting that he might run for governor in 2016.  
 

At a luncheon held by the women’s group Lillian's List, Cooper told a few hundred Democrats that he supports issues such as abortion rights and expanding Medicaid in North Carolina.

He hasn't announced his candidacy for governor, but he’s widely seen as the most likely Democrat to try to unseat Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.

Kindergarten teacher Daly Romero Espinal teaches her students basic Spanish commands on the first day of school at Martin Millennium Academy.
Reema Khrais

 Fewer North Carolina students are enrolling in teaching programs, a problem education leaders say they are trying to tackle by strengthening recruitment, improving teacher preparation and supporting pay increases.

The number of undergraduate and graduate students declaring education majors dropped by 12 percent between 2013 and 2014. It’s a statistic education officials repeated and mulled over during Tuesday’s UNC Board of Governors Education Summit held by the SAS Institute.

The North Carolina legislative office building
Wikipedia

Lawmakers returned to Raleigh today to begin preparation for their first legislative session of the year. 

Unemployment Rate
NC Commerce

The North Carolina legislature is back in session this week.  The Republican-led body is touting a strong economy and an unemployment rate that hasn’t been this low since the start of the Great Recession.

So, bust out the Moscato! The unemployment rate in North Carolina is 5.8 percent.  Governor Pat McCrory says it hasn’t been that low since 2008.

Dorothea Dix campus
Ted Buckner / Flickr/Creative Commons

Governor Pat McCrory’s administration and Raleigh leaders have reached an agreement for the city to buy the old Dorothea Dix campus in order to create a park. Advocates have lobbied for years to create a grand city park on the 307-acre property, but those efforts were frustrated until now.

Governor McCrory and Raleigh’s mayor, Nancy McFarlane, held a joint news conference Monday at the executive mansion. They spoke before an audience of park advocates, state lawmakers and members of the business community who’ve long supported the idea to re-purpose the Dorothea Dix campus.  

The head of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is speaking out in support of expanding Medicaid in the state.

Brad Wilson is President and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

“As business leaders of North Carolina, you need to help us craft a solution to expand Medicaid," said Wilson.

Wilson tossed out that charge during this week’s Economic Forecast Forum in Research Triangle Park, sponsored by the North Carolina Bankers Association and the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce. 

Economic Forecast
www.cedbr.org

Business, banking and community leaders packed the Sheraton Imperial Hotel Monday in Research Triangle Park for this year’s annual Economic Forecast Forum. It's sponsored by the North Carolina Bankers Association and the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

Economic experts seem to be on the same page when it comes to forecasting the state’s economy in 2015.   Expectations are high.

Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree / Flickr Creative Commons

    

An investigation by the Associated Press says Gov. Pat McCrory failed to disclose some his dealings with Tree.com, a licensed mortgage broker in North Carolina.

The governor was a board member of the Charlotte-based company when he took office, and the report says McCrory did not properly fill out financial statements that would have suggested a conflict of interest.

North Carolina is now tracking babies born with alcohol or drug dependencies.
Tulane Publications / Flickr, Creative Commons

An effort to open the state’s Medicaid program to managed care ran into trouble today. A report that passed a subcommittee easily last week was gutted in a health and human services oversight committee meeting this morning.

The move may indicate a victory for the administration and some Republicans who want to build on an existing program for Medicaid patients. 

This morning, Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos left no doubt where she stands on the issue of Medicaid reform. She addressed a conference room filled with state lawmakers, reporters, and lobbyists.

Ralf Heb / Flickr/Creative Commons

In recent months, Governor Pat McCrory has said he’s considering proposing expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, which would allow more low-income people here to receive health care. Back in 2012, the General Assembly passed a bill blocking expansion and the formation of a state health exchange. The governor signed it into law. But now, many other Republican-led states are moving forward with enlarging eligibility for the program. Yet Republican leaders don’t have a consensus on what to do here.

North Carolina Southern Piedmont Region Rand McNally Map circa 1947
Davecito via Flickr/Creative Commons

North Carolina's Department of Transportation has released a plan that would spend $15 billion on road construction, aviation and public transit projects through 2025.

The plan would use new standards under a new method approved by the General Assembly last year. Governor Pat McCrory said it's the right choice for the state:

"We're taking away the choke points which block access to rural and urban areas alike, to spur economic growth and create jobs. We're taking the politics out of road building and transportation so we're getting a bigger bang out of limited dollars."

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.

coal ash
NC DENR

Back in February, a storm pipe ruptured underneath Duke Energy's Dan River Coal Plant in Eden, North Carolina. Within hours, 39,000 tons of coal ash spilled into the river. It was the third-largest such spill in U.S. history.

In response, North Carolina passed the first-ever law to create rules for disposing of coal ash, a waste product of burning coal for power generation that can contain harmful levels of toxic chemicals.

Pat McCrory
Dave DeWitt

Governor Pat McCrory has filed a suit against House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger, saying he's trying to stop them from usurping executive powers.

The lawsuit, filed in Wake County Superior Court, alleges violations of the separation of powers, executive power, and appointments provisions of the state Constitution, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. Former governors Jim Hunt, a Democrat, and Jim Martin, a Republican, joined McCrory in the filing.

Gov. Pat McCrory
NC Governor's Office

This Veterans Day, Gov. Pat McCrory has high praise for the new U.S. Veterans Affairs secretary. He's also touting new programs to help former and active members of the Armed Forces in North Carolina. 

He tells Eric Hodge that showing gratitude to veterans is something he takes very personally.

