McCrory signs ABLE Act into law (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law Tuesday a bill that will give people with disabilities a chance to lead more financially independent lives.
House proposes new Aug. 31 deadline to extend budget talks (AP) — The North Carolina House has started the process of extending a stop-gap spending measure to run state government that is needed because legislators still have yet to agree on a final two-year budget.
Senate gives initial OK to spending and tax constitution limits (AP) — Proposed constitutional mandates on taxes, government spending and reserves received tentative support Tuesday from the North Carolina Senate following tense arguments over which party faces blame for fiscal irresponsibility.
NC House could put constitutional amendment on back burner (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Senate votes 30-15 in favor of putting spending and tax caps before voters next year
New NC savings accounts to help disabled (WRAL-TV) -- U.S. Sen. Richard Burr says North Carolina's participation in a federal program permitting special savings accounts will help unlock opportunities for people with disabilities.
Senate approves Medicaid changes, rejects expansion (WRAL-TV) -- Republican senators on Tuesday voted down an effort to expand the Medicaid program before passing a bill revamping the state's health insurance system for the poor and disabled.
Senate gives OK to Medicaid revamp (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The state Senate gave final approval Tuesday to a bill that would restructure the way health-care and health insurance for the poor, elderly and disabled is handled in North Carolina.
Medicaid By the Numbers: Enrollment (N.C. Health News) -- As legislators discuss what to do about the state’s Medicaid program, some numbers to put it in perspective. The first of a series looking at North Carolina’s Medicaid program.
N.C. Senate approves incentives and sales tax changes (AP) — Senate Republicans have completed moving their updated economic recruitment legislation through the chamber.
Dare County cool to new tax plan (Outer Banks Sentinel) -- Modified proposal would cost Dare $4.5 million
Mayor Saffo, county officials speak out against sharing local sales tax (Port City Daily) -- Legislation currently being debated could take $22.4 million in Wilmington sales tax revenue along with $24 million from New Hanover County from 2017 to 2020 and redistribute it to rural counties throughout the state—potentially forcing local officials to cut some public services and raise property taxes another 5 percent. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo joined representatives from the New Hanover County and Brunswick County chambers of commerce at a press conference Tuesday afternoon to challenge proposed state sales tax legislation included in House Bill 117.
Asheville, chamber, others in WNC oppose sales tax plan (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- City government, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and businesses, local governments and other groups in Western North Carolina are asking the state General Assembly to leave the method of distributing sales tax receipts unchanged.
N.C. Senate passes JDIG increase but House passage still uncertain (Triangle Business Journal) -- Business advocates praise the state Senate's passage of economic incentives. But controversial provisions may complicate its future when it reaches the House.
Adding secrets a grave matter in Raleigh (Charlotte Observer) -- Among laws cutting back on public’s right to know is a new death penalty rule makes lethal drugs a secret
Bill to regulate ride-sharers like Uber clears House panel (AP) — Regulations on smartphone-based ride-sharing service companies in North Carolina are making their way further through the legislature with continued support of the industry's current leader, Uber.
Governor McCrory Signs 10 Bills into Law (N.C. Political News) – Gov. Pat McCrory has signed the following bills into law.
Bill could allow more pollution waterways, environmentalists say (WNCN-TV) – Environmentalists worry a proposed change in state law would result in more pollution entering the state’s rivers and other waterways pollution that requires taxpayers to foot the bill for cleanup. House Bill 44, which deals with Local Government Regulatory Reform, contains scores of provisions affecting everything from the size of state roads, to regulations for signs at construction sites.
After disputes over Blackbeard's ship, N.C. bill to make photos of shipwrecks public records (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- A bill making clear footage and photographs of shipwrecks held by North Carolina state agencies public records is heading to Gov. Pat McCrory's desk.
POLICY & POLITICS
FBI investigating Pittenger’s family real estate business (Charlotte Observer) -- Republican U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger’s office confirmed the FBI is looking into his family real estate business, Pittenger Land Investments. “We confirm there is an inquiry into Pittenger’s former business, which he has had no management role with for 2.5 years,” said spokesman Jamie Bowers. “He turned control of the business over to other family members when he got into office.”
