The long session's few new ideas

The first few weeks of the long session have been full of bills we’ve seen before – from legislation previously vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper to bills that just didn’t make it across the finish line last year.

HBCUs could get boost from new legislative caucus

A bipartisan group of legislators packed into the General Assembly press conference room Wednesday morning to voice their support for the state’s 10 historically Black colleges and universities.

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House to vote next week on Medicaid expansion bill

The House plans to vote next week on expanding Medicaid, but it’s unclear if the legislature is any closer to reaching a compromise that can pass both chambers.

Senate squashes amendments on hotel bill

One of the key differences between the Senate and the House is how each chamber typically handles amendments from the minority party.

Lawmakers look at housing issues

The shortage of housing – and a lack of affordability – are likely to be key topics this legislative session, although bills on the subject might not draw as much attention as hot-button social issues.

House looks to recycle a recycling bill

Rep. Harry Warren, R-Rowan, hopes the third time will be the charm for his bill to add new incentives for plastic recycling programs and efforts to use environmentally friendly food containers.

Two appointments confirmed in Senate

The Senate unanimously confirmed two key appointments by Gov. Roy Cooper during its first voting session of the year Tuesday.

Amendment could have three-fifths support

A proposed constitutional amendment to elect the State Board of Education gained a critical supporter from the minority party on Tuesday.

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State Health Plan details reasons why Aetna beat Blue Cross

State Treasurer Dale Folwell’s team released public records Tuesday that detailed how Blue Cross Blue Shield lost its contract administering the State Health Plan.

Will Regan run for office?

A persistent rumor in political circles these days is that EPA Administrator Michael Regan, the former secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, might run for governor in 2024.

Amendment removing literacy test gets bipartisan support

In a particularly strong show of bipartisanship, two liberal Democrats from Charlotte have teamed up with two of the most powerful House Republicans for a renewed push to get the racist “literacy test” for voting out of the state’s constitution.

Newborn 'surrender' law getting an update

Senators want to tweak the state’s “safe surrender” law that allows parents of newborns to give up their babies without facing criminal penalties.

Transparency bill targets high school sports group

A newly filed government transparency bill caught my eye last week.

Former N.C. Sen. Jerry Tillman dies at 82

Former N.C. Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, has died. Tillman had been serving on the State Board of Transportation since he resigned from the Senate in 2020 after nine terms. He was 82.

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Cooper campaign posts big 2022 fundraising numbers

Which Council of State member raised the most money in the second half of 2022? It wasn’t one of the two gubernatorial hopefuls, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson or Attorney General Josh Stein.

Truitt wants more control over training center

Legislation to mandate a specific vendor for educational software climbed aboard a broader “education omnibus” bill Tuesday. House Bill 26 is the first piece of legislation to pass a committee vote in this year’s long session.

All Democrats co-sponsoring abortion bill

In an indication that Republicans could have a hard time recruiting a Democrat to support new abortion restrictions, legislative Democrats announced Tuesday that every single member of their caucuses – including moderates recently named to chair key House committees – are co-sponsoring bills to codify abortion protections from Roe v. Wade.

High staff vacancies dominate confirmation hearing for prisons' leader

The prison system’s 40% staff vacancy rate was a key focus Tuesday at a Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of Adult Corrections Todd Ishee.

House bill picks vendor for education software

It’s rare for state legislators to decide exactly which company should get a major state government contract.

Robinson's campaign spending challenge

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s campaign raised $708,724 during the second half of 2022 – but he spent much of that amount over the same period.

N.C. History: Edmisten's last scandal

Veteran political observers weren’t surprised to learn that State Auditor Beth Wood’s vehicular mishaps were connected to a holiday party hosted by former Secretary of State Rufus Edmisten.

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Bill would ban 'cashless' businesses

Some businesses have recently started to require customers pay with credit or debit cards – no cash allowed. Rep. Brenden Jones, R-Columbus, and several other House Republicans aren’t fans of the trend.

Redaction snafu delays Health Plan records release

It’ll likely take longer before the State Health Plan releases public records detailing the proposals from three insurers seeking the contract to administer insurance for state workers and retirees.

Grants fund industrial cybersecurity, other courses

To meet employers’ needs in a modern job market, community colleges are trying to go well beyond traditional career readiness offerings like plumbing and welding. But high-tech programs aren’t cheap.

Tussle over State Health Plan public records

It’s been more than a month since the State Health Plan awarded a new contract to Aetna over Blue Cross Blue Shield, but the actual bids from each company haven’t yet been released as public records. That means we don’t yet know details about the provider networks offered by each company or exactly how the costs of using each company would differ.

