McCrory joins GOP governors in letter to Obama calling for action on border crossings

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory joined five of his fellow Republican governors in sending a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday, urging him to address the influx of unaccompanied children across the Southwestern U.S. border.

More than 57,000 immigrant children traveling without their parents have crossed from Mexico into the United States so far this year, up from 28,000 in 2013, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The letter calls on Obama to take the lead in developing a plan “to deal with this crisis in a humanitarian and practical way.”

Signing the letter with McCrory are Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.

The group expresses concern that “there will be significant numbers who will end up
using the public schools, social services and health systems largely funded by the states.”

“More importantly, we are concerned that the failure to return the unaccompanied children will send a message that will encourage a much larger movement towards our southern border,” the governors write. “We fear that this will put a significant number of children at risk of abuse and neglect on their journey to the United States.”

The full letter can be read here.

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Gov. McCrory signs bill to review Common Core standards

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday signed legislation to review and possibly replace North Carolina’s Common Core standards.

McCrory had previously voiced concern about repealing Common Core, but indicated that he would accept the bill because it does not immediately change any of the state’s educational policies.

“It does initiate a much-needed, comprehensive and thorough review of standards,” McCrory said of the measure when it was passed by the Republican-led N.C. General Assembly.

The measure would create an 11-member commission, appointed by legislative leaders and the governor, to review academic standards in North Carolina in response to complaints about the state’s implementation of Common Core. The commission would make recommendations to the State Board of Education.

Also on Tuesday, the governor signed a bill to add Elizabethtown and Matthews to the State Health Plan, along with measures on the N.C. Military Affairs Commission and the state Industrial Commission.

Additionally, McCrory signed House Bill 644, which directs the N.C. Department of Labor to enact regulations better protecting healthcare personnel who work with hazardous materials and chemotherapy drugs. Rep. Jim Fulghum (R-Wake), who died on Saturday after a battle with cancer, was one of the lead proponents of the measure.

“This legislation will provide needed protections to our healthcare professionals,” McCrory said of that bill. “It is fitting that this was sponsored by the late Rep. Fulghum. As a medical doctor, this bill furthers his legacy of caring about the personal safety of others.”

The governor’s office plans to deliver a pen used to sign the legislation to Rep. Fulghum’s widow, Mary Susan Fulghum.

Here is the full list of bills signed into law by the governor on Tuesday:

Replace Common Core State Standards with North Carolina’s Higher Academic Standards (S812) – The measure would create an 11-member commission, appointed by legislative leaders and the governor, to review academic standards in North Carolina in response to complaints about the state’s implementation of Common Core. The commission would make recommendations to the State Board of Education. Passed 71-34 in the House and 33-12 in the Senate. (Primary sponsors: Sens. Soucek and Tillman)

Military Lands Protection Act (S614) – The bill which grants the N.C. Military Affairs Commission the ability to keep confidential those documents regarding base closure and realignment until decisions are made at the federal level. The measure also gives the State Construction Office, within the Department of Administration, authority to oversee certain development surrounding military lands. Passed 106-0 in the House and 47-0 in the Senate. (Primary sponsor: Sen. Brown)

Add Towns to State Health Plan (S105) – The legislation authorizes the towns of Elizabethtown and Matthews to enroll its employees and their dependents in the State Health Plan for teachers and state employees. Passed 90-22 in the House and 47-0 in the Senate. (Primary sponsor: Sen. Tillman)

Disapprove Industrial Commission Rules (S794) – The bill directs the State Industrial Commission to adopt various workers’ compensation rules, and provides uniform statewide guidelines for the computation of retroactive child-support obligations. Passed 113-0 in the House and 47-0 in the Senate. (Primary sponsor: Sen. Brown)

Prevent Hazardous Drug Exposure (H644) – The measure requires the N.C. Department of Labor, by 2016, to develop and enforce regulations that conform to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommendations regarding workplace protections for healthcare personnel who work with or near hazardous materials and chemotherapy drugs. Passed 105-0 in the House and 46-1 in the Senate. (Primary sponsors: Reps. Murry, Carney and Fulghum)

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McCrory appoints two district court judges

The office of Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday announced the appointment of two district court judges.

Michael Stone (Hoke County) – Stone is the sole proprietor of the Law Firm of Michael A. Stone, PA., and previously worked for Hatley & Stone, PA and Stone & Associates. He has been appointed to serve as a judge in District 16A covering Hoke and Scotland counties.

Charles Gilliam (Wake County) – Gilliam serves as a faculty member at N.C. State University’s School of Management where he teaches business law and corporate finance.  He was previously the assistant general counsel for Xerox Corporation.  Gilliam has been appointed to serve as a judge in the 10th District covering Wake County.

