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Stein: "NC is not a banana republic'

Over objections of Democratic lawmakers, a Senate committee approved legislation Wednesday to end the state’s 6-year-old renewable energy program.

Opponents of the bill loudly voted “No!” to show their frustration at the Republican chairman’s decision not to count individual votes. In what was clearly a razor-thin margin, both sides said they would have won if votes had been counted.

“North Carolina is not a banana republic,” Democratic Sen. Josh Stein of Wake County, one of the no votes, said after the meeting. “That was no way to run a proceeding.”

GOP bill would sweep out current key boards, commission members

A bill began moving through the General Assembly on Tuesday that would sweep out the members of several important state boards and commissions so that they could be replaced by appointments by the governor and the GOP-controlled General Assembly.

Sen. Bill Rabon, a Republican from Southport, told the Senate Rules Committee the bill streamlines government by getting rid of unnecessary boards and commissions, and that it allows several key entities to be run by appointees who “are more like-minded and willing to carry out the philosophy of the new administration.

“This administration should begin to wield its power,” Rabon said.

A trio of Democrats who might lead them from the wilderness

Whither, N.C. Democrats?

For the most part, the state’s Democratic candidates were knocked back on their heels by the Nov. 6 election. That followed a legislative session in which the GOP pretty much got most of what it wanted, and scandal at the party headquarters.

Is there hope for Democratic leadership? Veteran Democratic politico Gary Pearce thinks so. In the blog he shares with conservative Carter Wrenn, Pearce recently named three  leaders to watch:

Berger revises education plan on teacher tenure, pre-K and school calendar

A plan to overhaul teacher tenure, the school calendar and school assessment continues to evolve in the Senate as more questions and potential pitfalls emerge upon examination.

Senate leader Phil Berger presented the newest version of his legislation Tuesday in the Senate Education Committee, which approved it by voice vote roughly along party lines. The amended language retreats on the elimination of teacher tenure by allowing school systems to give educators with more than three years experience a contract up to four years. The measure -- Senate bill 795 -- also adds five days to the school calendar but a change gives districts the flexibility to meet a minimum number of hours (1,025) instead of days (185).

Teacher groups applauded the first change but still spoke against the broader measure. The latter alteration involving the calendar, however, sparked considerable concerns from Democrats and education groups who did the math: with longer school days, it's possible for districts to reduce the school year to 160 days.

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