NC Policy Watch's the Progessive Pulse

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Updated: 2 hours 27 min ago

This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch:

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 16:01
#1 – Ending discrimination is more important than ending the session It’s that time of the General Assembly session when legislative leaders are talking about adjourning and leaving town. House Speaker Tim Moore said this week that the odds are 50-50 that the session will end before July 4th while Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown ...

Senate committee approves controversial charter takeover of low-performing schools

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 14:06
With just days remaining in the N.C. General Assembly’s short session, leaders on the Senate Education Committee have given their approval to achievement school districts, a GOP-backed model of school reform that may clear for-profit charter takeovers of low-performing schools. Committee Chair Jerry Tillman, a Republican who supports the measure, declared the “ayes” to have won ...

Prominent physician skewers McCrory administration’s disastrous Medicaid policies

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 10:55
If you missed it this morning, be sure to check out the fine op-ed in Raleigh’s News & Observer by Robert Bilbro, the  head of Raleigh Medical Group. As Bilbro points out, the McCrory administration’s two overarching policies toward Medicaid (i.e. refusing to close the coverage gap for hundreds of thousands of people in need ...

Damage from Supreme Court blockade continues; Large majority of North Carolinians want it to end

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 07:46
The fallout from the U.S. Senate’s disastrous blockade of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland continued yesterday as the Court was forced to issue several new and momentous rulings without its full complement of justices. The lowlight occurred, of course, when the Court deadlocked 4-4 on a critically important immigration law decision. This from a story ...

BREAKING: Virginia federal judge officially orders restroom access for transgender student

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 16:00
The following tweet and the fine print order therein spell out some great news from Virginia. Maybe this well help Gov. McCrory and state lawmakers grasp the futility of hanging on the HB2: The district court just issued a preliminary injunction for Gavin — Joshua Block (@JoshACLU) June 23, 2016

North Carolina does not have a $1.2 billion revenue surplus

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 15:32
North Carolina continues to struggle with too few dollars coming in to serve a growing state that needs good, quality schools, healthy environments, safe neighborhoods and supports for workforce training and economic development. In the final days as policymakers negotiate the differences in their original proposals to arrive at a final budget, relying on bad ...

Protesting teachers arrested last week detail their booking experience, skewer McCrory

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 14:31
On Policy Watch Wednesday, we wrote about pending background check legislation that some worry will impact teachers’ ability to participate in acts of civil disobedience. It comes after 14 education demonstrators were arrested outside of the state capitol last week, following a pro-public education rally on the steps of the legislative building. This week, following ...

Legislation disguises tax giveaway to wealthy investors as aid for struggling communities

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 12:47
Special interests often use the dog days of the legislative session to see if one of their old hounds can still hunt. As has become an almost yearly ritual, out of state companies appear once again to be trying to secure a huge tax give-away for their clients. Under the guise of supposedly helping low-income ...

DC leads the way on minimum wage, will NC follow?

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 11:58
Washington, DC took an important step forward for workers last week, joining a growing number of states and cities that have raised the minimum wage. Meanwhile, workers in North Carolina continue to wait on the General Assembly to take positive steps to raise wages. The capital city joins 17 states that have changed their minimum-wage ...

Provision added to regulatory reform bill would undermine farmworker unions

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 10:24
As has been common with bills drafted by this General Assembly, the title of HB593 does not adequately describe its contents.  The “Act to Amend Certain Environmental, Natural Resources, and 3 Other Laws” deals with wide ranging subjects, including storm water, erosion, reptiles, and mopeds.  A late addition, Section 17, adds unions to the mix. ...

North Carolina’s unemployment insurance system is the envy of no one

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 09:54
Last week the Center for American Progress and National Employment Law Project released a review of unemployment insurance as a federal and state partnership and the choices in recent years that have made it less effective at reaching jobless workers. North Carolina policymakers, of course, aggressively pursued the worst changes in unemployment insurance. The result ...

Wilmington Star News blasts conservative obstruction of wind power

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 08:45
Be sure to check out the on-the-money lead editorial in this morning’s Wilmington Star News and its scathing take down of state lawmakers and their manufactured excuses for trying to undermine wind power in North Carolina (lately, lawmakers have been claiming that windmills would somehow disrupt eastern NC military bases).  Here’s the excellent conclusion: “One ...

House Democrats stage sit-in, demand gun-control legislation (video)

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 06:32
Congressional Democrats staged a sit-in on the U.S. House floor Wednesday, demanding the chamber vote on common sense gun-control measures. Congresswoman Alma Adams appealed to her colleagues to take action after the Orlando shooting that left 50 dead and 53 wounded. Adams drew applause as she demanded “NRA, get the hell out of the way!” ...

Summer months mean going without healthy foods for many NC kids, study finds

Wed, 06/22/2016 - 12:00
Making sure that kids in low-income households have access to nutritious foods over the summer helps improve their overall health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found in a recently completed five-year study. For hundreds of thousands of children in low-income households across the state, the summer months often mean fewer healthy food options because ...

National charter group blasts bill limiting state oversight of struggling charter schools

Wed, 06/22/2016 - 11:13
This month, we wrote about a Senate rewrite of a white collar crime bill, House Bill 242, which would place new limits on the state’s power to shutter low-performing charter schools. This week, a national, nonpartisan charter group is warning North Carolina lawmakers that the provision, backed by Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Moore, Randolph, could weaken ...

Big win for NC consumers as A.G., Banking Commissioner thwart loan sharks

Wed, 06/22/2016 - 10:08
There was good news in the fight against predatory consumer lending yesterday as two online predators were forced to pay back more than $9 million in ill-gotten revenue. This announcement is from Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office: CashCall, Western Sky to pay NC $9 million plus for illegal loans Online fast cash lender that charged ...

On HB2: Love and compassion winning, McCrory losing

Wed, 06/22/2016 - 09:00
It’s increasingly clear that, much as he and his allies did with the battle over marriage equality, Gov. Pat McCrory is losing the fight over HB2 and its promotion of discrimination against LGBT North Carolinians. The latest signal comes from the Governor’s home town, where, the Charlotte Observer reports, the Guv has been reduced to ...

Higher ed group blasts state Senate’s income tax constitutional amendment

Tue, 06/21/2016 - 16:57
In case you missed it, be sure to check out the excellent essay that appears on the on the website of the group Higher Education Works regarding the North Carolina Senate’s dreadful proposal to enact a constitutional amendment capping the state income tax. As the essay notes, the proposal would usher in “government by auto-pilot” ...

International visitors work in North Carolina, nationally through J-1 program

Tue, 06/21/2016 - 12:10
If you have traveled to the Outer Banks recently, chances are you have been waited on by an international student. Stores, restaurants, and hotels on the North Carolina coast are increasingly turning to temporary foreign workers to fill customer service and cleaning positions in the summers. These workers come to North Carolina on what is ...

The General Assembly’s war on sustainable energy continues

Tue, 06/21/2016 - 12:00
In case you missed it — or have simply become numb to the repeated actions in this vein — it’s worth noting that the North Carolina Senate took yet another ill-advised step to undermine the move to sustainable energy yesterday. This statement was distributed last night by the North Carolina chapter of the Sierra Club: ...