RALEIGH — During January, North Carolina Council of State (COS) members conducted a variety of business, including one member running afoul of the law over a traffic incident.
State Auditor Beth Wood continued to face questions surrounding her hit-and-run accident that took place after a Christmas Party last December. Wood has expressed regret for leaving the scene and had a related court date near the end of January.
The Office of the State Auditor continued its regular work including publishing findings from an audit of the North Carolina Medical Board Investigations of Medical Providers. More details on that audit will likely be highlighted in the office’s quarterly newsletter, The Monitor.
Gov. Roy Cooper met with Duke Energy officials following the blackout issues experienced during the Christmas holiday. He proclaimed January to be Blood Donation Month and a $110 million federal grant would help pay for the replacement of the 60-year-old Alligator Bridge on U.S. 64 between Tyrrell and Dare Counties.
Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson appointed Stephen Gay, the executive director of Bradford Preparatory School, as his designee on the N.C. Charter Schools Advisory Board.
Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall and Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson appeared together in a new Public Service Announcement (PSA) warning the public and North Carolina businesses about deceptive language in mailings that are seeking hefty fees for Labor Law posters and Secretary of State filings. The PSA “Misleading Mailings” can be viewed on the Secretary of State’s YouTube channel.
This month, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler appointed Kelly Nilsson to replace John Howard director of the Emergency Programs Division at the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Howard retired Dec. 31, 2022. Additionally, Joseph Hudyncia was named as the new Section Chief of Field Services for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Agronomic Services Division.
Troxler’s department also announced its Consumer Services’ Standards Division collected fines from 52 stores in 33 counties related to excessive price-scanner errors. The full list of stores committing the errors and the fines levied on them can be found on the department’s website, ncagr.gov, under news releases.
This month, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey issued a press statement citing his agency saved or recovered over $105 million for North Carolinians in 2022. The figure includes recovery of $7.7 million in fraudulent expenditures and assisting citizens with $52.5 million in claims from life insurance policies that had been lost.
Causey also negotiated a settlement with NC Rate Bureau over a proposed 42.6 percent dwelling rate hike. He was able to negotiate a statewide average increase of just 9.9 percent; 32.7 percentage points lower than requested.
N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein announced he will be running for governor in 2024. His likely opponent will be the state’s first Black Lieutenant governor, Republican Mark Robinson.
Stein also shared the N.C. Department of Justice’s report of the top ten consumer complaints in 2022. The list, in order from most complaints to fewest, includes Telemarketing/Robocalls, utilities/internet, motor vehicles, credit, landlord/tenant, home improvement, price gouging, professional services, insurance and elder fraud.
Under Superintendent Catherine Truitt, the Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) announced $3 million allotted by the General Assembly for two Career and Technical Education grant programs.
Truitt outlined updates to her signature policy Operation Polaris at the January state board of education meeting. NCDPI also announced the names of nine regional teachers of the year were announced. The nine will vie for N.C. Teacher of the Year to be announced in April.
State Treasurer Dale Folwell announced Aetna as the new third-party administrator for the State Health Plan. Blue Cross Blue Shield NC and UMR, which both bid for the contract, filed formal protests that were later rejected by the State Health Plan’s board of trustees.
Folwell also issued a statement praising the Department of Transportation for the early repayment of over $1 billion in Highway Trust Fund loans. The debt was repaid two years early as of late last December.
The COS is an administrative body of ten elected officials who are heads of their departments. The COS meets on the first Tuesday of each month and the meetings are open to the public.
Council members include the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, attorney general, commissioner of agriculture, commissioner of labor and commissioner of insurance.
The governor serves as chair of the COS, which convenes to discuss state matters typically of a fiscal nature or dealing with property issues. The COS has few detailed duties ascribed to it in the state constitution.