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 In the News, June 10, 2010 

ABC SYSTEM

N.C. House committee recommends raising standards for local liquor stores, board members. Local ABC boards would have to meet financial and customer service standards in its liquor sales or they could face closure, and all its members would be subject to a gift ban and other ethics rules in legislation approved Tuesday by a state House panel. The bill that left the House's Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee went beyond the recommendations of a special study commission completed last month before the session began. The state ABC Commission also would receive more power to monitor the activities of the local, largely independent boards that sell liquor in cities or counties.

 

GENERAL

N.C. House panel clears wide incentives bill. Boosters of an economic development package that cleared a House committee Wednesday said it will help bring good jobs to the state and perk up the ailing tax base - even though a university study argues a portion of the tax breaks that woud be extended are no longer effective. Part of the bill is similar to a measure designed to encourage computer data centers, an energy turbine manufacturer and a paper plant to expand in the state. Those expanded enterprises alone could generate at least 1,200 jobs and more than $2 billion in capital investment, deputy state commerce secretary Dale Carroll said.

 

STATE BUDGET

Opinion: Hardly a dramatic difference. Legislative negotiators are about to begin working out the differences between the two 2010-11 budget plans passed by the Senate and House in as many weeks. There’s lot of big talk around the General Assembly about “dramatic differences” between the two budgets, and how the 2010 fiscal situation presented “the hardest year ever in our modern era.” Oh, c’mon folks, give me a break. First of all, describing the difference between a $20.6 billion Senate budget and a $20.5 billion House budget as “dramatic” is rather melodramatic. Even when you bore down into the details of agency funding, the differences between the Senate and House budgets don’t exactly bring to mind images of Hatfields vs. McCoys or Blue Devils vs. Tar Heels. 

 

BROADBAND

Opinion: Senate passes broadband bill; a killer for cities. When it comes to high-speed Internet, rural North Carolinians are in the Stone Age. And a bill that passed the Senate this week, S 1209, will keep them there. After a lengthy debate, the controversial—and rewritten—broadband bill passed the Senate Monday night 41-7. Democrat Bob Atwater was the only Triangle senator to oppose the bill. Atwater represents several rural areas in Chatham and Lee counties, where many residents remain stuck with dial-up Internet service. The bill now proceeds to the House. Sponsored by state Sen. David Hoyle, D-Gaston, the euphemistically titled "Study Competing Systems/ Interim Debt" places a 14-month moratorium on cities and towns that want to build their own high-speed broadband networks. While these municipalities could technically develop a plan for such a network, they could not apply for funding for the project until August 2011, after the next legislative session. Yet, without funding, it would be unlikely that the cities and towns could afford to work on a plan or feasibility study.