Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Friday, March 8. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government this morning.
METLIFE: Financial services giant MetLife Group Inc. will bring more than 2,600 jobs to Cary and Charlotte over the next three years after receiving more than $90 million in state incentives. MetLife plans to invest $125.5 million to consolidate its global technology campus in Cary and its U.S. retail business campus in Charlotte, officials said Thursday.
The Associated Press reports "Charlotte law and lobbying firm Moore & Van Allen represented MetLife in negotiations over the incentive package. Gov. Pat McCrory worked there before being elected governor in November. The Republican governor had no interaction with MetLife while at Moore & Van Allen, said his spokeswoman Kim Genardo."
MCCRORY: McCrory will be in Charlotte today for a "MetLife Economic Development Event" at 11 a.m. at the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY: No legislative meetings are scheduled today.
ALLPOINT: The Republican National Committee has used the same Internet-based voter registration system that conservative groups in North Carolina have pilloried the State Board of Elections for authorizing. The system allowed users to fill out and remotely sign a voter registration application using their phone or tablet computer. By signing the device's screen, a user would control a remote pen that applied their signature to paper. Members of the State Board of Elections said staff members did not inform them of the program before authorizing it.
SCHOOL PROPERTY: County governments across North Carolina would be able to take over school system property under a bill filed Thursday by Sen. Neil Hunt, R-Wake. The filing officially brings a long-running dispute between Wake County commissioners and the county Board of Education to the General Assembly.
ISSUE TRACKER: The 2013 N.C. General Assembly Issue Tracker has been updated with bill filings and committee action from this week.
WRAP: Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie and reporter Mark Binker talk over the MetLife deal, the progress of the Red Route bill and Caylee's Law in Thursday's version of The Wrap @NCCapitol.
MEDICAID: North Carolina Medicaid Director Carol Steckel is the subject of an interview published Stateline this morning. Asked about Medicaid expansion, Steckel said, "We’ve got to clean up internally. We’ve got to design a program that’s as efficient and tight as it can be while providing high quality services at the right place, at the right time and for the right people. Then, maybe. First the federal government needs to get their act together. They have to better understand what they’re doing. Who is a newly eligible? Who’s not a newly eligible? What are the essential benefits? All that is too uncertain right now."
And asked whether North Carolina wasn't missing out on federal funding by turning down Medicaid expansion, she said, "If I gave 700,000 people who don’t have health care coverage a Medicaid card in North Carolina, do you really think they would get healthier? There simply are not enough providers. Again, that goes back to shoring up the program we have. I would be surprised if any Medicaid director in this country told you that if they gave a Medicaid card to the people that are in that expansion that, in fact, they would get good quality health care and access to the primary care doctors they need."
PANTHERS: A story by Deadspin, a sports news website, attracted attention in official Raleigh Thursday. The website shared documents that purported to show the Panthers had operating profits over $112 million over two years. That's news in the state capitol and in Charlotte because the team has asked for taxpayer help bankrolling renovations to their stadium. So far, public officials, including House Speaker Thom Tillis, who is from the Charlotte area, have resisted. The Panthers responded to the Deadspin story Thursday night by saying it was misleading and did not paint a true picture of the team's financial situation. That statement read as follows:
“The Deadspin story presents an incomplete picture of the Carolina Panthers profitability. The figures offer an isolated snapshot of the team’s financial situation during an unusual time as the NFL lockout loomed. At the time, the team had strategically reduced its spending because of the uncertainty and as part of a long-term plan to secure the team's best talent once a collective bargaining agreement had been reached. The team's actual operating cash flow, even before federal and state tax payments were made, was significantly less than the accounting income reported in the story. The most meaningful reflection of a company's profitability is cash flow, and the team's operating cash flow fluctuated between pre-tax figures of $26.7M in fiscal year 2011 and $39.8M in fiscal year 2012. A detailed review of the financial statements demonstrates the difficulty of being competitive in the NFL, paying players to the cap, and trying to add the financing of a major stadium renovation.”
DRUNK DRIVING: From the Wilmington Star News: " Less than a year after President Barack Obama approved a piece of sweeping highway legislation, the U.S. Department of Transportation has penalized 33 states, North Carolina among them, for failing to comply with mandates aimed at curbing drunken driving. In states where laws are too lax to meet the recently revamped federal requirements, transportation officials likely will divert a combined $539 million to highway safety improvements and anti-drunken-driving programs instead of spending those funds on general road and bridge construction."
VOTER ID: The NAACP and other advocacy groups say they will challenge the planned voter ID law that House lawmakers will begin work on this coming Tuesday. "Not only will we be at the table to say, 'You don't need to do this. We don't need it. It's unnecessary. We have the best law,'" said state NAACP president William Barber, "but if you do it, there will be vigorous examination, and we will bring every tool we have legally and otherwise to fight (it) – not for black people, but all Americans and all North Carolinians."
Tune in to WRAL-TV at 7 p.m. Saturday for "On the Record," when state Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, and Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake, will talk about the pending voter ID legislation with Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie.
IF YOU MISSED IT: In other action on Thursday:
- Five years after Florida toddler Caylee Anthony disappeared and was later found dead, North Carolina lawmakers are considering legislation that would make it a crime not to report a missing child in a timely manner. The House voted unanimously Thursday for House Bill 149, also known as Caylee's Law. The measure now moves to the Senate.
- The Senate has given final approval to a measure that would allow the N.C. Highway 540 project to move forward but would leave three other turnpike projects in limbo.
The final vote Thursday was 33-17. The final version still removes the Mid-Currituck Bridge, the Garden Parkway in Gaston County and the Cape Fear Skyway near Wilmington from the state Turnpike Authority, forcing them back into the pool of transportation projects competing for statewide dollars. But the measure no longer redirects $63 million a year in state funding for those projects into the state Mobility Fund. Rabon said the funding will stay with the Turnpike Authority until it can be redistributed by the Appropriations Committee in next year's budget.
The bill now returns to the House, where lawmakers say its fate is uncertain.
- A January survey of the state's 115 school systems by the North Carolina School Boards Association shows that approximately 95 percent of school districts allow all school resource officers to carry firearms but that local school boards are concerned about how to pay for additional officers. According to the survey, 82.7 percent of North Carolina high schools and 74.7 percent of middle schools have a school resource officer, while only 3.6 percent of elementary schools do.
- North Carolina public school teachers saw their pay drop to among the lowest in the country as state budget-balancing during the Great Recession included a multi-year pay freeze, according to a report Wednesday to the State Board of Education. Click here to read the report.