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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bipartisan bill would raise age of juvenile jurisdiction in N.C.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 11:21 AM

Imagine being a high school kid, being broke, hungry, stealing a bag of Doritos from the corner store and getting caught. In North Carolina, a 16- or 17-year-old in that scenario would be charged as adult, punted into the criminal justice system and, if convicted, left to watch their dreams of future employment, higher education, military service or stable housing crumble. In the North Carolina House, a bipartisan group of lawmakers sponsored “Smart on Crime” legislation so that 16- and 17- year- olds who commit misdemeanors are handled in the juvenile court system rather than automatically as adults. North Carolina...

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Friday, March 27, 2015

"Made in N.C.": Senators introduce a raft of gun legislation

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 5:18 PM

North Carolina Senators filed 194 bills Thursday. In case you missed it, four of these Republican-sponsored bills would expand access to firearms and limit regulations on handguns. S624, sponsored by Sen. Stan Bingham, would allow “certain types” of employees and volunteers to carry concealed firearms, tear gas or stun guns on private school property. A person with a concealed handgun permit could carry a weapon at a private religious school. A person with permission from a private school’s board of trustees or administrative director could carry “certain weapons” on private school grounds and inside buildings. The Concealed Handgun Permit Standardization...

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N.C. Senate bill would pawn off Dorothea Dix Park to highest bidder

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 11:05 AM

Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly just can’t stop meddling in the affairs of local governments. On Thursday, three Senators from rural counties introduced a bill to “ensure the fair sale” of Dix Park, the 300 acre property in southeast Raleigh slated to become a destination park after Gov. McCrory and mayor Nancy McFarlane reached a $52 million sales agreement this year. The bill would open up the property to bids from private entities, starting at $52 million. “I am stunned that the Senate Republicans are seeking to blow up the deal the state and the City of Raleigh...

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Revised prison records bill passes the state House

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 11:02 AM

A revised version of House Bill 281, which orders prison officials to turn over all records to medical examiners in the event of an inmate's death, has passed the N.C. House unanimously. It will now head to the state Senate. Read about it in the Indy here, near the bottom of the news roundup. The legislation was co-sponsored by House Minority Leader Larry Hall, a Democrat from Durham, as well as two other Democrats and one Republican. It was written following the Indy's report last year on the death of Michael Kerr, a Sampson County man with a mental illness...

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wake County voters not so keen on the General Assembly’s redistricting plan

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 4:33 PM

At a press conference this morning, the folks at Progress NC unveiled a new poll about the state Republicans’ remarkably transparent scheme to rejigger the Wake County Commission—ostensibly in the name of ending at-large elections, which Republicans deem “archaic” and “outrageous expensive.”   The bill, filed in early March by Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Franklin and Wake, would change the County Commission from a seven-member board elected countywide to a nine-member board with seven members elected in single-member districts—which fall exactly along the lines of the gerrymandered school board districts Barefoot and the General Assembly drew a few years ago—and two at-large seats,...

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Feels like the third time: Lawmakers try to overturn Durham billboard ordinance

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 3:52 PM

They tried in 2012—and failed. They tried again in 2013—and failed again. Now, like Chucky the Doll, the billboard legislation is back, refusing to die. Senate Bill 320 would overturn Durham’s strict billboard ordinance, which regulates where outdoor advertising can be placed, and most important, it prohibits digital billboards. The legislation would expand the power of the N.C. Department of Transportation to regulate billboards, while shrinking local control. It has been referred to the commerce committee. "The billboard industry's measure would allow electronic billboards, soaring 80 feet in the air, flashing 10,000 ads per day,” said John Schelp, who successfully...

