Carolina Journal News Reports
CJ Series

2011 General Assembly

The first Republican majority in more than a century takes charge of the legislature.

(1.07.13) Lawmakers Wrangle Over Training For Bail Agents
RALEIGH — Two of the General Assembly’s most powerful Republican lawmakers and the Democratic state insurance commissioner are among those ensnared in a legal struggle between private and nonprofit bail bondsmen organizations providing instructional courses for bail agents.

(12.07.12) Education Cuts: Facts Trump Fiction
In their first year at the helm, Republican legislators increased education spending, made slight reductions in the number of teaching positions, and maintained class sizes in most grades.

(12.06.12) Unemployment Reforms Would Raise Taxes, Cut Benefits
RALEIGH — Laid-off workers would see their benefits decreased and about 30 percent of the state’s businesses would see their unemployment insurance taxes increased under a proposal presented Wednesday to a legislative study panel.

(11.20.12) Hoyle Assures Lawmakers New Tax Collection System Will Work
RALEIGH — N.C. Department of Revenue Secretary David Hoyle acknolwledges its new Tax Information Management System is costly. And while Hoyle is confident the new system will not only pay for itself but also generate more revenue for the state, there have been — and most likely will be — some bumps in the road.

(8.13.12) Public Higher Ed Survives Budget Ordeal With Little Change
RALEIGH — The wild swings in North Carolina’s higher education budget may have come to a halt. Last year, the University of North Carolina system absorbed roughly $400 million in cuts — a few years before that, higher ed was getting annual increases of 5 percent and more.

(8.02.12) Legislative ‘Dashboard’ Lets Lawmakers Track Bills Electronically
RALEIGH — The more technologically savvy method of navigating legislation was introduced as a pilot program during this summer’s short session. It is aimed at saving paper, paying for paper and supplies, and making the General Assembly operate more efficiently.

(7.31.12) Florida AP Model Fails To Gain Traction in North Carolina
RALEIGH — Under the proposed legislation, N.C. high school students who scored a 3 or better on most Advanced Placement tests would have been eligible to receive college credit in exchange for the passing grade. Teachers would have received a $50 bonus for each student who received a 3 or better on an AP test.

(7.26.12) The High-Poverty School Ruse
Students at less affluent schools get a lot more financial support than the conventional wisdom would have you believe.

(7.25.12) Republicans Graded On Promises Made Before NCGA Session
RALEIGH — GOP candidates in 2010 promised voters they would enact a detailed policy agenda if they won a legislative majority, even though they would have to work with a Democratic governor, Bev Perdue. The 10-item agenda dealt with fiscal policies, economic growth, and education reform, among other issues.

(7.24.12) Cities Using Hefty Tax Rates To Discourage Internet Sweepstakes
HILLSBOROUGH — Though the state Supreme Court is expected to rule on the legality of video sweepstakes parlors, state lawmakers and many municipalities have crafted laws to tax and regulate Internet cafés, which critics contend are a back door to gambling. Hillsborough’s experience is no different.

(7.16.12) Education Reforms Made Halting Advances in Short Session
RALEIGH — The 2012 short session of the General Assembly saw some proposed reforms to the public schools move forward, while others lacked the political support to advance. More changes to state public school policy could make headway once lawmakers return to Raleigh next year.

(7.11.12) Insko: N.C. Will Create Health Care Exchange
CHAPEL HILL – While some states are opting out of expanded Medicaid provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, state Rep. Verla Insko confidently predicts North Carolina will participate in the expansion despite a temporary spike in costs to the state.

(7.10.12) Martin Board Refuses to Lease Vacant Building to Charter School
RALEIGH — Bear Grass Charter School wants to move into the Bear Grass High School building, which has been closed since June 2010. The high school was consolidated with a school in a nearby town because of low student populations. Moreover, the Martin County School Board said the building was unsafe.

(7.03.12) General Assembly Overrides Vetoes on Budget, Fracking, Racial Justice Act
RALEIGH – An override of Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue’s budget veto highlighted a day of votes in which the Republican-controlled General Assembly shot down the governor’s vetoes three times.

(6.29.12) Bill Altering Competition Among Health Insurers Faces NCGA Deadline
RALEIGH — As the 2012 short session of the General Assembly approaches adjournment, smaller health insurance companies are still fighting for a bill that they hope would make the industry more competitive in the state. Supporters say that the bill is all about fostering competition.

(6.29.12) Perdue Will Veto Budget, Urging Lawmakers To Boost Spending
RALEIGH — The veto throws into doubt a number of budget increases – including money to scale back public school cuts and pay raises for teachers and state employees – if legislative leaders are not able to muster enough support to override Perdue’s veto.

(6.28.12) Senators Trade Barbs As Altered DOT Letter Probed
RALEIGH – Sparks flew during a Wednesday Senate committee meeting after a top aide to Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue said that he never intended to alter the opinion of a top Department of Transportation official when he changed a letter about the timing for money on two toll projects.

(6.28.12) Eugenics Victims Must Wait
The 2011-12 session of the General Assembly squandered an opportunity to address one of the most shameful policies in North Carolina history: the eugenics program.

(6.26.12) Perdue Urges Legislature To Find More Money for Schools
RALEIGH – Saying she would never turn her back on North Carolina’s children, Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue urged GOP legislative leaders to find more money for education in the waning days of the 2012 short session. Perdue would not say if she would veto the budget on her desk.

(6.25.12) Liberal Campaign Against ALEC Ignores Similarities With NCSL
RALEIGH — In recent months, liberal advocacy groups have conducted a concerted attack against the American Legislative Exchange Council, a public-policy group promoting federalism, free markets, and limited government. Similar complaints of agenda-driven policy could be lodged against another nonpartisan group, the National Council of State Legislatures.

(6.22.12) Perdue Aide Says Altered DOT Letter A Mistake
RALEIGH – Gov. Bev Perdue’s top legislative aide told a Senate committee on Thursday that altered letters which ended up saying the opposite of what a top ranking Department of Transportation official intended was a mistake resulting from a rushed attempt to fulfill lawmakers’ concerns over two proposed toll projects.

(6.21.12) Budget Deal Could Go To Governor By Friday
RALEIGH – House and Senate budget negotiators have reached a compromise $20.2 billion General Fund budget deal for the upcoming fiscal year that provides 1.2 percent raises to state employees and teachers while restoring $251 million in previous cuts to public education.

(6.21.12) $20.2 Billion General Fund Budget In Perdue’s Hands
RALEIGH — The Senate passed the budget by a 30-15 party-line vote. The House passed it by a 71-45 vote, as five Democrats joined 66 Republicans for the measure. All 45 of the votes against it in the House were from Democrats.

(6.20.12) Senate Probe of DOT Letter Continues
RALEIGH — Today, Department of Transportation officials will explain to senators why altered letters were presented to lawmakers during budget negotiations. Thursday, representatives from Gov. Bev Perdue's office have their turn.

(6.20.12) DOT Official Trogdon Confirms He Did Not Sign Letter Requesting Money
RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Transportation’s chief operating officer confirmed that he did not sign a letter to lawmakers saying that money was needed for two toll projects as soon as possible. The altered letters reflected a different view of how soon money was needed for two toll projects than Trogdon had originally intended.

(6.19.12) Senators Will Investigate Altered Letters Asking for DOT Funding
RALEIGH – The Senate Rules Committee launched an inquiry into two altered letters purportedly from a top N.C. Department of Transportation official which said that money is needed now in order to proceed with two toll projects – the Garden Parkway in Gaston and Mecklenburg counties and the Mid-Currituck along the Outer Banks.

(6.18.12) UPDATED: Deal May Be Near on State Budget
RALEIGH – House and Senate budget negotiators could be nearing an agreement on the state’s $20 billion-plus General Fund spending plan. It's possible a provision providing compensation to victims of the state's abandoned eugenics program could be resurrected.

(6.15.12) Balance Needed on Coverage of Sea Level Rise
The costs of adjusting to purported increases in sea level have been left out of major news stories.

(6.15.12) Tax Provision Could Thwart Compensation for Eugenics Victims
RALEIGH – Prospects for compensating victims of a decades long forced sterilization program dimmed this week when the state Senate defeated a measure that would have inserted $11 million into the budget to pay for the compensation. The measure may be resurrected in budget negotiations.

(6.14.12) WakeMed, Rex Hospitals Declare Truce
RALEIGH — Nonprofit WakeMed dropped its plans to purchase Rex Healthcare from UNC Health Care after the university hospital system agreed to provide more charity care and make its operations more transparent.

(6.14.12) ‘Rescue Funds’ In Peril If Senate Bill Becomes Law
RALEIGH — Nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Arizona campaign-finance law allowing some candidates to receive "rescue funds" provided by taxpayers, North Carolina lawmakers are pushing a bill that would end a similar system for some elected offices.

(6.13.12) Short Session of General Asssembly Winding Down
RALEIGH — It will take about two weeks after the budget passes before the session adjourns. And both the House and Senate appear to be headed toward adopting legislation regulating fracking and making changes to the state’s Racial Justice Act, with the House giving its initial approval of the bill Tuesday.

(6.11.12) Medicaid Reforms May Leave Developmentally Disabled in the Cold
RALEIGH — Advocates for developmentally disabled patients fear that thousands of patients might lose case management services as local and regional mental health organizations (often called local management entities, or LMEs) begin implementing a managed care system of health care delivery.

(6.07.12) Perdue: ‘Tax The Heck’ Out of Sweepstakes Business
RALEIGH — While Gov. Bev Perdue said she didn’t like the sweepstakes business in the state, as long as they continue to operate in North Carolina, the state should do what many local governments have decided to do and “regulate them hard and tax the heck out of them.”

(6.06.12) Dental Regulation Bill Drawing National Attention
RALEIGH — Dental service organizations provide back-end or nonclinical services to dentists who work with their business model. Those services include accounting, purchasing, billing and collection, and information technology. They also provide dental equipment.

(5.31.12) Berger’s Ambitious Education Reform Plan Faces Tight Deadlines
RALEIGH — It’s unclear what, if anything, could survive a vote in both houses and a possible veto by Gov. Bev Perdue. Under pressure from state education officials, Senate leader Phil Berger’s initial proposal is continuing to evolve. And GOP House leaders have introduced competing if more modest proposals.

(5.30.12) ‘Chicken Nugget’ Bill Would Restore Parental Authority
RALEIGH — A bill to counter “the overreaching arm of government” when it comes to policing preschool lunch boxes has made it out of a Senate committee and could be up for a floor vote by Wednesday.

(5.30.12) Redistricting Reform Proposal Running Aground
RALEIGH — A number of groups have sued the state over the new congressional and legislative maps approved by the General Assembly last year. However, the U.S. Justice Department has approved the maps and they are in effect for the 2012 elections.

(5.29.12) JLF Analysts Focus on Taxpayer Benefits from N.C. House’s No-Tax-Hike Budget
RALEIGH — North Carolina taxpayers struggling with a sluggish economy would not have to worry about new taxes or fees under the 2012-13 state budget plan moving through the N.C. House. That's good news for John Locke Foundation budget analysts, who say the plan also has room for improvement. The House's Appropriations Committee is considering today a General Fund budget that would spend more than $20.2 billion in 2012-13.

(5.25.12) House Passes Even Stronger Annexation Reform
RALEIGH — Red-shirted property owners flooded the General Assembly yesterday, as they did about a year ago, to put pressure on lawmakers voting on historic annexation reform. Only this time, the reform that passed is even more sweeping than last year’s version.

(5.24.12) Changes in Beer Franchising Law Have Distributors Happier Than Brewers
RALEIGH – The state House has said cheers to a compromise beer distributorship agreement that will make changes to the state’s decades-old beer franchise law. The distributors would gain in that breweries essentially would have to sell their products to distributors at the same price statewide.

