Phil Berger

Phil Berger Jr.
Phil Berger for Judge Campaign

A familiar name in state politics could have a prime spot on this fall's ballot because of a proposal passed by state lawmakers.

Phil Berger Jr. is the son of Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), one of the most powerful officials in North Carolina. The younger Berger is a former district attorney who again is seeking public office after losing a bid for the state's 6th Congressional District seat in 2014.

Photo: Senate Leader Phil Berger, a Republican from Rockingham County
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

A plan introduced Wednesday at the legislature by Senate Republicans would increase average annual teacher pay, and move North Carolina to the top of compensation in the southeast. The plan is significant in size, and represents a bargaining chip in the ongoing budget negotiations between the Senate and House.

NC General Assembly
Jorge Valencia

A powerful Senate Republican floated the idea of letting voters decide the fate of House Bill 2, while lawmakers began the protracted budget debate in Raleigh on Wednesday.

sembly building as the House and Senate adjourned.
Jess Clark

It was a bustling first day back at the General Assembly with multiple protests, a national media presence, and legislative efforts to reverse a controversial measure that was passed last month during a special session.

Lawmakers from across the state convened in Raleigh Monday for the start of the short legislative session. Policymakers are tasked primarily with reworking the budget during odd-year sessions, however, with the spotlight on the state's new so called "bathroom bill" the fiscal agenda is not the top story on Jones St.

Welcome to the first-ever WUNC Politics podcast. It's a freeform roundtable conversation devoted to the political happenings inside the hallways of the Legislature and around the state.

Managing Editor Dave DeWitt leads the conversation, which includes insight and analysis from Capitol Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii, Capitol Reporter Jorge Valencia, and Jess Clark, Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting.

NC General Assembly
Jorge Valencia

North Carolina has been the epicenter of a national controversy for more than a week, after state lawmakers convened a special session to undo a Charlotte ordinance aimed at providing protections to people who are transgender. The General Assembly enacted legislation that superseded that local ordinance, and also went further in scope.

Photo: Attorney General Roy Cooper
Jorge Valencia

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper will not defend the state’s controversial new law that requires transgender people to use bathrooms that match their sex at birth. He said today the mandate is unconstitutional and conflicts with some state agency policies.

Photo: Joaquín Carcaño, a 27-year-old transgender man, is a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging North Carolina's new bathroom law.
Jorge Valencia

Two transgender people and a lesbian law professor filed a federal lawsuit on Monday challenging a new North Carolina law that requires public school students to use bathrooms assigned to their biological sex and blocks local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules.

The filing argues that the law violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment, discriminating against certain groups because of their gender or orientation and threatening their personal safety.

Photo: Proposed legislative maps of 2016
North Carolina General Assembly

February 19 update:  Lawmakers gave final approval to the new maps on Friday.

North Carolina lawmakers are just steps away from rearranging the state’s congressional districts and eliminating runoff elections. The actions are at the behest of a federal court’s finding of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering in two of the state's congressional districts.

Image of June Atkinson, who has been the North Carolina state superintendent since 2005.
North Carolina Democratic Party

Senate Leader Phil Berger is criticizing the Department of Public Instruction for a budget it proposed in January. Documents show the department wanted to use about $2 million meant for a literacy program to fund positions the department axed to meet state-mandated budget cuts.

CAMC
Dave DeWitt

The North Carolina Supreme Court has sided with Governor Pat McCrory in a case against leaders in the General Assembly.

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.

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

Three North Carolina couples have filed a suit challenging a state law that allows court officials to opt out of same-sex weddings for religious reasons, arguing the legislation illegally uses taxpayer money to favor a religious point of view and is intended to discriminate against a group.

Republican Phil Berger of Eden is president pro tempore of the state Senate.
http://www.ncleg.net/

Republican Senate leader Phil Berger made blunt remarks about public school reform at a recent gathering held by Best NC, a business-backed education advocacy group.

He suggested “scrapping schools of education” and likened investing in teacher assistants to investing in manual typewriters.

“The stakes are too high to be risk and conflict adverse when it comes to education policy,” he argued.

NC State House
NCGA

Following 11 weeks of waiting, dozens of closed-door negotiations and an undetermined number of offers, proposals, phone calls, arguments, lobbyist exchanges and dinner deliveries - we have a budget deal.

"This budget is a net tax cut," proclaimed House Rules Chair David Lewis (R-Harnett) on the floor Thursday night.

"We know this is a good budget, there is a lot of stuff in this budget we like."

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.

Jorge Valencia

 

Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore outlined a two-year spending plan this afternoon that would maintain funding for elementary school teaching assistants, high school drivers’ education classes, and gives state employees a one-time bonus of $750.

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.

NC General Assembly
Jorge Valencia

North Carolina senators voted on Monday night to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of a bill that would allow some court officials to opt out of same-sex marriage duties based on “sincerely held religious” objections.

The Senate, in a largely party-line vote of 32 to 16, confirmed its support to give magistrates the option, although they would be required to stop performing all marriage duties.

21-year-old Camirra Wilson graduated from N.C. State University this month. She was one of about 500 students across the state who were part of the last N.C. Teaching Fellows class.
Reema Khrais

This month, thousands of college students are walking across graduation stages and receiving their diplomas. Among them is a small group of 500 students across several campuses called North Carolina Teaching Fellows.

They’re the last of their kind to graduate – the state began dismantling the scholarship program in 2011. While the program has a 30-year-old legacy of recruiting teachers, filling classrooms remains to be a challenge that plagues the state today.

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.”

Bible
Wikipedia

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.

Gov. Pat McCrory
Governor's Office

Gov. Pat McCrory said on Monday that he won’t sign a state Senate plan to allow court officials who oppose gay marriage for religious reasons to recuse themselves from officiating at weddings.
 

McCrory will not sign Senate Bill 2, which would allow magistrates to recuse themselves from officiating at any wedding, if it's approved by the House of Representatives, because it would conflict with federal court rulings that in October struck down North Carolina’s constitutional ban on gay marriage, he said.

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