Morning Headlines: Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Here are some of the stories we're following today:
1st NC Bond Question Since 2000 Going To Voters
It will soon be up to voters whether North Carolina should incur $2 billion in debt to construct new government and university buildings, water infrastructure upgrades and other projects.
Gov. Pat McCrory planned Wednesday to sign legislation that authorizes a March 15 statewide referendum and lists how the proceeds would be spent if a majority of ballots say yes to borrowing. McCrory scheduled bill ceremonies for North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus in the morning and at Lenoir Community College in the afternoon.
The General Assembly directs $1.3 billion of the proceeds to 14 specific University of North Carolina campus projects and for work on all 58 community college campuses.
The referendum would mark the first statewide bond question on the ballot since 2000.
Governor Signs 7 More Bills Into Law
Legislation addressing historic preservation, severe allergic reactions and sex education in North Carolina's middle schools are now the law.
Gov. Pat McCrory's office said he signed seven bills Tuesday. He now has fewer than 25 pending on his desk from this year's General Assembly session.
One bill sets up rules on how places like hotels, summer camps and restaurants can obtain epinephrine auto-injectors used to stop allergic reactions in patrons caused by bees and certain foods. Schools already are required to maintain the pens.
Public school sex education in middle school now has to include instruction on the dangers of sex trafficking.
Another new law allows local governments to lend or give money for rehabilitating historic structures. It's separate from historic preservation state tax credits restored in this year's budget.
Estes, Wilson Leading 2 New Cabinet-Level Departments
Two familiar faces in Gov. Pat McCrory's administration now officially lead two agencies upgraded recently to Cabinet-level departments.
Cornell Wilson was sworn in as the first secretary of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs during a ceremony Tuesday in the old Capitol building. Moments later, Chris Estes was sworn in as head of the Department of Information Technology.
Wilson has been McCrory's military adviser. Estes has been the state chief information officer and keeps that title.
Lawmakers agreed in last month's state budget to fulfill McCrory's request to expand the state IT office and military and veterans' responsibilities in stand-alone departments. McCrory says the changes create efficiencies and help serve the state better.
The changes mean there are now 10 Cabinet-level departments, up from eight.
Group That Ran Pro-Tillis Ads Subject Of Complaint To IRS
A political watchdog group is accusing a North Carolina nonprofit that ran television ads in 2014 favorable to now-U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis with violating tax rules based on its political activity.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said it filed an Internal Revenue Service complaint Tuesday against Carolina Rising.
The group says Carolina Rising's 2014 tax return showed it spent about $4.6 million on advertisements, an amount equal to nearly all its contributions. The group says Carolina Rising should be investigated for failing to primarily engage in "social welfare" activities.
Dallas Woodhouse was Carolina Rising's president and is now the North Carolina Republican Party's executive director. He says such complaints are publicity stunts and Carolina Rising's operations complied with the law.
Tillis defeated Sen. Kay Hagan last November.
NC Jobless Rate Down A Fraction To 5.8 Percent In Sept.
North Carolina's unemployment rate fell by a hair in September to 5.8 percent.
The state Commerce Department says Tuesday that last month's jobless rate was down from 5.9 percent a month earlier and was the same level as one year ago.
The number of people employed increased by almost 3,700 between August and September to nearly 4.48 million. That's an increase of 118,500 jobs over the year.
North Carolina continues to lag behind the national average unemployment rate. In September, that figure was 5.1 percent.