(5.24.12) House Budget Eliminates Job of Controversial Commerce Official
RALEIGH — The House budget for commerce would eliminate the position of assistant secretary of commerce for community services. That job now is held by Henry C. McKoy, who is embroiled in a controversy over an attempted diversion of federal funds to a nonprofit he controlled.

(5.23.12) Compensation for Victims of Eugenics Program Moves Forward
RALEIGH — Victims of the state’s forced sterilization program moved a step closer to getting $50,000 in compensation apiece after the House Judiciary Committee gave its blessing to the proposal on Tuesday. For more than four decades, the state sterilized an estimated 7,600 North Carolinians who were poor, sick, undereducated, or disabled.

(5.23.12) Hundreds March for Private School Tax Credits
RALEIGH — More than 1,200 parents and children — many of them black — rallied and marched outside the General Assembly Tuesday to support the proposed legislation, which could be introduced as early as this week.

(5.22.12) Legislative Committee Backs Measures To Boost State Efficiency
RALEIGH — State lawmakers could take some steps this year toward zero-based budgeting, increased accountability for taxpayer investment, and greater use of something called “data analytics.” The General Assembly’s Legislative Research Commission voted without debate Wednesday to forward proposals on each topic to the full General Assembly.

(5.21.12) Voter ID Measures In Limbo As Some Seek Compromise
RALEIGH — Last year, a veto by Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue of a strict voter ID bill halted Republican attempts to require all citizens to present a photo ID when voting. Republican House members tried but weren’t able to convince any Democrats to support an override of the veto.

(5.17.12) Bill Compensating Eugenics Victims Has Bipartisan Support
RALEIGH — The bill provides $10 million to be used to for compensating sterilization victims. A new Office of Justice for Sterilization Victims would be charged with helping people filing claims collect the paperwork necessary to determine if they are eligible for compensation.

(5.17.12) Cities Squawk as Senate Annexation Reform Hits Fast Track
RALEIGH — In what some are calling “punishment” to the cities that sued over annexation reform legislation passed last year, state lawmakers have rewritten the law so that it is even more unfavorable to cities wishing to engage in involuntary annexation.

(5.16.12) Short Session of General Assembly Expected to Be Eventful
RALEIGH — The top priority for the 2012 short session, which begins today, will be fine-tuning the state’s approximately $20 billion General Fund budget. Among other actions, lawmakers may compensate victims of the state's long-abandoned eugenics program, fund a Medicaid shortfall, and work on education reform.

(5.11.12) Perdue Budget Includes Tax Hike, Highlights Education Spending
RALEIGH — Political observers say Gov. Bev Perdue’s lame-duck status looms large against her spending wishes and could have implications for this year’s state elections. Perdue's 2012-13 budget is 6.2 percent higher than the current General Fund budget.

(5.10.12) Election Night Brings Upsets, Close Margins in N.C. Legislative Races
RALEIGH — Primary election night Tuesday resulted in several upsets and close races in legislative contests in North Carolina, setting the stage for a competitive general election season this summer and fall. Voter turnout was 35 percent, nipping at the heels of the record-breaking turnout of 37 percent in 2008, another presidential year.

(5.08.12) Commission Told of Need for Consumer Protections From Fracking
RALEIGH – Landowners need consumer protections built into North Carolina law to prevent potential financial losses, property damage, and mortgage mayhem from complicated oil and gas leases, said officials in the state Attorney General’s Office April 26 to members of the Environmental Review Commission.

(5.07.12) Winner of GOP Primary in House District 82 Will Take Seat in 2013
RALEIGH — Bedrock conservative principles such as limited government, support for the free market, and reducing taxes and regulations reverberate in the House District 82 Republican primary campaigns of appointed incumbent Larry Pittman and challenger Herbert Jay White.

(4.25.12) Medicaid Shortfall Has Lawmakers and Governor Scrambling
RALEIGH — State lawmakers are pushing to inject more fiscal discipline and better forecasting into Medicaid budgeting to end a series of annual overruns that have required tapping into the state’s General Fund. The shortfall was $200 million two years ago and $600 million last year.

(4.25.12) CJ Editorial: Drilling Through the Dental Debate
Senate Bill 655 would set into law restrictive regulations controlling the financing and operation of dental practices, while adding others.

(4.24.12) With Cap Lifted, State Sees Surge in Charter School Applications
RALEIGH — By mid-April, approximately 60 applications for new charters had been submitted to the N.C. Office of Charter Schools. If approved, the new charter schools would open by the fall of 2013. The applications run the gamut of rural and urban regions across North Carolina — from the Triad, Triangle, and Charlotte regions to rural Randolph and Chatham counties.

(4.20.12) The Opposition Fractures
Natural gas exploration using hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking, may be moving forward in North Carolina. The General Assembly is ready to authorize it.

(4.16.12) General Assembly Republicans Target Cities That Sued Over Annexation Reform
RALEIGH — Rep. Stephen LaRoque, R-Lenoir, believes the ruling against the General Assembly’s annexation reforms will not survive an appeal. Meantime, Republican leaders could introduce a law that would repeal nine annexations now under way.

(4.11.12) Lobbyists for Government Will Greet Lawmakers At Short Session
RALEIGH — As of March 28, eight North Carolina counties and 10 municipalities were listed as principals in the North Carolina General Assembly Lobbying Directory. The local governments are sprinkled among more than 660 lobbyists and 700 principals registered to lobby on behalf of businesses, industries, and advocates for and against specific causes and issues.

(4.03.12) Fracking Opponents State Case At DENR-Sponsored Hearing
CHAPEL HILL — Nearly 700 placard-waving people filled the East Chapel Hill High School auditorium March 27 and still more were turned away due to crowding. Fifty of the 90-plus people who signed up to speak at the public hearing testified during the lively three-hour proceeding.

(3.20.12) New Law Would Centralize Teacher Retirement Account Management
RALEIGH — Employees of local school boards could place their supplemental investments with a single statewide provider, selected by the treasurer's office. Critics say the law could squeeze out smaller, independent retirement administrators.

(3.15.12) WakeMed and Rex Tussle Over Definition of ‘Private’
RALEIGH — WakeMed officials claim Rex is a public hospital and uses state tax dollars to compete “unfairly.” Rex officials say WakeMed isn’t any more private than Rex, as the county still appoints a majority of its board members. Moreover, Rex officials say the hospital receives no direct subsidies from UNC Health Care or the General Assembly.

(3.13.12) Rep. Bradley Revives Raw Milk Debate
RALEIGH — Until 2004, North Carolinians could get around the prohibition on raw milk by purchasing a "cow share," or partial ownership of a cow. The General Assembly outlawed the practice that year, pushing raw milk consumers fully underground.

(3.06.12) Political Cooperation Isn’t Dead
Both liberals and conservatives saw the resulting Judicial Reinvestment Act as a step towards spending public dollars more wisely while reducing recidivism.

(2.29.12) Child Care Commission Gets An Earful From Critics, Supporters
RALEIGH — The commission may adopt rules that would modify early childhood nutritional programs. The speakers were commenting on the proposed rule changes and on enforcement of existing rules across the state. New rules could be adopted in early May.

(2.29.12) N.C. Task Force Will Study Unemployment Insurance Fraud
RALEIGH — House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, announced the launch of the task force Tuesday at a press conference. The goal, he said, is to find out how many people are cheating the system and ways to end the fraud.

(2.24.12) Gov’t Reformers Urge Greater Transparency From Republican Leaders
RALEIGH — The letter asks legislative leaders to support full sunshine principles by providing clear and precise calendars for House and Senate legislative sessions and committee meetings at least five business days in advance, along with a list of the issues that will be addressed.

(2.09.12) Republicans Grill Education Official on School Lunch Fraud
RALEIGH — In recent months, the question of fraud in the federal government’s second largest nutrition entitlement has reached critical mass in Illinois and Georgia, where school officials are trying to weed out cheaters.

(1.31.12) Federal Election Reform Commission Advocated Voter Photo ID
RALEIGH — Critics of requiring voters to present a photo ID at the polls say the practice would disenfranchise minority voters, and some even accuse proponents of being motivated by racism. They don’t mention, however, that a 21-member bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter, advocated just such a policy in 2005.

(1.30.12) Plan to Make N.C. Zoo Public-Private Partnership On the Move
RALEIGH — Zoo management says a private partner would allow the zoo to add new exhibits faster and speed up maintenance of existing facilities. Employees would shift from the state retirement system to a 401(k) plan.

(1.26.12) Last Stand for the NCAE?
If the courts uphold a law preventing payroll deductions of teacher union dues, the North Carolina Association of Educators could become nothing more than another interest group.

(1.12.12) Game Fish Bill: ‘Beginning of the End for Commercial Fishing’
RALEIGH — A bill removing three fish species from the list of those that can be caught commercially is moving forward, much to the dismay of commercial fishermen and fishing communities on the North Carolina coast.

(12.22.11) Cities File Lawsuit To Block Annexation Petitions
RALEIGH — Annexation reform advocates believe cities are concerned not about renters’ voting rights, but about losing hundreds of thousands of dollars they were counting on in new property taxes from the annexed homeowners.

(12.21.11) School Districts Struggle With How To Add Additional Classroom Days
RALEIGH — There is growing skepticism that adding five days was an efficient way to improve performance. Moreover, the General Assembly did not fund additional days in the state budget, forcing districts either to cut teacher work days or ask the state for waivers.

(12.14.11) Law Keeps Cap on Breweries’ Growth
WHITSETT — Sierra Nevada and New Belgium breweries are interested in creating hubs on the east coast. But neither will come to North Carolina unless the state allows them to sample and sell their beer at the brewery sites.

(12.13.11) JLF Legal Expert Says Eugenics Compensation Should Go Only to Living Victims
RALEIGH — North Carolina’s eugenics program sterilized more than 7,600 people between 1929 and 1974. Unlike most states with eugenics policies, the number of sterilizations in North Carolina actually increased after World War II.

(12.08.11) N.C. House Speaker Pro Tem Won’t Seek Another Term in 2012
RALEIGH — A certified public accountant and investment advisor, Rep. Dale Folwell has served in the General Assembly since 2005. After Republicans took control of the House in 2011, Folwell was elected speaker pro tem, the No. 2 position in that chamber.

(12.07.11) Discharge Petition Could Put Medical Marijuana Bill Before House
RALEIGH — If at least 61 House members sign the petition, the measure would bypass the committee structure and come up for a floor vote by the full House. This could put North Carolina in position to be the 17th state to authorize use of medical marijuana.

(12.06.11) Senate Dismantles Racial Justice Act
RALEIGH — The Racial Justice Act allows death row inmates to appeal their sentences on the basis of statistical data that some say demonstrate rampant racial discrimination. Opponents of the law say it is a backdoor attempt to get rid of the death penalty altogether.

(11.29.11) State Lawmakers Might Get iPads
RALEIGH — The lawmakers who will select the tablets haven’t decided yet whether to pick iPads, Galaxy Tabs, or Xooms, but whichever brand they settle on, tablet computers are supposed to save the state money and give the public better access to legislative documents and other materials.

(11.17.11) Job Reports Have Something for Everyone
RALEIGH — The reports can measure disparate aspects of the labor market, and some groups count jobs differently than others, equating vacant and unfilled positions with layoffs, for example.