Heath Shuler cryptic on possibility of Senate bid (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Former 11th District U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler expressed no interest in running for U.S. Senate next year in a statement Tuesday but did not definitively rule out the possibility either. "I am enjoying my work at Duke Energy, a great company, and that is my focus," reads the statement in its entirety. It was issued after the Citizen-Times contacted Shuler's office to ask about a report he is considering a 2016 bid for the seat now held by Richard Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican.
Deborah Ross approached about Burr’s seat (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Former state Rep. Deborah Ross confirmed that she has been approached by people to see if she would be interested in being the Democratic nominee challenging U.S. Sen. Richard Burr next year.
Spring Lake may is considering a bid for US Senate (Fayetteville Observer) -- Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey is considering whether to seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Richard Burr.
Civil rights groups seek federal probe of NC solitary confinement (WRAL-TV) - -Almost a year-and-a-half after a mentally ill inmate died of dehydration in state custody, civil rights groups have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the state prison system's solitary confinement practices.
Obama reiterates his call for the restoration of full Voting Rights Act (LA Times) -- President Obama called again Wednesday for restoration of all provisions of the Voting Rights Act in a letter to the editor of the New York Times magazine in response to a recent story on the law.
Police captain: Officer shooting not consistent with policy (AP) — The fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer was not consistent with the department's policy, a captain who reviewed the case testified Tuesday.
More colleagues to testify in trial over police shooting (AP) — The defense has opened its case in the trial of a suspended North Carolina police officer with a cast of his colleagues, more of whom are expected to testify Wednesday.
GTP executive director steps down (Kinston Free Press) -- Somewhat silently and without fanfare, North Carolina Global TransPark Executive Director Rudy Lupton resigned.
Glitch leaves thousands of state workers, retirees scrambling for insurance (WRAL-TV) -- Thousands of new state employees, public school teachers and retirees have been turned away from doctor's appointments and denied prescription refills in recent weeks because of a computer problem in the State Health Plan.
NC seafood processor fined $100,000 for mislabeling shrimp (WRAL-TV) -- A Harnett County seafood processor faces a $100,000 fine and three years of probation for labeling farm-raised, imported shrimp as wild shrimp caught in the United States.
Raleigh police say they’ve caught lottery ticket thief (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Police say they have caught the man who used an SUV to smash the front of a Han-Dee Hugo’s convenience store last month and make off with a bunch of state lottery tickets that he ultimately was unable to cash in.
Dare ranked No. 4 in state in tourism spending in 2014 (Outer Banks Sentinel) -- Dare County brought in more than $1 billion dollars in spending by domestic visitors in 2014, a 6.95% increase over the previous year, according to new data released by state officials.
N.C. tourism spending tops $21 billion in 2014 (Charlotte Observer) - -Tourism spending increased in 97 of 100 North Carolina counties in 2014, the governor’s office and state Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Domestic visitor spending statewide topped $21.32 billion for the year, up 5.5 percent from 2013.
Forsyth County and 96 other NC counties see increase in tourism (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Forsyth County ranked sixth in visitor spending among the state’s 100 counties last year. The annual report shows that 97 counties in the state all experienced growth in visitor spending in 2014, announced Gov. Pat McCrory and Department of Commerce Secretary John E. Skvarla III.
Former Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx sued for $421,000 (Charlotte Business Journal) -- Anthony Foxx, now the federal transportation secretary, is accused by the trustee of his former employer of spending 'little to no time' working as deputy general counsel.
Commissioner Holly Jones to run for lieutenant governor (AP) -- Buncombe County commissioner Holly Jones, a Democrat, announced Wednesday she’s running for lieutenant governor in 2016, saying she’d serve as a counterweight to the North Carolina legislature’s conservative agenda, in particular on its interference in local government affairs.
