Today @NCCapitol (April 18): You can't google what Google is announcing today

Posted April 19, 2013

— Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Friday, April 19. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.

GOOGLE: Gov. Pat McCrory and other state officials will be on hand for what is being described as a "major economic development announcement" at Google's data center in Lenoir at 11 a.m. 

Oddly enough, no set of search results have been able to tell @NCCapitol what the massive technology company, famous for its search engine, might be announcing. There is no meeting of the panel that plays a role in granting state incentives this morning. At a similarly framed economic development announcement in Iowa last year, the company announced it was investing more in its existing facility there.

North Carolina used an incentive package worth $260 million over 30 years to land the $600 million Google data center in 2007. 

CALENDAR: There are no legislative committee meetings scheduled today. Lawmakers are due to return to work Monday afternoon.

McCrory will hold who "Main Street" events in Taylorsville and Hickory this afternoon. 

ON THE RECORD: This week's episode of "On the Record" will feature a discussion of debates at the legislature, including redistricting. Tune in at 7 p.m. or catch the full episode online after it airs. 

WRAP: Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie and reporter Mark Binker wrap up the day in legislative action in Thursday's edition of The Wrap @NCCapitol.

PACKAGE: The North Carolina Department of Administration building was evacuated for about an hour Thursday afternoon due to reports of a suspicious package. A member of Gov. Pat McCrory's staff saw the package on the first floor of the building, at 116 W. Jones St. in downtown Raleigh, and reported it to authorities. A hazmat crew arrived on the scene around 5 p.m.

EASLEY: Former Gov. Mike Easley has weighed in on the debate about whether to do away with class-size limits in elementary grades, according to the Associate Press writer Gary D. Robertson. The news agency reported: 

"You can't keep the classes small without paying for it and giving flexibility doesn't pay for it," Easley wrote in an email, marking one of his first public forays into policy since leaving office more than four years ago.

A bill sponsored by Senate Republicans and approved by a committee this week would end a requirement that currently means no classroom for kindergarten through third grade can be larger than 24 students. The average classroom size in a school district for these early grades can be no larger than 21 students.

Bill supporters say superintendents and principals should be given leeway during tight budget times to shift money around to pay for other priorities or try innovative teaching methods.

When Easley was governor from 2001 to 2009, he made class-size reduction in those grades one of his top priorities. He persuaded lawmakers to set aside more funds for those classrooms.

Republicans eliminated class-size maximums for classrooms in grades 4-12 in the 2011 state budget law.

Easley, 63, has kept a low profile on policy issues since leaving the Executive Mansion, but he remained in the public eye during state and federal investigations into campaign finance and other issues surrounding him and allies within his administration.

OTHER STORIES: In other stories we were following Thursday: 

MEDICAID: State lawmakers were left with more questions than answers after a presentation Thursday on Gov. Pat McCrory's Medicaid reform plan. Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos delivered the presentation to the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on HHS. Wos, accompanied by Medicaid chief Carol Steckel, sketched out a "vision" of a completely remodeled system that would rely on "three-ish" private providers, known as "comprehensive care entities," that would contract with the state to manage mental, physical and behavioral service provision.

TRANSPORTATION: North Carolina would concentrate more money on big-ticket transportation projects like bridges, new road links and upgrading rail lines under a transportation plan rolled out Thursday by Gov. Pat McCrory and endorsed by top legislative leaders. If adopted, the plan will scrap the current road funding scheme that evenly divides construction money across 14 districts and shift money away from secondary road maintenance in order to plow more funding into new construction.

VOTER ID: Issuing free identification cards to voters who don't have other forms for photo ID would cost less than $1 million over the next year, according to a fiscal analysis by the the legislature. The House Finance Committee passed the bill Thursday morning after amending it to make clear that anyone coming to the Division of Motor Vehicles to obtain a driver's license or other ID card could register to vote at the same time. The total cost for implementing a Voter ID requirement over the next five years would be $3.5 million, according to the committee.

EDUCATION: The House voted 113-1 Thursday for an education reform package that allows senior teachers to lose their career status, what many call tenure, for bad performance and calls for a study of how to award good teachers merit pay.

TRIAL: Former Rep. Stephen LaRoque's trial on charges of fraud and misappropriation of funds is scheduled to begin May 20.


Wilmington Star-News: "The first formal discussion of the proposed removal of New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger was missing a key voice Thursday afternoon – Berger himself. Berger missed the agenda review meeting Thursday where the board went over their resolution to censure Berger and discussed the amotion process – a North Carolina common law that deals with a private corporation removing an officer because he was unfit."

Charlotte Observer: "The city of Charlotte and the Carolina Panthers have reached a deal in which the city would contribute $87.5 million for scaled-back renovations to Bank of America Stadium in exchange for a six-year “hard tether” to keep the team in Charlotte."


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