(11.08.11) Redistricting Lawsuits Could Delay Primary in ’12
RALEIGH — Lawsuits over a new redistricting plan could mean that the May 2012 primary will be put off for months. This could complicate both the short session of the legislature and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

(11.07.11) ‘B Corps’ Mix Corporate Responsibility With Profit-Seeking
RALEIGH — While traditional corporations have a legal responsibility to maximize profits, B corporations are free to focus on other pursuits, like preserving the environment, improving human health, or promoting the arts.

(11.03.11) N.C. School Choice Group Partners With Venture Fund To Back New Charters
HENDERSON — Partners for Developing Futures has teamed with Raleigh-based Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, a key player in lobbying the General Assembly to eliminate the cap on the number of charter schools.

(11.02.11) Kinston Could Become Second N.C. City With Mayoral Veto
KINSTON — Charlotte is the only city in North Carolina that gives its mayor veto powers. The General Assembly controls the charters of all cities, towns, and villages in the state, so legislative action was required to give Kinston voters the opportunity to decide it they wanted a mayoral veto.

(10.27.11) Pro-Lifers Dispute Pregnancy Center Public Funding Claim
RALEIGH — Pro-life advocates say the $25 fee to purchase a "Choose Life" license plate is a voluntary donation to nonprofit pregnancy centers. Pro-choicers say that since the state handles the money, it should regulate the centers.

(10.07.11) N.C. Senate Leader Uses Continental Tire Blowout To Question Incentives
RALEIGH — The issues that troubled Sen. Phil Berger surrounded an incentives proposal for German-based Continental Tire that fell through this week. Despite North Carolina’s incentives offers, the company announced plans to build its new plant instead in Sumter, S.C.

(10.06.11) CJ Editorial: Fuzzy Job Math From Gov. Perdue
The governor and her liberal allies harbor a basic misunderstanding of the proper role of government and the appropriate size of the public work force.

(10.03.11) Fiscal Amendments Fall by the Wayside
RALEIGH — A special legislative session in September may be as notable for what did not pass as what did. The General Assembly left town without taking up amendments on several key fiscal issues.

(9.30.11) Polls Show Voter Disapproval of Perdue Remains High
RALEIGH — Separate polls by Elon University and the Civitas Institute show Gov. Bev Perdue's negatives remain stubbornly high. But Elon pollsters found the public's views of the Republican-led General Assembly aren't glowing, either.

(9.29.11) Charter School Wins Funding Battle in N.C. Court of Appeals
RALEIGH — A three-judge panel decided unanimously in September that the Rutherford County public school system owes Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy more than $730,000. Appellate judges agreed the school system had shorted the charter school funding for the 2007, 2008, and 2009 budget years.

(9.29.11) Politics Vs. Facts In Jobs Debate
The state Department of Public Instruction produced a sloppy, politically motivated report designed to manufacture headlines and mislead the public, rather than provide insight into the complex issue of public sector employment.

(9.29.11) Timidity Over Term-Limits Amendment Ticks Off Sponsor
RALEIGH — Rep. John Blust thought his amendment limiting leadership tenure to four years would fly through the Senate, because it had the support of the top leaders in that chamber. The fact that it didn't upsets the Guilford County Republican.

(9.26.11) Marriage Referendum Will Have Political Consequences in Primary
RALEIGH — In response to Democrats’ concerns that a ballot question in the fall would drive higher turnout among conservative voters (hurting Democrats’ chances), Republican sponsors booked the referendum for the May 2012 primary election.

(9.15.11) NCGA Special Session Ends With Amendments on the Table
RALEIGH — The sole amendment to pass this week's session — one that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman — will appear on the primary ballot in May next year for approval by voters. The others, including one curbing state and local governments' eminent domain powers, remain eligible for consideration.

(9.15.11) DPI Layoff Reports Neglected Earlier Apocalyptic Predictions
Using Obamaspeak, Republicans created or saved more than 12,000 jobs in North Carolina public schools.

(9.13.11) After Furious Debate, N.C. House Passes Revised Marriage Amendment
RALEIGH — The marriage amendment has become the centerpiece of this week’s legislative session devoted to constitutional amendments. If the amendment passes the Senate, voters would decide the matter in the May 2012 primary election.

(9.12.11) Eminent Domain Amendment DOA as Session Resumes
RALEIGH — Indications are that legislators will address eminent domain reform when they reconvene for their “short session” in May next year. If they approve the amendment at that time, the issue could still appear on the General Election ballot in November for final approval by voters.

(9.06.11) In Dueling Pressers, Advocates Spar Over Marriage Definition
RALEIGH — Democrats claim that a version of the amendment introduced in the Senate would ban private companies from offering domestic partner benefits to their homosexual employees. Republicans counter that the amendment would not affect private contractual agreements.

(9.01.11) DPI Layoff Reports Neglected Earlier Apocalyptic Predictions
Using Obamaspeak, Republicans created or saved more than 12,000 jobs in North Carolina public schools.

(8.30.11) WakeMed Continues to Pursue Purchase of Rex Healthcare
RALEIGH — UNC Health Care’s rejection of WakeMed Health and Hospitals’ offer to purchase Rex Healthcare could thrust the battle between the two medical providers more prominently in the public eye.

(8.30.11) Republicans Deliver Opening Shot in Marriage Fight
RALEIGH — Prompted in response to a push in state governments and the judiciary to legalize same-sex marriage, Republicans and conservative Democrats have introduced marriage amendments each session since 2003. This year is the first time the idea has gotten traction.

(8.29.11) Teacher Paradise Retrenches After Budget Cuts
RALEIGH — In the near term, the slashed budget at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching will mean fewer five-day seminars, more on-site training for teachers in school districts, and ramped up private fundraising. It’s also meant dozens of layoffs over the past two years.

(8.25.11) General Assembly Looks for Creative Answer for Voter ID Veto
RALEIGH — Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said members of the General Assembly who opposed the bill should think twice after several Wake County voters were charged with voter fraud in August. He said those incidents are just the tip of the iceberg.

(8.24.11) New Law Requires H.S. Students to Learn About Founders
RALEIGH — A little more than one year after state school officials proposed a controversial plan to slice much of pre-1877 history out of the state’s high school curriculum, a bipartisan General Assembly approved House Bill 588, The Founding Principles Act.

(8.22.11) Politicos Brace for Down-and-Dirty Amendment Fight in September
RALEIGH — The three amendments most likely to surface when the legislature reconvenes Sept. 12 address eminent domain, traditional marriage, and term limits for top legislative leaders. It’s unclear how long this session will last.

(8.19.11) Beware Budget Bashers Misusing N.C. Unemployment Data
RALEIGH — As North Carolina's unemployment rate climbs above 10 percent for the first time in 10 months, officials and pundits should be careful about misusing the numbers to score political points. That's the assessment from John Locke Foundation President John Hood.

(8.18.11) Tax Credit for Special Needs Children Highlighted at Forum
RALEIGH — Several hundred parents gathered in the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Aug. 16 for a question and answer session about the new tax credit. Dozens were disappointed to find out they weren’t eligible.

(8.16.11) De-annexation Delayed by Voting Rights Act
RALEIGH — Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requires certain jurisdictions to obtain “pre-clearance” from the U.S. Justice Department before attempting to change any voting practice or procedure. The idea is to prevent discrimination against black residents.

(8.12.11) Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Health Care Mandate
RALEIGH — The lawsuit before the 11th Circuit was filed by 26 states and a number of other parties, and state Attorney General Roy Cooper refused to join it.

(8.10.11) Charter School Backers Worry About Gov’s Picks to Council
RALEIGH — The State Board of Education took the first steps August 4 in creating the North Carolina Public Charter School Advisory Council. It will be responsible for recommending charter school policies and developing standards for approval, rejection, renewal, and revocation of charters.

(8.08.11) ‘Game Fish’ Bill Pits Commercial Fishermen vs. Recreational Counterparts
RALEIGH — The bill highlights an ongoing debate between recreational and commercial fishermen over who controls the fish in the sea. Recreational fishing is a $3.7 billion industry in North Carolina and could become much bigger.

(8.04.11) CJ Editorial: Back to the Drawing Board
The new legislative and congressional district maps drawn by Republicans provide the best argument for an independent map-drawing process since the Democrats concocted a set of equally egregious maps a decade ago.

(8.02.11) 2011 Redistricting: Securing a Republican Majority For a Decade?
RALEIGH — Barring prolonged federal intervention or an unfavorable ruling from a state court, the maps will be in place for the 2012 election. Analysts predict that will mean a Republican gain of between two to four seats in the congressional delegation.

(8.01.11) NCGA Overrides Five Perdue Vetoes — Who Benefits?
RALEIGH — With the help of a handful of conservative-leaning Democrats in the House, the GOP majority last week successfully overrode Perdue’s vetoes of five bills, including those addressing tort reform, abortion restrictions, and a regulatory overhaul.

(7.27.11) Time For the VRA to RIP?
RALEIGH — In a nation that elected its first black president in 2008, has 44 black members of Congress (nearly half from the southeast), and reached an all-time high in racially integrated neighborhoods after the last census, observers wonder whether so-called “majority-minority” districts are still needed.

(7.27.11) General Assembly Could Convene Surprise Amendment Session This Week
RALEIGH — It's not clear which proposed amendments could be considered in this hastily arranged session. Three measures have been voted out of the House and would need only Senate approval to reach the 2012 general election ballot.

(7.22.11) Democrats Can Blame One of Their Own for Redrawn Maps
If the latest proposed map for North Carolina congressional elections makes it harder for Democrats to win, they can thank Rep. G.K. Butterfield.

(7.19.11) GOP Searches For One More Vote on Abortion Bill
RALEIGH — Pro-lifers say the measure would save thousands of unborn lives each year by establishing a waiting period before an abortion and better educating abortion-minded women on risks and alternatives. Opponents say the legislation violates the doctor-patient relationship.

(7.14.11) It’s a Republican Gerrymander
If the Democratic gerrymanders of 1991 and 2001 bothered you, a Republican gerrymander in 2011 should bother you, too.

(7.14.11) Senate Speedily Overrides Six Perdue Vetoes
RALEIGH — The House already has calendared veto override votes in its chamber for the week of July 25. The Senate began that process Wednesday by reversing six of Perdue’s vetoes. The House must pass them before they become law.

(7.12.11) New Law Expands Concealed Carry Provisions
RALEIGH — Supporters of the legislation say probation and parole officers perform a significant amount of law enforcement duties. Carrying concealed weapons is a normal extension of those demands.

(7.11.11) Bill Cutting Red Tape Earns Red Ink
RALEIGH — Senate Bill 781 borrows heavily from an executive order Gov. Bev Perdue issued in October. She vetoed the bill anyway.

(7.08.11) Give the New General Assembly a B
It's too soon to deliver a final verdict on the 2011 legislative session, but the progress report looks pretty good.

(7.07.11) Bill Ending NCAE Dues Check Off X-ed Out
RALEIGH — Gov. Bev Perdue says Senate Bill 727 would violate the state constitution, as it treats one employee group different than others. Backers of the measure believe they could override her veto later this month.

(7.07.11) Open-Government Backers Disheartened by NCGA Session
RALEIGH — Measures enhancing open records protections and boosting access to personnel files fell by the wayside. And open-government forces barely staved off an attempt to weaken access to firing and disciplinary records for state workers.

(7.06.11) Stripped-Down Safe Students Act Becomes Law
RALEIGH — The Safe Students Act originally included a provision requiring parents or guardians of incoming K-12 students to provide the children's immigration status. It was removed from the final version of the law.

(7.01.11) Miller, Shuler, and Kissell Biggest Losers in New Congressional Maps
RALEIGH — Republicans currently have six of 13 congressional seats. If previous voting patterns hold, the GOP could gain a 9-4 or even 10-3 advantage in 2013.

