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Updated: 56 min 22 sec ago

As marriage equality victory nears, another battle looms

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 07:29
Michael Biesecker of AP has a wonderfully heartwarming story this morning that’s available in several news outlets about one of the couples leading the legal fight for marriage equality in North Carolina. Pearl Berlin and Lennie Gerber have been together for 48 years and the notion that they might taste victory in the near future ...

Another hidden gem: Troubling new law on drones slipped into the state budget bill

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 15:53
As Sarah Ovaska reported this morning in her story on some of the hidden gems in this year’s state budget bill, North Carolina now has – with virtually no meaningful public discussion — a new and flawed law on the use of those cute little aerial spying machines known as “drones.” Unmanned aircraft, also known ...

No permanent pay raises for assistant principals in state budget

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 13:35
Many assistant principals in the state will go without pay raises this year – even as the teachers and other school staff working in their schools do. The N.C. legislature responded to widespread discontent over North Carolina’s low teacher pay this year by including pay raises for teachers in their $21.1 billion budget. Republican legislative ...

Fourth Circuit denies request for stay in same-sex marriage case

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 13:00
The Fourth Circuit today denied a request by parties defending Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban to stay the court’s ruling in Bostic v. Schaefer pending a petition for review by the U.S. Supreme Court. On July 28 the court held that the Virginia law was unconstitutional and entered judgement on that date. The ruling is scheduled to ...

McCrory casts a wider net as he looks for fixes to the education budget

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 10:45
A couple of days ago, I reported that Gov. McCrory was reaching out to state school superintendents to figure out a couple of fixes to the education budget that he proudly signed last week. As it turns out, he’s casting a wider net – on Monday, his education staff also met with staff at the N.C. Department ...

Editorial: Pro-fracking forces are ignoring voices they don’t want to hear

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 10:07
This morning’s lead editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer tells it like it is with respect to the state’s pro-fracking forces and a little thing called “science.” As the N&O explains, compelling evidence on the dangers of fracking from experts at Duke University is being summarily ignored by the Mining and Energy Commission because it ...

Schools rely on sharing, older materials as textbook funding dwindles

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 09:16
Confusion over teacher pay and the loss of teaching assistants are not the only troubling stories making headlines as the new school year is set to begin. The Asheville Citizen Times reports today that a reduction in state funding for textbooks will force many Buncombe County students this fall to share their books, or rely ...

Today’s amazing inequality graphic

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 17:07
The good people at and the online publication Too Much do a great job each week of documenting America’s one-sided class warfare and the fast-mushrooming gap between the haves and have nots. If you’re not already a subscriber to their updates, click here to get signed up. The graphic at left was featured in ...

Social Security at 79: New report highlights benefits for North Carolinians

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 14:51
This week marks the 79th anniversary of Social Security, and the North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans is marking the occasion with a new report on the economic impact of those benefits in our state. Here are ten quick facts from that report, Social Security Works for North Carolina. • Social Security provided benefits to ...

Scotland County Schools will cut TAs’ hours to save jobs

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 12:13
Members of the Scotland County Schools Board of Education voted on Monday to cut teacher assistants’ hours to 88 percent for the upcoming school year as a way to save jobs while coping with state budget reductions. To keep teacher assistants working 100 percent of the time, the county would have to deplete a large ...

ICYMI: The freedom to marry in North Carolina: Now what? (Full Video)

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 10:22
For those who missed last week’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation with the ACLU of North Carolina and Equality North Carolina, the full program is now available online. Please watch and then share – The freedom to marry in North Carolina: Now what?

RSVP today for next week’s luncheon on the Supreme Court

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 09:37
Seats are going fast for next week’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation – “The state of the U.S. Supreme Court with Ian Millhiser of the Center for American Progress.” Where do things stand in the after math of the disastrous Hobby Lobby decision? What’s is on the Supreme Court docket for the fall? What can ...

Editorial: Ditch letter grades for schools permanently

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 08:14
If there’s one giant mistake that both Democrats and Republicans have made down through the years when it comes to improving North Carolina’s public schools it’s the repeated attempts to impose gimmicks and quick fixes. Rather than simply giving the experts the resources they need, standing back and pointing in the desired direction, politicians of ...

Gov. McCrory working behind the scenes to fix education budget he signed last week

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 18:19
Gov. Pat McCrory’s office is working with local school superintendents to come up with a fix for two hotly contested budget provisions lawmakers just enacted that would stop funding public schools on the basis of enrollment growth and cut funds to teacher assistants, according to a Lee County Schools superintendent and a lobbyist for the ...

Gov. McCrory could attract funds and friends by expanding health coverage

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 14:15
A new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute shows the financial folly of rejecting Medicaid expansion. Currently 24 states are refusing federal funds to cover more of the uninsured, although that number is quickly dwindling as more governors and legislators get approval to implement state-specific expansion plans. If North Carolina does ...

A rare bit of good news for the environment

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 13:14
This just in from the good folks the the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club: For Immediate Release North Carolina Moves One Step Closer to Offshore Wind Development WILMINGTON – Earlier today, the US Department of the Interior announced that it has defined three Wind Energy Areas off the coast of North Carolina which ...

Rowan-Salisbury Schools facing loss of teacher assistants

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 10:17
The Rowan-Salisbury School System is trying to figure out how to handle a 22 percent cut to their teacher assistant funding stream. The budget cut to TAs slices more than one way — in Rowan-Salisbury schools, many elementary school TAs double as school bus drivers (see my recent story about how TAs across the state also serve as bus drivers).  ...

A regional look still shows cuts to unemployment insurance didn’t improve employment outlook for NC

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 09:16
One of the fundamental claims made about North Carolina’s cuts to unemployment insurance payments was that such a policy change would create a greater incentive for jobless workers to take available jobs and employment in the state would rise as a result. The Economic Policy Institute posted a great graphic once again demonstrating that there ...

Editorial: State must halt slide in support for higher ed

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 08:11
In case you missed it over the weekend, the Greensboro News & Record posted a good editorial on North Carolina’s gradually declining commitment to its colleges and universities. As the editorial rightly noted, the state has been reduced to charging higher tuition of some students in order to generate funds to subsidize tuition for those ...

Federal judge: New voting law applies in November elections

Sat, 08/09/2014 - 07:58
In a 125-page decision released at 5 p.m. on Friday,  U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder ruled that the upcoming November elections will go forward under provisions of the new voting law enacted by the General Assembly in 2013. For North Carolina voters, that means for this election cycle, there will be no same-day registration, ...