Bank of America employees, families giving big to politicians

December 22, 2015

Individuals connected to Bank of America have been among the top contributors to presidential candidates through Sept. 30, with employees and immediate family members giving $242,575 to the candidates’ campaign committees. That’s the third-highest among all U.S. companies and organizations, according to the most recent federal data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Donations from individuals tied to New York-based investment bank Goldman Sachs rank first at $401,109, while Florida-based personal injury firm Morgan & Morgan gave $280,326. In the 2012 presidential election, when people associated with Bank of America ranked second for donations, trailing only employees for the University of California system and their families.

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New unit to crack down on cheating businesses

December 21, 2015

(The News & Observer, Raleigh)

Gov. Pat McCrory ordered the state Industrial Commission to establish a new unit to investigate complaints of employee misclassification. When companies illegally treat employees as contractors, it costs the state millions in taxes. A News & Observer investigation last year found that the practice in the construction industry cost millions in lost state and federal revenue. 

Commission to vote Friday on changes to Common Core

December 18, 2015

(The News & Observer, Raleigh)

The 11-member Academic Standards Review Commission is expected to vote Friday on recommended changes to the state's curriculum for K-12 schools. Suggestions include replacing Common Core standards in K-8 math classes with Minnesota's standards.

Minutes reveal little about UNC chancellor pay raises

December 17, 2015

(The News & Observer, Raleigh)

Minutes from a controversial UNC Board of Governors meeting were released Wednesday, though they offer little insight into the reasoning behind the group's decision to give raises to a dozen UNC System chancellors.

Mecklenburg GOP chairman resigns

December 16, 2015

(The Charlotte Observer)

Curtis Watkins abruptly resigned Tuesday, two days after N.C. Sen. Bob Rucho asked Republican Party officials to investigate him for allegedly trying to recruit someone to run against Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County. Hager is one of the largest opponents of the state's renewable-energy mandate. Watkins is the founder of SparkTank Advisors, an energy consulting company.

McCrory calls for vote on I-77 toll lanes

December 15, 2015

(The Charlotte Observer)

Gov. Pat McCrory asked the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization to decide whether it supports the I-77 toll project, which is already under construction, or to develop a new regional transportation plan. While some smaller towns in the I-77 corridor north of Charlotte are strongly opposed to the tolls, the city of Charlotte's vote counts for 31 of 68 votes. The state could have to pay a penalty of up to $100 million if its cancels the project.

Legislative staff calls for end to economic tier program

December 15, 2015

(Winston-Salem Journal)

North Carolina's economic tiers program has "outlived its original purpose," legislative staff members said at a meeting on Monday. The group recommends ending the program, which it says is ineffective in aiding the state's poorest counties, by July 1, 2018.

25 investment workers in state treasurer's office get raises

December 14, 2015

(The News & Observer, Raleigh)

The raises, which took effect in June and averaged more than $49,000, were designed to align wages with salaries at other public pension funds. The employees receiving the raises, which total $1.2 million, are investment professionals for the state's $90 billion pension fund.

NC Utilities Commission approves subsidies for industrial power users

December 11, 2015

(The News & Observer, Raleigh)

The N.C. Utilities Commission approved electricity discounts for industrial customers, a financial incentive intended to keep companies from laying off workers or relocating to another state. Opponents of concept, including grocery-store chain Kroger, say it is unlawful to offer discounts to a particular group of customers at the expense of others.

Former NC Rep. Robert Brawley to challenge McCrory

December 10, 2015

(The News & Observer, Raleigh)

Brawley, a Mooresville resident and outspoken critic of toll lanes on Interstate 77, says he will run against Gov. Pat McCrory in March's Republican gubernatorial primary. The former state representative could use the tolling issue to draw needed support away from McCrory in northern Mecklenburg County.