(6.30.11) N.C. Lawmakers On a Mission to Conquer Obesity
RALEIGH — Bills targeting food served at schools, sodium consumption, and diabetes are putting lawmakers in charges of school and family menus. The role of taxpayer-financed health care is used to justify state action.

(6.30.11) CJ Editorial: The Git-Er-Done Session
Republican leaders in the General Assembly advanced sound conservative principles in a fast-paced legislative session.

(6.28.11) Election Changes Rile, Invigorate Advocates in Raleigh
RALEIGH — During the General Assembly’s six-month “long” session, the GOP majority weighed a range of election-law reform bills. The most high profile and controversial would require voters to show valid photo identification at the polls.

(6.27.11) School Reform Scores Solid Gains in 2011 General Assembly
RALEIGH — Senate Bill 8, House Bill 344, and House Bill 48 proved to be a trifecta for parents seeking additional choices for the education of their children. Each gained bipartisan support in the General Assembly.

(6.27.11) Supreme Court Ruling in Arizona Case Should Kill N.C. Taxpayer-Financed Campaigns
RALEIGH — North Carolina's General Assembly should repeal its unconstitutional taxpayer-financed campaign system in the wake of a new ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. The John Locke Foundation's top legal expert reaches that conclusion after reviewing the high court's ruling. In an Arizona case, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that a provision of that state's "clean elections" law was unconstitutional.

(6.23.11) State Budget With No Tax Hike Points N.C. Toward More Sustainable Path
RALEIGH — The General Assembly's no-tax-hike budget sets North Carolina state government on a more sustainable course than the one Gov. Beverly Perdue and her allies supported. The John Locke Foundation's top budget expert reaches that conclusion in a new Spotlight report.

(6.22.11) Proposed Occupational Licensing Laws Target Entrepreneurs
RALEIGH — Nearly a dozen licensing laws were before the General Assembly. If a bill targeting your occupation becomes law, and you engage in one of these activities for pay without a license, you could be guilty of a misdemeanor or a felony.

(6.17.11) Sweat and Tears as NCGA Nears End of 2011 Session
RALEIGH — A collection of grumpy lawmakers are ready to leave Raleigh and head back to their districts. That won't happen before Saturday, when the session currently is scheduled to end.

(6.16.11) Republicans Win Budget Skirmish, But War Goes On
RALEIGH — A difference of about 2 percent over two years may seem small, but that did not stop Gov. Bev Perdue from uncapping her veto pen, temporarily striking down a state budget for the first time in North Carolina history.

(6.16.11) Searching for the Black Hat
North Carolina has promised too much to its government workers. That doesn't mean it's the workers' fault.

(6.15.11) Historic Annexation Reform Could Become Law Soon
RALEIGH — For more than a half-century, if a city wished to annex a neighborhood or individual parcels of land, property owners who did not want to be absorbed by the city had no power to block the move or to affect in any way the terms of the annexation.

(6.13.11) Government Jobs Untouched by the Great Recession
RALEIGH — Public sector employment levels in North Carolina have been stable since the start of the recession in December 2007. It would take a loss of 63,000 government jobs to match the nearly 9 percent net loss that has occurred in the private sector during that time.

(6.13.11) NCGA Preview: Week of June 13
RALEIGH — The General Assembly hopes to attempt an override of Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of the budget quickly. In the meantime, annexation reform and tort reform are moving forward in the Senate this week.

(6.10.11) Hundreds of Bills Heard During Crossover Week
RALEIGH — State legislators filed nearly 2,000 bills this session, but only a fraction will become law. The General Assembly hopes to adjourn temporarily in a couple of weeks and take up redistricting and potential constitutional amendments later this summer.

(6.09.11) Electoral Freedom Act Passes House
RALEIGH — The Electoral Freedom Act would reduce the signature requirement to qualify parties or candidates on staetwide ballots from roughly 85,000 registered voters to approximately 10,000.

(6.09.11) UPDATED: Streamlined Bill Lifting Charter School Cap Zips Through Senate
RALEIGH — While earlier versions of Senate Bill 8 fostered weeks of tense debate in committee and on the chamber floors, the legislation hammered out by a conference committee sticks closer to school-choice advocates’ original objective — lifting the 100-school cap.

(6.09.11) CJ Editorial: Limiting Grass-Roots Tyranny
City councils and county commissions continue to violate property rights and saddle residents with ruinous debt and high taxes. Thankfully, the General Assembly has helped rein in overbearing local governments.

(6.08.11) First Step in Comprehensive Annexation Reform Looms
RALEIGH — The Annexation Reform Act of 2011 would give property owners targeted for forced annexation an opportunity to reject the annexation, and force cities to provide meaningful services to those being annexed at no additional cost other than regular service charges.

(6.08.11) Biotech Incentives Bill Raised From the Dead
RALEIGH — The bill would cover investors’ outlays by giving them taxpayer-funded credits if returns from the startup companies weren’t as much as expected. Foes of the proposal say the credits would have taxpayers assume at least part of the venture capitalists’ risk.

(6.07.11) State Budget Would Shift Forestry Division To Ag Department
RALEIGH — Supporters say most of North Carolina’s forest lands are tree farms. Opponents say the move should not be part of the budget and that it would give logging interests too much power.

(6.07.11) Bill Would Require State Contractors to Check Citizenship Status
RALEIGH ‚ If passed, House Bill 36 would require anyone contracting or subcontracting with a state agency to use the federal E-Verify Program to check the U.S. citizenship status of newly hired employees.

(6.07.11) Bradley Bypassing Committee to Get His Jobs Bill Heard
RALEIGH — Rep. Glen Bradley contends that House Bill 587 would create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next few years by repealing regulatory burdens on businesses, particularly small businesses.

(6.06.11) NCGA Preview: Week of June 6
RALEIGH — Legislators will face a hectic schedule this week due to a looming crossover deadline, the drop-dead point for non-fiscal bills to clear either the House or Senate before they can be considered during next year’s short session.

(6.06.11) Teacher Forces State Rep’s 8-Year-Old to Lobby Her Dad
RALEIGH — Lee County superintendent Jeffrey Moss said that the writing assignment at Tramway Elementary was appropriate and only directed students to write their state representative, senator, and the governor “in support of public education.”

(6.03.11) NCGA Set to Send $19.6 Billion Budget to Perdue
RALEIGH — Unofficial plans are for the legislature to adjourn by June 17 and reconvene for special sessions in July and September to resolve redistricting and to pass constitutional amendments.

(6.02.11) Charter Schools on Back Burner in Favor of Budgets
RALEIGH — Charter school advocates began the legislative session in January with high hopes. Lifting the 100-school cap was an integral plank of the new Republican majority’s agenda, and a one-page bill doing that was among the first introduced in the Senate.

(6.02.11) State Budget Debate Highlights Key Regulation Reforms
RALEIGH — Negotiations over North Carolina's next state budget have raised awareness about two key reforms of the state's regulatory process. The John Locke Foundation's top regulation expert touts those two "necessary changes" in a new Spotlight report.

(5.31.11) NCGA Preview: Week of May 31
RALEIGH — Last week, the Senate appeared to have a deal in place that the five House Democrats who supported the House budget would accept, allowing quick passage by both houses. Now, it is unclear if that deal was concluded, and if it wasn’t, how soon the budget might be wrapped up.

(5.31.11) Budget on Fast Track As GOP Aims to Skirt Perdue Veto
RALEIGH — The $19.6-billion proposal is halfway between the $19.3-billion budget approved by the House earlier this month and the $19.9-billion plan submiteed by Gov. Bev Perdue in February. It allows a temporary 1-cent sales tax increase to expire.

(5.27.11) Budget Deal May Come Together in Senate
RALEIGH — There’s been a potential breakthrough in an expected budget standoff between legislative Republicans and Gov. Bev Perdue, though if it comes about it won't be to Perdue's liking.

(5.26.11) North Carolina Considers a Taxpayer Bill of Rights
RALEIGH — At a public hearing Wednesday, supporters said the proposed legislation would smooth out state spending over the business cycle, while opponents said it would hurt children and the sick.

(5.26.11) Teacher layoffs? Blame Obama
School districts and states had ample warning about the end of stimulus funding. But they continued diverting that money into teacher salaries.

(5.25.11) Even With Compromise, State Health Plan Faces Bankruptcy
RALEIGH — Dumping the State Health Plan entirely would reduce the state’s immediate obligation to employees by more than $1,000 per worker annually. And if the health plan disappeared, its $30 billion unfunded liability would vanish as well.

(5.25.11) Sunshine Amendment Rises Again — Then Sets
RALEIGH — Three Republicans — House Majority Leader Paul “Skip” Stam of Wake County, Rep. Leo Daughtry of Johnston County, and Rep. Johnathan Rhyne of Lincoln County — joined eight Democrats in voting against the legislation.

(5.24.11) Sponsors Dilute Public School Governance Bill
RALEIGH — The latest version of House Bill 823 would give Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, a Democrat, more say in policy decisions, and the General Assembly more clout in who serves on the state Board of Education.

(5.23.11) NCGA Preview: Week of May 23
RALEIGH — Initial reports suggested the Senate’s spending plan would make even deeper cuts to education than the version passed by the House in early May. But top Republicans now say their budget will devote more to public K-12 education and the university system.

(5.23.11) Three Bills Target Alcoa Operation in Stanly County
RALEIGH — Only one of the three bills has Alcoa’s name on it, but the other two may as well, as they appear to be targeted at the company, said Alcoa spokesman Mike Bellwood.

(5.20.11) Non-Budget Items Take Center Stage in NCGA
RALEIGH — With Senate Republicans busy crafting their budget for the new fiscal year, House lawmakers turned their attention to election reforms. Republicans and Democrats remained at loggerheads over extension of unemployment benefits for an estimated 42,000 North Carolinians.

(5.19.11) NCGA Scorecard: The Good, the Bad, and the Incomplete
RALEIGH — Gov. Bev Perdue has vetoed five bills, including high-profile legislation exempting North Carolinians from federal health care mandates. House Republicans have not been able to pry away enough Democrats to overcome her veto.

(5.19.11) Tax Me More Fund Passes House Committee
RALEIGH — House Bill 877 would allow filers to donate all or a portion of their state income tax refunds to six accounts, including the Department of Public Instruction, the state university system, and the general fund.

(5.18.11) Bill Would Boost N.C. Profile in Presidential Races
RALEIGH — Political operatives already have given the Tar Heel State battleground status. The Democratic Party has scheduled its 2012 national convention for Charlotte, but the GOP hopes to keep the state’s 15 electoral college votes in its corner.

(5.17.11) Ticket Reform Bill Pits Promoters Versus Resellers
RALEIGH — Backers of the bill argue that ticket holders have a right to do what they want with their tickets — use them, sell them, or give them away. Opponents say the bill would be a bonanza for ticket scalpers.

(5.16.11) NCGA Preview: Week of May 16
RALEIGH — The Senate continues to pick apart the House-passed budget seeking additional savings, while the House considers legislation protecting property rights and limiting damages in some civil lawsuits.

(5.13.11) Pro-Life/Pro-Choice a Hot Topic in Specialty License Plates Bill
RALEIGH — A bill giving drivers a host of new specialty license plate options became a forum for a debate over abortion rights.

(5.13.11) Republicans Move Forward on Annexation Reform and Tort Reform
RALEIGH — If passed, the Annexation Reform Act would give property owners facing annexation a voice for the first time in 50 years. They could veto a proposed annexation by getting 60 percent of the annexed property owners to sign a protest petition.

(5.12.11) Rhetorical Bullets Fly As House Committee OKs Abortion Bill
RALEIGH — Among other components, the proposed law would require a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, an ultrasound image of the unborn child, and notarized parental consent for a minor’s abortion.