District Court judges hear such civil cases as divorce, custody and child support, along with criminal cases involving misdemeanors and infractions. The trial of a criminal case in District Court is always without a jury, according to the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts.

The District Court also hears juvenile cases involving children under the age of 16 who are delinquent and children under the age of 18 who are undisciplined, dependent, neglected or abused.

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N.C. House passes bill to consider Common Core repeal, McCrory will sign

The Republican-led N.C. House on Wednesday voted 71-34 to adopt a measure that would review and possibly replace Common Core standards in North Carolina, sending the bill to the governor for his signature.

Senate Bill 812 would create an 11-member commission, appointed by legislative leaders and the governor, to review academic standards in North Carolina in response to complaints about the state’s implementation of Common Core.

The commission would hold its first meeting by Sept. 1 and present proposed changes to the State Board of Education “as soon as practicable.”

Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union) said the measure would leave the state’s current Common Core standards in place while the commission develops its report, which could consider keeping some Common Core elements.

“This bill does insist that North Carolina work toward achieving the highest academic standards in the nation,” Horn said. “We have taken nothing off the table, we don’t prohibit the commission from looking at anything. Wherever this state can see the best possible standards that work for this state, that’s allowable.”

Rep. Tricia Cotham (D-Mecklenburg), herself an educator, questioned the rationale for changing course on Common Core.

“Sadly, this issue has been made extremely political in the last few years, and that is extremely unfortunate because we are talking about our children’s education and their curriculum,” Cotham said. “What about all of the professional development, what about all of the supplemental instruction that is aligned with Common Core? Are those items now irrelevant? I think that’s not a fair burden to place on our schools and our teachers.”

Just three House Democrats – Reps. William Brisson, Joe Sam Queen and Ken Waddell – joined a unified Republican majority in approving the negotiated compromise with the Senate, which passed the measure on a near party-line vote of 33-12 last week.

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who has been critical of the move to repeal Common Core, issued a statement on Wednesday saying he would sign the bill.

“I will sign this bill because it does not change any of North Carolina’s education standards. It does initiate a much-needed, comprehensive and thorough review of standards,” McCrory said. “No standards will change without the approval of the State Board of Education. I especially look forward to the recommendations that will address testing issues so we can measure what matters most for our teachers, parents and students.”

Full audio of Wednesday’s House debate on the measure can be heard below, courtesy of VoterRadio.com.

 

 

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Senate moves closer to House on teacher pay raises, Medicaid in latest budget offering

The budget impasse between the Republican-controlled N.C. House and Senate may have made some progress on Tuesday as Senate negotiators said they would move toward the House on the key issues of teacher pay and Medicaid spending.

The latest Senate budget proposal would give educators an 8 percent pay raise, down from the 11 percent previously sought by that chamber and inching closer to the 6 percent proposed most recently by the House and endorsed by Gov. Pat McCrory.

Another concession by the Senate came in the form of reducing the number of aged and disabled patients that would have been removed from the state’s Medicaid rolls under its previous proposal.

The Senate would also adopt the House plan for giving state employees a $1,000 pay raise (the Senate’s previous proposal was for an $800 raise), except for school-based administrators, in which case the Senate adopts McCrory’s plan.

And the Senate takes another page from the governor’s proposals when it comes to simplifying the pay increase schedule for teachers, going from 37 “steps” to just six.

However, the issue of funding teacher assistants could continue to be a sticking point between the two chambers. While the Senate’s latest plan would reduce the number of teacher assistants cut this year by half, it could also set up more cuts in the following year. The House and the governor have vocally opposed any such reductions in funding teacher assistant positions.

“I think it’s time in the process that somebody’s got to take the lead and I think the Senate is willing to take the lead on trying to come to the middle and make a compromise and I think this proposal does just that,” Sen. Harry Brown (R-Jones, Onslow), his chamber’s lead budget negotiator, said. “In fact, I think this proposal probably lets the House win maybe a few more times than the Senate wins.”

While acknowledging that the Senate was making concessions in its latest budget offering, Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), the House’s chief budget-writer, expressed some continued misgivings.

“We do appreciate progress being made, particularly progress with respect to rank-and-file state employees,” Dollar said. “There are some areas where some concern would still be in play.”

After the budget meeting, McCrory released the following statement:

“Earlier today we had positive dialogue with Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis during a meeting at the Executive Mansion. However, we continue to have objections concerning the elimination of thousands of teacher assistants as well as cuts to core state services, including programs for the elderly, disabled and Alzheimer’s patients.

“During our luncheon, we presented the option to allow local school districts flexibility to provide teacher raises and fund teacher assistants. We’re encouraged that both Speaker Tillis and Senate Education Chairman Jerry Tillman publicly indicated their willingness to consider this proposal. We look forward to further dialogue with the House and Senate.”