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Raleigh ranked 13th U.S. city for solar

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 2:36 PM

Last year, Raleigh solar company NC Solar Now installed 615 solar panels on the roof of a local office equipment company's headquarters. The company, CEI is located off of Glenwood Avenue, near RDU airport. The solar panels will reduce the company’s power consumption from Duke Energy by nearly 80 percent, and thanks to federal and state incentives, CEI will see a full payback on its initial investment in five years. “The super neat thing is our solar panels are arranged to spell “CEI,” and you can see that if you’re flying over us on the flight path,” says CEI President...

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N.C. Senator introduces bill to raise pay for veteran teachers

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 9:46 AM

With reports of Texas recruiters poaching North Carolina teachers back in the news, and a budget from the Governor which gives a pay raise only to teachers starting out, Democrats in the General Assembly have been pushing for higher pay for all teachers. On Wednesday, Sen. Joyce Waddell, D-Mecklenburg, filed S384 which would increase the salaries of experienced public school teachers by adding to their pay for each year they’ve been in the profession. The pay increase would apply for the 2015-2016 fiscal year and the money would come from a $20 million appropriation to the Department of Public Instruction...

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Protest petitions closer to becoming outlawed

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 8:24 AM

North Carolina citizens are closer to losing another right, after the House voted Tuesday to eliminate protest petitions. The tally on House Bill 201 was 81–31. However, four Wake County Republicans voting against the measure: Marilyn Avila, Nelson Dollar, Chris Malone and Gary Pendleton.  All but one local Democrat also opposed it. Darren Jackson, a Wake County Democrat and real estate attorney, co-sponsored the bill and voted for it. Citizens can use protest petitions, a legal mechanism in place for more than 90 years, to try to block unwanted developments. Currently, 5 percent of property owners within 100 feet of a...

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

N.C. Reps. file discriminatory "religious freedom" act

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 at 6:22 PM

North Carolina Republicans are trying to make it clear that they would prefer the state be openly hostile to gay people. On Wednesday, two Mecklenburg County Represetatives, Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer and Rep. Dan Bishop, filed the "NC Religious Freedom Restoration Act." The bill would allow any person or public or private entity to invoke their "religious freedom" when it is burdened by, for example, having to interact with a member of the LGBT community.  "North Carolina's leaders have officially launched their efforts to dress up anti-LGBT discrimination by calling it "religious freedom," said Chris Sgro, the executive director of Equality NC,...

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N.C. Democrats file bill to expand Medicaid

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 at 2:17 PM

On Tuesday, Democrats in the state House and Senate filed a bill to expand Medicaid coverage to more than 500,000 uninsured North Carolinians. At a press conference, Buncombe County Sen. Terry van Duyn and Reps. Gale Adcock, Wake, and Carla Cunningham, Mecklenburg, emphasized the economic benefits to the state of Medicaid expansion. The $2 billion in tax dollars that would come to North Carolina with Medicaid expansion would create 43,000 jobs by 2020, according to a recent report by Cone Health Foundation and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. The report estimates that Medicaid expansion would bring in more than...

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Monday, March 23, 2015

After inmate death, N.C. lawmakers consider clearing records restrictions

Posted By on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 at 3:47 PM

One year after a North Carolina inmate died of dehydration following a month-long stay in solitary confinement, state legislators want to nix bureaucratic restrictions that they say hindered the investigation of that prisoner’s death. House Democratic Leader Larry Hall, of Durham, has joined one Republican and two Democrats in co-sponsoring House Bill 281, which would require the state Division of Adult Correction to turn over copies of all records to medical examiners in the event of an inmate’s death. In a statement, Hall said state restrictions “seem to have limited the Office of the Medical Examiner in performing their duty”...

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Ready to go down the rabbit hole? Even more maps, data on Durham Neighborhood Compass

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 11:52 AM

There is good news out of Southeast-Central Durham. The area near N.C. Central University has among the highest percentage per capita of four-star and five-star child care centers in the city. One hundred percent of these centers have attained that ranking, well above the county average of 59 percent. Move farther east, though near Liberty Street and Miami Boulevard, and there are none. This is the kind of data that makes the Durham Neighborhood Compass so valuable not only for map and numbers geeks, but policymakers, businesses and residents. The Compass, which operates out of city’s Neighborhood Improvement Services...