(5.12.11) N.C. Republicans File Brief Challenging ObamaCare
RALEIGH — On Wednesday, state legislative leaders joined Minnesota in filing a friend-of-the-court amicus brief in a 26-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care law.

(5.11.11) VIDEO: Red Oak Brewery Fights For Its Independence
WHITSETT — Red Oak Brewery owner Bill Sherrill wants his Guilford County operation to keep growing. But it can't unless the General Assembly changes a law forcing any brewery producing more than 25,000 barrels annually to distribute all its beer through a wholesaler.

(5.10.11) Parents Ask State to Legalize Midwives
RALEIGH — It’s a tradition that’s gone underground in North Carolina since 1983, when the state decided to make it illegal to practice midwifery without a nursing degree. While it is not illegal for a woman to deliver a baby at home, it is illegal for a midwife to be present when it happens.

(5.09.11) NCGA Preview: Week of May 9
RALEIGH — Although Senate leaders have suggested they’ll make minor tweaks to the budget, the latest indications are that the Senate might pass the House version of the budget as is. The goal is to avoid alienating the five Democrats who joined the Republican caucus in passing the budget in the House.

(5.09.11) House Budget, Tax Cut Plan Would Add 10,000 N.C. Jobs by 2013 (Revised)
RALEIGH — Expiration of North Carolina's temporary 1-cent sales tax and income tax surcharges, a cut in the corporate tax rate, and other tax changes linked to the N.C. House budget and anticipated tax-reform package would lead to a net gain of 8,000 jobs in 2012 and 10,000 jobs by 2013. The John Locke Foundation's top budget analyst reaches those conclusions after reviewing a new report from a Boston-based economic research team.

(5.06.11) Fiscal Stalemate Continues As Budget Heads to Senate
RALEIGH — Republicans gained five Democratic converts in the House in a veto-proof 72-47 vote Wednesday afternoon. Gov. Bev Perdue has promised that, when all is said and done, members of her party will be united in opposition.

(5.06.11) Pandering to Special Interests
A failed effort to derail federal stimulus funding should raise red flags for fans of limited government.

(5.05.11) House Passes Budget, Senate Might Make Deeper Cuts
RALEIGH — Senators would prefer to adopt a plan spending less than the $19.2-billion measure that passed the House. They may, however, adopt the House measure as is, in the hopes of keeping a veto-proof majority intact.

(5.05.11) VIDEO: House Passes Budget As Teachers Protest
RALEIGH — The North Carolina House of Representatives passed its more than $19-billion budget over the protests of the state's teachers' union. The budget plan now moves to the Senate, where GOP leaders say they may shrink spending even further.

(5.05.11) CJ Editorial: The Global TransPark, Busted!
North Carolina needs to end its nearly two-decade-long commitment to this foolhardy project.

(5.05.11) Time For N.C. Annexation Reform
A proposal in the N.C. House would give property owners targeted for annexation a voice in the process.

(5.04.11) Tea Party Activists Say They Are Alive and Well in North Carolina
RALEIGH — While the movement may be less visible this year, it is burgeoning behind the scenes, leaders say. Instead of yelling and waving signs in the streets, Tea Party activists are sitting in their home offices calling, faxing, and emailing their representatives — and pouncing on any politician who goes wobbly.

(5.04.11) Emotions Raw During Hearing on Abortion Bill
RALEIGH — A physician who performs abortions called the informed-consent bill “bad from start to finish,” while a woman told lawmakers about regrets that still haunt her over her decision to abort.

(5.03.11) N.C. House Budget Tackles Taxpayer-Funded Abortions
RALEIGH — On top of the abortion-funding restrictions, Republican budget-writers have clawed back about $500,000 in state grants to Planned Parenthood. The funds are earmarked for contraception and teenage pregnancy prevention programs in the Triangle area.

(5.02.11) NCGA Preview: Week of May 2
RALEIGH — The budget would keep a fundamental promise Republicans made during the 2010 election campaign by eliminating the one-cent sales tax addition enacted in 2009.

(5.02.11) Forced Annexation Could Become History in North Carolina
RALEIGH — While North Carolina’s involuntary annexation law states that annexations are intended to benefit those being annexed, the clear beneficiaries are the annexing municipalities.

(4.29.11) Budget Talks Dominate Frenetic Week in the General Assembly
RALEIGH — The Republican budget would spend $19.1 billion, about $800 million less than Gov. Bev Perdue’s $19.9 billion budget proposal. The budget passed the Appropriations Committee Wednesday. It will be considered on the House floor next Tuesday and Wednesday.

(4.28.11) Republicans Work to Change N.C. Constitution
RALEIGH — Issues that could go before voters include protecting traditional marriage and private property rights. Political observers say state and federal races will drive turnout more than proposed constitutional amendments.

(4.28.11) National Pension Study Questions State Funding Levels
RALEIGH — The Pew Center on the States says unfunded liabilities in state pensions grew 26 percent in the most recent year data are available. North Carolina’s projected rate of return is 7.25 percent, far exceeding real historic returns.

(4.28.11) House Budget Proposal Redirects Tobacco Settlement Funds
RALEIGH — Under the GOP House budget plan, the Golden LEAF foundation would lose its $68-million allocation next year, and the Tobacco Trust Fund and the Health and Wellness Trust Fund would be abolished.

(4.27.11) Tax Credit Bill For Special-Needs Students Passes First Hurdle
RALEIGH — Aside from charter-school legislation pending in a House-Senate conference committee, the tax-credit bill would be the most substantial piece of school-choice legislation debated in the General Assembly this year.

(4.27.11) JLF Report Shows High-Speed Rail Risks Taxpayer Money For No Benefit
RALEIGH — A high-speed rail proposal for North Carolina would create "substantial" risks for taxpayers, while doing little to nothing to reduce traffic, help the environment, cut energy use, or create jobs.

(4.27.11) A Real Plan for Tackling N.C. Health Care Problems
Rep. Paul Ryan's provision giving states block grants for Medicaid would improve the health care program and reduce burdens on North Carolina taxpayers.

(4.26.11) Bill Would Revise But Not Relax Auto Dealer Regs
RALEIGH — The debate over Senate Bill 438 highlights a longstanding criticism of the vehicle-franchising system, which provides some protections to dealers and manufacturers that translate into higher prices in the showroom.

(4.26.11) NCGA Preview: Week of April 25
RALEIGH — The budget and redistricting will dominate discussion and debate this week at the General Assembly. Tort reform, property rights, a tax credit for private education, and offshore drilling also are on the agenda.

(4.22.11) North Carolina Has An Individual Mandate
In some ways, the renewable energy mandate in Senate Bill 3 is worse than ObamaCare.

(4.22.11) North Carolina Has An Individual Mandate
In some ways, the renewable energy mandate in Senate Bill 3 is worse than ObamaCare.

(4.22.11) New Public High School Would Focus on Ag and Biotech
RALEIGH — The school is designed to increase the number of high school graduates with technical degrees. Critics say these programs are provided by the state now but few students are taking the courses.

(4.22.11) VIDEO: Pension Board Ignores Unfunded Liability
RALEIGH — At a meeting Thursday, the trustees for the state's two largest pension funds barely mentioned the unfunded liability created a year ago when Democrats shortchanged state employees.

(4.22.11) Republicans Chop Additional $1.4 Billion from Perdue Budget
RALEIGH — Republican leaders and Gov. Bev Perdue sparred over a budget resolution, unemployment benefits, and extending temporary taxes imposed in 2009. House committees rolled out their first detailed budget proposals.

(4.21.11) Republicans Split on Rail Bill
RALEIGH — Republicans in a House committee split on whether to take more control over the Department of Transportation’s future efforts to build commuter rail across the state. Rep. Ric Killian, R-Mecklenburg, has been working to stop commuter upgrades to the tracks, but he’s faced stiff opposition.

(4.21.11) NCGA Primed to Debate Informed-Consent Abortion Bill
RALEIGH — The proposed law would signal a sweeping change for North Carolina, which has few abortion restrictions on the books, and is sure to generate heated political discussion as it makes its way through the legislature.

(4.20.11) Unborn Victims of Violence Act Headed to Perdue
RALEIGH — If House Bill 215 becomes law, North Carolina would join nearly three dozen other states in recognizing unborn children, along with their pregnant mothers, as potential crime victims. The bill also would signal the first time North Carolina law recognizes life as beginning at conception.

(4.19.11) Unemployment Extension, Continuing Resolution on Hold
RALEIGH — Extending unemployment benefits would not cost the state any money immediately, but it could require additional funding from state taxpayers next year. Whether the General Assembly will attempt to override Perdue’s veto, or possibly split the provisions of H.B. 383 into separate measures, is unclear.

(4.19.11) Smart Meters Could Raise Costs for Consumers Using Less Electricity
RALEIGH — Utilities now have three ways to satisfy the requirement: produce their own renewable energy; purchase renewable energy from another producer; or reduce energy consumption through energy efficiency measures (although only a portion of the requirement can be met through efficiency).

(4.18.11) NCGA Preview: Week of April 18
RALEIGH — Redistricting will continue to drawn attention when legislators hold another round of public hearings Wednesday. Look for the same with a sweeping charter-school reform law.

(4.15.11) Battle of the Budgets Begins in Rancorous Week at NCGA
RALEIGH — Gov. Bev Perdue's two vetoes were the exclamation point on a legislative week that also saw the first public steps in the budgeting process. On Tuesday, House subcommittees released preliminary cuts totaling $2 billion, eliciting howls of protest from public sector groups and liberal advocacy organizations.

(4.14.11) Republicans Link Unemployment Benefits to Budget Resolution
RALEIGH — Gov. Bev Perdue and other Democratic leaders say the Republicans’ tactics play political games with people depending on unemployment benefits. Republicans blame the state Employment Security Commission intentionally failed to notify lawmakers that the benefits would expire within days.

(4.14.11) GOP Budget Proposals Would Close Teacher Paradise
RALEIGH — The brainchild of former Gov. Jim Hunt, NCCAT offers dozens of five-day seminars throughout the year, most focusing on cultural, historical, and artistic topics, including global warming, holistic health, and pottery. Each year, the retreat serves 5,000 public school teachers lucky enough to attend.

(4.13.11) Waters Calming Around Boylston Creek
RALEIGH — Shifting Boylston Creek from Class C to Class C Trout would have required those living near the creek, in essence, to forfeit a 25-foot buffer zone along both sides of any bank or ditch associated with the waterway.

(4.13.11) Bill Would Take Map-Drawing Process Away From Politicians
RALEIGH — The effort comes a week after General Assembly lawmakers began public committee meetings on redistricting, a hotly partisan task after fresh census numbers are out. Republican sponsors say there isn’t enough time for redistricting reform for the current cycle, but they want the changes in place for the next round in 2020.

(4.13.11) Highlights of the House GOP Budget Proposal
RALEIGH — The House hopes to send its completed budget to the Senate by the end of April, with a goal of having a final spending plan to Gov. Bev Perdue by June 1.

(4.12.11) Rare Legislative Session at State Capitol Marks Important Historical Milestone
RALEIGH — When North Carolina legislators conduct a rare business session today in the old state Capitol, they will highlight one of this state’s key contributions to American independence. That’s the assessment of the N.C. History Project’s founding director. April 12 marks the 235th anniversary of the Halifax Resolves.

(4.12.11) House Passes NCGA Leadership Term-Limits Amendment
RALEIGH — The final vote, 72-46, was the slimmest margin needed to approve a proposed change to the constitution. Four Democrats joined all 68 members of the Republican caucus in the House in voting for the bill.

