Thursday, May 31, 2007

Is the environment next? I was thinking back to a little media pow wow Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight held just before the session got underway.

Before he took questions, he talked for about 10 minutes. It started with a surreal story from back home that weaved into the need for big time changes when it comes to the environment. He went from light bulbs to biodiesel in a matter of minutes and pledged it must be a big issue this session.

On numerous occasions, House Speaker Joe Hackney has also mentioned the need to work on environmental issues from this state.

Here we are looking at June in front of us and very little has been done. I'm not advocating environmental issues, I'm just wondering with a tough budget battle ahead whether we will have to wait until next year to see how these issues are taken up or if they will be taken up at all.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Senate Democrats and Republicans sittin in a tree...yep. Never thought we'd see a budget with this kind of vote huh? With a 47-2 vote, the Senate tentatively approved its version of the budget.

Don't get me wrong, Republicans have plenty of problems with it (spending, COPS, etc.) but several times today we've heard the R's say it's the best budget they have ever seen.

Namely, two temporary taxes are cut and there's some ghost positions eliminated, and Republicans admit they are initiatives they've been pushing for years and that's why they agree.

A real interesting point was Sen. Fred Smith not only voting for it but speaking on behalf of the budget after the vote. Why is that interesting? He's running for governor and he's a Republican. I'm sure his opponents will have something to say. However, he told reporters no matter how he would vote he would be critiicized.

The two no votes came from Sen. Andrew Brock and Sen. Eddie Goodall. Sen. Brock said he would have voted yes if it was for the $1.2 billion in COPS for universities.

It will be interesting to see how the House reacts to this now as the two sides meet to "compromise"!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Let the budget battle begin! The Senate unveiled its initial version of the budget this morning. As expected it does not include the temporary taxes the House included. It also leaves out the $100 million for Medicaid but says it will work on a comprehensive plan. More on that in a minute.

Several leaders in both chambers have deep concern that unless a compromise happens quickly on those taxes we could be in for a long summer at the legislature.

Back to the Medicaid issue. It appears this issue will be taken up outside of the budget. There are two proposals or compromises. One includes sales taxes and another includes a long list of changes to fund it 100% for the counties. The state would be clear for up to three years but would then end up around $120 million short in that department. Still getting details on the plan but it seems to be getting a good reception from both sides of the aisle.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

McCrory for Governor? During an interview this morning for Political Connections we asked Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory about his future plans and his thoughts on running for governor. He said "I'm not going to say no" and that he'll make a decision in the next month.

The Republican is very popular in Charlotte but can he get momentum state wide?

McCrory is just one interesting part of this week's Political Connections (Friday 6pm, Sunday 11am).

Stay tuned!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Rand vs. Long--Expect an interesting battle on Tuesday morning. Got a call this morning making sure I headed to the Senate Commerce committee meeting Tuesday morning.

Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand has an insurance related bill being heard in that committee.

The bill essentially strips the insurance commissioner of his current duties to set auto insurance rates and hear the cases put forth by insurance companies. The law appoints a special judge to take the commissioner's spot doing that job.

Jim Long, current commissioner, is obviously strong against it and will be there Tuesday. It's an elected position so insurance companies feel the commissioner denies higher rates because of his need to keep the people happy. The commissioner will likely tell lawmakers to expect higher rates if this law passes.

Interesting that Tony Rand is taking this to task and just as interesting his only co-sponsor is a Republican.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Another well written blog by Laura Leslie at WUNC ( got me thinking today.

A few days ago she wrote about how Governor Mike Easley has been all over the place. He was in DC to talk National Guard and dropout rates in schools recently. CSPAN invited him to do a call in show. Then he and Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy held a national "press conference" over the phone. It was well attended by very prominent news organizations in Washington DC.

It got me thinking though. Why so much national media attention and those of us in Raleigh can't even get an interview with him in our own state??? As a television station, sound by itself isn't exactly compelling. So, we put in a request to videotape his "press conference" with Sen. Leahy. Denied.

We then asked for an interview afterward and some time with all the local media in person. Denied.

We've had a standing request to do a one on one interview in our studio with the Governor for more than a year. We offered him 30 minutes of air time that would air in the Triangle, Triad, and Charlotte. Denied. We've never even been granted a one on one interview in his office. In fact, the only time I've interviewed the Governor in a sit down situation was during the campaign.

I'm not mocking or ripping on the Governor or his staff. It just makes you think.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tourism and corruption-quite a day! The annual pit crew challenge took place outside the General Assembly today. It pitted lawmakers from the House and Senate against each other to change the tires on a race car.

It's all aimed to celebrate tourism in North Carolina which is now the sixth top state in the nation for tourist destinations.

When researching a little futher, what's interesting is the beaches and mountains don't bring in the most bucks. Mecklenburg, Wake, and Guilford counties bring in the most visitor spending dollars. Dare and Buncombe (beach and mountain) counties follow those as the first counties you would think about when it comes to tourism.

It makes sense when you think about it, simply because of all the friends and families of a large city population come and spend at restaurants, malls, etc. But it provides an interesting perspective when you think about how everyone does just about anything for beach and mountain communities because they are the lifeline of tourism.

Don't get me wrong, I just got married at the beach, these areas are vital for tourism but it does put everything in a different perspective when you look at the numbers.

Oh and by the way...Rep. Thomas Wright could find himself in a heap of trouble. The Board of Elections handed over allegations against him to the Wake County District Attorney for potential campaign finance violations. Word is from experts he's going to prison and several other lawmakers are feeling the heat and this is no where near the end.

Stay tuned!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Married and tan-ahhh! Well after two glorious weeks away from work, I am back. Not that I don't like my job, but who really wants to work on a regular basis!

Got married in the Outer Banks and honeymooned in Aruba. An amazing time to say the least and I'm truly blessed!

I see I missed Decker and Geddings getting sentenced as well as House budget approval. I must admit, I didn't think about it at all and it was great, but I am glad to be back!

Just a quick entry to let you know I'm back and will begin with blog entries tomorrow that are much more interesting than my personal life!
Married and tan...ahhhh! Just a quick entry to note of my return from two glorious weeks away from work. Don't get me wrong, I like my job but who wants to work right?

Got married in the Outer Banks and honeymooned in Aruba. Both were spectacular!

I missed Decker and Gedding sentencing and the House budget approval. Big stuff, but I must admit I didn't think about any of it once!

It's been a crazy first day back but just wanted to say howdy and the blog will continue with more interesting things than my personal life tomorrow!