Your weekly North Carolina political news report.
North Carolina's annual agriculture measure is getting final votes because negotiators have worked out differences, particularly on when to outlaw production and possession of smokable hemp. The House and Senate scheduled floor votes for Monday evening on the 2019 Farm Act, much of which describes the regulatory framework to expand the state's industrial and medicinal hemp industry.
Microsoft will invest nearly $24 million and add hundreds of high-paying jobs in an expansion of its Charlotte campus, a signal that Charlotte’s technology sector is poised for additional growth. The N.C. Commerce Department said Microsoft was also looking at Irving, Texas and Fargo, N.D., for the expansion.
At Amazon’s massive, under-construction fulfillment center in Garner, the company is preparing the way for a delicate dance between humans and robots. Inside its 2-million-square-foot facility 7 miles southeast of downtown Raleigh, the blending of flesh and metal could soon have your Amazon packages delivered to you in the Triangle at record speeds — potentially less than half a day in some instances.
A major project to restore more than 1,000 feet of the Linville River flowing through Gill State Forest in western North Carolina is nearly complete. Environmentalists say the improvements will help ensure the river's trout population, along with other fish species, can thrive.
On Friday, the General Assembly announced that “pursuant to Senate rule 59.2(b), notice has been given by the Chair of the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate to the Senate Minority Leader that HB 966, 2019 Appropriations Act, may be considered by the Senate on Monday, October 28, 2019.”
Skepticism grew on Wednesday that a massive change in administering North Carolina Medicaid's program will start as scheduled early next year as a state budget stalemate continues and doctors and hospitals worry whether details are ready. The shift to managed care benefits for 1.6 million of the state's 2.2 million Medicaid recipients is supposed to begin Feb. 1, but final funding and details are hung up in a legislative showdown between Republican legislators and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. One rollout date for covering patients in one-quarter of the state's counties — previously set for Nov. 1 — already has been pushed back to the statewide date.
Affirming their commitment to address the rural broadband gap, North Carolina lawmakers added $5 million to a state grant program supporting rural broadband access. The GREAT (Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology) grant program began in 2018 and awarded roughly $10 million in grants to broadband and other companies for projects connecting rural communities to the internet.
A state House panel supports a $660 million fix for cash-flow problems at North Carolina's Department of Transportation attributed to disaster recovery spending and litigation losses. But the chamber's top budget-writers aren't expected to support it.