(4.11.11) NCGA Preview: Week of April 11
RALEIGH — This week, the House spending subcommittees charged with education, health and human services, justice and public safety, natural and economic resources, transportation, and general government will release their initial proposals.

(4.11.11) Compromised Charter School Bill Faces Final House Vote
RALEIGH — Concessions made on transportation, food, capital funding, and oversight have added new layers of restrictions and bureaucracy to a proposal that initially offered merely to remove the state’s cap on charter schools. And even with these givebacks, Gov. Bev Perdue has given no indication that she would allow S.B. 8 to become law.

(4.11.11) Sloppy Reporting or Cheerleading for Rail?
Stories published in the Charlotte Business Journal and the News & Observer suggesting Republicans had abandoned a move to limit the state's participation in federal high-speed rail projects were misleading because they were incomplete.

(4.08.11) Partisan Split Intensifies in Busy Week at General Assembly
RALEIGH — Most of the legislative action was in the state House this week, with lawmakers compromising on charter schools and debating a bill to put a roadblock in front of high-speed rail.

(4.07.11) VIDEO: Is DOT Double-Counting High-Speed Rail Jobs?
RALEIGH — Under the job-years concept, if one person holds the same job for four years, it’s counted as four jobs. That’s how the North Carolina Department of Transportation can claim that federal funding for high-speed rail would create nearly 4,800 jobs when in fact only about 1,200 people would be employed.

(4.07.11) Rutherford County Students Recruited to Oppose Charter School Bill
RALEIGH — The emails opposing Senate Bill 8 were sent during school hours from school email accounts. Most repeated talking points provided by public employee groups opposing charter schools. Several parents and legislators call the activity inappropriate. A constitutional scholar believes it may be illegal.

(4.07.11) Perdue, Berger Cross Swords Over Who is More Jobs-Focused
RALEIGH — Thursday's press conferences were the latest salvo in a steadily increasing war of words between the General Assembly's Republican majority and Gov. Bev Perdue. A stagnating job market and a multibillion-dollar budget hole have fueled the tense atmosphere.

(4.06.11) Lawmakers Consider Expanding Treasurer’s Investment Options
RALEIGH — The goal is not to put more money in low-performing investments, but to add more diversity to the state’s retirement portfolio. Critics say the plan would expose pension accounts to greater risk.

(4.06.11) Bill Would Double Solar-Energy Mandate by 2018
RALEIGH — The Solar Jobs Bill would require North Carolina utility companies to double their use of solar-energy offsets by the year 2018 — from the current rate of 0.2 percent of all retail electricity sold to 0.4 percent. The law also caps the amount of solar offsets that utilities may purchase from out-of-state sources.

(4.05.11) Bill Would Impose Tax on Appliances Lacking Energy Certificate
RALEIGH — House Bill 135 also would establish an inverted electricity rate structure on customers using power generated by electric public utilities. Under that rate structure, consumers who use higher quantities of energy would pay more per kilowatt hour than those who consume less energy.

(4.05.11) Tempers Flare As Redistricting Process Gets Underway in NCGA
RALEIGH — Next to the budget, redistricting could prove to be lawmakers’ most partisan task this year — and that’s saying a lot given the controversial lineup of bills pushed by the GOP during the first eight weeks of the legislative session.

(4.04.11) NCGA Preview: Week of April 4
RALEIGH — Open government, transit, and coastal protections headline the General Assembly’s agenda in the first full week of April. A measure requiring state employees to pay health insurance premiums could gain final approval in the Senate.

(4.01.11) Our Experiment With Municipal Broadband Has Failed
Local governments should simply stay out of the way of private business. Their job is to serve citizens, not to compete in the private market.

(4.01.11) Sunshine Amendment Scuttled After GOP Caucus Balks
RALEIGH — House Bill 87’s chief sponsor, Republican Rep. Stephen LaRoque of Lenoir County, said the shift to a statute was necessary due to concerns from both parties that amending the constitution was a bridge too far.

(4.01.11) Debate Heats Up Over State Health Plan and Tort Reform
RALEIGH — A heated debate over reforms in the State Health Plan broke out on the House floor Thursday. Democrat Jennifer Weiss of Wake County said the bill would impose “draconian costs” on state employees, many of whom make between $30,000 and $40,000 per year. She suggested instead implementing a $1-per-package cigarette tax to close the budget gap.

(3.31.11) Slush Funds Survive Party Change
RALEIGH — The practice has been characterized by various state officials as problematic, shrouded in secrecy, lacking accountability, and being an end run around the legislature. DOT records show former Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight, D-Dare, personally authorized at least $50 million for nearly 800 projects over his 18-year tenure as Senate leader.

(3.31.11) VIDEO: Bill Would Protect Athletes With Concussions
RALEIGH — The bill will be named after Matthew Gfeller, who died of a brain injury sustained during a high school football game. He played for R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem. The bill is likely to require athletes showing any sign of a concussion to be pulled from competition until testing shows it's safe for the athlete to return to play.

(3.30.11) State Employees Asked to Pitch In for Their Health Care
RALEIGH — Senate Bill 265 calls on teachers and other state employees to pay for the first time a monthly premium for their health insurance — $21 for the plan offering the best coverage and about half that for the basic plan, amounting to roughly 5 percent of the cost of coverage.

(3.30.11) Bill Would Give School Districts Accreditation Alternative
RALEIGH — Filed mainly to resolve a school-board scuffle in Burke County, House Bill 342 could elicit more uproar for how it would impact a debate over diversity in the Wake County Public School System. Sponsors say accreditation organizations penalize schools simply because the groups disagree with district policies.

(3.30.11) CJ Editorial: Stop the Slush Fund Sleaze
Marc Basnight has retired. The Department of Transportation should stop maintaining a checking account for his successors in the General Assembly.

(3.28.11) NCGA Preview: Week of March 28
RALEIGH — Ongoing budget talks loom behind this week’s busy agenda, guaranteeing to widen an already gaping partisan divide between Republican majorities in the General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue.

(3.25.11) NCGA Finds Plenty to Do in Crowded Eighth Week
RALEIGH — Lawmakers are finding plenty to occupy themselves during the long session that reached its two-month anniversary on Wednesday. Legislators squabbled over medical malpractice reform, strengthening access to public records, expanding protections for unborn children, and requiring voters present a valid ID at the polls.

(3.25.11) VIDEO: House Protects Unborn Victims of Violence
RALEIGH — Anyone attacking a pregnant woman could be charged with additional crimes if the attack causes a miscarriage. Opponents say it is the first time North Carolina law will define life as starting at the moment of conception, a point that was not disputed by backers of the law.

(3.24.11) Debate on Sunshine Amendment Punted to Next Week
RALEIGH — The public already has the right to access government documents and meetings under general statutes, but House Bill 87 would make those rights harder for lawmakers or courts to tamper with by putting them in the state’s highest governing document.

(3.24.11) Our Experiment With Municipal Broadband Has Failed
Local governments should simply stay out of the way of private business. Their job is to serve citizens, not to compete in the private market.

(3.22.11) Limits on Municipal Broadband Raise Hackles in City Halls
GREENSBORO — During the 2009-10 legislative session, then-Sen. David Hoyle, D-Gaston, sponsored a bill that would prevent cities from building broadband systems without a public vote. That bill died in committee, but now Rep. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, has given the issue new life with the current bill.

(3.21.11) NCGA Preview: Week of March 21
RALEIGH — Two bills defining acceptable government identity documents for driving and voting in North Carolina are scheduled for debate. The first would limit the documents that state and local government officials are allowed to accept. The second would require voters to present a photo ID before casting a ballot.

(3.21.11) Ballot Access Laws Undermine the Right to Vote
North Carolina has the nation's third-most restrictive ballot access laws for political parties. North Carolina also makes it more difficult than most states in allowing independent candidates for Congress to gain access to the ballot.

(3.21.11) Judicial Appointment-Retention Idea Gets Chilly Reception
RALEIGH — Right now, Tar Heel voters directly elect candidates to all levels of judicial office. Races officially have been nonpartisan since 2002, although voters sometimes can glean information on a candidate’s partisan leanings from endorsements and voter guides.

(3.18.11) Principal Recruited Parents to Lobby Against Charter School Bill
RALEIGH — The letter, printed on school letterhead, begins by calling S.B. 8 “a direct assault on public education.” Much of the information in it is either incorrect or an interpretation of the bill's provisions that is disputed hotly.

(3.18.11) Republican Majority Hits Roadblocks In Boisterous Legislative Week
RALEIGH — The action was in the House of Representatives, where legislators pushed forward measures requiring voters to present a photo ID at the polls and lifting the cap on charter schools. A proposed constitutional amendment expanding access to government records and meetings stalled.

(3.17.11) Bill Would Deny College Admission to Illegal Immigrants
RALEIGH — The community college system has reversed its policy on whether to admit illegal immigrants four times since 2001. The State Board of Community Colleges voted in 2009 to admit illegal immigrants into curriculum programs. But a bill specifically allowing illegal immigrants to attend community colleges has yet to pass the General Assembly.

(3.17.11) GOP Adds Free Lunch and Transportation to Charter School Bill
RALEIGH — Senate Republicans made three major concessions to Democratic critics. The State Board of Education would have more control over a proposed Charter School Commission. And charters would have to provide food and make efforts to offer transportation to low-income students.

(3.16.11) VIDEO: Debate On Voter ID Bill Opens Partisan Divide
RALEIGH — Supporters argue a picture ID is ubiquitous in modern society and does not present a burden to prospective voters. They also say it will give voters more peace of mind that their vote is safe from fraud. Opponents worry that the poor and elderly may not be able to get the proper documentation.

(3.15.11) Bills Would Outlaw Basnight-Black Dynasties
RALEIGH — Republicans’ goal is to end the kind of multiterm reigns of power that Democrats Marc Basnight and Jim Black enjoyed. Basnight served a record-breaking nine terms as Senate president pro tem, and Black a record-tying four terms as House speaker.

(3.15.11) Doctors Face Off Against Lawyers Over Malpractice Bill
RALEIGH — The bill has brought on a battle of the titans — physician-advocacy groups versus trial-lawyer associations, the latter of which reap monetary rewards from winning big-ticket malpractice cases on behalf of patients.

(3.14.11) NCGA Preview: Week of March 14
RALEIGH — As the battle over ObamaCare and the budget continues, the debates over charter schools, terminal groins, and environmental regulations are just warming up.

(3.11.11) Republicans Contest First Two Perdue Vetoes
RALEIGH — House Bill 2 and Senate Bill 13 may have been presumed dead when Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed them, as under normal circumstances Republicans lack enough votes to override vetoes without some Democratic support. But the GOP revived both measures.

(3.11.11) VIDEO: GOP Challenges Money Shift By Perdue
RALEIGH — Republicans say Gov. Bev Perdue would not have to undertake a constitutionally questionable plan had she not vetoed Senate Bill 13. The bill would have given Perdue additional financial management power and access to more cash.

(3.10.11) Republicans Compromise on Charter School Bill
RALEIGH — Republicans have offered to change charter school funding, set minimum enrollment requirements, and limit the number of new charters than can open per year. Dissatisfied, Democrats have proposed an alternative bill.

(3.09.11) N.C. House Votes to Repeal Land Transfer Tax
RALEIGH — In 2007, the General Assembly gave counties the option of putting a 0.4 percent land-transfer tax up for a vote of the people. Since then, voters have rejected the tax every time it’s appeared on the ballot, often by overwhelming margins.

(3.09.11) VIDEO: Open Government Amendment Proposed
RALEIGH — Rep. Stephen LaRoque, R- Lenoir, co-sponsored a bill to amend the state constitution and protect the right to access public records. The bill would restrict the General Assembly's ability to limit scrutiny of open records.

