Capital Tonight July 27: Future of Opportunity Scholarships

CT_0728On Capital Tonight: Now that the state Supreme Court upheld the state’s opportunity scholarship program, what’s next? We ask Darrell Allison of Parents for Educational NC and Donald Dunn of Public Schools First NC. we look at the budget process at the General Assembly with Lynn Bonner of the News & Observer of Raleigh and Ben Brown of NC Insiders at our Reporter Roundtable. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight July 24: Bow Tie Caucus

btc 0724On Capital Tonight: The Bow Tie Caucus convenes with Larry Shaheen and Dan McCorkle taking on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the presidential primary. Watch the program here.

NC House Votes to End Emissions Tests in Some Counties

VehicleEmissionsRALEIGH — Drivers in more than half of the 48 North Carolina counties that require vehicle emissions tests may soon be able to skip them.

The N.C. House voted this week to allow 29 rural and suburban counties to end their testing requirements, which were implemented as part of the state’s plan to reduce air pollution under the environmental protection agency rules.

Supporters say new technology made cleaner cars and affected counties don’t pollute as much as larger cities like Raleigh and Charlotte.

But environmental activists credit the emissions tests for helping reduce air pollution.

The bill could reach a vote in the senate next week.

Capital Tonight July 23: Lawmakers on Budget Process

capital_tonight_22jpgOn Capital Tonight: Sens. Mike Woodard and Tommy Tucker discuss budget negotiations. Matt Ellinwood and Terry Stoops look at bills that move the oversight of public charter schools and limit the power of local school boards to sue counties. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight July 22: Hillary Clinton’s Campaign

capital_tonight_23jpgOn Capital Tonight: As Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton makes a fundraising stop in North Carolina, what does she need to do to win the state in 2016? We ask Scott Huffmon of Winthrop University and Joe Stewart of the NC Free Enterprise Foundation. Our Advocates Becki Gray and Rob Schofield look at the feud between Gov. Pat McCrory and Sen. Harry Brown over the state Senate’s sales tax plan. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight July 21: Presidential Primary

prez_primaryOn Capital Tonight: Lawmakers are moving North Carolina’s presidential primary again. Where does that put the state on the national calendar in the presidential contest? Josh Putnam of Frontloading HQ blog and John Lawson of the State Board of Elections discuss the issue. Our Insiders chad Adams and Kevin Rogers take on the politics of the primary move and more. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight July 20: DENR Secretary Donald van der Vaart

van de vaartOn Capital Tonight: DENR Secretary Donald van der Vaart joins Tim Boyum to talk about his work as an environmental regulator and how the state is dealing with coal ash. Erik Spanberg of the Charlotte Business Journal and Colin Campbell of the News & Observer of Raleigh join our Reporter Roundtable. Watch the program here.

NC Ethics Commission Dismisses Complaint Against Lawmaker

Rep. Donny Lambeth  (R) Forsyth County

Rep. Donny Lambeth
(R) Forsyth County

RALEIGH—The North Carolina Ethics Commission has dismissed a complaint against a state lawmaker by a whistleblower who said that Rep. Donny Lambeth betrayed his trust.

Multiple media outlets reported that a former hospital official who sparked a federal investigation of the Carolinas HealthCare System had filed the complaint against Lambeth.

Joe Vincoli said he sent emails to Lambeth in confidence last year and in 2013. Vincoli said he was upset that Lambeth forwarded those emails to officials with the hospital system and a health benefits company that the Charlotte hospital system co-owns. That company, MedCost, is also co-owned by North Carolina Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, which was Lambeth’s former employer.

The ethics commission said Vincoli’s complaint did not make accusations serious enough to be a violation.

- Associated Press

NC Senate Takes First Steps on New Deal to Push Back Primary

prez_primaryRALEIGH—State lawmakers are set to approve a new date for North Carolina’s presidential primary after state republican leaders moved the primary to an early date two years ago, but national officials said they disapproved of the change.

A Senate committee approved a bill Monday that would set the primary date for both parties for March 15. General Assembly leaders announced the deal this weekend, after the RNC did not back down on threats to cut the state’s voting delegation by 80 percent if it held its primary in February.

Originally the proposal dealt with paper ballots, but soon was amended to put an end to the controversy surround North Carolina’s presidential primary.

“We’ve talked to all the interested parties, the stakeholders, the national parties. They are okay with the date,” said Sen. Andrew Brock, a Rowan County Republican.

If no changes were made, North Carolina’s primary would be held in February next year—making it one of the first. But national leaders say they have carved out that distinction four states-Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

If the state didn’t make the change, the national parties said North Carolina, which now holds one of the highest delegate counts making it an important state for candidates, would be shifted to one of the least important states with only 12 delegates who get to vote.

“This accomplishes two things, No. 1 it keeps an early slot. Perhaps not as early as they would have wanted it.  But also keep all the delegates.  So that means that North Carolina is a player for the Republican nomination, maybe the democratic nomination. But it just means we will see a lot of candidates between now and the 15th,” said David McLennan, with Meredith College.

Senators had resisted this change, saying North Carolina deserves to be one of the early states, but have now come on board with this compromise.

“If we deem it to be favorable, as we anticipate, than we can take whatever action necessary for 2020,” said Sen. Bob Rucho, a Mecklenburg County Republican.

This bill is considered a compromise bill. So assuming it moves through the Senate, it is also expected to get approval from the House.

- Loretta Boniti

McCrory Ups Security at N.C. National Guard Facilities

NationalGuardSecurityRALEIGH, N.C. — Governor Pat McCrory has ordered increased security at North Carolina National Guard facilities following the deadly shooting last week in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The order calls for heightened security at recruiting centers, armories and readiness centers statewide.

In a statement, McCrory said: “We will be vigilant in protecting those who protect us. These men and women are putting their lives on the line to serve our country and it’s our responsibility to ensure everything that is within our power to do for their safety is done.”