Recording of MLK's 1st 'I Have a Dream' speech discovered (AP) — Before the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech to hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Washington in 1963, he fine-tuned his civil rights message before a much smaller audience in North Carolina.
Similarities between MLK's dream speeches (AP) — When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington on Aug. 28, 1963, he drew heavily on a speech he gave eight months earlier in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Some similarities:
New evidence puts some Lost Colonists at “Site X” (Outer Banks Sentinel) -- In the decades-long search for clues to the fate of the elusive Lost Colony, little has been found that definitively points to the colonists’ day-to-day life. But recent archaeological findings near a Bertie County swamp provide strong evidence that up to a dozen of the relocated Roanoke colonists had actually lived there.
NC's Lost Colony may not be lost (WRAL-TV) -- Archaeologists now say there is evidence to suggest that North Carolina's Lost Colony moved west from Roanoke Island to an area of Bertie County on the mouth of the Chowan River.
New chapter unfolds in Lost Colony mystery (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Pottery shards show possible destination for ‘lost colonists’
Judge approves bid for Chapel Hill radio station (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Decision will let WCHL move forward with sale
Drugmaker Glaxo shuts down plant over Legionnaires' bacteria (AP) — Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline shut down a plant Tuesday that produces inhaled medications after discovering the bacteria that causes Legionnaire's disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.
SCHOOLS & UNIVERSITIES
BOWLES: Aid is key to college access, economic mobility (Higher Ed Works column) – I fully understand and appreciate the need for the legislature to operate in a fiscally responsible manner. I’ve spent a big portion of my career trying to get the federal government to be more fiscally responsible. I applaud the advances made by the current Board of Governors and President Tom Ross in the whole area of accountability. But that increasingly important need-based aid provided by the state has been reduced by almost $40 million. At the same time, tuition and fees have increased, pricing higher education, that golden ticket to economic opportunity, out of the hands of North Carolina kids from both middle and lower-income families. I am deeply worried by the long-term effects of these cuts in need-based aid for not only our neediest, but also for that child of the police officer and schoolteacher.
NC superintendent: Halifax school board 'dysfunctional' (WRAL-TV) -- The State Board of Education had no choice but to take over financial management of Halifax County Schools, state Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson said Tuesday, calling the local school board "dysfunctional."
Understanding The Halifax Board Of Education (EdNC) -- Lawrence Armstrong, the attorney who advises the Halifax Board of Education, said the changes aren’t much different from what the board has already been doing. “Generally speaking, there is no problem,” he said. “There are some specific things that (State Board members) want addressed. It’s not a systemic problem, just particular things that the (Halifax) board has done.” He would not go into detail on what those “particular things” are.
NC TAs wait for state budget to be passed (WNCN-TV) -- Teaching assistants in North Carolina still do not know if they will have a job as the state’s budget has yet to be passed.
NO CHOICE: Board cuts 16 teaching assistant positions amid funding mess (Washington Daily News) -- Beaufort County Board of Education cut 16 locally funded teaching assistant positions at a meeting on Monday night, following a years-long battle with decreased funding
Breakfast Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day (EdNC) -- No Kid Hungry NC has just rolled out the 2015 NoKidHungry@mySchool statewide Breakfast Challenge in an effort to drive solutions for “the breakfast gap.” The breakfast gap is defined by No Kid Hungry as the students in North Carolina who eat free or reduced price school lunch who do not eat breakfast at school.
CMS still needs 395 teachers with classes starting Aug. 24 (Charlotte Observer) -- With eight business days left until classes begin, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools still has 395 teacher vacancies, including 236 with a recommended candidate.
More Money ... If You Can Play Ball (Inside Higher Ed) -- NCAA rules about "cost of attendance" create a new way for universities to compete for athletes, but these changes in financial aid calculations don't appear to be helping non-athletes.
Charlotte chef tapped for new role at Dole Nutrition Institute (Charlotte Observer) -- Mark William Allison, a Charlotte resident and former dean of culinary education at Johnson & Wales, has been tapped for the newly created position of director of culinary nutrition at the Dole Nutrition Institute in Kannapolis.
