Courts and Justice

WRAL: McCrory Vetoes NC Religious Objection Bill on Same Sex Marriage 

Governor Pat McCrory (R-NC) last week vetoed a religious exemption bill that would allow some court officials to avoid same sex marriage duties. His decision, announced hours after lawmakers gave final approval to the measure, puts him at odds with social conservatives in his party and GOP legislative leaders spearheading the legislation.

STATESVILLE RECORD & LANDMARK: Senate to Act Swiftly on Override of McCrory Magistrates Bill Veto 

Senator Tom Apodaca (R-Buncombe) says his chamber will debate and vote tonight on whether to override Gov. McCrory's veto of a measure allowing some court officials to refuse to perform same sex marriage duties because of religious objections.

NEWS & OBSERVER: More Hearings Ordered on Wake School Board Lines 

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling last Wednesday that keeps alive a legal challenge of Wake County school board election maps drawn in 2013 by the North Carolina General Assembly. The ruling from a three-judge panel, with a 2-1 split, sends the case back to the trial court for further consideration. It reverses a judge’s earlier decision to dismiss the challenge.

GREENSBORO NEWS & RECORD: Retention Elections for Judges Gets Tentative NC Senate Ok 

North Carolina lawmakers finally seem willing to change how voters can choose appellate court judges after legislation in previous years has gone nowhere. The Senate gave tentative approval last week to a method giving most sitting state Supreme Court justices the option to be elected to additional eight-year terms in an up-or-down statewide vote, without a challenger.

Economy and Economic Development

NEWS & OBSERVER: NC Jobless Rate Rises to 5.5 Percent 

North Carolina’s unemployment rate ticked upward in April for the second consecutive month even though the state added 11,100 jobs during the period. Once again, the influx of tens of thousands of people who entered the labor force in search of work pushed the unemployment rate higher.

WRAL: Poll By Pro-McCrory Group Shows Support for Education, Road Bonds 

North Carolina voters would likely back a pair of bond issues that would pay for transportation projects and state building improvements, according to a survey by TelOpinion Research conducted for the Renew North Carolina Foundation.

Education

NEWS & OBSERVER Dozens of Degree Programs Phased Out in UNC System 

Fifty-six academic degree programs across the UNC system were dropped or consolidated last week in a vote by the UNC Board of Governors. Such program “discontinuations” have occurred every two years since 1995.

NEWS & OBSERVER: Wake’s High Poverty Magnet Schools Attract Fewer Applicants 

Brentwood and Wendell elementary schools are ranked among the nation’s top magnet schools, but each of 11 other Wake County elementary schools had more applications than those two award-winning schools combined.

CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: New Approach Leads to Drop in CMS Suspensions 

The number of students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools who have been suspended is down 14 percent this year, a reflection of the district’s new emphasis on finding alternatives to sending children home to discipline them.

Elections

CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: Newton Announces Candidacy for N.C. Attorney General 

Sen. E.S. “Buck” Newton III announced Monday that he is a candidate for North Carolina Attorney General. Newton, 46, currently serves in the N.C. Senate, representing Johnston, Nash and Wilson counties.

NEWS & OBSERVER: Wanted: Democrat to Seek N.C. Senate Seat 

Talk already is growing among Democrats in Washington and North Carolina about who will challenge Republican Sen. Richard Burr in what’s expected to be another hotly contested and politically pivotal campaign in the Tar Heel State.

Healthcare

NEWS & OBSERVER: Blue Cross Proposing 25.7% Rate Hike for ACA Plans in NC 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, the state’s largest health insurer, said Monday it is seeking an average 25.7% increase for customers covered under the Affordable Care Act. The proposed rate hike is double last year’s 13.5 percent increase approved for Blue Cross, an indication that health insurance costs continue to rise despite the federal health care law.

WINSTON SALEM JOURNAL: House Panel to Consider Autism Insurance Bill 

A state House Insurance committee is scheduled Tuesday to consider a Senate bill that would provide health insurance coverage to individuals with autism. Senate Bill 676 Autism Health Insurance Coverage passed the Senate by a 47-1 vote on April 28th.

ASHEVILLE CITIZEN TIMES ER Visits on the Rise in the Carolinas, US 

Visits to hospital emergency rooms are on the rise in the Carolinas and around the country, with experts pointing to the physician shortage and the Affordable Care Act as possible reasons.

WRAL: Governor Signs ‘Burts Law’ 

Gov. McCrory last week signed a law increasing penalties for abusing residents of group or nursing homes or for failing to report abuse. Senate Bill 445 is named “Burt’s Law” after Burt Powell, a young man with developmental disabilities who was sexually abused over the course of a year by a manager in a Conover nursing home. The man told Powell he would harm Powell’s family if he told them about it.

Regulatory Reform

WRAL: State Senate Gives Nod to Alcohol, Hunting Laws 

Members of the state Senate approved a pair of bills last week that loosen or eliminate laws currently on the books. One would allow distilleries to sell a bottle of spirits directly to consumers. The other would allow hunting on Sundays.

NEWS & OBSERVER: Governor Vetoes Workplace Bill 

Gov. McCrory vetoed a bill last week aimed at punishing people who take jobs in order to expose unsafe or inhumane conditions or to steal from their employers. He said it didn’t do enough to protect legitimate whistleblowers. It was the governor’s second veto in two days, following his rejection Thursday of a bill allowing magistrates to avoid marrying same-sex couples.

Transportation

CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: Business Leaders Plan Opposition to I-77 Toll Lanes 

When North Mecklenburg business leaders met last Thursday to discuss their objections to planned toll lanes on Interstate 77, State Senator Jeff Tarte brought along a draft of a bill that would solve their problem. The long-shot bill would use money from an upcoming bond package to expand I-77 without toll revenue.

WILMINGTON STAR NEWS: ‘New’ Mason Inlet Has Yet to be Tested by Hurricane 

They are the most dynamic natural features along the coast, with the ability to reshape barrier islands and a reputation of being fickle and notoriously hard for humans to control. They also have a history of appearing – and sometimes disappearing – in the wake of a tropical storm system, most recently along the Outer Banks.