Senator Hagan to Introduce Bill to Encourage Domestic Energy Jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) will introduce a jobs bill to provide grants for research and development of next-generation lithium products on Monday. The bill would authorize $40 million in Department of Energy grants to encourage U.S. companies to supply lithium products for advanced lithium-ion batteries.

"With the price of fuel rising, it is more vital than ever to support domestic energy production,” said Hagan. “The strength of the American economy depends on investment in clean energy technologies that will bolster our national security, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, protect our environment, and most importantly create jobs. This legislation will encourage North Carolina and American companies to scale-up domestic production of energy efficient lithium products that will power the cars and smart grid of the future. To support American, private-sector job creation, we must continue to invest in research and development and clean energy.”

Lithium is the material of choice for rechargeable batteries that are essential to developing electric vehicles and smart grid technologies. However, battery-grade lithium metal for the most advanced batteries is supplied almost exclusively from offshore sources, including China.

Today, there are only three global manufacturers capable of producing the material necessary to power advanced lithium batteries, including FMC Corporation and Chemetall, which are headquartered in North Carolina. Hagan’s legislation would encourage these companies to conduct research and development that would bring advanced battery production to the United States.

"Senator Hagan’s bill recognizes the importance of a strong US lithium industry, the industry’s large footprint in North Carolina and it’s potential to create more manufacturing jobs in our state," said Jon Evans, General Manager of Charlotte based FMC Lithium.

PPP: Perdue’s proposals rate high, her approval not so much

Governor Perdue’s work to create a budget proposal is popular but it’s not translating into a higher approval rating with voters.

That’s the results of Public Policy Polling’s latest report. The left leaning pollster released the poll Friday.

Perdue’s stand to prevent any teacher lay offs resonated with voters. 67% of those polled agree and 20% believe teachers should be included in any job cuts. More than 58% of all political parties sided with Perdue.

On her idea to cut the corporate tax rate by 2%, 48% agree and 30% disagree. In this instance, her fellow Democrats disagree more than any other party.

While she’s getting favorable marks from voters in all parties for those proposals her approval numbers are still hurting.

30% approve and 48% disapprove. Her approval rating is actually down 5% from December. Making matters even worse for her, voters in this poll have more faith in the new Republican majority by a 44-37 margin.

The latest numbers also show former Charlotte Mayor and Republican Pat McCrory with a 49-37 margin over Perdue if they were to have a rematch in the governor’s race next year. Perdue continues to struggle within her own base with only 65% of Democrats supporting her. Independents lean toward McCrory as well.

Perdue has said in the past she doesn’t pay attention to these poll numbers. Here’s a link to the report and analysis from the PPP pollsters.

Click here

Guilford County School Board Meets To Discuss District Busing Changes

Guilford County School officials say they’ve come up with another option to present to parents about changes in the districts busing.

Under Option 2, school start times would stay near where they are now. The plan would also save the district about $1 million without laying off bus drivers.

The school board will hold two more community forums about the busing schedules. The dates for those haven’t been set yet.

Read the full story here

More news from the school board meeting – Guilford County parents told the board they’ve collected more than 500 signatures on a petition asking for elementary kids to have a daily recess. Some schools cut back recess to only a few days a week to increase instruction time.

Senators & Education Secretary to Hold Press Conference on Education Reform

U.S. Senators Kay R. Hagan (D-NC), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and other moderate Senators will hold a press conference on March 2 with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to outline specific goals for education reform in the 112th Congress. In addition, Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Thomas Carper (D-DE), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Chris Coons (D-DE) will attend the press conference at Walker-Jones Education Campus, a K-8 school. Following the press conference in the school’s library, the Senators and Secretary Duncan will tour the school with Principal Melissa Martin. The press conference is scheduled for Wednesday March 2nd, at 9:15am at the Walker-Jones Education Campus in Washington D.C.

Berger responds to Attorney General Cooper on health bill

Here’s Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s response to Attorney General Roy Cooper regarding House bill 2.

“The Attorney General should be defending the Constitutional rights of North Carolinians, not the political interests of Barack Obama and national Democrats,” said Berger. “We disagree with his opinion and don’t think states should bow down when the Federal Government passes unconstitutional laws.”

Cooper says H2 unconstitutional

Attorney General Roy Cooper has broken his silence on House Bill 2. This is the effort by lawmakers to get North Carolina involved in the judicial battle to exempt the state from part of the national health care law. Click here to read Cooper’s memo. He says the bill is both unenforceable and unconstitutional, and could cost the state Medicaid funding.

Governor Perdue to Speak at Mayors Coalition Meeting

Governor Bev Perdue will speak at the N.C. Metro Mayors Coalition Winter Meeting in Greensboro on Thursday.

The meeting is being held at the Proximity Hotel in the Weaver Room II at 12:15pm.

Smart Start responds to GOP budget targets

In the GOP spending targets sent to lawmakers today, there is a mention twice for them to look into the possible consolidation or elimination of Smart Start and More at Four. Those are both early education programs started by the previous two governors who are both Democrats.

Smart Start officials sent me this response.

Dr. Olson Huff, Board Chair of The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc.

“I am saddened for the children of North Carolina that the General Assembly would even consider eliminating Smart Start or More at Four.

Children, particularly our youngest children, need to be priority one. It is not hyperbole to state that the lives of a generation of children hang in the balance. The impact of continued disinvestment will be compounded over generations. We know too much to let this happen. Neuroscience has changed how we think of the earliest years. Images of the brain show that the experiences children have early in life literally shape the wiring of the brain and strongly affect whether a child grows up to be a healthy, productive member of society.

In the words of my colleague Dr. Jack Shonkoff of the Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, ‘Once you know what we know about brain development, how do you morally walk away?’

North Carolinians do not want to walk away. In fact they want more early childhood investments, not less. During the height of the recession, 800 parents, business leaders, elected officials, health care providers, and early childhood professionals agreed that ensuring access to high-quality early care and education programs needed to be a top priority for the state. Similarly, a recent poll by Public Policy Polling that found the majority of NC voters do not support cuts to early childhood funding. And more than 2.000 North Carolinians have signed the Children’s Pledge asking policymakers to protect early childhood investments.

Members of the General Assembly were elected to do the ‘people’s business.’ The people want to ensure that all children have a fair opportunity to succeed.”

General Assembly leaders release spending targets

GOP leadership has released spending targets for budget committees at the legislature. Here’s the statement from House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger.

“The spending targets announced today come at a time when decisive action is required to put North Carolina’s fiscal house in order,” said Speaker Tillis. “The new majority in the General Assembly did not create this budget shortfall, but we were elected to fix it. To do so, we have announced aggressive targets to reign in state spending, which has ballooned over the last decade. Everything is on the table as we look for creative solutions to this problem.”

“No decisions have been made. No specific positions or programs have been targeted,” said Senator Berger. “We were elected to reduce spending and right-size state government. This is the first step in that process.”

Here is a link to all the details. It gives you an idea of Republican priorities in the budget as well.
Click here to see the report

Charlotte mayor travels to Washington to give DNC Convention update

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and Jim Rogers of Duke Energy are in Washington, DC preparing to update the Democratic National Committee on plans for the 2012 convention.

They’re hosting a reception to welcome DNC members to Charlotte, including a debrief of what to expect. Friday, DNC members will head to the White House to meet with the President and First Lady.

This is the first time Charlotte will be in the spotlight in front of the DNC since the announcement was made. Other North Carolina members of the DNC will be at the meeting, and are posting blogs from there.

We’ll pass along some of their thoughts at this meeting and the excitement building around the DNCC in Charlotte in 2012.