Lawmakers Vow To Reinstate Tenure Reforms

BarrySmithby Barry Smith

RALEIGH — The leader of the state Senate promised fast action to appeal a Wake County Superior Court judge’s decision halting the General Assembly’s plans to end teacher tenure. Meantime, the head of the state’s largest teacher association, which brought the lawsuit challenging the end of career status, was delighted with the opinion.

Judge Robert Hobgood on Friday ruled that the law ending tenure, passed last year as a part of the state’s budget, amounted to an illegal taking of property and violated the Contracts Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Coyote Hunting Halted in Five Counties

NC WildlifeRALEIGH, N.C. — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is notifying the public that a U.S. District Judge has issued a court order prohibiting hunting of coyotes in Dare, Hyde, Beaufort, Tyrrell and Washington counties, day or night, except under extremely limited circumstances. This notification is due to a lawsuit in which the Wildlife Resources Commission is alleged to have violated the federal Endangered Species Act by allowing coyote hunting in those counties where a non-essential experimental reintroduction of the red wolf is occurring.

Opinion: Beyond CON: North Carolina’s Certificate of Public Advantage

JonSandersby Jon Sanders

After Congress repealed in 1987 the federal mandate that states maintain a Certificate of Need (CON) program for health services, which had failed spectacularly to contain costs, 14 states opted to end their CON programs. North Carolina chose to remain a CON state, however.

Worse, North Carolina’s CON program is highly restrictive, regulating 25 services.

In December 2012, a House Select Committee on Certificate of Need Process and Related Hospital Issues recommended several reforms of North Carolina’s health planning process. Among the recommendations was allowing “market driven competition in the provision of health services” — an idea that would be studied under House Bill 177, “Amend Certificate of Need Laws,” which also included other CON recommended reforms.

North Carolina’s Unemployment Rate Falls to New 5-Year Low

ChartRALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent in April as employers added more than 15,000 new jobs across the state, according to data released Friday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With the continued steady job growth, North Carolina’s unemployment rate is 2.2 percent lower than one year ago – the second most significant improvement in the nation. And the rate remained below the national average for a third consecutive month after dropping beneath that mark for the first time since March 2006.

Rep. Meadows and Former Rep. Heath Shuler Team Up on ‘Road to Nowhere’ Money

Congressman Mark Meadows

Congressman Mark Meadows

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) will be joined by former Democrat Representative of the 11th District, Heath Shuler, next Tuesday to testify before the House Sub-committee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation urging it to pay Swain County funds allocated for the “Road to Nowhere.”

Currently, the National Park Service is withholding $4 million that was allocated to Swain County back in 2012 as part of a settlement with the federal government over a road that was supposed to be constructed as payment for the county when they conveyed land to the NPS for Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1943, but the road was never built. After a long back and forth, the county reached a settlement in 2010 with the federal government, which agreed to pay Swain County $52 million.

Legislative Update from U.S. Senator Richard Burr

Senator Richard Burr

Senator Richard Burr

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) distributed the following legislative update to his email list on Friday:

Yesterday, the Veterans’ Affairs committee held a hearing on “The State of VA Health Care.”  During the hearing we heard from Secretary Shinseki, Under Secretary Petzel, various veterans groups, and oversight entities, like the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO). To watch the full hearing, click here.

Hagan Announces Key NC Water Infrastructure Projects in Bipartisan Legislation

Hagan, Kay 010809-18418-rb 0014WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kay Hagan announced that a bipartisan agreement to reauthorize key water infrastructure projects that Congress is expected to approve next week contains several key provisions to maintain North Carolina’s critical waterways and protect coastal communities against future storm damage. The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) authorizes important projects carried out by the Army Corps of Engineers, including dredging, beach nourishment, and harbor maintenance. Hagan worked to ensure that three projects in North Carolina would qualify for future federal funding under the bill.

NC Association of County Commissioners praises bill to restore lottery funding for school construction

NCACCRALEIGH, N.C. — A bill that would accomplish the top legislative goal for counties for 2014 was filed this week by Rep. Bryan Holloway of Stokes County. H1107 (Restore Lottery $ for School Construction) would increase to 27 percent the appropriation to counties of lottery funds for 2014-15 and restore the full 40 percent allocation to counties by 2016-17. It also directs that counties receive excess lottery revenues above appropriated levels each year beginning with the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Opinion: A first glimpse at BCBSNC’s Obamacare Enrollment Mix

KatherineRestrepoby Katherine Restrepo

Not too long after the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released its sixth and final monthly report on how many people went shopping for an Obamacare-compliant plan in the individual market, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) provided a first glimpse of its very own enrollment mix.  I’d like to thank Blue Cross and Blue Shield for assessing its exchange pool based on its true enrollees – those 232,000 policyholders who have paid their first month’s premiums through May 1.  Job well done.

Battleship NORTH CAROLINA Receives $500,000 Donation from BB&T

BattleshipNCWILMINGTON, N.C. – The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA announced today a $500,000 donation from BB&T. The investment is one of the largest donations received in the capital campaign to repair the ship’s hull and preserve the NORTH CAROLINA for generations to come.

Captain Terry Bragg, Executive Director for the Battleship, states, “The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA is privileged to receive this significant donation. BB&T has been one of the longest and strongest supporters of the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA and we are pleased to continue this relationship.”