(3.08.11) VIDEO: GOP Seeks to Implement and Outlaw ObamaCare At Same Time
RALEIGH — Republicans in the House need to find four Democrats to join their caucus in voting to override Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of House Bill 2. At the same time, House Republicans are working on a bill to create health benefit exchanges mandated in the law. The constitutionality of the law likely will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

(3.07.11) Budget Expert: Perdue Pension Payment Inadequate
RALEIGH — A fiscal analyst who reviews state and local budgets nationwide says North Carolina and other states have understated dramatically the size of their pension liabilities, and have failed to provide enough money to prevent either large tax increases or major cuts in retirement benefits down the road.

(3.04.11) Spending, Charter Schools, Annexation Take Center Stage in General Assembly
RALEIGH — The Senate passed a second bill cutting spending this year after Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed Senate Bill 13, the legislature’s initial attempt. Democrats in the House staked out opposition to expanding charter schools. Bills limiting involuntary annexation advanced. And a taxpayer bill of rights was filed in the House.

(3.04.11) Parties Battle Over Charter School Funding, Oversight, Diversity
RALEIGH — Republican lawmakers and charter school advocates argue the opponents of Senate Bill 8 are engaging in a disinformation campaign. Backers of the bill say public charters schools operate with less taxpayer funding and that most charter schools have student bodies that largely reflect the racial backgrounds of their traditional district counterparts.

(3.03.11) Coastal Property Owners Look to Terminal Groins for Protection
RALEIGH — More than $1.5 billion worth of coastal real estate could be swallowed by the Atlantic Ocean if North Carolina doesn’t reverse its 25-year ban on terminal groins — erosion control structures similar to jetties that are positioned perpendicular to the shoreline.

(3.03.11) North Carolina Overboard With Commissions
Over the years, many state boards and commissions have become nests of political patronage, overseeing billions of tax dollars every year with scant oversight and almost no accountability. Most serve no legitimate public purpose.

(3.03.11) VIDEO: Bill Protecting Unborn Gets Another Chance
RALEIGH - Rep. Dale Folwell, R-Forsyth, filed a bill Thursday protecting unborn children from violent assaults and murder. A version of the bill has been filed regularly for more than two decades, but it never has gotten a committee hearing. Folwell says he's confident it will pass this year.

(3.02.11) Bill Would Put the Brakes on Spending by State Politicians
RALEIGH — Supporters say the legislation is a way to rein in bureaucratic bloat and keep new spending levels in line with the state’s actual growth — in contrast to what they say has been a rapid expansion of state government in recent years.

(2.28.11) JLF Expert Urges Lawmakers to Repeal and Replace Disputed Tests
RALEIGH — A debate over a school testing bill that has pitted legislators against a Wake County judge highlights the need for lawmakers to amend the bill. That's the conclusion of the John Locke Foundation's top education expert.

(2.28.11) NCGA Preview: Week of February 28
RALEIGH — Republicans, in control of the legislature for the first time since Reconstruction, will direct the redistricting process and can draw lines to their advantage. Republican leaders hope to have the maps in place by May, although a court challenge is likely.

(2.28.11) CJ Editorial: Perdue Veto Shows She Stands With Easley
By vetoing Senate Bill 13, Bev Perdue proudly defended the tainted legacy of her predecessor.

(2.25.11) Ramped Up Rhetoric Underlines Busy Fourth Week of NCGA
RALEIGH — Politicians on both sides of the aisle ramped up their rhetorical war. Democrats accused Republicans of using their newfound power to settle old political scores and to rush through legislation without adequate debate. Republicans say they’re giving voice to issues that Democrats haven’t allowed a vote on in past sessions.

(2.24.11) State Testing: Repeal and Replace
North Carolinians deserve more accurate, more useful, and more accountable tools to measure student performance.

(2.23.11) Tax Credit Bill Leads to War of Words
RALEIGH — A bill introduced in the General Assembly would reward lower income families who opt out of the public school system with up to $3,500 in tax credits, a proposal that’s angered Democrats and public-school leaders.

(2.23.11) Move To Reclassify Boylston Creek May Be Swimming Upstream
BREVARD — Should the reclassification take place, landowners along the designated areas of the creek would have to leave a 25-foot buffer of the creek bank undisturbed and could, in the view of critics, invite trout fishermen to trespass on private property included in the buffer.

(2.22.11) Bill Would Let Only Licensed Barbers Use Barber Poles
RALEIGH — While the barber pole has a long and colorful history dating back to the Middle Ages when barbers also served as dentists and surgeons, an online search has revealed no media reports of the improper or misleading use of barber poles in the Tar Heel State.

(2.22.11) First Pro-Life Bill of NCGA Session Introduced in Senate
RALEIGH — Proceeds from the plate would go to fund pregnancy centers that offer abortion alternatives. North Carolina currently offers around 100 special-interest license plates for a range of causes, including litter prevention, public schools, and sea turtles.

(2.22.11) Perdue Vetoes GOP-Backed Cost-Cutting Measure (UPDATED)
RALEIGH — Beyond the economic development reductions, S.B. 13 also would give Perdue expanded authority to slash an additional $400 million from state agencies. Perdue supported that part, but balked at the other cuts.

(2.21.11) NCGA Preview: Week of Feb. 21
RALEIGH — Gov. Bev Perdue hinted last week she might veto Senate Bill 13, a bill cutting economic incentives programs she supports. She also suggested she would allow House Bill 2, which would exempt North Carolinians from the individual mandate in the federal health care law, to become law without her signature.

(2.21.11) JLF Expert Crafts Balanced State Budget Plan That Lowers Tax Rates
RALEIGH — As Gov. Beverly Perdue and the new Republican-led General Assembly consider options for closing a state budget hole, a new Spotlight report from the John Locke Foundation's top budget expert shows how they can reach their goal while reducing tax rates. The plan includes individual and corporate income tax rate reductions.

(2.18.11) General Assembly Sends First Bills to Perdue
RALEIGH — The Balanced Budget Act of 2011 and Protect Healthcare Freedom bill are on their way to Gov. Bev Perdue. Bills attempting to strengthen Second Amendment rights and improve government transparency also were added to the legislative calendar this week.

(2.17.11) North Carolina Lawmakers Push Back Against Federal Government
RALEIGH — Bills seeking to restore state sovereignty may send a message to Washington while having little immediate practical impact.

(2.17.11) Two Sensible Tort Reforms
Our civil justice system should make injured parties whole while limiting the amount plaintiffs can recover for harms that cannot be measured objectively.

(2.17.11) Perdue Budget Would Extend Temporary Sales Tax
RALEIGH — The budget cuts most state programs between 7 percent and 15 percent, consolidates 14 executive branch agencies into eight, and sets aside another $150 million for the state’s Rainy Day Fund. In addition, it eliminates 10,000 state employee positions — only 3,000 of which are current filled — and protects all public school teachers and teacher assistants from layoffs.

(2.17.11) VIDEO: Governor Proposes Budget for Biennium
RALEIGH — Gov. Bev Perdue's $19.9 billion budget relies on an extension of a three-quarter-cent sales tax increase enacted in 2009. Republicans vowed to repeal the tax in last year's campaign.

(2.16.11) Bill Would Restore Partisan Labels to Judicial Races
RALEIGH — Right now, voters have limited options for learning about judicial candidates’ approach to the law. Sponsors of the bill say that a return to party labels would go a long way toward solving that problem.

(2.16.11) VIDEO: Charter School Reforms Move to Senate Floor
RALEIGH — Senate Bill 8, a bill transforming charter schools in North Carolina, advanced along a largely party-line vote through a Senate committee, moving it to the floor. The bill's original intent was to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state, now set at 100. It grew to include many more changes to the laws governing charter schools.

(2.15.11) New General Assembly Members Seek an End to Forced Annexation
RALEIGH — For years, property-rights advocates, facing stiff, bipartisan opposition from mayors and city councils, have tried but failed to get relief from the General Assembly. Those landowners hope this time will be different.

(2.15.11) VIDEO: Governor Offers Tax Cut in State of the State
RALEIGH — Gov. Bev Perdue offered a mixed bag in her State of the State address Monday night — proposing a cut in the corporate income tax rate to 4.9 percent while vowing not to reduce taxpayer-financed incentives to businesses. She also proposed a new program offering free two-year degrees for high-performing high school graduates.

(2.14.11) NCGA Preview: Week of February 14
RALEIGH — Gov. Bev Perdue is expected to outline her budget in tonight’s State of the State Address. Overall, legislative leaders predict fewer controversial bills on the chamber floors and more committee activity this week.

(2.14.11) JLF Experts, CJ Editors Providing Real-Time Commentary on State of the State
RALEIGH — John Locke Foundation scholars and Carolina Journal editors will provide immediate commentary tonight on both the State of the State Address by Gov. Bev Perdue and the GOP response by Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis.

(2.11.11) Partisan Bickering Emerges in Second Full Week of Legislative Session
RALEIGH — A tense debate over Senate Bill 13, the Balanced Budget Act of 2011, highlighted the second full week of the legislature’s session. If signed into law, it would give Perdue authority to slash an additional $400 million from the budget.

(2.11.11) PARODY: N.C. Budget Dollars Now Called Teacher Jobs Saved
If you wonder why Golden LEAF and other economic incentives programs have fallen out of favor so quickly, you need to do the math.

(2.10.11) Changing the Mind-Set While Trimming the Budget
Legislators have spent too many years enabling our dependence on government to tackle every problem.

(2.10.11) Deficit Reduction Bill Highlights Dispute Between Perdue, Republicans
RALEIGH — The divisions between the legislature and the governor were so pointed that they could not agree publicly on whether, or to what extent, they negotiated with one another as the Balanced Budget Act of 2011 moved forward.

(2.09.11) VIDEO: Senators Debate Charter School Access
RALEIGH — Senators debated oversight of and access to charter schools as a bill moved through committee Wednesday. It was part of the debate over Senate Bill 8, which would remove the cap of 100 charter schools statewide.

(2.08.11) Electoral Freedom Act Would Put More Third Parties on the Ballot
RALEIGH — If passed, the bill would lower the number of signatures third parties and unaffiliated candidates are required to collect before getting on the ballot in North Carolina, easing some of the nation's toughest ballot access restrictions.

(2.08.11) GOP Clashes With Perdue Over Regulatory Reform Agenda
RALEIGH — Senate Republicans are moving two bills aimed at reforming the state's regulatory environment. They said these measures would boost the state's economy.

(2.08.11) VIDEO: Tougher DWI Bill Introduced
RALEIGH — Defendants convicted under the proposed law could face added prison time, increased fines, and longer periods under alcohol monitoring. The bill is named for Laura Fortenberry, a Gaston County teen killed last year by a four-time offender.

(2.07.11) NCGA Preview: Week of February 7
RALEIGH — Two high-profile bills are expected to cross over to their second chamber this week — one tackling the state’s estimated $3.4-billion deficit, the other putting formally North Carolina in opposition to the Obama administration’s federal health care reforms.

(2.07.11) Legislative Calendar Highlights Groups Seeking Attention from Lawmakers
RALEIGH — The target audience for these events are General Assembly members from both parties and their staff; in some instances, members of the public are allowed to attend as well. Additional events are likely to be added in the weeks ahead.

(2.04.11) First Full Week of Legislature Underscores Philosophical Conflicts
RALEIGH — Republican leaders signaled a new direction in three high-profile areas: fiscal policy, education, and health care.

(2.04.11) Groups Backing Tax Extensions Dominated by Democratic Donors, Government Contractors
RALEIGH — The PR campaigns have been launched as the new Republican majority in the General Assembly has vowed to close a multibillion-dollar 2011-12 budget deficit by not raising taxes and by allowing $1.3 billion in temporary tax increases to sunset as scheduled in June.

