Carolina Journal Weekly Report

May 22, 2009

Carolina Journal Weekly Report

For the week of May 22, 2009 -

Reaction of the Week

RALEIGH — Nine months of studies, audits, frantic lobbying efforts, and closed-door negotiations came to a head when the House and Senate quickly approved in April a temporary fix to the ailing state employees’ health plan. The compromise between House and Senate leaders dashed the hopes of reformers who wanted more sweeping changes, and state employees who wanted to hold down costs for plan members writes Jim Stegall for Carolina Journal.

In addition, the plan will continue to be run by a special legislative committee rather than an agency of the executive branch, as some had wanted. The compromise will raise employee co-pays, deductibles, and dependent premiums enough to keep it solvent for a while, but leaves big questions about the future financial health of the plan.

Reformers wanted to change the fiscal year of the plan to match the calendar year; lower dependent premiums to attract younger, healthier people into the plan; and enact other measures to make the plan more financially stable. What they had to settle for was a provision calling for an independent audit and a Blue Ribbon Task Force to study the issues raised by the plan’s near failure.

Proposals to put the health plan under the executive branch were tabled or voted down as a bill to reform the plan (S.B. 287) moved through both chambers in March. Of the states that have government-run health plans for state employees, more than two dozen are administered by the executive branch, while most of the rest opt for control by an independent board of trustees. North Carolina’s plan is administered entirely by a joint House and Senate committee run by each chamber’s majority leader, currently Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, and Rep. Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson.

News Features

CJ: Bill encourages private education ... with a catch
RALEIGH — The state of North Carolina spends just over $5,600 per year for each student enrolled in public schools. A bill sponsored by House Minority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, offers to split that cost with parents who take their children off the public school rolls and educate them elsewhere.

CJ: Recent events renew debate over gun control
RALEIGH — Several recent events have renewed the debate over gun control: Mass shootings in North Carolina and other parts of the country earlier this year; the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence assessment in April claiming restrictions on firearms ownership and use could fuel “right-wing extremism”; and President Obama’s comments in Mexico suggesting that a tougher assault weapons ban in the U.S. could deter Mexican gang violence.

Hagan says prosecutor should stay, finish probe
RALEIGH — U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said yesterday that she has recommended that the White House not replace the U.S. attorney leading an investigation into former Gov. Mike Easley, saying that the prosecutor should stay to complete his work. Hagan, D-N.C., said she didn’t want to politicize the process by rushing to replace the Republican appointee in the midst of federal investigations involving two Democrats — Easley and two-time presidential candidate John Edwards.

State eyes shorter school year
RALEIGH — Legislators are talking about cutting the 2009-10 school year short by five days because of the budget crisis. Public schools would employ fewer assistant principals, teaching assistants and social workers under a proposed education budget presented this week. Cutting the school year from 180 days to 175 next year would save $100million. In 2010-2011, the school year would be reduced by 10 days to 170 days, saving $200 million.

Legislature shows a leftward tilt
RALEIGH — The state’s Legislative Building is leaning to the left this year. North Carolina lawmakers are approving bills — many of which have gone nowhere in recent years — that push liberal ideals such as more comprehensive sex education in public schools, so-called “green bills” to protect the state’s beaches from plastic bags and more protections for minorities in death penalty cases.

Upcoming Events

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 6:00 p.m.
Southeastern Freedom Club Meeting
with our special guest Becki Gray
Legislative Update: A Behind the Scenes Look at Your State Legislature

Monday, June 01, 2009 at 12:00 PM, Noon
A meeting of the Shaftesbury Society
with our special guest Dallas Woodhouse
Take Back Our State Tea Party-A protest against the One Billion Dollar State Tax Increase

Tuesday, June 02, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.
Triad Freedom Club Meeting
with our special guest Becki Gray
Legislative Update: A Look Behind the Scenes at What Your Legislators Are Doing

Thursday, June 04, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.
Piedmont Freedom Club Meeting
with our special guest Becki Gray
Legislative Update: A Look Behind the Scenes at What Your Legislators Are Doing

Monday, June 08, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
The State of Our Constitution
with our special guests A Distinguished Panel of Experts
The North Carolina Constitution and Property Rights

John Locke Foundation Carolina Journal Online
The Locker Room Carolina Journal Radio

Capital Quotes

Friends do all sorts of things for friends.
Marvin Schiller, Mary Easley’s lawyer, as quoted by the Raleigh News & Observer, speaking at a press conference about free flights the Easleys enjoyed while Mike Easley was governor.

The Democrats can go to hell, and so can the Republicans.
— Rep. Cary Allred, R-Alamance, announcing plans to the Greensboro News & Record to change his registration to unaffiliated and rejecting calls that he should resign from the House. N.C. Republican Party Chairman Linda Daves had called for Allred to resign following a report about his combative and inappropriate behavior at the General Assembly on April 27.

We have no magic pot of money in Raleigh.
— N.C. Transportation Secretary Gene Conti, as quoted by the Charlotte Observer, addressing to Charlotte-area transportation planners about the prospects for speeding up the completion the Interstate 485 as Gov. Bev Perdue promised. Conti said that finishing up I-485 would involve taking money from another major Charlotte-area road project.

The council thought it was giving a lower raise because of the economy. We were trying to respond to that, but apparently we didn’t respond enough.
— Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, as quoted by the Raleigh News & Observer, announcing that Raleigh City Council would reexamine its decision to give City Manager Russell Allen a $10,000 raise.

On The Air This Week…

Carolina Journal Radio

This week on C J Radio…
Carolina Journal’s Don Carrington reviews questions andissues swirling around Mike and Mary Easley, Bradley Smith of the Center for Competitive Politics explains legal and constitutional problems with taxpayer-financed elections, Jane Shaw of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy discusses why a school’s reputation is as important as the education it offers, and Rep. Hugh Holliman, Sen. Eddie Goodall and JLF’s Daren Bakst offer their views of a smoking ban in public places. 

NC Spin

This week on NC Spin…
Join moderator Tom Campbell for another week of political discussion and debate on the most intelligent television talk show in the state. Topics this week: The crossover deadline, the bills that passed and those that didn’t pass one house by the May 14th deadline; more Easley family troubles; and the state budget. This week’s panelists: John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation; Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch; political consultant Brad Crone; and Eastern North Carolina’s “Talk of the Town” host Henry Hinton.

At Issue

This week on At Issue…
Watch At Issue, hosted by Kim Genardo, Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Also available on the web at


© 2009 John Locke Foundation | 200 West Morgan St., Raleigh, NC 27601, (919) 828-3876



Material published here may be reprinted provided the
Locke Foundation receives prior notice and appropriate credit is given.


JLF Network Websites & Blogs