The Beat: Grand Old Party in the House

The North Carolina General Assembly will convene its new session in Raleigh this week. In a major power shift, Republicans are taking control of both the House and Senate for the first time since 1898. It might not be so grand a party, however, as they face a $3.7 billion budget deficit.

In the online post, “County’s Newest Legislator, Tim Moffitt, Gives CIBO his Take on the Work Ahead,” Xpress reported that the Republican who defeated Rep. Jane Whilden last November promised a “philosophical shift” from a mindset of spending to one of saving.

“For decades, whatever came in through finance was spent by appropriations without any real plan for a rainy day,” he asserted to the audience of local business owners.

Look for Xpress to check in with Buncombe Democratic representatives Patsy Keever and Susan Fisher soon, as we launch a new online feature, “N.C. Matters: The State Beat,” which will include regular reports on all of our local legislators.

Last week, the Smoky Mountain News devoted a cover story to the issues facing the General Assembly. In “Does Right Equal Might? Republicans Take Control Next Week,” the Haywood County weekly reported that the new leadership is looking at everything from redrawing voting districts to favor conservative candidates, slashing school budgets and privatizing the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

And in one example of a difficult state funding decision, Xpress recently reported in an online post that “Swannanoa Valley Youth Development Center, Camp Woodson to Close.” In a statement, the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention blamed the Office of State Budget and Management’s requirement that all state agencies cut their operational expenses by an additional 2.5 percent this year. Currently 84 staff members are employed at the Youth Development Center and 19 in the Woodson Wilderness Challenge. Both facilities and associated programs are scheduled to close on March 1.

Crimes around WNC, new bathrooms on the way to Pack Square, and Shuler votes “no” on health care repeal

In Western North Carolina crime news, the Tuckasegee Reader reported that “Cherokee Mothertown, Kituwah, Target of Vandalism.” According to the article, “perpetrators lifted a cattle gate off of its hinges and drove a full-size pickup truck onto the [Swain County] complex, making at least one pass over the Kituwah mound, which is the focal point of an archeological site that dates to the Mississippian period.”

Meanwhile, over in Madison County, the News-Record & Sentinel reported that a “Crime Spree Tears Through Walnut Community.” During the early morning hours of a recent snowstorm, Charles Blagg allegedly tried to steal four cars and break into a home in the rural Walnut area. “Based upon interviews, he was grossly intoxicated on alcohol and other controlled substances,” explained Madison County Sheriff, Buddy Harwood.

And in another case of impaired judgment, BlueRidgeNow reported that “Alcohol, Speed Played Part in Fatal Accident” in Henderson County. “The driver of the vehicle had some sort of altercation with another driver and sped off before the accident occurred,” explained N.C. Highway Patrol Sgt. Rusty Jones. “The driver has been charged with driving under the influence and driving while their license was revoked.” At press time, the names of the individuals involved had not been released.

In better news, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported that “Asheville Group to Move Ahead with Pack Square Restrooms.” After a long delay, a new pavilion, restrooms and a visitor information desk are scheduled to be completed in downtown’s Pack Square Park by early July.

And in politics, the daily paper reported that “Heath Shuler Votes Against GOP Repeal of Health Law.” Although the Western North Carolina Democrat voted against the health care reform law last year, in a statement, he said that repealing it now was the wrong way to go. He emphasized that it would be “immoral and unproductive” to repeal provisions in the law that “allow parents to maintain insurance coverage for their children until the age of 26, help senior citizens pay for their prescription drugs and prevent denial of coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions.”


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.