For the week of
December 22, 2005
Reaction of the Week
Two years ago President George W. Bush signed legislation that made
tax-free "health savings accounts" possible. With many private
businesses embracing HSAs as an alternative to traditional insurance
arrangements, a new report from the John Locke Foundation urges the General Assembly to offer HSAs to North Carolina's teachers and state employees.
cost to North Carolina taxpayers of providing health insurance to state
employees rose significantly over the past decade, with a dramatic
doubling just since 2000, according to the new JLF report. It concluded
that state lawmakers will need to reform the state employee health plan
to avoid a budgetary train wreck in the coming years.
of the report is Michael E. DeBow, Samford University Law professor and
Professor of Health Care Organization & Policy and Lister Hill
Scholar in the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public
Health. DeBow argued that HSAs offer an attractive alternative to
low-deductible, high-cost insurance benefits.
The head of the State Employees Association of North Carolina
said while his group hasn’t studied HSAs for his members, he is open to
discussing it as an option with the new administrator of the N.C. State
Health Plan, George Stokes.
"I think it would save the health plan dollars," said Dana Cope,
executive director of SEANC. "It's an incentive for people to consume
health care more wisely."
Lottery opens floor to bidders
RALEIGH — The state lottery Tuesday officially asked for bidders to
help run the numbers games, and said players should expect to see four
instant-winner scratch-off games when the lottery begins by April 5.
But there is concern that the request for proposals from the lottery on
one of its most important contracts will point the state to only one
company: Scientific Games.
Cooper to render opinion on Watson
EDENTON — Attorney General Roy Cooper is examining whether a conflict of interest would result if the head of the Northeastern Partnership
joins Randy Parton's entertainment project in Halifax County. Currituck
County requested the legal opinion in November. The request asks Cooper
to examine the legality of Rick Watson's recently announced plan to
become a partner in an entertainment complex being developed in Halifax
County by Parton, brother of country music star Dolly Parton.
Black apologizes, maintains innocence
GREENVILLE — Last week, House Speaker Jim Black
offered a public mea culpa for his role in the startup of the state
lottery and his ties to a Raleigh lobbyist who also served as his
campaign's political director. But in a radio interview Monday, Black
was adamant that neither he nor his former political director, Meredith
Norris, did anything wrong.
Fair: Blacks should back school choice
CHARLOTTE — Calling school choice “the civil rights issue of the
21st century," W. Willard Fair issued a call to action for blacks to
demand change. Blacks “must lead the charge,” he said, “because it is
in our interest” to do so.
Garey Ballance tells his story
HENDERSON — In the barrage of controversy and public scrutiny
surrounding he and his father, publicly shamed judge Garey Ballance
feels strongly that one side of the story never really came to light:
his own. Ballance is preparing himself for a nine-month federal prison
sentence handed down in October for failing to file a federal tax
Monday, January 16, 2006 at 12:00 Noon
Headliner Luncheon in Wilmington, NC
with our special guest Dick Morris
Will Hillary Be Our Next President?
Tuesday, February 07, 2006 at 12:00 Noon
Headliner Luncheon in Winston-Salem, NC
with our special guest William Kristol
The Future of Conservatism and the Republican Role
Friday, February 10, 2006 at 6:30 Reception / 7:15 Dinner
16th Annual Anniversary Celebration
with our special guest Winston S. Churchill III
“I think the grand jury has wandered far afield of a legitimate criminal investigation, and it's starting to look political.”
— Ken Bell, attorney for House Speaker Jim Black, speaking to the Winston-Salem Journal
about a federal grand jury investigation into potential wrongdoing in
granting state jobs and personal favors in exchange for political
contributions and support.
“I think these guys are trying to ferret out justice. I don't want to taint the process.”
— State Rep. Jim Harrell III, D-Surry, in the same Journal article, commenting after his grand jury testimony in Raleigh Wednesday.
“People look at a $50 million jackpot, and they say, ‘mm, that’s not going to be enough.’”
— Tom Shaheen, executive director of the N.C. lottery, describing to the Winston-Salem Journal
how big the lottery jackpot has to be before casual players buy lottery
tickets. Shaheen estimates casual interest starts at about a $80
million jackpot. The state has joined Powerball to increase its lottery
“We’re going to help all of the small businesses in the state — that has 80 percent of the jobs — with $1 million?”
— State Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, commenting to the Asheville Citizen-Times
on the adequacy of the One North Carolina Small Business Fund, which
will distribute $1 million in incentives to small business in the state.
“I really think this is an opportunity for citizens not to feel overshadowed by elected officials.”
— Parks Helms, chairman of the Mecklenburg County Commission, talking to The Charlotte Observer
about a committee to review the county’s school construction needs. The
panel would not have elected officials or candidates for public office
On The Air This Week…
This week on C J Radio…
Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina's 3rd congressional
district defends and clarifies comments he made in June about the war
in Iraq and what was widely interpreted as his call for a timetable for
withdrawal of American troops. Then former North Carolina Supreme Court
Justice Robert Orr explains the legal challenge to the state
lottery recently filed by his organization, the North Carolina
Institute for Constitutional Law. CJ Radio listeners get additional
perspective on ethical questions surrounding the state lottery and
House Speaker Jim Black from Locke Foundation president John Hood. And Christie Barbee, president of the NC Professional Lobbyists Association, weighs in on lobbying reforms set to take effect in 2007.
This week on NC Spin…
Join moderator Tom Campbell for another week of political
discussion and debate on the most intelligent television talk show in
the state. This week's show is our traditional year-end run down of the
top stories of North Carolina in 2005. They include: the lottery, the
Jim Black controversy, the strange legislative session, the cigarette
tax increase, Molly and Erskine, lobbying reform, UNC tuition
flexibility, illegal immigration, roads, teacher licensing,
and panelists' contributions on top stories. Panelists this
week include: Chris Fitzsimon with NC Policy Watch; John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation; political consultant Brad Crone; and former House speakers Dan Blue and Joe Mavretic.
This week on At Issue…
Triangle viewers can tune in as host Monty Knight is joined by Carolina Journal's Donna Martinez and The Carolinian's Cash Michaels
for another round of "At Issue," a weekly round-up of news and issues facing the
Triangle area and state. This week, Rep. Walter Jones
of North Carolina's 3rd congressional district discusses his concern
that military chaplains are being discouraged from praying in the name
of Jesus. Then Bill Peaslee of the NC GOP offers perspective on ethical questions swirling around House Speaker Jim Black. And finally, Jennifer Rudinger
of the NC ACLU explains why her organization will appeal the recent
ruling of a judge who threw out a case that sought to clarify the
definition of "Holy Scriptures" used by NC courts, and whether or not
witnesses can be sworn in on texts other than the Bible.