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GOP lawmakers may thwart federal unemployment rules

Tens of thousands of unemployed workers receiving federal emergency unemployment will likely lose their benefits starting July 1 as legislators overhaul the program.

Legislative leaders said this week that they will push ahead with a July 1 start to cuts in weekly benefits for unemployed workers. The measure would put the state in violation of the recently passed federal relief package that would have provided benefits to laid-off workers through December 2013. The federal legislation specifically forbid the states from altering the weekly benefit amount, which the General Assembly is poised to do as it returns to session Wednesday.

“It interferes with our expected legislation that we already had ready to go in December. We won’t let it continue,” said Rep. Julia Howard, R-Mocksville, head of the House Finance Committee who is shepherding a bill that would overhaul the unemployment system.

Morning Memo: McCrory cabinet pick faces more questions, legislature returns

SKVARLA FACES NEW QUESTIONS: Secretary John Skvarla's memo to staff at the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources this week is getting a good bit of attention and creating more questions than it answers. As reported here first, the agency's new mission statement includes this line: "environmental science is quite complex, comprised of many components, and most importantly, contains diversity of opinion." The memo also suggests the agency is more service organziation than state regulator. It raises big questions for the McCrory administration: Is climate change a scientific fact? What about sea level rise? And are human's responsible for global warming?

McCRORY DODGES GLOBAL WARMING QUESTION: As the DENR secretary questions the validity of science, the new Republican governor is sidestepping the global warming issue entirely. Pat McCrory told Travis Fain at the News & Record: "John (Skvarla) and I aren’t going to get caught up in the political semantics of either the left or the right on climate change or global warming. We believe in clean air, clean water and clean ground. ... As my father used to say ... we must walk the fine line between continuing our economic prosperity while also protecting the quality of life and the environment which brought may of us here. And that’s the fine line leadership must continue to walk.” Expect this question to re-emerge Wednesday.

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