Under the Dome

Dome: National press photographers oppose undercover ban

June 2, 2013 

The National Press Photographers Association is among the dozens of organizations opposed to the state Senate bill that would outlaw independent undercover investigations of businesses.

Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel for the association, has written to Senate Rules Committee members that the group is concerned the bill “abridges the First Amendment rights of citizens and journalists by creating a prior restraint without due process upon otherwise protected forms of speech and expression.”

Osterreicher said the association also thinks the bill would violate North Carolina’s shield law, which gives journalists a limited protection against having to disclose anything obtained in reporting.

The bill, Senate Bill 648, also fails to provide reporters or others an opportunity to appear before a judge to argue whether the shield law applies. The association says the bill’s fines of $10,000 for a first offense and $50,000 for subsequent offenses is “alarming” and burdensome.

The bill, by Sen. Brent Jackson, a Republican from Autryville, would make it an offense to lie on a job application for the purpose of recording or taking documents in a business. It would require those recordings and documents be turned over to law enforcement within 24 hours. The N.C. Chamber is backing the bill, saying a broad range of its members have told them it’s needed.

Tea partier bashes Tillis

Greg Brannon welcomed Thom Tillis to the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate by labeling him an insider and saying in a statement that the House speaker is a “poster child for why I’m in this race.”

Brannon, a Cary physician and political neophyte aligned with the tea party, said he is running to represent “conservatives that are fed up with crony capitalism, special interests, political compromise and excuses. Mr. Tillis is yet another in a long line of career politicians eager to take the next step on the ladder of political power.”

He added: “If Republicans in this state would rather be represented by a political insider, heavily influenced by special interests, who has taken liberal positions on legislation in the North Carolina state House, including ferry tolls, interstate toll HOT Lanes and the protection of telecommunication monopolies at the expense of smaller free-market competitors, then Mr. Tillis has certainly proven he is willing to compromise on our core conservative principles to benefit his friends.”

Brannon also cites a report from The Daily Haymaker blog that Craven County’s GOP executive committee issued a letter of censure against Tillis, who has faced revolts from two members of his caucus in recent weeks.

DHHS gets budget chief

A former employee of the state Department of Health and Human Services is returning to the agency to be its first chief financial officer.

Rod Davis will oversee the department’s $18 billion budget, will be responsible for budget forecasting and for overseeing the controller’s office, the procurement and contracts division, and the property and construction division. He will earn $169,148 a year.

From 1995 to 1996, Davis was chief of budget operations and information systems at DHHS. He is returning to DHHS from the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, where he had been the department’s controller since 1996.

New DENR Secretary John Skvarla named him DENR’s CFO in February. Davis was making $103,812 at DENR, but DHHS spokesman Ricky Diaz said Davis was in the process of getting a raise there. Diaz said a vacant position was used to create the new DHHS job.

“It is critical for any company or organization as large as DHHS to have a leader focused on delivering strong financial and operational management,” DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos said in a statement. “Rod will bring the right talent and experience to this new role as we continue our focus on increasing efficiency to better serve our customers and the taxpayers of North Carolina.”

Group to lobby on Shariah

Concerned Women for America of North Carolina, a conservative women’s group, will be at the legislative building Wednesday to talk about shielding American courts from Shariah law.

A morning press conference will be followed by a two-hour legislative briefing in the afternoon.

Last month, the House passed a bill sponsored by Transylvania Republican Chris Whitmire that prohibits use of Shariah law in state courts.

Staff writers Craig Jarvis, John Frank and Lynn Bonner

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