Tom Apodaca

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

Western Carolina University political scientist Dr. Chris Cooper is a frequent guest of Blue Ridge Public Radio.  In his most recent visit, Cooper spoke with BPR's Jeremy Loeb and Matt Bush about the latest in state politics.  The conversation touched on the recently-passed Senate budget, a big Supreme Court punt on voter ID, the brewing (pun intended) legal battle involving craft beer, possible campaign finance mischief, Senator Richard Burr's role in the national spotlight, and some high-profile resignations for the progressive left in North Carolina.  


A bipartisan bill sponsored by Henderson County Republican Representative Chuck McGrady aims to give more flexibility to North Carolina craft brewers to run their businesses.  At a news conference last week, McGrady unveiled House Bill 500, an omnibus bill making changes to the way alcohol is governed in the state.

The last bill former Hendersonville Republican Tom Apodaca put forth before he retired would have split Asheville into districts for the purpose of electing city council members.  It was opposed by every other lawmaker representing the city, as well as the mayor and entire city council.  In a stinging defeat for the longtime senator, it failed in its final vote in the House.  Now his successor, Republican Senator Chuck Edwards, is trying again.  Edwards declined requests from BPR to talk about the bill, saying in an e-mailed response he’d talk “perhaps after the bill is passed.”  But WUNC capitol reporter Jeff Tiberii caught up with Edwards on the Senate floor.

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

Chuck Edwards Campaign/NC Senate

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Republican already running in November to succeed former Sen. Tom Apodaca will now serve the remainder of Apodaca's term through the end of the year.

Gov. Pat McCrory appointed business owner Chuck Edwards to the 48th Senate District seat covering Henderson and Transylvania counties and part of Buncombe County. Local GOP activists last week picked Edwards to complete Apodaca's two-year term after Apodaca resigned July 15. Apodaca had already announced last year he wasn't seeking re-election.

After the surprise defeat of Senate Bill 897, a bill that would have divided Asheville into districts for city council elections, many were left wondering just what had happened.  I've analyzed the bill in several articles linked to below.  Several days before the bill failed, David Forbes, editor of the Asheville Blade, published an article examining the history of the effort.  We discussed that article after the bill's failure.  The interview was conducted Tuesday morning, July 5th, and before this latest

Asheville Citizen-Times

Political observers and the public alike were scratching their heads after a bill that would impose districts on the city of Asheville for city council elections failed.  The bill was being pushed by a powerful state lawmaker and had sailed through two committees and the full Senate with little but Democratic resistance.  And then, on its last stop in the full House, all of that changed.  Debate seemed to persuade lawmakers at the last minute, and that is something rarely seen in politics today.  But in truth, there were probably multiple factors at play, and they had occurred not just over

In a stunning defeat, the North Carolina House voted down a bill that would have made changes to the Asheville city council.  

Senate Bill 897 was introduced by Republican Senator Tom Apodaca of Henderson County over the strong objection of the entire city council and all other state lawmakers representing Buncombe County.   It would split Asheville into six districts drawn by the General Assembly for the purpose of electing council members.  But the bill failed by a vote of 48-58. 


In a stunning defeat, the North Carolina House voted down a bill that would have made changes to the Asheville city council.  Senate Bill 897 was introduced by Republican Senator Tom Apodaca of Henderson County, over the strong objection of the entire city council and all other state lawmakers representing Buncombe County.  Apodaca is considered one of the most powerful lawmakers in the General Assembly.  But this bill went down by a vote of 48-58. 

Jeremy Loeb/WCQS

This is WCQS News, I’m Jeremy Loeb.  A bill making changes to Asheville’s City Council has cleared another committee, this time in the House.  The House elections committee passed the measure over the strong objection of the only committee member from Asheville.  WCQS’s Jeremy Loeb reports.

At the start of the committee meeting, it was clear that this bill was not coming from Asheville.

“The chair was asked to announce to the committee that the City of Asheville through its representation to the General Assembly wanted to go on record as being opposed to this bill.”

Republican lawmakers and Governor Pat McCrory have reached a compromise over coal ash avoiding another round in the courts.

Jeremy Loeb/WCQS


By a vote of 33-16, the North Carolina Senate gave final approval Monday to Senate Bill 897.  The bill changes the way Asheville elects its city council, moving it from an at-large system to one in which candidates would be elected in one of six districts.  Bill sponsor Republican Senator Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville explained the bill after introducing it.  

