It was a busy few days in Raleigh as legislators returned to town and the short session of the biennial budget process began Wednesday. Here are the top five stories we followed this week, both around North Carolina and across the country.

  1. Attracting Apple
    • House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger hosted a joint press conference Thursday announcing proposed changes to economic-development incentives in light of Apple’s rumored interest in establishing an RTP campus.
    • News outlets report the tech giant is close to announcing a deal that would bring up to 10,000 jobs to North Carolina’s Triangle area.
    • Private sector companies that intend to invest at least $1 billion and create at least 3,000 new jobs in the state are eligible for a grant award under the new incentives package, which could appear as a provision in the state budget.
  2.  #RedForEd
  3. GenX Fix
    • ¬†Legislative Republicans in both the House and Senate filed companion bills Thursday intended to address the GenX issue that has affected Eastern North Carolina’s drinking water for months.
    • One key part of the bill would authorize Gov. Cooper to shut down the Chemours plant responsible for producing the GenX chemical. The bill would also hold Chemours financially responsible for its actions.
  4. Russian Election Meddling
    • Senate Intelligence Committee leaders concluded that Russian interference in the 2016 election was intended to help Pres. Trump secure a win over Hillary Clinton. The public announcement followed a closed committee hearing on Wednesday.
    • Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that he saw “no reason to dispute” the intelligence findings, which differs from the position Pres. Trump and several House Republicans have taken on the matter.
    • As a reminder, interest in Russia began in July 2016 after thousands of Democratic National Committee emails were leaked in connection to the Clinton campaign. In addition to House and Senate probes, the Justice Department appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller in May 2017 to investigate potential Russian meddling.
  5. Failed Farm Bill
    • The GOP-led House of Representatives failed to pass a massive omnibus farm bill¬†Friday. House Democrats unanimously opposed the legislation, and were joined by the conservative Freedom Caucus to effectively defeat the bill with a vote of 198-213.
    • The nearly 700-page bill was a point of much debate over the past week, particularly around items such as food stamp work requirements. The Senate has yet to release its version of the farm bill.