Full audio of Tuesday’s Budget Conference Committee can be heard below, courtesy of VoterRadio.com.

Related:

Gov. McCrory pledges to veto Senate’s budget, Berger pushes back

PODCAST: A look at budget drama in the legislature and the upcoming U.S. Senate election

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McCrory named to leadership committee with National Governors Association

Photo: Governor’s Office

Gov. Pat McCrory was named to the executive committee of the National Governors Association (NGA) during its summer meeting in Nashville on Sunday.

The executive committee will be chaired by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah, who nominated McCrory to the committee, will serve as vice chairman.

Also named to the executive committee were Democratic governors Dan Malloy (Connecticut), Mark Dayton (Minnesota) and Steve Bullock (Montana), along with Republican governors Terry Branstad (Iowa),  Mary Fallin (Oklahoma) and Scott Walker (Wisconsin).

According to the NGA, the association allows governors to “share best practices, speak with a collective voice on national policy and develop innovative solutions that improve state government and support the principles of federalism.”

The executive committee will shape the NGA’s priorities for the coming year.

“While gridlock prevails in Washington, D.C., governors must act, rather than talk, and that’s what we’re doing in North Carolina to provide the economic and educational opportunities our state needs to prosper,” McCrory said. “I look forward to bipartisan discussions with my fellow governors about the results that come with making tough decisions, keeping a close eye on the taxpayers’ wallets, and looking beyond traditional ideas and approaches.”

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Historic preservation projects in seven N.C. counties to receive federal grant

The N.C. State Historic Preservation Office on Friday announced that a federal grant of $93,000 will be used toward seven projects throughout North Carolina.

“North Carolina’s rich and varied architectural history is found throughout the state,” Gov. Pat McCrory said. “These grants will allow us to preserve it. These needed updates and restorations will ensure the beauty of our state for future generations as well as provide a boost for local economies.”

The Historic Preservation Fund is a federal matching-grant program administered jointly by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior and the state Historic Preservation Office.

The following historic preservation projections will receive portions of the federal funds:

Beaufort County
Grantee:  City of Washington
Project:  Survey Update for Washington Historic District

The City of Washington will receive $11,000 to conduct a survey update for the Washington Historic District, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The grant funds will allow the city to hire a consultant to evaluate the status and integrity of all buildings within the historic district and complete a photographic and written record of the surveyed  properties. The City of Washington will provide $4,000 in matching funds for the project.

Buncombe County
Grantee:  Town of Black Mountain
Project:  Wooden Window Repair and Energy Efficiency Workshop

The Town of Black Mountain will receive $1,000 to host a workshop for homeowners, historic preservation commission members and contractors. The Town will provide a match of $200 for the project.

The workshop also will cover the energy efficiency of traditional building materials and how to apply sustainability principals to historic buildings and comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.

Catawba County
Grantee:  City of Hickory
Project:  Hickory Architectural Survey Update

The City of Hickory will receive $15,000 to complete an architectural survey update. A match of $8,000 will be provided by the City.

The grant will assist the documentation of 100 to 125 non-residential buildings and 15 to 20 post-World War II subdivisions. The project will also update approximately 200 existing records for properties outside National Register historic districts. The City hopes the survey update will lead to identification and historic designation of traditionally under-represented populations.

Craven County
Grantee:  City of New Bern
Project: Dryborough Architectural Survey and National Register Nomination

The City of New Bern will receive $11,000 to undertake an architectural survey and subsequent nomination of the Dryborough neighborhood to the National Register of Historic Places. The City will provide $4,000 in matching funds for the project.

Founded in 1808 by Gov. Benjamin Smith, Dryborough was later annexed by New Bern and became the city’s first primarily African-American neighborhood and has served as a social and cultural center for the African-American community of New Bern for more than 200 years.

Mecklenburg County
Grantee:  City of Charlotte
Project:  Charlotte Comprehensive Historic Resource Survey – Phase II

The City of Charlotte will receive $24,000 to hire a consultant to conduct the second phase of a comprehensive historic resource survey of the city. The survey will be used as a planning tool to update, verify and identify historic resources within Charlotte, which will provide a match of $30,000 for the project.

The last architectural survey conducted by Charlotte in the mid-1980s was not comprehensive so many historic resources lack protection or even identification. A comprehensive survey will allow planners and decision makers to consider the effect of development proposals on historic resources. Phase II will concentrate on the area outside of Charlotte’s Route 4, beyond the central city.

Orange County
Grantee:  Orange County
Project:  Orange County Survey Update and Phase I of Publication

Orange County will receive $15,000 to hire a consultant to conduct an architectural survey update of rural portions of Orange County. The County will provide a match of $10,000. This project is the first of three phases with the end goal being to produce a publication that documents the county’s historic resources. Phase I will survey approximately 250 properties including mid-20th-century resources along with those associated with the county’s agricultural and African-American history.

