Battle lines forming after state budget signed

August 9, 2009

By Benjamin Niolet
Posted: Sunday, Aug. 09, 2009

RALEIGH After seven months, 27,000 bills, 460 new laws and a $19billion state budget, lawmakers are ready to go home.

But they have to wonder if they will find the welcome mat waiting for them.

The 2009 legislative session is expected to come to an official close early this week. But for Democrats, who have long controlled state politics, the session’s end represents the start of a long and important season.

All 170 seats in the House and Senate will be up for grabs next year, and the party in control after the polls close will be in a powerful position. That’s because, in 2011, the legislature will redraw legislative and congressional district lines that will help the party in power solidify its grip on power for the next decade.
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House rejects bill creating Yadkin trust

August 8, 2009

By James Romoser
Published: August 8, 2009

RALEIGH – A debate over the environment, the economy and the control of the water in the Yadkin River culminated in a late-night vote in the N.C. House of Representatives that dealt a blow to Gov. Bev Perdue’s administration in its fight over hydroelectric dams controlled by Alcoa Inc.

The House voted Thursday night against a bill that would have set up a “Yadkin River Trust,” a state corporation that the state hoped to use to take control of the four hydroelectric dams and reservoirs along a 38-mile section of the Yadkin. One of the sites is High Rock Lake in Davidson County.
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Ashe County Schools to Cut Four Teachers

June 3, 2009
Ashe County Schools to Cut Four Teachers Print E-mail
Written by Adam Hicks
Wednesday, June 03 2009
High Country Radio was able to catch up with Ashe County Schools’ superintendent, Donnie Johnson, to talk about how the school system is handling budget cuts.  Johnson said the system would be cutting four kindergarten teachers.

This news comes a day after Buncombe County and Hickory City Schools will reportedly cut 110 total teachers because of state budget cuts.

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Perdue now ‘vigorously opposes’ Alcoa license

May 22, 2009

Gov. Bev Perdue unexpectedly filed papers Thursday in the Alcoa relicensing saga that support the opponents of a state-issued permit.

Earlier this month, state water-quality officials issued a permit Alcoa needs to renew its federal hydroelectric license for the Yadkin River.

The permit from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources was the final approval needed before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues the license.

Perdue, however, has asked the commission for a four-month delay in which to make her case that the license should be denied to Alcoa and returned to the state.

Alcoa has called Perdue’s involvement a government attempt to seize private property.

The Yadkin Riverkeeper and Stanly County, which are concerned about contamination in Badin Lake, near Alcoa’s former aluminum smelter, appealed the permit in a state administrative-law court.

At a hearing Wednesday, the Riverkeeper and Stanly County asked for a temporary stay of the permit.

The state environment department didn’t oppose the request, agreeing that a stay is in the public interest.

Then a lawyer representing Perdue unexpectedly appeared. He asked the judge for permission to file a friend-of-the-court brief on Stanly County’s side.

The brief, filed Thursday, said Perdue “intends to vigorously oppose” Alcoa’s license. Stanly, it said, “has raised questions going directly to the welfare of our environment, the life of the Yadkin River and, ultimately, the health and safety of the people of this state. …”

The environment department’s view, the brief said, is that the Badin Lake contamination is stable and presents no health risks. Stanly disputes that, it said, claiming the contaminants could spread, tainting fish and downstream waters.

State water-quality officials, in issuing the permit, attached seven conditions including that Alcoa monitor contamination. Those conditions, they said, would protect the Yadkin’s water.

Smoke-Free: Shift in smoking policy was once unimaginable

May 20, 2009

Published: May 20, 2009


Yesterday was a historic day for North Carolina, the nation’s largest tobacco-producing state, Gov. Bev Perdue said as she signed into law a statewide ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.

Smokers and business owners have some time to prepare — the ban doesn’t take effect until Jan. 2, 2010.

With a celebratory ceremony and a few strokes of her pen, Perdue made official a policy shift that was once inconceivable.

“It’s been a long road, but major changes in public policy can take a while to get there,” said state Rep. Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson, who has spent five years pushing for major restrictions on public smoking. “I think this bill is a huge step forward for public health in North Carolina.”

It may not be the last step.

The bill that Perdue signed does not go as far as Holliman and other anti-smoking advocates wanted. They would like to ban indoor smoking in virtually all businesses, because they say all workers should be protected from the dangers of secondhand smoke. 


**NOTE** – High Five~! We just ruined the state!

50 More Years?: Alcoa gets a key water-quality certificate for federal license; state says situation has changed

May 11, 2009

Published: May 8, 2009

Alcoa Inc. got one step closer yesterday to getting the new 50-year federal license it needs to operate hydroelectric plants along four reservoirs on the Yadkin River, including High Rock Lake in Davidson County.

The N.C. Division of Water Quality issued a water-quality certificate to Alcoa, the largest U.S. producer of aluminum. It has attached some conditions, including monitoring sediment at the public-access areas at Badin Lake for heavy metals, PCBs and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons. Stanly County officials have raised concerns about contamination from the smelting plant that Alcoa operated in the town of Badin until 2002.

“Obviously, the state took a long, hard and thorough look at this, and they granted the permit,” said Kevin Lowery, a spokesman for Alcoa. “We obviously agree with that decision.”



Perdue picks Joines for economic post

May 6, 2009

Published: May 7, 2009

Updated: 05/07/2009 12:45 am

The mayor of Winston-Salem, Allen Joines, says he plans to advocate for attracting businesses that focus on technology, “green” jobs and military-supported companies to North Carolina in his new role as the chairman of a state economic-advisory board.

Gov. Bev Perdue announced yesterday that she has appointed Joines, who has been Winston-Salem’s mayor for eight years, as the chairman of the 37-member N.C. Economic Development Board. The board helps the N.C. Department of Commerce and the governor set policies that govern tax incentives for new businesses, trade policy, travel, tourism and other economic-development efforts.

His term will start July 1. He replaces Jordy Whichard of Greenville.