U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s campaign will announce Monday an endorsement from the North Carolina teachers’ association, a move that may color the upcoming legislative session.
The Democrat’s campaign is using Republican cuts to education (such as teaching assistants) and low teacher pay as prime talking points in its expected battle against House Speaker Thom Tillis, who is leading the field of eight GOP primary candidates.
The N.C. Association of Educators endorsement helps buttress the point. “Senator Kay Hagan’s commitment to education for all people speaks for itself,” said NCAE President Rodney Ellis in a statement. “For the last 12 years she has worked tirelessly as a member of Congress and as a member of the North Carolina General Assembly, as a champion for North Carolina’s educators, students and families.”
But it’s the timing of the announcement that may raise flags. The teachers’ association is asking the Republican legislature – including the Tillis-controlled House – to give all teachers a pay hike and the endorsement isn’t going to win more fans among the power brokers.
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If anything, it’s a calculation that Republicans must pass a teacher salary hike, amid all the attention about the issue, no matter whether the association is backing a Democrat at the top of the ticket. But how it influences the debate about what that pay increase looks like will be a question to watch in the legislative session.
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TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory did not release a public schedule for Monday.
Two legislative committees are meeting: At 10 a.m. in room 1027 at the legislative building, lawmakers will look at the state pension fund managed by State Treasurer Janet Cowell. At 2 p.m. in room 643 of the legislative office building, the task force looking at teacher pay and effectiveness will meet.
The Wake County Republican Party will hold its convention Monday. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and U.S. Reps. Renee Ellmers and George Holding are attending. Read more here.
HAGAN ON ENDORSEMENT: From a statement: “I am grateful to receive the support of NCAE and of educators across North Carolina.
“As a mom, I know that our educators get to work early, stay late, work on assignments and lesson plans from home, and often dip into their own pockets for supplies, and they deserve our full support. I am proud to represent these hardworking men and women in the Senate, and it is an honor to have their support in turn. There is nothing more important to future generations than a sound education and I will always put North Carolina educators and students first.”
GIVE ME YOUR MONEY: The first quarter fundraising deadline ends at midnight Tuesday, so the desperate pleas for money from politicians are growing even more desperate. A line from Tillis’ fundraising email captures the importance of the deadline in the Senate race: “Political analysts will be combing over our fundraising report to assess our support and strength against Kay Hagan’s Washington DC special interest machine.”
HARRIS SAYS HE WILL AIR TV ADS: “We’re going up on the air. We’re very thankful and fortunate that we are going to be buying airtime, and that’s going to be very critical,” Harris said. Read more here.
MORE: Unaffiliateds may sway Senate race. Read more here.
THE BIG STORY: ACA DEADLINE IS MONDAY. Two takes:
1. MANY STILL WITHOUT INSURANCE: As Monday’s deadline for health insurance enrollment approaches, multiple obstacles continue to keep many North Carolinians from signing up.
Charlotteans Diane and Rodney Stoner earn too much to qualify for a federal premium subsidy. Self-employed with new businesses, they’ve decided to go without insurance and pay the penalty.
Hairdresser Tina DeMarsico of Belmont earns too little to get a subsidy. She’s one of thousands of low-income North Carolinians who won’t have medical coverage because state officials declined to expand Medicaid.
Like many young people, Kasey Stack, a Charlotte bartender and nanny, didn’t even know about the upcoming deadline or the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to buy insurance or pay a fine.
But even with a recent surge in enrollments, tens of thousands of North Carolina residents will remain uninsured after Monday’s deadline. Read more here.
2. YOUNG, HEALTHY KEY TO PLAN, COY TO SIGN UP: With a looming enrollment deadline of Monday for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, it’s increasingly evident that the federal insurance program will fall short of enrollment goals in its first year. Most of the nation’s uninsured, whom the law was designed to help, will take a pass on health insurance and opt for penalties instead.
Through February, slightly more than 200,000 North Carolinians had selected an individual insurance plan out of an eligible pool exceeding 1 million residents. The number of March enrollments will be released soon.
Indifference, ignorance and financial anxiety are evident among younger and healthier residents on whom the law’s success depends. Read more here.
THE BIG PICTURE: From Rob Christensen’s column: The conservative movement has risen higher in North Carolina than probably even what the late Sen. Jesse Helms, the father of the modern conservatism here, could have imagined.
But the question is whether it has reached high tide or is still on the rise. Read more here.
NYT SUNDAY A1: New G.O.P. Bid to Limit Voting in Swing States. Read more here.
THE MIXED PICTURE ON JOBS: North Carolina’s jobless rate dropped to 6.4 percent in February, the lowest since mid-2008. It’s also the first time in eight years the state has posted a lower unemployment rate than the national average, which was 6.7 percent last month.