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State Bar: judges and lawyers may communicate on social media

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Judges and lawyers in North Carolina may hobnob on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter as long as they don't communicate about ex parte matters (private issues in pending cases), the State Bar declared in a recent ethics opinion. In addition, lawyers may endorse or recommend judges, but they may not accept endorsements or recommendations by judges, so as not to create the appearance of judicial partiality, the Bar said.  The Bar's opinion, which originated as an inquiry about whether lawyers and judges may endorse each other on the networking site LinkedIn, was published earlier this year. It...

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FCC awards Catholic orgs. Raleigh FM license over Little Raleigh Radio

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 12:01 AM

Little Raleigh Radio was denied the low-power FM license it applied for more than a year ago.  Instead, the Federal Communications Commission granted the 106.5 frequency (which will reach listeners within southeast Raleigh and inside the beltline) to two Catholic conglomerates: the local Knights of Columbus chapter, and the Corporation for Educational Advancement.  Kelly Reid and Jacob Downey, the founders of Little Raleigh Radio, wrote in an email to their listeners and volunteers that they are "deeply disappointed" in the FCC's decision but "knew it was a possibility from the outset." "We are living in the midst of a renaissance in...

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

N.C. Senate Dems. push environmental, economic development bills

Posted By on Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 12:32 PM

On Wednesday, Forsyth County Sen. Paul Lowe introduced a bill to extend North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which has been in place for more than 30 years and has been a major incentive for solar energy investors. S329 would continue to give taxpayers who have constructed, purchased or leased renewable energy property a 35 percent tax credit on the cost of their investment. The tax credit was threatened during the 2013 long legislative session when a comprehensive tax reform bill would have expressly repealed it; instead, it was extended until January 1, 2016, and Lowe’s bill would push that...

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Reminder: Important light-rail meeting tonight in Durham

Posted By on Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 11:08 AM

Tonight is a watershed moment for the planned light-rail system, a 17-mile route between UNC Hospitals and Alston Avenue in East Durham. Triangle Transit is hosting an open house from 4–7 p.m. at the Durham Station Transportation Center (aka the bus terminal) at 515 W. Pettigrew St. You can learn more about the western part of the route, submit public comment, geek out over maps, etc. The first presentation is scheduled for 4:15, then repeats at 5:15 and 6:15 p.m.  As the INDY reported on March 11, one of the considerations is the location of the rail maintenance facility....

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Raleigh federal judge rebuked by Fourth Circuit in disabilty discrimination case

Posted By on Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 7:00 AM

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which governs North Carolina's federal courts, slapped a Raleigh judge on the wrist by reversing one of his recent orders, citing his failure to consider all the evidence in a disability discrimination case. Judge Terrence Boyle, who serves on the bench of the Eastern District of North Carolina, had dismissed a lawsuit brought by a New Hanover court clerk who has a social anxiety disorder. The clerk, who'd been assigned a customer service role at the front counter of her office, was fired from her job three weeks after she requested...

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

N.C. Senate bill would criminalize women for using drugs during pregnancy

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 at 4:43 PM

In newly insane North Carolina women could be slapped with an assault charge for using drugs while pregnant, bringing it ever closer in resemblance to more well-established insane states like Alabama, where fetuses have lawyers. S297— introduced Tuesday by noted obstetricians Republican Sens. Brent Jackson, a farmer, and Sen. Louis Pate, retired—would criminalize a woman for using narcotic drugs while pregnant if her child is born “addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug and the addiction or harm is a result of her illegal use of a narcotic drug taken while pregnant.” The woman could avoid criminal prosecution by...