New video shows Wood's enablers at Edmisten office

State Auditor Beth Wood wasn’t the only person who made a “mistake in judgment” around a December holiday party, a new bystander video shows.

Sports betting fight brews

After a near miss last year, sports betting legislation could be among the first hot topics to come up as the long session cranks up.

NCDOT pays back transfer from its overspending era

Remember a few years back when the N.C. Department of Transportation was under fire for overspending its budget? State Treasurer Dale Folwell at one point even called for then-Secretary Jim Trogdon to be fired.

Could Medicaid funding help pay for child care?

Could Medicaid help pay for child care and community college training to get more people back into the workforce?

BOG blasts teacher training programs on reading

The UNC Board of Governors strongly criticized the universities’ teacher preparation programs over their failure to adhere to mandates that they train teachers in the “science of reading” approach.

New UNC policy could limit topics in job interviews

Last month, an advocacy group with ties to N.C. Senate Republicans took aim at an N.C. State microbiology professor job posting that required applicants to submit their “plans for implementing antiracism and equity-based practice.”

Third insurer joins battle over Health Plan contract

Blue Cross Blue Shield isn’t the only insurance company filing a formal protest against the State Health Plan’s decision to switch to Aetna in 2023.

AFP backs marijuana, opposes Medicaid expansion

The influential conservative group Americans For Prosperity has released its legislative agenda for North Carolina this year.

Senate rules shift PCS power

While the Senate’s new rules don’t make any controversial changes to the veto override process, they do include a notable change to the process for last-minute proposed committee substitutes.

Courts' 'universal citations' on hold

Attention lawyers: The state’s court system is backing off its new “universal citation system” for legal filings.

Rising stars in the House Republican caucus

In addition to the anointed Democrats, Tuesday’s House committee assignment list is a good indication of which Republicans will see increasing influence this session.

Pioneering Winston-Salem legislator dies

The first Black woman to serve in the North Carolina legislature has died. Annie Brown Kennedy died Tuesday at age 98, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.

Three House Democrats get key committee gavels

For months, House Speaker Tim Moore has insisted that he’s spoken to Democrats in his chamber who will be willing to vote with Republicans on some potential veto overrides. But he has declined to name who he’s talking to.

Realtors want legislation on affordable housing

A few days ago I put out a call for advocacy and trade organizations to share their legislative agenda for this year’s long session. NC Realtors sent me theirs, which not surprisingly involves the state’s need for more affordable housing.

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Stein looks to bypass Democratic primary fight for governor

Surprising no one, Attorney General Josh Stein launched his candidacy for governor on Wednesday morning.

State regulations on wine shipments upheld

Out-of-state wine retailers will continue to be banned from shipping to North Carolina consumers after the U.S. Supreme Court declined this week to hear a lawsuit challenging the regulation.

Blue Cross appeals State Health Plan move

In a formal appeal filed Thursday, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina says the State Health Plan used “arbitrary criteria and a distorted scoring system” in its decision to switch to Aetna starting in 2025.

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GOP leaders call for tax cuts this year

More tax cuts will likely be on the agenda this session, Senate leader Phil Berger said. Berger said in his opening day floor speech that “we must further reduce taxes,” and he gave more details to reporters later Wednesday.

Legislature's opening day rules drama

The ceremonial opening of a new legislative session is intended to be a celebratory day without political rancor – and Wednesday’s festivities were, with one very big exception.

Rising stars as Senate picks new committee chairs

Senate leader Phil Berger released committee assignments for this year’s session on Tuesday. You can find the complete list of them here; most key senators are returning to the same roles as last session, and there weren’t many big surprises on the new list.

Utility needs on legislature's 2023 agenda

The legislative long session that begins today will no doubt bring headline-grabbing bills dealing with hot topics like abortion, medical marijuana, sports betting and more.

Hudson details 'tense moment' that went viral

You’ve probably seen this photo by now. It went viral almost instantly Friday night as the U.S. House worked into the wee hours of Saturday night morning to finally elect U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy as speaker.

Legislative leaders talk transportation in Charlotte

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger were in Charlotte Monday afternoon, giving business leaders and journalists in the Queen City an opportunity to talk to the top two lawmakers at a Charlotte Regional Business Alliance event.

N.C. History: Our multiple-vote speaker election

Last week’s U.S. House speaker vote drama had many political veterans in North Carolina drawing comparisons to a similar situation in the N.C. House 20 years ago.

State Health Plan officials complained about Blue Cross for months before switch

For months before the State Health Plan board voted to change insurance companies for the first time in over 40 years, staff and board members voiced concerns about the service they were getting from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.