Politics & Government

Blogger takes up teacher pay with Obama, McCrory

Blogger Erin Odom of Mooresville asks President Obama the first question he fielded from the audience Wednesday at ImaginOn in uptown Charlotte.
Blogger Erin Odom of Mooresville asks President Obama the first question he fielded from the audience Wednesday at ImaginOn in uptown Charlotte. ERIN ODOM

Blogger takes up teacher pay with Obama, McCrory

Before finally relenting, blogger Erin Odom of Mooresville said “no” three times to invitations from BlogHer to attend President Obama’s Wednesday appearance at ImaginOn in uptown Charlotte. Her blog, The Humbled Homemaker, keeps her way too busy, she said.

The 34-year-old mother of three decided to go and asked the first question Obama fielded from the audience. She wanted to know how teacher pay could be improved.

Odom said her family was forced onto government assistance when her husband, Will, a teacher, was the primary earner. She said she now makes considerably more with her blog than her husband does teaching.

Odom, who said she never votes for Democrats, called the Observer to say how disappointed she was in Gov. Pat McCrory’s response to Obama’s response to her question. Obama said N.C. teacher pay “is ranking as low as it gets,” a swipe at the Republican-controlled governor’s mansion and General Assembly. He mentioned “my good friend (former Democratic Gov.) Jim Hunt” and his emphasis on education.

McCrory fired back in a press release, saying he signed one of the largest teacher raises in state history and more students are graduating high school now “than during any time the three Democrat(ic) governors who preceded me were in office.”

Odom said that pay raise didn’t compensate for the yearslong freeze in teacher salaries. She said McCrory has no idea how that affected families. “For three years, we survived on government aid,” she said.

McCrory’s press office couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday. Joe Marusak

Legislative session’s slow pace is about to pick up in Raleigh

Bills are piling up in legislative committees as the General Assembly approaches a key April 30 deadline. That’s the day most bills must be voted out of one chamber to have a chance of becoming law this session.

So far, the session has generated plenty of ideas. But if it seems as if lawmaking is off to a slow start – it is.

Only 13 bills have become law. And many of those were local, technical or procedural, such as bills setting the State of the State address.

The trickle is changing. Committee meetings and House sessions are going longer, and legislators are jockeying to get their bills heard in committees. Thursday saw a nearly four-hour House session, and that might seem short compared with the rest of April’s expected grueling schedule.

House Speaker Tim Moore told legislators late last week to plan on staying for sessions “late into the evening several days next week to get our work done.”

Legislators typically don’t arrive back in Raleigh until 7 p.m. on Mondays, but this week committee meetings will begin at 3:30 p.m.

The slow start included February snow days that limited meetings for two weeks. Then, both chambers took a “spring break” for the first full week of April.

The Senate has intentionally moved slower this year, said Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca. He’s the main traffic cop for legislation in that chamber.

Senators started this session intending to be more deliberative, said Apodaca, a Hendersonville Republican. But the pace will pick up, he said.

Some major bills have passed one chamber quickly but slowed in the other. House leaders haven’t yet discussed a Senate bill that would let magistrates opt out of performing marriages – a proposal Democrats say would lead to discrimination against same-sex couples.

And Senate leaders have essentially shelved the House economic development proposal, which included incentives money that Gov. Pat McCrory said is needed immediately to lure jobs. The Senate instead rolled out its own plan but hasn’t voted on it yet.

All that could mean legislators will stay in Raleigh for months to come.

And last week, Rep. William Brisson, a Bladen County Democrat, had an even more dire prediction: “We’re going to be here until October.” House members met his comments with groans.

The April 30 crossover date – on the heels of the House bill filing deadline – has contributed to what is expected to become a frenzy.

There will still be plenty of ways for bills that don’t meet the deadline to get passed into law. They can be attached to other bills, be substituted for bills that have met crossover, or end up in the budget.

And bills dealing with money – spending it or raising it – don’t have to meet crossover. So the Senate doesn’t have to move some of the big tax change bills it’s considering until after April.

Even with the exceptions, crossover serves to cull bills that aren’t going to make it, said Senate leader Phil Berger. The deadline serves to focus attention on proposals that have gained majority support from one of the chambers, he said. The (Raleigh) News & Observer

N.C. Democrats are coming to Charlotte this month

The N.C. Democratic Party will hold its annual Sanford Hunt Frye dinner this month at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Saturday’s dinner and fundraiser is one of the party’s most prominent annual events. It honors former U.S. Sen. Terry Sanford, former Gov. Jim Hunt and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Henry Frye. Jim Morrill