Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Tuesday, May 21, 2019-- A round up of opinion, commentary and analysis on: Sen Harry Brown to revive bill limiting wind energy, N.C. hurricane funds delayed, contentious tax cut bill clears Senate, opponents mobilize against easing Duke Energy rate increases, a hard line against youth vaping and more.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2019
NUMBERS GAME: House delays, again, effort to override Cooper veto (WRAL-TV reports) -- The House once again put off an attempt to override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of an abortion bill. Democrats so feared not having enough votes to stave off an override vote that Rep. Sydney Batch, D-Wake, showed up for Monday night's session two weeks after cancer surgery. Republicans need three-fifths of House members present and voting to accomplish an override, which means they play a daily numbers game. They need to persuade seven Democrats to vote with them, wait for a day when a lot of Democrats are absent – or some combination of those two.
MICHAEL HEWLETT: Federal judge wants updated agreement that could bring to close legal fight over "bathroom" law (Winston-Salem Journal reports) -- A federal judge is considering whether to approve a proposed agreement that could help bring to a close a legal fight over a state law regulating what restrooms and other public facilities transgender people can use in N.C. The legal fight first started over House Bill 2, which was passed in 2016 soon after the city of Charlotte approved a non-discrimination ordinance that allowed transgender people to use public bathrooms that aligned with their gender identity, instead of the biological sex found on their birth certificate. That law caused a backlash, with critics calling it the most anti-LGBT law in the country. That led to a compromise in March 2017, culminating in a new law, House Bill 142, that partially repealed House Bill 2.
KIRK ROSS: Brown to Revive Bill Limiting Wind Energy (Coastal Review reports) -- The Senate will take another look at a controversial bill that would make wind energy development nearly impossible in much of eastern N.C., according to the bill’s main sponsor. Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, said he plans to bring back Senate Bill 377, the Military Base Protections Act, which did not pass ahead of this month’s crossover deadline. Brown, one of the Senate’s main budget writers, said he plans to get the legislation back before the Senate as early as this week, but would not do so by sneaking it into the budget bill.
RICHARD ROGERS: NC must honor promise to retirees (Hendersonville Times-News column) -- A large majority of retirees work between 25 to 30 years in public service before receiving their retirement, contributing 6 percent of their pay each month. For many public sector workers, that monthly required contribution impacts their daily lives — this mandatory contribution to their pension often takes money away from a family’s daily buying power. It’s a long-term investment for the more than 700,000 public sector workers across North Carolina. Even more than that, it’s a promise. As the N.C. General Assembly works through the 2019-2020 budget, our legislators need to keep their promise and give our state’s more than 270,000 government retirees a desperately needed — and well-earned — cost-of-living adjustment.
COLIN CAMPBELL: Census data (The Insider reports) -- A bill that puts Legislative Services Officer Paul Coble's office in charge of submitting data to the U.S. Census Bureau passed the House despite concerns from the N.C. Democratic Party. House Bill 1014 would shift the responsibility for reporting voting precinct data from the State Board of Elections to the Legislative Services Officer -- effectively pausing a long-delayed update to voting precinct maps.
AMANDA MORRIS: N.C. hurricane funds delayed (AP reports) -- Administrative mistakes and a lack of expertise caused delays spending of federal funds for Hurricane Matthew recovery, according to a report released from the General Assembly's government watchdog agency.
LAURA LESLIE: Report says N.C. lacked expertise in funneling disaster recovery money after Matthew (WRAL-TV reports) – N.C. needs a permanent office of disaster recovery, according to a state report.
RICHARD CRAVER: Contentious tax cut bill clears state Senate (Winston-Salem Journal reports) -- The state Senate gave final approval Monday to an intensely debated tax-reduction bill that contains a direct franchise-tax benefit for Reynolds American Inc. Senate Bill 622 was approved in third reading by a 27-13 vote after a 26-19 vote on Thursday, both along partisan lines. The bill now goes to the House, where its fate is unclear. Media reports have said Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is considering a veto.
Opponents mobilize against easing Duke Energy rate increases (AP reports) -- Opponents want lawmakers to reject Duke Energy Corp.'s push to line up profitable infrastructure projects years into the future and bypass lengthy regulatory battles.
Craft beer legislation completes round, heads to governor (AP reports) -- Small breweries could soon be toasting a new law that would give growing beer-makers in the state more time to sell their products on their own without third-party distributors.
