Wednesday News: Common sense prevails


CONTROVERSIAL WIND ENERGY BAN REMOVED FROM LEGISLATION: A freeze on new wind turbines the Senate approved for wide swaths of the state is gone from a new proposal on regulating wind turbines. House and Senate negotiators removed the moratorium the Senate approved in Senate bill 377 and added an addition to the state permitting process by requiring the state to ask for more information from military commanders. Companies that want to erect wind turbines must already seek local, state and federal approval. The bill approved by a House committee Tuesday was described as a compromise between the House and Senate. It is a drastic change from the ban on wind turbines Sen. Harry Brown, a Jacksonville Republican, first proposed.

DUKE ENERGY BILL MOVES FORWARD THANKS TO $3 MILLION IN CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS: The bill would let the North Carolina Utilities Commission, which approves rate increases for Duke and other regulated monopolies, sign off on multi-year increases instead of relying on the more routine rate reviews that have largely become annual affairs. An attorney for the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association told lawmakers Tuesday that Duke "would be able to pocket over $140 million a year" more if the legislation passes, based on his group's analysis. Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, perhaps the legislature's most strident environmentalist, tried to change a key section of the bill Tuesday into a study to slow it down. The effort failed, and the bill moved through committee on a bipartisan vote. It may come to the House floor later this week. Separately, a long-time government watchdog in the state released an analysis Monday that put campaign contributions to legislators from Duke, Dominion Energy and their subsidiaries at more than $3 million in the past decade.

GOVERNOR COOPER FILES FOR DISASTER RELIEF FOR FLOODED COUNTIES: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has written a federal agency seeking a disaster declaration for 10 counties where recent heavy rains led to flooding in homes and businesses. Cooper wrote the letter to the U.S. Small Business Administration. The declaration is being sought for Mecklenburg, Catawba, Alexander, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln and Union counties. A news release from the governor's office says an initial assessment of damage from storms on June 6 showed flooding and heavy winds led to roads blocked by debris and major damage to more than 50 homes and businesses. If approved, the disaster declaration will provide low-interest loans to those affected. The loans are designed to help people where insurance does not fully cover the cost of repairs to a home or business.

IT'S MUELLER TIME (AGAIN): SPECIAL COUNSEL WILL TESTIFY BEFORE 2 HOUSE COMMITTEES NEXT MONTH: Democrats said Tuesday evening that Robert Mueller has agreed to testify publicly July 17 before the House Judiciary and intelligence committees after both panels issued subpoenas to him. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said in a joint statement that the special counsel has agreed to testify about the report he issued in April about possible Russian connections to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The Justice Department declined to comment. Schiff told reporters shortly after the announcement that Mueller was reluctant to testify but agreed to honor the subpoenas. He said there will be two hearings “back to back,” one for each committee, and they will also meet with him in closed session afterward. The committees have been in negotiations with Mueller for more than two months about his testimony. But he has been hesitant to testify and speak about the investigation beyond a public statement he issued last month.

BRITAIN MAY BE ABOUT TO ELECT THEIR OWN VERSION OF TRUMP, BORIS JOHNSON: Mr. Johnson faces only one more hurdle before becoming prime minister: a ballot of around 160,000 Conservative Party members next month. Party members are aware of Mr. Johnson’s reputation for untrustworthiness. He was fired once, from The Times of London, for fabricating a quote; and a second time, from his job at the Conservative Party, for lying to cover up an extramarital affair. He was caught on tape offering assistance to a friend who planned to hire someone to physically assault a journalist, and he has been accused of threatening editors pursuing stories that cast him in a bad light. He has used racist and offensive language, describing African children as “pickaninnies” and comparing Muslim women in hijab to “letter boxes.” As foreign secretary, he said that a British-Iranian woman in Iranian custody had been teaching journalism, a flub that her husband says almost certainly prolonged her imprisonment. A serial philanderer, he has left behind two marriages, at least one illegitimate child and a long string of embittered former mentors and allies. Max Hastings, who jump-started Mr. Johnson’s career by hiring him at The Daily Telegraph, said he “would not take Boris’s word about whether it is Monday or Tuesday.”