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Common Cause of NC's Bob Phillips on the recessed legislative session, the state of election laws • NC Newsline

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Common Cause of NC's Bob Phillips on the recessed legislative session, the state of election laws • NC Newsline


The North Carolina General Assembly wrapped up its 2024 “short session” recently and once again, it was a tough session for many basic aspects of democratic government.

Whether they were unveiling secretly written proposals to overhaul state campaign finance laws, placing new unfunded obligations on election administrators, or cementing in place law changes that will make voting more of a challenge, lawmakers stuck to the same playbook they’ve used in recent years. All that said, as Newsline learned in a recent conversation with one of the state’s top good government watchdogs, Common Cause of North Carolina executive director, Bob Phillips, things might well have been worse had lawmakers not abruptly ended the session when they did.



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North Carolina

North Carolina Peaches are Abundant Despite Dry Weather – Perishable News

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North Carolina Peaches are Abundant Despite Dry Weather – Perishable News


RALEIGH – Peak peach season in North Carolina is well underway, and many farms are expecting an extended season through October this year. “Due to the warmer winter, many farms didn’t get a freeze after peaches began budding this year,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “That, combined with the sandy soil and good drainage where they grow best means our farmers have plenty of peaches at their farmstands, farmers markets and in the grocery store.”

Between 2017 and 2022, the number of peach farms and total peach acreage increased in North Carolina. As of the 2022 Census of Agriculture, North Carolina had 356 peach farms on a total of 1,273 acres. “North Carolina grows more than two dozen varieties of peaches. Growers are harvesting clingstone peaches now and will begin harvesting freestone varieties near the end of the month,” said Khaila Daye, marketing specialist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The Sandhills region is kicking it into high gear in celebration of all things ‘peachy’ with N.C. Peach Week, July 18-28. The North Carolina Peach Festival runs July 18-20, in Candor. Additional events through July 28, include: Princess Peach Night at Red’s Corner, Peach-A-Palooza at James Creek Cider House, a free peach wine tasting at Watering Can Wines in Carthage, food and drink competitions throughout the week and more. To see the full event schedule, visit https://homeofgolf.com/peach-week/.

The Robert G. Shaw Piedmont Triad Farmers Market in Colfax will host Peach Day Thursday, Aug. 1. Visitors will be treated to free peach samples, face painting and more. The Piedmont Triad Farmers Market is open daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. offering shoppers locally grown fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, wines and specialty foods, plus seasonal products from N.C. nurseries, greenhouses, Christmas tree farms, turf grass and sod. The market is located off Exit 208 on Interstate 40, west of Greensboro near the Piedmont Triad International Airport. 

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To find local peaches near you, download the Visit NC Farms app at https://visitncfarmstoday.com/.



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Pelosi addresses North Carolina Democrats, avoiding mention of Biden's future as nominee

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Pelosi addresses North Carolina Democrats, avoiding mention of Biden's future as nominee


In a state expected to help decide the presidency, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did little to quell speculation on President Biden’s path forward as the Democratic nominee to a room full of North Carolina Democrats on Saturday.

Pelosi addressed more than 900 people at the North Carolina Democratic Party fundraiser in Raleigh — an event billed as a “Unity Dinner” during a time of discord within the party over how it will proceed in the 2024 presidential election campaign. All eyes are on Democratic leaders like Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who colleagues say has her finger on the party’s pulse, to get a glimpse of what Biden’s future holds.

The power she holds in the Democratic Party — and in the direction the party takes — was no better emphasized than in her introduction by Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.).

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“When Nancy Pelosi speaks, everybody listens,” Adams said.

And with everybody listening, Pelosi gave a speech largely absent of references to Biden’s presidential bid.

Pelosi spent most of her speech recounting House battles over budget and policy, highlighting the importance of funding public education, and reiterating the dangers of the Republican agenda. When she did mention Biden, it was mostly to praise his administration’s policies.

At the end of her speech, Pelosi shifted to discussing the party’s plans in the coming months, focusing on efforts to mobilize voters rather than whom to mobilize behind.

“Are you ready for a Democratic president?” Pelosi said amid cheers. “I thought so.”

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Biden’s dismal showing in his June 27 debate with Republican rival Donald Trump has led to significant fallout within the Democratic Party on whether the president is capable of winning.

The former speaker is among a growing group of prominent Democratic leaders who have expressed concerns behind closed doors over whether Biden can win in November. Pelosi has told Biden in private that Democrats may fail to regain control the House if he doesn’t drop out, but she later said their conversations were misrepresented.

Despite a swell of Democratic lawmakers calling for Biden to step aside, none of North Carolina’s seven Democratic representatives have publicly signaled support for finding a new nominee to lead the ticket.

While some reports say Biden is more open in private discussions to the idea of leaving the race, his campaign staff has continually reaffirmed his commitment to staying on as the nominee.

Brenda Pollard, a delegate from Durham who has attended five Democratic conventions, said she’s had conversations with Democrats around the state who want Biden to stay in.

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“As a pledged delegate, until he says ‘I’m not,’ I’m going to continue to be pledged,” the 73-year-old said, adding later that she believes Vice President Kamala Harris has the qualifications to be president if Biden does end his run.

About 6 in 10 Democrats surveyed nationwide believe Harris has the makings of a good president, according to a recent AP-NORC Center poll.

North Carolina is home to one of the most hotly contested gubernatorial races in the country, pitting Democratic state Atty. Gen. Josh Stein against Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson. The latter has become known for having a pugnacious style similar to Trump’s, making him a lightning rod for criticism about statements some have found offensive and harmful.

To reiterate the stakes of the governor’s race, Stein told the audience that voters have a choice between “two competing visions” in a close presidential election — one that he said North Carolina would play a large role in deciding.

“People in other states hunger for the kind of power that we have here in North Carolina. To possess this political power is a privilege,” he said.

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Stein did not mention Biden, but instead wrapped up his speech saying Democrats will “keep the White House and defeat Donald Trump.”

Met by a standing ovation, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper also took the stage, saying Biden and Harris are “all in for North Carolina.” But most of his speech highlighted other issues, such as breaking the GOP’s supermajority in the state Legislature and getting Democrats elected to statewide offices.

Cooper has become part of the national conversation on the presidential race, as pundits consider who Harris’ running mate might be if she takes Biden’s place on the ticket. Cooper’s status as a termed-out governor in a swing state, as well as his strong support of the Biden-Harris administration, has piqued some interest on his prospects.

Seminera writes for the Associated Press.

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North Carolina School Boards Association launches statewide campaign to support public education

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North Carolina School Boards Association launches statewide campaign to support public education


RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) — The North Carolina School Boards Association recently launched a statewide ad campaign to build support for public schools, the organization said in a news release.

The campaign, titled “Public Education Does the Public Good,” uses social media and billboard ads to spread NCSBA’s message that “healthy, well-funded public schools are good for everyone, not just those who attend them, because a well-educated populace enjoys economic success, freedom, democracy and sound government.”

“Thriving public schools uplift society as a whole, no matter what type of education fits your family’s needs,” said Jennifer Thompson, president of NCSBA’s board of directors. “Public education was a cornerstone of the foundation of America for many reasons. Everyone benefits from a strong public school system. We all need to support our public schools.”

NCSBA says the campaign notes the state’s low teacher pay, but it is not aimed at specific legislation or policy choices.

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“It’s designed to remind everyone that healthy public schools make North Carolina stronger, more competitive and more prosperous for each and every one of us,” the release says.

Learn more about the campaign at NCSBA’s website.

Watch the campaign video on YouTube.



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