Under the Dome

Dome: Gov. Pat McCrory signs bill that transforms jobless system

Staff writersFebruary 19, 2013 

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday signed what he called a bipartisan bill that addresses the state’s $2.5 billion unemployment debt to the federal government by overhauling the state’s unemployment system, including significantly cutting benefits for the jobless.

“This bipartisan solution will protect our small businesses from continued over-taxation, ensure our citizens’ unemployment safety net is secure and financially sound for future generations, and help provide an economic climate that allows job creators to start hiring again,” McCrory said in a statement.

Although McCrory called it a bipartisan measure, the bill won just four votes from Democrats in the Senate and only three in the House. Democrats who opposed the measure were frustrated by their inability to gain majority support for numerous amendments that would have softened the impact on the jobless.

The Democratic supporters: Sens. Ben Clark of Raeford, Clark Jenkins of Tarboro, Gene McLaurin of Rockingham and Michael Walters of Fairmont, and Reps. William Brisson of Dublin, Ken Goodman of Rockingham and Paul Tine of Kitty Hawk.

The new law, which takes effect July 1, cuts maximum benefits paid to unemployed workers by roughly one-third, reduces the maximum weeks of benefits and cuts off extra federal benefits for unemployed workers. It also raises state unemployment taxes slightly for most businesses.

North Carolina’s governors have typically signed major bills into law at a public ceremony – as McCrory did on Monday when his signing of an education bill was open to the press. But on Tuesday he signed the unemployment bill behind closed doors.

Brannon jumps into Senate race

Dr. Greg Brannon begins his campaign to represent North Carolina in the U.S. Senate with a two-day tour of eight cities Feb. 27.

Brannon, a Cary obstetrician who opposes abortion rights, hopes to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan next year. But there will likely be a tussle for the GOP nomination since every Republican and her brother is thinking about running for that seat.

Brannon is one of the first to jump, though. He has a tea party-esque website called Founders’ Truth. The website on Tuesday was converted to feature Brannon giving a speech launching his campaign.

He begins the tour on the anniversary of the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge, where Patriots defeated the Loyalists.

“Fighting to restore the American Dream in North Carolina will be my job in the U.S. Senate, and that’s why I’m kicking off this campaign by talking to voters across the state on this historic date” he said in a statement.

Rear admiral joins Public Safety

Retired Rear Admiral Edward “Sonny” Masso has been named the new chief operating officer for the Department of Public Safety.

Masso served 32 years in the Navy and Navy Reserve including assignments as commander of the Navy Personnel Command and deputy commander, Naval Surface Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

More recently, Masso has served as a senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C.

“Sonny Masso’s experience and leadership in Navy operations and human resources will be a great asset to the Department of Public Safety,” said Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan in making the announcement. “I’m confident he will guide our integration and daily operations with skill and integrity.”

Masso is a 1977 graduate of the Naval ROTC program at the University of Mississippi, where he received a bachelor’s degree in education

Interim Chief Operating Officer Frank Perry is assuming the role of commissioner of the Division of Law Enforcement, replacing Gerald “Rudy” Rudisill, who is retiring.

Staff writers David Ranii, John Frank, Lynn Bonner and Rob Christensen

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