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McCrory signs five bills


Gov. Pat McCrory signed five bills into law on Friday:

HB484 – Establishes a permit program to place and operate wind energy plants. DENR will both help wind developers get started and deny permits when necessary.

“This is a great law because it shows that we are serious about our responsibility for balancing our environmental and economic interests, including North Carolina’s strong military presence,” DENR Secretary John Skvarla said in a statement the governor's office released. “We can and will protect the environment and our citizens, while also creating a clear regulatory path for the development of wind energy in North Carolina.”

HB149 – Titled “Caylee’s Law,” the bill makes it a crime to fail to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement. It also increases the penalty for concealing a child’s death, for making a false report to law enforcement to interfere with a missing-child investigation, and a misdemeanor for failing to report abuse, neglect or death of a juvenile due to maltreatment. The bill was inspired by the death of Caylee Anthony in Florida.

SB91 – Protects people whose criminal records have been expunged from having to disclose that information to employers, licensing boards and educational institutions.

HB706 – Exempts from landfill permit requirements the disposal of debris from decommissioned manufacturing buildings, including electric generating stations.

HB119 – Authorizes the state Utilities Commission to set rates for natural gas local distribution companies.

N.C. wins $18 million bonus for children's health insurance program

North Carolina will receive an $18 million bonus from the federal government for improving access to children’s health-care coverage, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Wednesday. The money was part of an award of $306 million in performance bonuses to 23 states. States qualify for bonuses based on measurements of how well they simplify enrollment and renewal, and how they ensure eligible children have easier access to coverage under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This is the fourth year the bonuses have been distributed. The money helps offset the cost of insuring the lowest-income children in each state. The bonuses were authorized by 2009 legislation. CMS is under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Kids' budget train

About 15 adults, some carrying their children or rolling them in strollers,  are in the Legislative Building today talking to lawmakers about the importance of child care, public schools, and other programs for children.

The families are delivering small, wooden train engines to legislators' offices with the message "Little Engine that Could for Kids." Box cars with Smart Start, Health Choice, infant mortality, child care subsidy, and teacher labels will be delivered weekly, said Beth Messersmith, the state campaign director for NC MomsRising and a Durham resident.

In keeping with the theme, the parents are wearing blue-striped train engineer caps.

Legislators are considering significant budget cuts to cover a projected shortfall of more than $2 billion. The trains are a reminder that "these aren't just cuts, they're people," Messersmith said.

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