A new day for coal ash recycling (Energy Biz) -- The coal ash recycling industry went into a tailspin after a major 2008 spill at a TVA plant in Kingston, Tenn., prompted the EPA to question whether coal ash should be treated as hazardous material. Last December, however, the EPA relented, to a point anyway. As a result, recycling of coal ash now appears to be coming back to life. Utilities earn millions of dollars in the recycling market. Duke Energy, among others, has a keen interest in making more of its coal ash available for recycling. Across its operations in six states, Duke produced 3.5 million tons of coal ash in 2014 - over half of which was generated in North Carolina. The company reused 47% of its total ash.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Housing Authority goes green (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- The Asheville Housing Authority earned a rebate of more than $42,000 from Duke Energy last month for its green renovations of the Arthur R. Edington Education and Career Center. The agency is working on getting the building LEED certified. The Housing Authority purchased the once African-American Livingston Street School from the city in 2012. After three years of renovation, it dedicated the Arthur R. Edington Education and Career Center in November.
Duke Energy installs new Asheville team to support controversial power line (Charlotte Business Journal) -- As opposition grows to a transmission line connecting Duke Energy’s two utilities in the western Carolinas, the company has put a new team in place to help shepherd the $320 million project to completion. Last week, Duke appointed veteran Robert Sipes to a newly created position as general manager of Duke’s western zone, which covers operations in the Asheville region.
“Cool Schools” ranking showcases sustainability initiatives at Carolina (UNC News) -- Sierra magazine, the official publication of the Sierra Club, has ranked the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 15th
NOAA seeks public input on seismic testing (Outer Banks Sentinel) -- Some experts warn of harm to marine life
Research Efforts Take Flight with Drones (Coastal Review) -- Unmanned aerial vehicles or drones offer area scientists new possibilities for research in otherwise hard-to-reach areas and difficult marine environments.
Raleigh, NC Sees Benefits of Storm Water Management (Public News Service) - -North Carolina's capital city is becoming a national model when it comes to storm-water management.
Don't put handcuffs on legislature budget writers (Fayetteville Observer) -- They call it a "Taxpayer Bill of Rights," but what it really does is prevent lawmakers from doing what they already often fail to do: think.
Pay heed to Rocky Mountain warning (Charlotte Observer) - Just as North Carolina senators were tentatively passing a so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights on Tuesday, people in Colorado who have lived with a similar bill were warning against it.
Manheimer: Sales tax shift a job killer (Asheville Citizen-Times column) -- A healthy local economy relies on healthy local government, and a healthy regional economy relies on a healthy economy in its regional center of commerce. We have that right now in Asheville, Buncombe County and the Western North Carolina region, but it is all being put at risk due to pending legislation in Raleigh.
NC must reduce use of solitary confinement (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Mentally ill prisoners are being locked in solitary confinement rather than getting the treatment they need.
State's budget process is broken (Wilmington Star-News) -- We think that “better government” would include details like approving a spending plan
Licenses for undocumented immigrants would mean less fear, more road safety (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Carmen Rodriguez: As an undocumented resident, current law prohibits me from obtaining a North Carolina’s driver’s license. State lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow people like me to apply for driver’s licenses, which would give all North Carolinians the opportunity to make our state’s roads safer and reduce insurance premiums.
Politics? Sure, but Cooper’s right on NC Medicaid expansion (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Cooper’s call to expand Medicaid will be popular with Democrats, but it also would immediately help North Carolina’s people and its economy.
Business 40: Legislature must support adequate road design (Winston-Salem Journal) -- A new state budget provision may have Winston-Salem commuters — to and from town — staring at miles of bare concrete if it’s not stopped.
The problems with TABOR (Raleigh News & Observer column) - Senate is considering Taxpayer Bill of Rights rejected by 30 other states
The frustrating, uncertain budget (Wilson Times) -- Could you imagine being in the shoes of administrators at Wilson County Schools right now? The academic year is about to begin and they have no precise instruction