Thom Tillis

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

The North Carolina legislative office building
Wikipedia

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

The shooting of Michael Brown set off a series of protest nationwide and had Americans questioning the role of police in their communities.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2014_Ferguson_and_Beyond_Rally_12.jpg

  From the streets of Ferguson to the halls of Congress, 2014 saw many pivotal moments in the country's narrative. 

Congress returns for its final session of the year on Monday afternoon, and lawmakers have a big to-do list ahead before they can adjourn for the holidays.

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.

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.

Flickr user Jeffrey Cohen

More North Carolina voters cast their ballots early this year than did in the last mid-term elections, according to State Board of Elections figures released Sunday. A new election law limited the number of early voting days but increased the total hours.

Roughly 1.1 million people voted by mail or in person at polling stations by the end of early voting on Saturday, up 20 percent from 961,000 in 2010, the board of elections said.

Here are three possible causes for the increased turn-out:
 

Photo from the Renee Ellmers and Clay Aiken debate.
Jessica Jones

As we inch closer toward election day, healthcare remains an important issue for the campaigns. 

Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis shake hands after the debate at UNC-TV Wednesday night.
Mike Oniffrey / UNC-TV

  Healthcare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continue to be a topic of discussion on the North Carolina campaign trails. 

Photo: 'Vote Here' sign in English and Spanish
Flickr user Erik Hersman

Friday was the deadline to register to vote in North Carolina. The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed the state's new voting law to be in place, eliminating same-day registration in the days before the election. In response, some groups increased their voter registration efforts. The Durham Board of Elections has been getting so many registrations that they doubled their staff from six to 12.

Judy Harwood usually works at the front desk, but the other day she was typing up names and addresses in an overflow room in the back of the building.

Photo: The U.S. Supreme Court building
Flickr user Sno Shuu

A federal judge in Greensboro could clear the way for gay marriage in North Carolina, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal on Monday to hear five pending same-sex marriage cases.

Middle District Court Judge William Osteen, who has the authority to order North Carolina to allow same-sex unions, said on Monday that he wanted to hear from both parties in a case challenging the state’s constitutional Amendment One, defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

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

A federal court judge has issued a preliminary injunction on two portions of North Carolina's new voting law, following a decision from a federal appellate court this week saying the state should allow same-day registration during early voting in this year's election.

Irving Joyner, an attorney with the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, which is challenging the law in court, says that as many as 30,000 African American voters used same-day registration during early voting in the 2012 election.

Photo: Rosanell Eaton and Mary E. Perry
Jorge Valencia

A federal appeals court has suspended parts of North Carolina’s new voting law, saying it may disproportionately affect black voters. State lawmakers are already asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the decision.

The ruling will allow voters to register on the same day they cast a ballot during early voting, and to vote outside of their assigned precinct.

Thom Tillis, Senator Rand Paul
Jessica Jones

Wednesday morning, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky was in Raleigh to support Republican state Speaker of the House, Thom Tillis, in his race for the U.S. Senate. Tillis is running against the incumbent, Democratic Senator Kay Hagan, and the race is close. Republicans hope that Paul’s appearance will give Tillis a boost.

Big Ed’s restaurant in Raleigh was packed with diners and Tillis supporters long before the two men slipped in through a side door to work an appreciative crowd.

Senate Majority PAC
Senate Majority PAC/YouTube

Education is a central theme in the race between Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis. Both U.S. Senate candidates have highlighted the issue as they try to gain an advantage in what has been a tight contest. 

Hagan has argued that Tillis is not prioritizing public schools and education. She claims that he cut about $500 million in education spending.

“His priorities even speak louder than his words,” Hagan said during her first debate with Tillis. “...The fact that he gave tax cuts to the millionaires. He cut education by $500 million.”

Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis shake hands after the debate at UNC-TV Wednesday night.
Mike Oniffrey / UNC-TV

Democratic Senator Kay Hagan and Republican state Speaker of the House Thom Tillis held their first televised debate Wednesday night. The race is one of a handful of closely watched contests across the country that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate next year.

The debate was a fast-paced hour of topics that ran the gamut from health care to foreign policy.

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.

Teachers and supporters carried heavy cardboard boxes of petition signatures calling lawmakers to raise the teacher pay to the national average.
Reema Khrais

 A group of teachers and supporters dropped off a 61,000-signature petition to lawmakers on Thursday, demanding pay raises that do not result in destructive cuts to public education.

They carried the 14 heavy and large cardboard boxes to the offices of Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis, who are currently leading the efforts to raise teacher pay. 

The scene in House Speaker Thom Thillis' office in the middle of the night.
Jorge Valencia

Fourteen people were arrested overnight at the General Assembly after sitting in and demanding to speak with House Speaker Thom Tillis. They were there lobbying for more than 10 hours with organizers of the Moral Monday protests.
 

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

It’s been a busy week for North Carolina politics.

The race for North Carolina’s congressional seat in the 2nd District is set. Former American Idol star Clay Aiken will face incumbent Republican Renee Ellmers in November.

State lawmakers also returned to Raleigh this week. They got started with new rules about protesting at the General Assembly.

Host Frank Stasio talks with the Political Junkie, Ken Rudin about North Carolina politics.

Thom Tillis speaking
http://thomtillis.com/

House Speaker Thom Tillis laid out his goals for this year's General Assembly short session Wednesday.  He said the ultimate accomplishment for lawmakers will be making adjustments to the state budget in a timely manner. 

Tillis said he and other legislative leaders hope their actions over the next several weeks will support the governor in his efforts to put some long awaited raises into effect.

Thom Tillis and Kay Hagan
NC General Assembly/US Senate

Biggest Stories

Thom Tillis bested the wide field of GOP contenders for U.S. Senate with 45 percent of the vote. It was a wide enough margin to avoid a runoff -  a scenario many in the Republican party are glad to have avoided. He'll now turn his attention to incumbent Democrat, Kay Hagan, who won her primary (as expected), taking 76 percent of the vote.

Governor Pat McCrory, Thom Tillis
Jessica Jones

Governor Pat McCrory has endorsed state House speaker Thom Tillis in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. He spoke earlier today in an appearance with Tillis at a sheet metal company in Raleigh.

"The more you get to know Thom Tillis, the more you realize he is a natural leader and he is a natural problem solver. That's nothing to say bad about the other candidates because they've shown some tremendous skills and attributes also. But Thom Tillis has more than passed the audition- he's the best person with the qualifications needed in Washington, D.C.," said the governor.

Lindsay D'Addato via Flickr Creative Commons

Campaign season is officially underway for this state’s May primary. Candidates have until the end of this week to file for office. One of the most closely watched races is the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. The winner will likely face Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan.

Protesters crowd the capitol for a Moral Mondays protest.
Matthew Lenard

It seems like a long time ago, but it’s really been just seven months since newly-inaugurated Governor Pat McCrory sounded this hopeful tone:

“North Carolina’s greatest strength and asset remains its people,” he said during his inauguration speech.

“On those main streets across this state, it’s the people that count and that make a difference. People will come from different backgrounds but share a common set of principles. Self-starters and hard workers.”

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