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Wake County school board candidate Zora Felton and Sen. Josh Stein speaking at event

Wake County school board candidate Zora Felton and state Sen. Josh Stein will be the main speakers at an Aug. 21 campaign event designed to mobilize Democratic volunteers for elections in the next two years.

Felton, a Democrat, is taking on incumbent board member Deborah Prickett, a Republican, for the District 7 seat. Organizers are hoping, in particular, to recruit volunteers to help Felton’s campaign.

Stein was one of the outspoken Democrats who opposed the Republican-led General Assembly this session. In particular, Stein spoke out against the new law changing Wake school board election and the proposal to turn over school construction to the Wake commissioners.

Wake County school board election bill becomes law on Wednesday

The Wake County school board election bill is now law, with new election boundaries, a new election date and other changes going into effect in 2016.

The state Senate voted 33-15 today to concur with the version of Senate Bill 325 that was adopted Monday by the House. As a local bill, it doesn't need the governor's signature so it now becomes law.

There wasn't much debate today with Republican Sen. Neal Hunt, one of the bill's primary sponsors, urging his colleagues to approve the changes to the version the Senate had approved in April.

Democratic Sen. Josh Stein charged the lines are gerrymandered, saying "this bill is nothing more than a political effort to rejigger the districts to favor Republican candidates for school board."

Senate Democrats charge school construction bill is targeting Wake County school board

Are state Senate Republicans just giving some county governments more flexibility over school construction or are they trying to exact more political payback on the Democratic-led Wake County school board?

As noted in today's article, Senate Democrats charged that Republican legislators were deliberately going after the Wake school board in Senate Bill 236. Senate Republicans denied politics were involved, just as they denied that politics was behind Senate Bill 325, the Wake school board redistricting bill.

The bill comes as the Wake County school board and county commissioners meet this morning to go over a proposed $939.9 million school construction program that would largely be funded by the fall bond issue.

State Senate passes bill letting Wake County Commissioners take over school construction

In a late addition to today's calendar, the state Senate approved legislation that would allow the Wake County Board of Commissioners and eight other county boards to take over school construction.

Senate Bill 236 was approved 33-15 with Republicans in support and Democrats in opposition. Sen. Neal Hunt said the bill just makes business sense for commissioners to be in charge of construction.

But Sen. Josh Stein charged the bill was targeted at Wake County and was "payback" for the public voting in a Democratic school board majority. Sen. Dan Blue charged it was another case of "meddling" in the affairs of Wake and ensures defeat of the school bond issue this fall.

The bill now goes to the state House.

State Senate committee approves revised school construction bill

More to come later, but the state Senate Education Committee approved this morning a revised version of Senate 236 Bill, the school construction bill.

The bill, which now goes to the Finance Committee, now only affects nine counties, including Wake County. An amendment from Sen. Josh Stein to drop Wake was rejected.

Stein and school board vice chairwoman Christine Kushner basically raised the points from the school district handout for why the county shouldn't take over schools. They argued the system now works and doesn't need to be changed.

Sen. Neal Hunt argued that commissioners have more business experience than school board members. Joe Bryan, chairman of the board of commissioners, told the committee that the school board had become "a board of construction versus a board of education."

UPDATE

The state Senate is moving quickly today to adopt Senate Bill 236. The Senate Finance Committee added the bill to its agenda and approved the legislation.

It's been added to today's calendar for a vote by the full Senate..

Alleging racial reasons in Wake County school board election bill

Are there racial reasons in the changes in Wake County school board election districts in Senate Bill 325?

As noted in today's article, Sen. Josh Stein and Sen. Dan Blue, both Raleigh Democrats, charged that the bill had racial and partisan purposes in play. They spoke for most of the debate before the Senate voted 33-17 to approve the bill with all Republicans in support and all Democrats voting no.

During part of his speech, Stein focused on the urban regional district created by the bill. He said it matches the boundaries for Blue's legislative district, which he said was one of the minority districts that the Republican majority had drawn up before the rest of their new state legislative redistricting lines.

State Senate passes Wake County school board election bill

More to come later, but the state Senate approved tonight the Wake County school board election bill by a 33-17 vote with Republicans in support and Democrats voting no.

Sen. Neal Hunt said S325 was meant to increase voter turnout and, through the two regional districts, increase the chance that a parent could vote for a board member who represents the school their children attend.

Senators Josh Stein and Dan Blue charged that the bill was racially and politically based. Stein said it would reopen the wounds that the community is healing from.

Blue said the bill would tear down a great school system.

Ron Margiotta holds fundraising lead over Susan Evans

Wake County school board chairman Ron Margiotta and Susan Evans are both pulling in substantial amounts of cash in the District 8 race, including money from the Popes, Bob Luddy and the Campbells.

The new campaign report filed today by Margiotta shows he had raised $40,367.33 as of Aug. 30 with $34,111.23 on hand. The new report for Evans shows she had raised $26,406.43 as of Aug. 30 with $21,405.30 on hand.

The biggest donors for Margiotta in his new report are the $4,000 apiece from conservative businessman Art Pope, his wife Katherine Pope and conservative businessman Bob Luddy.

Gov. Perdue and other Democrats to attend Wake school board election fundraiser

Gov. Bev Perdue and several other Democratic Party leaders are scheduled to attend a Thursday fundraiser in Raleigh for a group that's hoping to wrest control of the Wake County school board away from the Republican majority.

The stated goal of the fundraiser for the Wake Citizens for Good Government PAC is to benefit Wake school board candidates "who support high quality public schools for all children." The PAC was formed in 2009 and unsuccessfully ran a television attack ad against Republican-backed school board candidates.

The PAC was formed by Dean Debnam, president of the Democratic-leaning polling firm of Public Policy Polling. PPP has recently conducted surveys on Wake school issues for what the firm says is a private client.

Falls Lake protections pass

Falls Lake has a deadline for its cleanup rules, and some other protections coming on line sooner, thanks in part to a legislative end run by Wake County Sen. Josh Stein.

In its next-to-last vote of the session, the state Senate approved an amended version of S 1020, into which Stein had incorporated language from another bill that remains in House-Senate conference until next year.

S 1020, which Stein sponsored, sets Jan. 15, 2011 as deadline for the Division of Water Quality to deliver a "nutrient management strategy" for approval by the state Environmental Management Commission. The deadline had been July 1 of this year.

Those rules will remain subject to approval by the state Rules Review Commission and possibly the General Assembly; however, the DWQ rules will take temporary effect and remain the law until they are formally approved and/or amended.

The bill also gives the EMC authority to deny any new "nutrient-loading" permits after July 1, 2010; adds protection for stream-buffer zones; and establishes erosion-control measures in the Falls watershed that take effect in January 2010.

Stein, on his way to some time off his legislative duty, said he was pleased.

S 1020's provisions for Falls Lake were included in H 1099, a bill that included several unrelated, and controversial, provisions regarding other parts of the state. With different versions of H 1099 passed by the Senate and House, legislative conferees were unable to reconcile their differences before the Senate recessed this afternoon.

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