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Chapel Hill Councilman Lee Storrow begins re-election campaign

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 at 2:35 PM

It's early, but what's expected to be a busy campaign season in Chapel Hill is underway. On Tuesday, incumbent Chapel Hill Town Councilman Lee Storrow announced the launch of his re-election campaign. At the age of 22, Storrow was the youngest person on the Council (and still is) upon his election in 2011. “Serving this community for the past four years has been an enormous privilege,” Storrow said in a statement. “While we’ve accomplished a lot, I hear from residents every day about how we can improve our town. I look forward to working with folks from across Orange County...

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Sentence upheld for Durham man convicted of Chapel Hill murder

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Mario Ramsey, the Durham man sentenced last year to 30 to 37 years in prison for the second-degree murder of Drew Frasure in his Chapel Hill apartment, will not have his sentenced reduced following appeal. The North Carolina Court of Appeals published an opinion yesterday declaring that the trial judge acted within statutory guidelines while meting out the harshest penalty possible against Ramsey. Ramsey, 30, had pleaded guilty to the Dec. 11, 2001, crime, in which he shot Frasure in the throat with a .40-caliber handgun during a struggle after a drug dispute. Ramsey then fled the apartment, located on...

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Durham Rep. introduces bills addressing early voting days, voter ID

Posted By on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 5:10 PM

On Tuesday, Rep. Larry Hall introduced two bills to combat the disenfranchisement of voters that has occurred and will continue to occur under North Carolina’s 2013 omnibus elections bill. The first bill, H239, restores early voting days that were cut. That provision was in effect for North Carolina’s 2014 midterm elections. The second bill, H240, would allow college IDs to meet the voter ID requirement, a provision which goes into effect in 2016. By design, the omnibus elections bill, now law, disenfranchises the young (by doing away with pre-registration at high schools before students turn 18, seeking to eliminate on-campus...

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Hofmann owners endorse plan to conserve, retain ownership of forest

Posted By on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 12:39 PM

Hofmann Forest, or most of it anyway, is no longer for sale In a letter to students in N.C. State University’s College of Natural Resources, Dean Mary Watzin says Hofmann’s current owners—the University’s Board of Trustees of the Endowment Fund and the Natural Resources Foundation—will retain ownership of “the majority of the property,” and will ensure conservation over as much as 70,000 acres of the 80,000-acre tract of land. “The plan preserves the Hofmann Forest name, maintains access for students and faculty and maintains a sustainable working forest, the same three goals that have been paramount in any transaction from...

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N.C. Reps. file bill to take on food desert zones

Posted By on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 11:40 AM

On Monday, members of the North Carolina House of Representatives filed H250, the Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act. The bill will provide funding assistance of up to $5,000 to independently-owned corner stores and small retailers to upgrade their refrigeration equipment and provide employee training, to enable the stores to sell fresh fruits and vegetables and other nutrient-dense produce in food desert zones. Food desert zones are census tracts that have been identified by the US Department of Agriculture as having a poverty rate of 20 percent or greater, and having at least a 33 percent of the population in...

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Start your drills: Fracking can begin in North Carolina today

Posted By on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 8:13 AM

It seems so long ago, 2012, the year fracking became legal in North Carolina. With additional permitting and environmental rules still to put in place, there was a (small) hope that someone would come to his or her senses and call the whole thing off. But no, here we are in 2015, and all the "rules" are in place to allow fracking to begin today. Those rules, which state officials promised three years ago would be the most stringent in the U.S., have since been weakened. Last night, the Senate passed House Bill 157, a stewpot of environmental rule changes....

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Fine work, Mr. Billman. Your readers are probably aware that most of the NC conservative shenanigans can be laid at …

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About time some one fixed this.

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Fine work, Mr. Billman. Your readers are probably aware that most of the NC conservative shenanigans can be laid at …

by growlybear on The Republican Power Plays at the Heart of N.C. Politics (News)

I have very little patience for the empty-headed Pro-poison crowd, which is begging the government to take everyones rights away …

by DoritoReiss on The Problem with N.C.’s Religious Exemption Law (News)

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