NC Politics in the News

April 17, 2023

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Economic Development

BUSINESS FACILITIES: International Companies Expand To North Carolina
Pilkington North America, Inc. (PNA) will invest $86.8 million in its operations in Scotland County, North Carolina. The project includes the rebuild of one of its two float glass lines, expansion of existing coating capabilities, and other building and equipment improvements at the company’s float glass facility that will create 20 jobs in Laurinburg. “This year our Laurinburg plant will celebrate its 50th anniversary,” said Stephen Weidner, Head of Architectural Glass North America and Solar. “This investment shows our ongoing commitment to our customers and the community. We appreciate the support received from the State on this project.”


THE CAROLINA JOURNAL: Leandro judge sets $677 million as outstanding NC education spending obligation
The judge overseeing North Carolina’s long-running Leandro education funding case says the state must spend an additional $677 million to cover items in a court-endorsed plan. That number matches a figure Gov. Roy Cooper’s state budget office produced in December 2022. A 12-page order Friday evening from Judge James Ammons rejected proposed revisions from state legislative leaders. Those revisions would have reduced the outstanding Leandro spending obligation to as little as $376 million. Ammons’ order responded to a November 2022 directive from the N.C. Supreme Court. The high court had asked Ammons to determine how state budget changes signed into law in 2022 affected earlier Leandro rulings.

EDNC: Governor Cooper Proclaims April as STEM Education Month in North Carolina
Governor Roy Cooper has proclaimed April as STEM Education Month in North Carolina to highlight the positive impacts of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and recognize STEM educators across the state that are preparing students for the jobs of today and tomorrow. “STEM educators prepare the workforce of the future and provide students opportunities to gain the skills they need for good-paying careers,” Governor Cooper said. “We’re going to keep working to ensure teachers and students have the tools they need to succeed.” Governor Cooper is focused on investing in schools, teachers and students in North Carolina. In March 2023, the Governor announced his proposed budget which includes substantial investments in public schools and in providing a sound basic education for every student as required by the constitution. The Governor’s budget includes significant investments in teacher pay that would make North Carolina first in the Southeast in teacher pay and 16th in the nation.


WRAL NEWS: In three sentences, NC Supreme Court gives itself vast new power
North Carolina’s Supreme Court gave itself new powers in a ruling last week, leading the court’s two Democratic members to cry foul. The case was about whether Durham police officials erred in firing an officer who defused an armed standoff with a promise of marijuana. But the real importance wasn’t about cops and pot. Rather it’s about the new power the court invented for itself in handing down its ruling. When the case ultimately made its way to the Supreme Court, the justices were at a loss for what to do. There were multiple legal issues and no clear consensus on how the court should rule. “The justices’ questions revealed several alternative ways to decide the case, none of which could be reconciled with the others,” Republican Justice Richard Dietz wrote. So he and the rest of the court’s GOP majority responded by simply punting on the decision. In an unsigned, three-sentence opinion, the high court let the Court of Appeals ruling stand, but unpublished it. That means the ruling can’t be cited as precedent in future employment cases.

LAW360: NC Gov’t Attys To Testify In ‘Political Interference’ Probe
Two high-ranking government lawyers and the North Carolina governor’s chief of staff have been asked to testify before a state House committee regarding allegations they interfered with the State Bureau of Investigation’s operations as an independent state agency. Eric Fletcher, general counsel to Gov. Roy Cooper, and Angel Gray, general counsel to the SBI, together with Cooper’s chief of staff, Kristi Jones, have been called to testify April 18 before the North Carolina House Standing Committee on Oversight and Reform, according to letters sent Monday by the committee’s Republican co-chairs, Reps. Jake Johnson and Harry Warren. The request comes on the heels of testimony from SBI Director Bob Schurmeier, who told the oversight committee last month that the Democratic governor’s staff have repeatedly sought to insert themselves in his hiring decisions, threatened him with outside investigations and demanded his resignation.


CBS17: ‘We’re failing our children:’ Here’s why NC’s child health report card is full of Ds, Fs
When it comes to how well North Carolina meets the health needs of its children, an advocacy group gave the state a report card full of Ds and Fs — but only one A. The North Carolina Child Health Report Card is released every two years by NC Child and the state Institute of Medicine and tracks 15 indicators of child health and how federal and state lawmakers can influence it with their policy decisions. In more than half of those, the state received four Ds and four Fs. “We have so many different issues that we are facing as a state right now, and across the board, we have a lot of things that we need to address in terms of health for our children,” said Erica Palmer Smith, the executive director of NC Child. The key theme was consistency: Three of those four Fs came in areas that received failing grades in 2021. Those categories include housing and economic security, birth outcomes and metal health.


WCNC: NC Rep. Tricia Cotham sponsors first bill as GOP member
Days after switching political parties, Representative Tricia Cotham (R-Mecklenburg) is already pushing for legislation aligned with her new party. Cotham, along with three other Republican representatives, introduced House Bill 618 on Thursday. The bill, known as the “Charter School Review Board,” would establish a North Carolina Charter Schools Review Board to handle charter school matters, stripping away that power from the North Carolina State Board of Education. Currently, the NC State Board of Education is tasked with handling applications, amendments, renewals, and terminations of charter schools. HB 618 would remove that responsibility from the State Board of Education and hand it to a different board. The state already has a Charter School Advisory Board but it is limited to making recommendations to the State Board of Education. If this bill is enacted, the advisory board members would become members of the Charter Schools Review Board. 

SPECTRUM NEWS 1: N.C. House speaker spends legislative break visiting Ukraine
House Speaker Tim Moore stood among the rubble of a bombed-out apartment building in Kiev, Ukraine. He stood in a trench where Ukrainian soldiers defended their country. He helped humanitarian workers unload boxes from a truck as they worked to provide food and shelter to those who’d lost their homes. He met with missionaries risking their lives to spread the gospel in a country ravaged by conflict. And he talked with members of parliament to learn their views of a war that tore their country apart. “It’s not your usual ‘vacation’ but I felt it important to see firsthand,” Moore posted on his personal Facebook page Saturday morning.


THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Democrats propose ‘paradigm shift’ in NC transportation spending. Rough road ahead?
The N.C. Department of Transportation spends about $5 billion a year building and maintaining a transportation system based primarily on cars and trucks. Some lawmakers want to change the state’s priorities, giving more say to local communities that want to shift transportation dollars toward transit and projects that would benefit pedestrians and cyclists. They’ve introduced bills in the House and Senate that they call the Transportation for the Future Act. Among other things, the bills would alter the formula NCDOT uses to allocate money, requiring that at least 20% go to non-highway projects. “We would stop prioritizing endless expansion of highways at the expense of all other modes of transportation,” Sen. Graig Meyer of Orange County said at a press conference Wednesday. “North Carolina currently dedicates 94% of our transportation funding to highways. And this act lifts the current artificial limitations that we have in place on rail, transit, bike and pedestrian facilities.”