Wake County
Grantee:  Wake County
Project:  Wake County Architectural Survey of Six Towns (Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Rolesville and Wendell)

Wake County will receive $16,000 to hire a consultant to complete an architectural survey of historic properties in the towns of Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Rolesville and Wendell. The County will provide matching funds of $9,000 to assist with the project.

The six Wake County towns were selected by the Wake County Historic Preservation Commission in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office as limited documentation exists on their historic resources and all of the communities face increased development. Identifying and documenting historic resources will give the towns the information necessary for considering their heritage as they plan for growth.

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Gov. McCrory names poet laureate for North Carolina

Photo: N.C. Arts Council

The office of Gov. Pat McCrory on Friday announced the appointment of Valerie Macon as North Carolina’s new poet laureate for the next two years.

“North Carolina, with a centuries-old history of cultivating artistic and literary talent, eagerly anticipates Macon’s service,” McCrory said. “I look forward to the unique perspective and style she will bring to the office.”

A resident of Fuquay-Varina, Macon has lived in North Carolina for more than 35 years. She holds degrees from Adelphi Business School in Mineola, New York and Meredith College in Raleigh.

Her first book of poetry, “Shelf Life,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, as was her second book, “Sleeping Rough.” Macon was the Gilbert Chapel Distinguished Poet for the Eastern Region in 2010-11.

The role of North Carolina’s poet laureate was first established in 1935. Guidelines call for the poet to be a North Carolinian with deep connections to the cultural life of the state, literary excellence and influence on other writers and appreciation of literature in its diversity throughout the state, among other recommendations.

The poet laureate often chooses a long-term project or other program of special interest. Duties involve traveling across the state to engage writers and readers of all ages in schools and communities, communicating with the press and writing commemorative poems for historical or culturally important occasions.

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McCrory appoints members to school textbook commission

Gov. Pat McCrory on Friday announced the appointment of 22 members to the state Textbook Commission, which evaluates all textbooks offered for adoption by North Carolina schools.

The commission is comprised of school superintendents, principals, teachers and parents of students. Members serve four-year terms and are appointed based on recommendations from the state superintendent of public instruction.

Each textbook is required to be read by at least one expert certified in the subject for which the book would be used. Textbook recommendations are submitted by the commission to the State Board of Education.

Members named to the Textbook Commission:

• Dawn Hester (Pitt County)
• Tracy Arnold (Pitt County)
• Tracey Lewis (Stokes County)
• Lesa Widener (Catawba County)
• Julie Felix (Cabarrus County)
• Maria Bishop (Burke County)
• Michelle Gray (Scotland County)
• Charles Gaffigan (McDowell County)
• Brian Creasman (Vance County)
• Cassundra Morrison (Surry County)
• Jessica Luby (Catawba County)
• Glenn Locklear (New Hanover County)
• Michelle Tiesi (Mecklenburg County)
• Alison Mintz (Cleveland County)
• Rodney Trice (Orange County)
• Daniel Novey (Carteret County)
• Kathleen Linker (Rowan County)
• Lissa Harris (Guilford County)
• Linda Mozell (Guilford County)
• Brenda Winfrey-Knox (Cumberland County)
• Kathy Crumpler (Pender County)
• Stephen Gay (Wake County)

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McCrory signs bill converting military training into college credit

Photo: Governor’s Office

Active-duty members, veterans and military spouses can have military training and past experience converted into college credit or professional licenses in North Carolina under legislation signed into law Thursday by Gov. Pat McCrory.

“Service members and veterans receive some of the best training in the world. This law gives them the opportunity to turn that training and experience into certifications and college credits that will help them get good-paying jobs in the civilian world,” McCrory said. “This law will also provide North Carolina employers with well-disciplined and high-skilled workers who know a thing or two about how to get a job done and done well.”

The bill, which passed unanimously through the legislature, directs North Carolina’s state-run universities and community colleges to develop a system for converting military training into college credits.

The measure also tasks the state’s licensure boards with establishing a process for applying military training to requirements for professional certifications and licenses.

According to the governor’s office, some programs are already in place to convert military training, including:

• commercial driver’s license for truck drivers
• information technology specialists’ certification
• ASE certification for vehicle mechanics

Meanwhile, conversion programs for military-trained law enforcement officers and paramedics are expected to be announced soon.

McCrory signed the bill at the Joint Force Headquarters in Raleigh, where he was joined by several state lawmakers, along with his military and veterans affairs advisers and members of the North Carolina National Guard.

“This bill is a win-win,” said Sen. Ron Rabin (R-Harnett, Johnston, Lee), one of the measure’s primary sponsors. “It enriches our workforce, which attracts businesses to come into the state, while also helping the economy.”

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