Gov. McCrory Signs Ride-Sharing Services Bill

UBER_billCHARLOTTE—New regulations for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are now in place.

Gov. Pat McCrory was at the Charlotte Chamber Friday morning to sign the so-called “Uber bill” into law. The legislation imposes restrictions on drivers and requires the services to pay a licensing fee to the state. Drivers will need to undergo background checks and maintain liability insurance on their vehicles.

Law details:

·         Mandatory county, federal, and multi-state background checks

·         $1.5 Million primary insurance coverage on every trip

Capital Tonight Sept. 3: Legislative Leaders on Budget

vlcsnap-2015-09-04-14h53m52s93On Capital Tonight: We sit down with Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore about budget negotiations and what’s left for lawmakers to decide on before they leave Raleigh. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight Sept. 2: Public School Grades

CapTonight902On Capital Tonight: We break down the latest public school grades with education experts Matt Ellinwood and Terry Stoops. Our Advocates Kerra Bolton and Chad Adams take on moving all the state’s primaries to March and a prayer meeting ad that featured Gov. Pat McCrory. Watch the program here.

NC May Have Single March Primary for All Races

Early_votingRALEIGH—North Carolina legislators are considering whether to move all primary elections next year to March instead of just the presidential primaries.

This is two months earlier than they are currently scheduled for, but would allow voters to avoid heading to the polls twice in this presidential election year.

Republican leaders decided in 2013 to move up the presidential primary so state voters could have more influence on choosing nominees. Separate elections also would cost several million dollars more to operate.

The state house voted Wednesday to not accept a bill that would move the state’s presidential primary to March 15. However leaders say that’s not because they don’t want the move to happen, but because they might want to move *all* primaries to that date.

“There was quite a bit of encouragement to move all the primaries when we made the change two years ago as a cost saving measure. We did not act on it at that time. We are going to explore that as one of the considerations this time,” said Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican.

The Senate has said they will talk about the issue but are not ready to say the move should happen.

There is also a cost issue associated with the way the primaries are currently constructed—that would be one for the presidential races… and one for the rest of the races.

State election officials say that carries a several million dollar price tag.

If the primaries are on the same date, it could be more costly for down ticket candidates who are fighting for airtime against what is expected to be a tough presidential primary.

“The argument that the airtime will be expensive because of the availability is frankly legitimate and frankly one of the reasons this change was made two years ago to make two separate primaries. I don’t think that concern has gone away, it is just we want to take one more look at the balancing act between the cost to hold separate primaries and the accessibility if you will for the lower ballot races to heard,” said Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican.

North Carolina lawmakers moved the presidential primary two years ago, in an effort to make the state more relevant in the primary process.

But national party leaders said they went too far, and needed to back up the date to March. The deadline for that move is looming and must be official by Oct. 1.

Lawmakers say they hope to resolve this latest voting question by then.

If North Carolina does not move its presidential primary it would go from being one of the most influential states in the Republican nominating process to one of the least important, because of sanctions it would face from national party leaders.

– Loretta Boniti

Capital Tonight Sept. 1: DNC Member Pat Cotham

captonight831On Capital Tonight: Democrats met their presidential candidates up close and personal over the weekend. We talk with DNC member Pat Cotham about her thoughts on the Democratic field and if Vice President Joe Biden jumps into the race. Our Insiders John Hood and Chris Fitzsimon take on barbecue-scented lottery tickets and more. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight Aug. 31: Business and the Fabric of NC Life

vlcsnap-2015-09-01-13h19m37s71On Capital Tonight: As Belk Incorporated plans to be sold to an out-of-state equity firm, how does the changing business landscape affect the fabric of North Carolina life? We talk with Rob Christensen of the News & Observer of Raleigh and Dr. Gary Freeze of Catawba College. Ben Brown of NC Insider and Gary Robertson of the AP join our Reporter Roundtable. Watch the program here.

Gov. McCrory Confident Legislators Will Agree on Budget Before Temporary Spending Measure Expires

McCrory_At_DeskRALEIGH—Gov. Pat McCrory said legislators should have approved a final North Carolina budget months ago but acknowledges lawmakers must sort out a range of opinions.

McCrory talked to reporters Tuesday about the budget negotiations. The governor says he’s still pushing for his initiatives but considers his role as facilitating dialogue between House and Senate leaders.

He says he believes he has helped. Two weeks ago, he announced a bottom-line spending number of almost $22 billion after a breakfast meeting with legislative leaders.  A two-year budget was supposed to be on his desk by July 1, but Republican lawmakers got stuck over policy changes and funding levels for this year.

He said he is confident legislators will agree on a budget before a temporary spending measure expires Sept. 18.

NAACP Leaders Denied Access to Federal Courthouse

NAACPRALEIGH—Leaders of the NAACP were denied access to the Terry Sanford federal courthouse on Tuesday in an attempt to deliver a letter to the office of Sen. Thom Tillis.

The group is requesting that all members of Congress to pass the Voters Rights Amendment Act to fix Section 4, which deals with the right to register to vote. Leaders are also seeking to restore Section 5 as ordered by Supreme Court.

After they were denied entry, the NAACP put a stamp on the letter and mailed it from across the street.

NC Agriculture Department Talks Avian Flu With Flock Owners

chickens_0723RALEIGH—Agriculture department officials in North Carolina are holding a series of meeting with backyard poultry owners to talk about the dangers of avian flu.

Public information officer Jennifer Kendrick said in a statement that the agency wants to warn owners about the virus that is expected to arrive in North Carolina this fall.

Veterinarians will give an overview of the outbreak of the health problem in the United States, as well as how North Carolina plans to protect commercial poultry and small flocks. They will also discuss the registry for backyard flock owners and how they can protect their animals.

The first session is Tuesday afternoon in Greensboro. Meetings are planned Wednesday in Monroe, Friday in Nashville, Sept. 8 in Kenansville and Sept. 11 in Morganton.

North Carolina Justices Take Another Look at 2011 Redistricting

redistrictingRALEIGH—The State Supreme Court is once again considering the state’s Republican drawn Legislative and Congressional districts.

The Federal justices want the state court to review the racial composition of North Carolina’s maps, in light of a case from Alabama.

Attorneys made oral arguments during Monday’s hearing, and the plaintiffs’ objection to the North Carolina districts was based on the claim that the maps are drawn to reduce the impact of minority voters.

“What we are fighting for is the right to define our political identity in terms of the interest that voters care about, the common interests that they share and not to be dividing it by race,” said plaintiff Anita Earls.

However, attorneys representing the state said the court should rule that race was not a motive when redistricting the map.

“Because of all the other factors that this court has already recognized that went into the drawing of these districts,” said Tom Farr.

Some lawmakers who were at the hearing had mixed reactions after.

“Anytime race becomes a predominant factor, in doing anything, not just electoral districts, anytime race is a predominant factor, the 14th Amendment requires that there be a compelling state interest for it and that you strictly restrict whatever the remedy is,” Sen. Dan Blue (D) Wake Co.

“We followed it to the letter of the law, which is what this Supreme Court set forward and also the fact that the court has validated on the U.S. level, so in essence, if you follow the law, you basically have a cookbook, and that’s exactly what we did to achieve the results,” said Sen. Bob Rucho (R) Mecklenburg Co.

The state’s current district maps were drawn in 2011 and were used in two elections, but it is unknown where they will stay for 2016.

Now it is up for the State Supreme Court to do next and Earls said there is no timeline for when that decision has to be released.

– Carly Swanson