COLIN CAMPBELL: Inmate medications (The Insider reports) -- Legislators voiced concerns about slow progress in the state prison system's attempt to save money through a federal prescription drug program. A report presented Monday to the Program Evaluation Oversight Committee found that the prison system could save millions annually in prescription drug costs by establishing partnerships with agencies and organizations that participate in what's known as the 340B program, which features discounted prices that the federal government has obtained from pharmaceutical companies.
Local kids' cookie bill is a sweet inspiration for bipartisanship (Greensboro News & Record) -- Leave it to an imaginative group of Greensboro elementary school students to strike a blow against baked-in partisanship.
POLICY & POLITICS
JIM ZARROLI: In Trump's Trade War, Americans Will Be Asked To Show Economic Patriotism (NPR reports) -- Bob Best enthusiastically supports President Trump's tough policies against China and other countries. "I'm not a big tariff guy. I'm a free trade guy," says Best, who manages a heating and air conditioning company in Kennesaw, Ga. "But sometimes when the bully just doesn't listen, you've got to punch him in the mouth. And that's what he's doing." Best supports the president's actions even though they affect him directly.
BRIAN MURPHY: Vice President Pence to visit Charlotte this week for RNC 2020 kickoff event (McClatchy D.C. reports) -- Vice President Mike Pence will attend the 2020 Republican National Convention kickoff in Charlotte on Wednesday as part of a day-long trip to the state that includes stops in Monroe and Greensboro. The 2020 Republican National Convention will be held in Charlotte at the Spectrum Center Aug. 24-27.
JEFF HAMPTON: Corolla groups sues Currituck County over how $40 million in lodging taxes were spent (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot reports) -- A Corolla citizens group has filed suit claiming Currituck County illegally diverted millions of lodging taxes from the Outer Banks to mainland projects. North Carolina requires the 6 percent tax charged on overnight stays be spent only on tourism-related activities. But projects including the YMCA and a park on the Intracoastal Waterway all are used mostly by locals far from tourists on the Outer Banks, according to the lawsuit filed earlier this month by the Corolla Civic Association and others.
ELIZABETH FRIEND: Clayton Police Program Helps Officers Connect With Veterans In Crisis (WUNC-FM reports) -- A chance encounter between an Air Force veteran and a police officer in North Carolina helped launch a program to connect first responders with veterans in crisis. Chief Blair Myhand and Officer Jonathan Guider of the Clayton Police Department spoke at a panel hosted by the Library of Congress last week on Veterans Crisis Intervention Training. The program teaches first responders with military backgrounds how to leverage that shared experience to de-escalate crisis situations involving veterans.
A hard line against youth vaping (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Last week, North Carolina became the first state to file a lawsuit against Juul Labs Inc., maker of a top-selling electronic cigarette, contending that it targets underage youths with its products. Others may follow. We appreciate that N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein has taken the lead in protecting our children from manipulative advertising that could have deadly results.
SCOTT SEXTON: Another weekend, another mass shooting. Thirteen have been shot in 2 violent episodes this spring (Winston-Salem Journal reports) -- Judging solely by a preponderance of small but well cared for homes in the area, the 4200 block of Cody Drive looks to be a placid, quiet place. An older man labored behind a push mower in the afternoon heat Monday. Another guy had his head under the hood of a car. Two others lingered under shade trees in a cul-de-sac.
ELIZABETH FRIEND: Orange County To Begin Enforcing Large Flag Ban (WUNC reports) -- Orange County is preparing to enforce a new regulation limiting the size of flags on private property. The rule was put in place a year ago in response to complaints about a large Confederate flag flying near U.S. 70 northwest of Hillsborough.
GWENDOLYN GLENN: Huntersville Commission Recommends Operating A Charter School And Splitting From CMS (WFAE-FM reports) -- Members of a special education committee in Huntersville are expected to recommend that town officials move forward with operating their own charter at Monday night's Board of Commissioners meeting. Huntersville's Educational Options Study Commission members have been meeting since the end of last year to come up with ways to ease overcrowding. Forming their own charter or partnering with an existing charter school has been a top consideration since state legislators passed a bill last year that gave Huntsville, Matthews, Cornelius and Mint Hill the green light to operate their own charters.
LISA PHILIP: NC Preschool Teacher Loves Kids. But Low Pay, Lack Of Benefits Make It Impossible To Stay. (WUNC-FM reports) -- Almost every day, 27-year-old Aubree Waddell takes her two youngest kids to the public library in Garner, to keep them busy. Today she’s sitting at a little table in the kids’ section with her baby daughter in her arms. Waddell’s four-year-old son, Micah is trying to read with his baby sister.
