News: Quick Takes

CJ politics week in review, May 11-15

Each week, staff at Carolina Journal looks back at the week in N.C. politics and chooses several interesting, relevant stories you may have missed. Here’s this week’s review:

Regulatory relief: Gov. Roy Cooper has signed an executive order granting more flexibility for the health care industry. “It’s critical that our health care professionals are able to remain on the job during this crisis, and this Order provides the flexibility to waive certain regulations impacting our health care system during the response to COVID-19,” Cooper says in a news release. Under the order, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services can waive or modify accreditation for asbestos- and lead-testing professionals and local health departments. NCDHHS can also ease regulations on child-care services and high-risk health care facilities. 

FBI warrant: Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has turned his cell phone over to the FBI as it continues an investigation into controversial stock trades Burr made earlier this year. Burr came under scrutiny after he sold as much as $1.7 million in shares of stock in February, after receiving briefings that the outbreak of the coronavirus would be much worse than first reported. A number of those stocks were in businesses hit hard by the economic fallout from COVID-19. Burr has since stepped down as chair of the Senate Intel Committee. 

Licensing bill: A trio of Republican senators have introduced a bill that would make it significantly easier for out-of-state licensed workers to become licensed in North Carolina. Senate Bill 773, the Universal License Recognition Act, requires all occupation boards to automatically license someone who’s licensed in another state for at least one year and comes with a clean record. Sens. Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson; Andy Wells, R-Catawba; and Norman Sanderson, R-Carteret are primary sponsors. 

Legislative rules: The Legislative Building will reopen to the public, but at limited capacity, starting May 18. Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and Speaker of the House Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, in a news release announced how the General Assembly will operate for the upcoming short session. The building’s maximum capacity will be 50% of fire code occupancy. All visitors will have their temperature checked before entering the building. The House and Senate will have separate rules on legislative sessions, committee meetings, and voting procedures. 

ECU Poll: Gov. Roy Cooper received high marks in the latest poll from the East Carolina University Center for Survey Research on his handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they approve of how the governor has handled the state’s response to the crisis, while 22.9% disapprove. A similar breakdown emerged with respondents feelings toward the state entering Phase One of reopening. While 63.2% approve of the state entering Phase One, 22.2% disapprove. The remaining 14.6% were either unsure or unfamiliar with Phase One. The ECU Center for Survey Research surveyed 1,111 registered N.C. voters May 7-9. Instead of a margin of error, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.4%