The North Carolina Senate has passed on first reading its version of the budget by a vote of 33-15.  Included in the budget is a plan sponsored by Hendersonville Republican Senator Tom Apodaca to cap tuition to $500 per semester at select universities, including Western Carolina University.  WCU was originally among 5 schools, 3 of them historically black colleges and universities that would be affected.  But after an outcry from HBCU alumni, the 3 HBCUs were removed from the plan, leaving only WCU and UNC Pembroke.  That amendment passed overwhelmingly.  I spoke with Western Carolina Profe

There's a plan to reduce tuition to $500 a semester at a handful of UNC system schools. Students at other UNC universities wouldn't have to worry about tuition hikes, since they'd pay the same tuition for their first four years. It's all laid out in a state senate bill that has gained some traction and lots of concern. 

NC Utilities Commission Decision Expected Today

Feb 24, 2016
Jeremy Loeb/WCQS

The deadline for a decision on the future of Duke Energy’s Lake Julian Power plant is today.  Last week the North Carolina Utilities Commission held a public meeting in Raleigh to consider Duke’s plan to phase out its coal  fired power plant.  David Hurand spoke with Carolina Public Press Managing Editor Frank Taylor about the hearing and the approaching deadline.

Republicans Look to Replace Senator Tom Apodaca

Dec 1, 2015
Jeremy Loeb/WCQS

Now that State Senator Tom Apodaca has announced he won't seek another term, attention has turned to fellow Republicans who might be interested in running to represent the 48th District.  Among the potential candidates, a Hendersonville City Council member who once ran for  Congress and a former member of the State Housse from Buncombe County.  The 48th Senate District includes all of Henderson and Transylvania counties  plus a portion of southern Buncombe County.  The Chairman of the Henderson County Republican Party, Glen Englram says Apodaca's decision may mean a significant loss of clou

Tom Apodaca Will Retire from NC Senate

Nov 30, 2015
Harry Lynch/News & Observer

One of the most powerful figures in the North Carolina General Assembly says he will not run again next year.

Republican Sen. Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville announced his decision against seeking re-election Monday, the day before candidate filing for 2016 begins.

Apodaca is chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, controlling the flow of legislation in the chamber. He's been Senate leader Phil Berger's closest political ally and a consistently strong fundraiser for GOP senators.

Rep. McGrady of Henderson County Will Run Again

Nov 25, 2015
Jeremy Loeb/WCQS

North Carolina State Rep. Chuck McGrady, Republican of Henderson County, has ended speculation in announcing he will seek another term in the House.  McGrady had hedged on whether to run again in an interview with WCQS shortly after the session ended.  But he said his growing clout in the legislature had given him the opportunity to fight for issues he cares about – the environment being a big one.

Jeremy Loeb/WCQS

Duke Energy will replace its coal plant in Asheville with two smaller gas units rather than one large one as originally planned.  The move comes after the public flooded Duke with more than 9,000 comments over proposed transmission lines through the western Carolinas.  Duke says the transmission lines will no longer be necessary.  A third plant could be built in 2023 if the company finds it necessary.  Plans to install solar panels at the site remain unchanged. 

WNC Lawmaker Power Broker in Legislature

Jun 24, 2015

The Republican controlled State Senate is at odds with the Republican controlled House over the details of a new fiscal  year state budget.  The  two chambers are attempting to work out their differences but its unlikely a budget agreement will be reached by July 1.  The key players are Speaker of the House Tim Moore and Senate Pro-tem Phil Berger.  The third most important lawmaker is fellow Republican, Tom Apodaca of Henderson County.  Charlotte Observer Political reporter Jim Morrill recently authored a profile of Apodaca.  Morrill spoke with David Hurand.

North Carolina's rapidly-growing solar industry has an unwanted spotlight upon it from a cadre of fiscal conservatives at the General Assembly fixed on ending its preferential tax and energy policy treatments.

"It's very simple: do you believe in subsidizing a special interest off the backs of our taxpayers or not?" Rep. Chris Millis, R-Pender, a fierce critic of the state's solar policies, asked colleagues during a recent debate.

In Their Words: WCQS Speaks With Lawmakers

Apr 17, 2015

As part of an ongoing series, WCQS is reaching out to lawmakers from western North Carolina and beyond for in-depth, wide-ranging discussions on the issues that matter to you.  The goal of the series we're calling "In Their Words" is for you to have a chance to hear from the people running our local, state, and federal government in an open, honest, unfiltered way.  We will update the series over time.

Erik Reyna/KUT News

It looks like legislation adjusting North Carolina's gasoline tax is heading to negotiations, but it's unclear when a House bill giving expanded tools to Governor Pat McCrory to recruit companies gets heard in the Senate.

Senators formally rejected Monday night the House version of a tax measure that would lower the gas tax immediately, but not as much as current law mandates this summer. The Senate passed different gas tax changes last month. Final agreement is important soon because the bill also contains income tax law changes for April 15 filers.