So long sweepstakes: Supreme Court upholds state’s authority to regulate gambling

The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled last week that state lawmakers indeed have the power to ban video gambling in its various forms, including the latest reincarnation known as video sweepstakes.

Quality over quantity in Appalachia

art frDowntown Franklin is all sunshine, but it’s the calm before the storm.

Drifting through an array of stores and restaurants lining Main Street, the scene is quiet, but soon, with Thanksgiving falling into the rearview mirror, shoppers determined and curious will overtake the small town, in search of handmade items from regional artists. Strolling the sidewalk, one soon comes upon North Carolina Mountain Made.

Vehicle property tax bill will soon be wrapped in with tag registration

In an effort to extinguish delinquent vehicle taxes, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law that will combine vehicle property tax and car registration into one bill.

When it goes into effect, drivers can’t get their tags renewed until they’ve also paid their vehicle property taxes.

State candidates wrangle over 1-cent sales tax

fr issuesDemocratic and Republican candidates squaring off in state races this year offer voters a clear choice on a key philosophical issue gripping North Carolina during the past two years: taxes versus budget cuts.

Where state candidates stand: abortion and women’s health

During the past two years, several keystone issues regarding abortion and women’s reproductive health have been debated at the state level.

The Republican-led General Assembly has attempted to cut funding for Planned Parenthood and passed the Women’s Right to Know Act, which dictates new regulations for receiving an abortion.

Reproductive health, abortion battles loom

fr issuesState lawmakers during the past two years have passed several pieces of legislation centered around the abortion issue — including the attempt to cut funding for Planned Parenthood and a new set of protocols, dubbed the Women’s Right to Know Act, that set ground rules for performing abortions.

In Democratic convention’s wake, 44 owes 42 – big time

op frBy Savannah Bell and Don Livingston

In his re-election campaign, President Barack Obama cannot count on the support of many of those who voted for him with enthusiasm in 2008. The condition and mood of the country do not favor his chances of serving another four years in the White House.

The economy has not yet recovered from the Great Recession that spawned so much hardship, anxiety and misfortune across the land. Far too many Americans remain out of work and many have even abandoned their efforts to find jobs. People are struggling to pay their mortgages, pay their bills, and even put food on the table. For far too many Americans it is getting harder to make ends meet. The American dream appears out of reach for too many families. And President Obama, as most presidents do, is receiving more blame than he deserves for the pain and uncertainty gripping the nation.

What a difference a word makes

At first blush, an obscure change to state law stipulating how many days students have to go to school each year seems like semantics.

But in fact, it could give local school districts flexibility to cut the number of school days in a year and instead go for longer hours — a schedule that could help cash-strapped school systems save money.

N.C. lawmakers micromanage school calendars from afar

fr schoolcalState legislators have once again tinkered with school calendars, reining in when early school districts — even those prone to excessive snow days — can start back in August.

State law mandates that school can’t start back sooner than the last week in August. However, counties with lots of missed school due to snow have been exempt in the past.

Where state candidates stand on preschool for low-income children

The fate of state-subsidized preschool for at-risk, low-income 4-year-olds rests in the hands of the next General Assembly. The state currently does not provide enough funding to serve the estimated 67,000 children who meet the definition of at-risk.

This year, a 20 percent budget cut to NC Pre-K (formerly known as More at Four) further reduced capacity of the program — which currently serves only 26,000 children — and has lengthened waiting lists.

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