GINGER LIVINGSTON: Commissioners reject additional teacher supplement funding (Greenville Daily Reflector reports) -- The Pitt County Board of Commissioners voted down a motion to further raise a proposed tax increase to fund additional pay supplements for public school teachers in the 2019-20 fiscal year budget. Commissioner Christopher Nunnally proposed adding 1.6 cents to a proposed 3.3-cent property tax rate increase in order to raise $2.3 million for teachers. That would be enough to raise the local supplement to 7 percent of the base salary paid to Pitt teachers by the state.
EMMY VICTOR: School lunch costs in Wake County could increase next year (WRAL-TV reports) -- The price of school lunches for children in Wake County could increase for the upcoming school year.
EMERY DALESIO: Trump DOJ wants role in lawsuit over pay at 2 NC med schools (AP reports) -- The Trump Administration said it wants to be able to enforce an expected settlement in a federal lawsuit in N.C. accusing neighboring research universities of conspiring to depress wages for medical professionals.
BOBBY BURNS: UNC System, ECU file for injunction against county, Vidant (Greenville Daily Reflector reports) -- The UNC system and East Carolina University filed a compliant seeking an injunction and ultimately a reversal of changes that stripped the UNC Board of Governors’ authority to make appointments to the governing board of Vidant Medical Center.
UNC System seeks to halt how medical center picks board (AP reports) -- The UNC System has filed a motion seeking to halt changes to who appoints members to a North Carolina medical center board.
BRENT KENDALL: Duke University Moves to Settle No-Poach Case for $54.5 Million (Wall Street Journal reports) -- Duke and the University of North Carolina are fierce competitors on the basketball court, but when it comes to medical hiring, they have been cozy collaborators, according to a class action that Duke moved to settle for $54.5 million.
CCCC Culinary Arts program ‘grows’ variety of careers (Jacksonville Daily News reports) -- The students in Coastal Carolina Community College’s Culinary Arts program may arrive with different skills and perspectives, but they all leave better prepared to pursue their goals.
LIZ BELL: NC program evaluation division recommends focus on early childhood learning in low-performing districts (EdNC reports) -- The General Assembly asked its Program Evaluation Division to look at what makes predominantly disadvantaged districts succeed academically. The division studied 12 districts both inside and outside of NC that meet that criterion, which the report says is a rare combination, and looked at national data sets to find nationwide trends.
JIM MORRILL: Conservative black leaders protest Planned Parenthood’s new Charlotte clinic (Charlotte Observer reports) -- More than three-dozen black women protested next month's opening of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Charlotte, invoking terms such as genocide to describe the impact of abortion on African-Americans. Planned Parenthood announced plans to open a clinic near uptown in June, allowing the group to provide abortion services in Charlotte for the first time in decades.
YEN DUONG: Zero new HIV cases: the goal for Mecklenburg County (N.C. Health News reports) -- Mecklenburg County, with one of the highest rates of HIV in the nation, is fighting the HIV epidemic with a community plan of action.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
JON HAWLEY: Avangrid to pursue solar project near wind farm (Elizabeth City Daily Advance reports) -- The Oregon-based company that owns the 104-turbine Amazon Wind Farm US East in Pasquotank County doesn't plan to build any additional wind turbines at the site, but instead will pursue a solar farm near the wind farm, a company official said last week. Andrew Makee, manager of business development for Avangrid Renewables, told members of the Elizabeth City Morning Rotary Club on Friday that the solar project will be located in the "desert" of Pasquotank -- possibly co-located with the 22,000-acre wind farm.
MONICA LALIBERTE: Summer's nearly here but after Florence, is the NC coast ready for visitors? (WRAL-TV reports) -- Summer's just around the corner and you might be ready to hit the beach. But is the beach ready for you?
JEFF HAMPTON: Passenger ferry begins running today between Hatteras and Ocracoke (Virginian-Pilot reports) -- A passenger ferry began running Monday between Hatteras Village and Ocracoke. Rides on the M/V Martha's Vineyard Express will be free Monday and Tuesday, according to a news release from the NC Ferry Division. Tickets will cost $1 each way beginning Wednesday.
First black official in Atlantic Coast Conference dies (AP reports) -- Jim Burch was the first black man to officiate a basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but one of the men he taught to follow in his footsteps said Burch didn't make much out of the achievement. Burch, who not only called college games but taught others how to officiate in a career spanning 60 years, died at his home in Apex, outside of Raleigh, on Sunday. He was 91. Luckie, an ACC referee since 1997, said it was Burch who gave him his start in refereeing.
Marine Corps Harrier jet crashes in NC (AP reports) -- Officials say a Marine jet has crashed in a wooded area in NC, but the pilot ejected from the aircraft and was taken to a hospital.