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School vouchers are back on the table for the 2014-15 school year following a ruling in the North Carolina Supreme Court last week. In March, N.C. Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood issued a preliminary injunction against the Opportunity Scholarship Program, preventing the voucher program from going into effect until the court could hear the case and issue a final ruling.

North Carolina legislators have returned to Raleigh for the General Assembly’s short session. In the weeks ahead, lawmakers will wrestle with Medicaid, coal ash and a $445 million budget shortfall.  

fr hippsJane Hipps was quickly anointed front-runner status in the Democratic primary for N.C. Senate — from the day she entered the race, in fact — but the victory she pulled out was the epitome of a clean sweep.

It’s been over a year since North Carolina began the rollout of a new computer program called NC FAST, for North Carolina Families Accessing Services through Technology. The system was supposed to make it easier to process applications for social services like Food and Nutrition Services, Work First and Medicaid, but it’s not smooth sailing yet.

Next week is decision time for voters who disagree with the new conservative tack of North Carolina’s policy makers and want to reverse the emergent Republican majority now at the state’s helm.

A trio of Republican candidates have lined up to challenge N.C. Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, for his District 119 House seat. One is barely old enough to drink, one campaigned for Barry Goldwater and one features Second Amendment-chest thumping on his website: “United Nations – stay out of NC!”

fr hippsNorth Carolina’s District 50 senator represents the state’s seven western counties. In 2010, Sen. Jim Davis (R-Franklin) narrowly wrested the seat from incumbent John Snow but then beat Snow by a much-wider margin in 2012. 

op frSome teacher a long time ago explained to my class of intro to political science undergrads the difference between a statesman and a representative. The statesman, once elected, votes his conscience and does not necessarily bend with the whims of voters; the representative votes according to the wishes of their constituency. That’s a notable difference. What’s confusing, though, is when a leader goes both ways, depending on which is most convenient.


As Haywood leaders try to convince Rep. Michele Presnell, R-Burnsville, to support a hike in the room tax from 4 to 6 percent that almost everyone who holds elected office in the county favors, I was reading what she had said about the tax and trying to figure out where her opposition is coming from.

Stagnating pay for North Carolina teachers is prompting some local school leaders to dig a little deeper for salary bonuses at the county level.

fr votinglawsNew controversial voting laws passed by the N.C. General Assembly last year were supposed to take effect in 2016, but the timeline will ultimately come down to lawsuits challenging their constitutionality.

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