February’s drop continues a trend in which the state’s unemployment picture is making dramatic gains while other economic measures lag. Read more here.
From the Wall Street Journal – TAR HEEL TROUBLE: North Carolina led the U.S. in job losses last month, a sign of stress for a state scaling back its support for its jobless residents. Read more here.
RELATED: Jobless benefits to drop again in July. Read more here.
THE TAKEOUT – The two worlds of Patrick Cannon: Mayor Patrick Cannon was talking on the phone with the governor of North Carolina some time after 10 a.m. Wednesday. Hours later, he was sitting in a federal courtroom facing a litany of charges that have ruined his public life and could take his freedom.
The stark contrast of those few hours is a theme in Cannon’s life. He negotiated poverty and prosperity, friends and critics. Read more here.
RELATED – Charlotte airport fight may resurface this legislative session: During last year’s fight over control of the Charlotte airport, those who supported creation of a new authority voiced concerns about how city officials were running the airport but never publicly mentioned a possible criminal investigation.
Some of those supporters now say they had heard rumors of a possible government probe, and it helped fuel their drive to create an independent commission to run Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The legislation passed last year, but the new commission remains tied up in court.
Commission supporters expect last week’s arrest of former Mayor Patrick Cannon will help buttress their case that the city should not be in charge of the airport, a vital economic engine for the region. They’re likely to revive the issue when the General Assembly meets again in May, they say. Read more here.
COAL ASH – DENR supports changes to GOP-approved law: The state environmental agency on Friday said it would support clarifying a 2013 law, if necessary, to settle a dispute over just what the groundwater pollution legislation requires.
The law is at the heart of a legal action pitting environmentalists against regulators and Duke Energy over the enforcement of laws meant to protect water quality threatened by coal ash ponds. Read more here.
DUKE ENERGY SEEKS TO WITHHOLD DOCUMENTS: As a federal grand jury probes possible criminal activity by Duke Energy, attorneys for the utility have asked a Wake County Superior Court judge to temporarily limit what information it must exchange with state regulators and environmental organizations in a lawsuit.
An investigative grand jury met in the Raleigh federal courthouse for three days this month to review documents and testimony provided by Duke employees and current and former members of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the state Utilities Commission. Read more here.
ANOTHER LOOK AT REDISTRICTING IN NORTH CAROLINA: From AP – The 2012 election should have been a good one for Democrats running for Congress in North Carolina.
They received a total of 2.2 million votes – about 81,000 more than their Republican opponents. But when those votes were divvied up among the state’s 13 House districts, Democrats came up short. Way short.
Republicans won nine seats and Democrats only four. How did Republicans pull off this unlikely feat? State lawmakers set the stage when they re-drew the boundaries of congressional districts following the 2010 Census. Read more here.
SUE MYRICK IS NOW A LOBBYIST: Former U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, who left office last year, is back on Capitol Hill in a new job – as a lobbyist for a Christian broadcaster.
The Charlotte Republican registered last month to lobby for the Inspiration Network, based in Indian Land, S.C.
The cable TV network is one of the world’s largest Christian broadcasters, with religious programming in more than 120 countries. It operates from a 92-acre campus just over the state line in Lancaster County.
Myrick calls it a temporary job to help the network with an issue before Congress that involves satellite technology and broadcasting. “This is something that’s a fairness issue … for independent networks,” she said. “They don’t have a voice when it comes to negotiations on these issues.”
The network is run by David Cerullo. It began in 1990 from the vestiges of Jim Bakker’s PTL Club when Cerullo’s father Morris paid $7 million to buy the assets of PTL’s cable television network out of bankruptcy.
FRANK ROCHE CALLS HOMETOWN “LITTLE INDIA”: Republican Frank Roche is making immigration a top issue in his primary campaign against incumbent Renee Ellmers. And it’s not just the Mexican border he’s talking about.
From a recent interview: “The Second District, we have agriculture, we have housing, we have high-tech, and in all those sectors we know that immigration is playing a large role. In my hometown area, it’s becoming known as “little India” as a result of the use of H1-B visa programs to bring in IT workers from India, and also Asia.” Read more here.
QUICK HEADLINES –
Pittenger, primary opponent joust at GOP convention. Read more here.
Is McCrory-Cooper battle harming state government? Read one view here.
Republican lawmakers criticize GOP-approved teacher tenure law. Read more here.
Guilford food stamp backlog puts federal money at risk. Read more here.
N.C. research lab on White House chopping block. Read more here.
A look at the Walter Jones v. Taylor Griffin race. Read more here.
Charlotte Observer staff writer Jim Morrill contributed to this report.