McCrory's father was a Navy pilot and his father-in-law flew P-47s in the Army Air Corps. But his real role model was his cousin Paul. Paul was a Marine who trained at Camp Lejeune and served in the Vietnam War.

Governor Pat McCrory says he's pleased with last night's Republican victories in both statewide and Congressional elections, although he told WUNC earlier today that some of those victories were unexpected, especially on the state level.

"I was very surprised, frankly, based upon our surveys and others, that we didn't lose any seats in the Senate- in fact, we gained one,  and we lost very few seats in the House," said McCrory.

Nags Head
Dave DeWitt

Governor Pat McCrory met yesterday in Wilmington with the Coastal Resources Commission. The CRC advises state government on zoning, building, and other issues that affect North Carolina’s 20 coastal counties.

It was the first time the Governor had publicly met with the CRC since the State Legislature overhauled it last year. McCrory and Republican leaders in the General Assembly appointed many new members. Frank Gorham, the current chair, works in the oil and gas industry.

seismic
BOEM

As you are reading this, a ship is very likely miles off the North Carolina coast, mapping the ocean floor. It’s part of a National Science Foundation project that’s using seismic testing, blasting sound waves through the waters.

As early as next spring, the very same controversial process will be used by a different interest: The oil and gas industry will begin looking for places it might want to drill.

This past August, the Obama Administration announced it would begin allowing testing for oil and gas reserves off the Atlantic Coast.

Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh
Dave DeWitt

The state has released new documents about negotiations to sell the Dorothea Dix Hospital Campus to Raleigh. While an agreement looks close the two parties still haven't settled all the terms.

The state and the city both agree that $52 million is a fair price for the 308-acre property.

The problem is that Raleigh wants to buy the land outright, and build a destination park there. But the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services campus is on the property, and the state doesn't plan to move it.

Duke Energy workers hammered and drilled along the Dan River boardwalk Wednesday morning.
Jeff Tiberii

Duke Energy is putting $10 million toward the improvement of waterways in five Southeastern States. The new Water Resources Fund was introduced Wednesday at multiple news conferences.  Duke has also announced plans to remove coal ash from three unlined dumps in South Carolina. But there is no immediate timetable for such removal in North Carolina. This comes almost eight months after the third largest coal ash spill in U.S. history.

Environment NC
Dave DeWitt

Environmental groups are putting pressure on Governor Pat McCrory to do more to clean up coal ash across the state. Environment North Carolina delivered a petition with 40,000 signatures to his office today.

Legislation goes into effect today that directs Duke Energy to clean up coal ash at the four pits deemed to be the highest risk. The law gives Duke 15 years to complete the clean-up.

Environmentalists say that doesn’t go far enough.

Pat McCrory spoke about his 25-year plan for Transportation at Smith Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem on Wednesday.
Jeff Tiberii

Governor Pat McCrory wants the state legislature to approve more than $1 billion in bonds as part of his long-term transportation plan. Money from that bond measure would fund road, rail, port and airport projects across the state. He plans to ask the General Assembly to borrow more than one billion dollars in January, to fund parts of 21 projects.

McCrory spoke about his decision to sign HB 589 in a video.
NC Governor's Office

Gov. Pat McCrory released a video Friday stating, he will not call the General Assembly back to Raleigh for a special session.  In it he says he doesn't see the need to bring legislators back after a long and at time contentious short session. 

“It would be counter- productive and a waste of taxpayer money to bring the General Assembly back when there is no agreement in place on issues already voted on," McCrory said in the video release.  "And after a lengthy session, they need a break and frankly, I need a break from them.”

On February 2, between 50,000 and 82,000 tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of ash pond water waste were released at Duke Energy’s Dan River Steam Station (pictured above) north of Eden, N.C.
Steven Alexander / USFWS

Governor Pat McCrory says he'll allow a coal ash management plan to become law without his signature.

The governor says Duke Energy needs to take action as soon as possible. It needs to take care of the coal ash that's in ponds across the state. But that doesn't mean the governor is happy with the plan.

"I am letting the bill become law without signing it because there are major deficiencies that need to be corrected," he said in a recorded statement.

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

  After a prolonged legislative session marked by delayed talks and Republican infighting, the General Assembly has finished its work and adjourned for the year.

The short session dragged on as lawmakers struggled to compromise over key issues, including teacher pay and coal ash. Legislators managed to strike a last-minute deal on Wednesday that would work to remove coal ash from 33 ponds across the state.

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

State lawmakers are at odds over intertwined bills that many argue are postponing the adjournment of the legislative session.

One of those measures -- House Bill 1224 -- is loaded with job-creation incentives aimed at luring businesses to the state. It would also cap local sales taxes. 

Photo: Mark Martin
Courtesy of Mark Martin

Gov. Pat McCrory has appointed a new chief justice to the North Carolina Supreme Court. The chief has influence over the highest court but also lower courts in the state.

McCrory appointed a new head of the court after Chief Justice Sarah Parker, who is stepping down at the end of August, reached the mandatory retirement age of 72. (Although the court is officially non-partisan, Martin is a Republican and Parker is a Democrat.)

Pat McCrory
Dave DeWitt

Governor Pat McCrory praised the Legislature for raising teacher pay in its last budget. He also expressed some disappointment that several of his signature efforts in education were not included.

McCrory spoke to the Education Conference of the North Carolina Chamber.

The Governor’s initial budget included smaller teacher raises than what was eventually passed. But the concept of paying teachers more at the beginning of their careers was one the Governor and Legislature shared, as was simplifying the teacher pay schedule.

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