by Jordan Green

Items from across the Triad and beyond 

AG embroiled in court battle to enforce ban on video poker

NC Attorney General Roy Cooper has a motion to stay against a recent decision by Guilford County Superior Court Judge John O. Craig III that found that part of a new state law outlawing video poker violates the Constitution’s speech protection under the First Amendment. The attorney general plans to appeal Craig’s ruling to the NC Court of Appeals. Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page is among those who have turned to the NC Department of Justice for guidance on enforcing the new law, which officially went into effect on Dec. 1.

“The people of North Carolina, through their elected representatives, have determined that machine-based electronic sweepstakes are injurious to the public welfare and are a pretext for the same types of actual gambling that are currently illegal in North Carolina,” Cooper wrote in a motion to stay filed on Monday. “The General Assembly has elected to address the problems of addiction, poverty and corruption associated with such electronic sweepstakes by passing [the new law] — which represents the most current stage of the General Assembly’s decade-long process of eradicating the harms associated with video poker in this state.”

Hagan trumpets local producers exemption in food safety bill

Sen. Kay Hagan, the Democrat from North Carolina, applauded passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which included an amendment exempting small producers that she sponsored with fellow Democrat Jon Tester of Montana.

“I have worked with Senator Tester for months to include a critical amendment that excludes small producers from new government red tape,” Hagan said in a prepared statement on Nov. 30. “We successful fought for our farmers. Jobs are my No. 1 priority, and this amendment protects jobs in our agriculture industry, which employs nearly one-fifth of North Carolina’s workers. This bill now strikes the right balance between preventing food borne illnesses and ensuring our nation’s farmers can stay in business.”

Sen. Richard Burr, the Republican from North Carolina, also voted for the bill.

The so-called Tester amendment exempts farmers who gross $500,000 or less in annual sales and those who sell most of their food to consumers, restaurateurs and markets within a 275-mile radius or within the same state.

With the bill moving to the House, United Fresh Produce Association, a coalition of national and state industry groups, has expressed concern about the amendment to Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Republican Minority Leader John Boehner.

“Exempting ‘small’ farms from following federal food safety standards, as the Senate bill currently does, undermines the intent of credible food safety systems which are based on risk and science, not arbitrary criteria,” a Dec. 1 letter from the association reads. “Microbial contamination does not discriminate between small or large farms, customer base or proximity to the market.”

Greensboro considers ‘new and sweeping authority’ over entertainment industry

As part of the city’s effort to stem the tide of nightclub-related violence, the Greensboro Legal Department is researching the possibility of creating an ordinance that would require clubs to obtain entertainment licenses.

A Dec. 2 memo drafted by Assistant City Attorney Tom Carruthers and circulated among the city manager’s office, the chief of police and members of city council notes that Greensboro’s center city is drawing increasing numbers, including residents, students and young people from across the region, and references city hall’s plans to adopt “new and sweeping authority over the entertainment industry inside the city.”

The Carruthers memo examines regulatory approaches in Charlotte, Raleigh and Greenville. The assistant city attorney said a “best practices” study by the police department is expected to be complete by the end of January.