(2.04.11) General Assembly Can Dissolve Golden LEAF, Other Tobacco Funds
RALEIGH — In recent years, defenders of the funds receiving money under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with tobacco companies have said the funds could not be transferred or diverted to the state’s General Fund because the use of the funds was directed by court order.

(2.03.11) New JLF Report Urges Elimination of State-Run Lottery
RALEIGH — North Carolina's government-run lottery gets most of its money from the state's poorest counties, while failing to provide a promised boost in funding for education. A close look at the numbers leads to a simple conclusion in a new John Locke Foundation Spotlight report: eliminate the lottery.

(2.03.11) Bill Exempting North Carolinians from Health Insurance Mandate Passes House
RALEIGH — Democrats cited the Commerce Clause and the General Welfare Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Republicans argued that the federal power to regulate interstate commerce did not include the power to regulate economic inactivity (the failure to purchase health insurance).

(2.03.11) North Carolina Needs Protection from Eminent Domain Abuse
No person should lose his home or his land because the government believes another private party can make better use of it.

(2.02.11) Freshman Lawmaker Says 10-Bill Cap Could Slow Reform Efforts
RALEIGH — House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, proposed the cap with the intention of making government more efficient.

(2.02.11) Senate Committee Guts Golden LEAF’s 2011 Allotment
RALEIGH — For years, Republicans and limited government advocates have criticized Golden LEAF as a political slush fund, but Democrats at the Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee hearing defended it as a job-creator.

(2.02.11) Senate Bill Could Lop Nearly $1 Billion From Deficit
RALEIGH — As Republican senators approved a bill in committee that could slice almost $1 billion from the state’s Fiscal Year 2011-12 deficit, they learned that lower projected spending and higher-than-expected revenue could shrink next year's expected shortfall even further.

(2.01.11) N.C. Dems Assail GOP's Mandate-Exclusion Bill
RALEIGH — The same day a federal judge in Florida struck down ObamaCare as unconstitutional, North Carolina Democrats assembled at the Legislative Building in Raleigh to assail a GOP-led effort to exempt state residents from the law’s most controversial aspect — the individual mandate.

(1.31.11) NCGA Preview: Week of January 31
RALEIGH — As the second week of the 2011 General Assembly begins today, legislators are expected to discuss bills addressing forced annexation, the cap on charter schools, and the federal health care mandate.

(1.31.11) Boylston Creek Landowners Find New Hope
State Rep. David Guice, R-Transylvania, is planning to stop the reclassification of Boylston Creek from a Class C to the more stringent Trout Class C in the early days of the General Assembly.

(1.28.11) House Speaker Thom Tillis, in His Own Words
RALEIGH — The first Republican House speaker in more than a decade conducted a wide-ranging interview with Carolina Journal reporters this week.

(1.28.11) VIDEO: Trustees Mum on Pension Changes
RALEIGH — The pension board also affirmed its decision not to ask the General Assembly to restore funding to the pension plan the legislature failed to provide last year.

(1.27.11) At Meeting, Charter Struggle Compared to Civil Rights Movement
RALEIGH — The event featured the intensity and fervor of a tent revival or a civil-rights demonstration. In the eyes of the participants, perhaps it was. The cause for celebration? The promise by the General Assembly’s new leaders to remove the state’s cap on charter schools.

(1.27.11) PHOTOS: First Day of 2011 NCGA
Photos from the first day of the 2011 North Carolina General Assembly taken by Carolina Journal’s Don Carrington and David N. Bass.

(1.27.11) VIDEO: Charter School Cap Early Target for Legislature
RALEIGH — Republicans taking charge of the General Assembly said one item they will push early in the session is a bill lifting the statewide cap of charter schools, now set at 100. GOP leaders are highlighting the issue during National School Choice Week, a grass-roots effort to publicize educational choice efforts across the country.

(1.27.11) CJ Editorial: Our Fourth Branch of Government
RALEIGH -- While North Carolina's 406 state boards and commissions are part of the executive branch of government, as many as half of the members of nearly 200 boards have been appointed by the speaker of the House and the Senate president pro tem. Who's in charge here?

(1.27.11) House Committee Passes ObamaCare Mandate Exclusion
RALEIGH — The bill advanced after less than two hours of debate. Democrats said the process was moving too fast. Republicans said members and voters understood the issues.

(1.26.11) Divided Government Arrives In Raleigh
RALEIGH — Republican leaders have pledged a unified front on budgeting and redistricting. Their goal is to wrap up the session, which convenes today at noon, by the close of the state’s fiscal year June 30. At the same time, they’ve alluded to potential battles with Democrats on several fiscal and social issues.

(1.26.11) Former Sen. Swindell Sets Up Legal Defense Fund
RALEIGH — Freshman Sen. Eldon "Buck" Newton sued incumbent A.B. Swindell last September. The lawsuit contends Swindell lied in campaign mailings and radio ads by stating falsely that Newton was arrested on drug charges in the early 1990s.

(1.26.11) Forced Annexation and Eminent Domain Bills Filed on First Day of Session
RALEIGH — If passed, House Bill 8 would prohibit governments from taking private property for any reason except public use. The bill clarifies that public use does not include “interest in the property for economic development.”

(1.25.11) Incoming GOP Leader: No New Taxes, All Budget Cuts on the Table
RALEIGH — Presumptive Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger expects the House and Senate to be more in sync; says to not anticipate any quick revenue fix from video poker.

(1.25.11) VIDEO: Governor Urges Review of Boards and Commissions
RALEIGH — Gov. Bev Perdue urged the incoming General Assembly to review 345 of the state's 406 boards and commissions Tuesday. She says she wants the General Assembly to provide recommendations to consolidate or eliminate redundant or ineffective boards.

(1.20.11) 2011 General Assembly Is More Momentous Than You May Think
RALEIGH -- Republicans have not held this much legislative power in North Carolina for more than 140 years.

(1.20.11) VIDEO: Perdue Opposes ABC Privatization
DURHAM — After an extensive study of the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control system, Gov. Bev Perdue announced Thursday that she opposes privatizing the system. She said privatization would not generate enough money to offset the cash lost if government gave up control.

(1.19.11) GOP Praises Perdue Revamp Proposal, But Says More Reforms Needed
RALEIGH — The big question mark is whether the governor’s reorganization plan is window-dressing or the forerunner of substantive change. So far, Republicans, who officially will take over the legislature Jan. 26, give the governor high marks for her approach.

(1.18.11) Perdue Stands By Incentive-Based Employment Programs
RALEIGH — A linchpin of Perdue’s jobs program is the formation of roughly 90 public/private partnerships, in which private companies agree to relocate or expand in North Carolina in exchange for cash incentives, tax breaks, or some combination.

(1.17.11) State May Get No Pension Help From Washington
RALEIGH — While no specific bailout plans are under consideration, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has introduced H.Res. 23, stating Congress’ opposition to any federal intervention meant to “bail out state and local government employee pension plans that provide post-employment benefits to state and local government retirees.”

(1.17.11) Land-Transfer Tax Could Be Repealed in Upcoming Session
RALEIGH — Another local-option tax made available by the legislature — a quarter-cent sales tax — has proven more popular, but not by much. Of the 76 attempts to pass the tax, only 17 have been successful.

(1.14.11) East Carolina University’s Dental School: Built on a False Assumption?
At a time the state is scrambling for dollars, why launch an expensive, redundant new program?

(1.13.11) Forced Annexation of Unwilling Community Roils Lexington
LEXINGTON — The grass literally is greener in Sapona. The home values are higher, the schools are better, and there is virtually no crime. Residents say they couldn’t be happier with the water, trash, sheriff and fire services they get from Davidson County. But Lexington officials say Sapona residents need help, and they are bound and determined to give it to them.

(1.11.11) Blust Wants Fellow House Members to Play by the Rules
RALEIGH — Many legislative rules may seem innocuous — such as the dress code requiring coat and tie for male legislators and dignified dress for female lawmakers — but Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford, says others can undermine the entire democratic process.

(1.06.11) Some Elected Officials Taking the Oath Closer to Home
RALEIGH — The North Carolina chapter of the grass-roots group Americans for Prosperity circulated a list of several politicians being sworn in closer to home. The ceremonies started Jan. 5. The last one is scheduled Jan. 12.

(1.04.11) Welcome to the Journal
It is a new year in North Carolina politics. You can count on Carolina Journal to tell you all about it.

(1.04.11) N.C. Tea Party Targets Education Reform
RALEIGH — The Tea Party’s interest in charter schools comes at the time a strongly pro-charter Republican Party is set to take control of the General Assembly for the first time in more than a century.

(1.03.11) JLF President Documents State-Level Budget Crises for National Affairs
RALEIGH — This is a “year of reckoning” for American states and American federalism, as governments across the United States scramble to cope with “gaping holes” in their budgets. John Locke Foundation President John Hood reaches that conclusion in an article for the Winter 2011 issue of National Affairs.

(12.30.10) No To Across-The-Board Cuts
To “spread the sacrifice evenly over the state workforce” is to fail to make critical distinctions – both among employees and among state programs.

(12.29.10) Community Colleges Prepare For Lean Budget Cycle
RALEIGH — The North Carolina Community College System proposes to reach its 10-percent goal with a combination of a tuition increase, spending reductions, management flexibility, special category programs, and a “fundamental rethinking” of how to provide funds to the colleges.

(12.28.10) New Republican Majority Can Remake General Assembly Staff
RALEIGH — Since Democrats had full control of the General Assembly for more than a century — with the exception of four years in the 1990s when the parties shared power — and the majority party controls the size, organization, and composition of legislative staffing, the GOP has not held this much sway over staffing in modern history.

(12.17.10) Friday Interview: New General Assembly Will Face Tax-Hike Pressure
RALEIGH — Whichever political party controls the N.C. General Assembly, lobbyists for special interests often pressure lawmakers to raise taxes. That will be true in 2011, as Republicans take control of the state Legislative Building. John Locke Foundation President John Hood discussed the topic with Donna Martinez for Carolina Journal Radio.

(12.17.10) Continuing N.C. Employment Woes Should Prompt Change on Corporate Welfare
RALEIGH — North Carolina's ongoing struggle with sluggish employment growth provides more evidence that it's time for the state to change course on economic policy. That's the advice the John Locke Foundation's top budget expert offers after North Carolina registered the largest job loss of any state in November.

(12.09.10) New Legislative Majority Lists K-12 Education Priorities
RALEIGH — An education establishment that routinely has marched to the tune of Democratic priorities will have to learn a new step.

(12.09.10) Perdue Targets Boards and Commissions
RALEIGH — Appointments to boards and commissions traditionally have been considered a major element of political patronage. Perdue is seeking to eliminate dozens of boards to which Republicans are poised to make significant appointments.

(12.06.10) Few Details Available on Cuts to UNC System Budget
RALEIGH — Expect few specifics to emerge before the General Assembly is sworn in Jan. 26 and committee leaders and assignments are set.

(11.24.10) VIDEO: North Carolina Budget Feast
RALEIGH - North Carolina's budget is about to go on a diet. The newly elected General Assembly will face a deficit of at least $3 billion. The Republican-dominated legislature will have to squeeze the state's approximate $20 billion general fund to find that savings. Lawmakers also need to find another $3.2 billion to put the state's public employee retirement plans back on solid fiscal ground.

(11.22.10) GOP to Begin Budget-Crafting Process in December
RALEIGH — The General Assembly won’t convene until Jan. 26, but the incoming Republican majorities, faced with a daunting lineup of legislative hurdles, aren’t wasting time.