On Wednesday, the General Assembly returns to Raleigh to begin the long session, which is expected to last about five months. In today's paper we take a comprehensive look at the people and the issues that will be making the news, and the laws, in the months ahead. From lawmakers to lobbyists -- and lawmakers turned lobbyists -- plus key staffers behind the scenes, and an army of competing interests, the statehouse on Jones Street is about to begin whistling like a kettle.
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North Carolinians think that Democrats are better able than Republicans to address many of the major issues facing the United States, according to a new poll by Elon University.
The poll of of 797 North Carolina residents from Oct. 27-30 found that North Carolinians have more confidence in Democrats to deal with health care, education, energy independence, the financial crisis, Social Security, taxes and home foreclosures.
There was only one issue - the war in Iraq - where North Carolinians felt more confident about the Republicans.
"As the economy dominates the news, it appears to be benefiting the Democratic candidates," Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll, said in a statement. "The other side of this equation is that citizens are holding the Republicans accountable for the state of the economy."
The Elon poll does not screen for registered or likely voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
A more detailed breakdown after the jump.
Drop out prevention, a sales tax holiday for energy efficient appliances and tougher oversight of mental health services were among the priorities N.C. House Democrats listed today for the current legislative session.
"This plan is one that's meant to address the issues of the people of North Carolina," said House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman, a Lexington Democrat, Dan Kane reports.
Their one-page plan made no mention of tax increases, which House Speaker Joe Hackney said are unlikely. It also provided no specifics about how much would be spent or cut as House members fashion their state budget proposal.
The plan spoke to "continuing" efforts to raise teacher pay to the national average, though House members said they will likely not reach it this year. That means the House will not recommend the seven percent increase that Gov. Mike Easley called for in his $21.5 billion budget proposal.
More after the jump.