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Updated: 1 hour 17 min ago

Federal court strikes Virgina congressional redistricting map

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 16:41
In a 2-1 decision, a federal court in Virginia today rejected part of that state’s congressional map, saying that it amounted to an impermissible racial gerrymander. Here’s election law expert Rick Hasen on the decision: The majority ruled that the redistricting involving a majority-minority district violated the equal protection clause as an unconstitutional racial gerrymander (a Shaw ...

Environmental group questions why NC DENR calls Wilmington coal-ash site a “low” hazard

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 16:20
An environmental law firm says the state agency tasked with protecting natural resources downplayed the dangers of toxic coal-ash storage ponds in Wilmington by ranking dams there a “low hazard.” The Southern Environmental Law Center sent a letter Thursday to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources refuting the state agency’s 2013 assessment that ...

Public University an Anchor for Economic Development and an Educated, Engaged Citizenry

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 15:39
This is the fourth post in a series that takes a detailed look at the final budget passed by North Carolina lawmakers during the 2014 legislative session. The first post provided an overview and examined how North Carolina’s investments post-recession have not bounced back nearly as much when compared to previous recessions. The second post ...

Today’s amazing inequality facts

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 14:46
The good people at have stashed several nuggets of powerful information in today’s edition of Too Much: An online weekly on excess and inequality that will make you want to pound the table, but the story on the newest edition of Forbes magazine’s richest 400 gazillionaires is perhaps the most amazing — especially this ...

State budget takes wrong turn on economic development

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 13:22
This is the third post in a series that takes a detailed look at the final budget passed by North Carolina lawmakers during the 2014 legislative session. The first post provided an overview and examined how North Carolina’s investments post-recession have not bounced back nearly as much when compared to previous recessions. The second post ...

Could this be the most absurd and cynical anti-Obamacare argument yet?

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 12:23
There’s very little that right-wing opponents of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act aren’t willing to claim in public about America’s increasingly successful and transformative health care law. From “death panels” to imaginary massive tax hikes to allegations about global conspiracies and plots to impose martial law and suspend the Constitution, the loony conspiracy ...

Increasing income inequality not a recipe for an economy that works for all

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 09:14
New data released by the US Census highlight the pervasiveness of poverty nationally and in North Carolina. In 2013, one in six North Carolinians lived below the federal poverty rate – less than $24,000 a year for a family of four and  $12,000 a year for an individual. For communities of color, the poverty rate ...

Editorial critical of latest DENR-Duke shenanigans

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 08:00
As noted in this space yesterday morning, federal regulators have been forced in recent days to put the kibosh on yet another sweetheart arrangement between Duke Energy and the McCrory administration that would have allowed the company to begin to address some of the problems in its coal ash “ponds” by draining the toxic liquid ...

McCrory, Tillis, Berger vow to continue defending Amendment One

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 17:55
Monday’s decision by the Supreme Court’s not to review the appeals court rulings striking down state bans on marriage for same-sex couples, has garnered this response from House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger: “The people of North Carolina have spoken, and while the Supreme Court has not issued a definitive ruling on ...

Court taking a deliberate path to same-sex marriage in North Carolina

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 16:49
The judge in two of the same-sex marriage cases pending in North Carolina  issued an order this afternoon requiring the parties to file reports within 10 days, detailing how the court should proceed in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to review a Fourth Circuit decision rejecting Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. Saying that ...

Widespread poverty persists, work and income supports help offset economic pain

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 14:04
This is the eighth post in a series that takes a detailed look at the 2013 US Census Bureau poverty data released on September 18th. Previous posts examined: 1) how North Carolina is faring overall; 2) how poverty varies by race, 3) poverty by County; 4) child poverty; 5) the impact, or lack thereof, of ...

Still time to catch the “Nuns on the Bus”

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 13:58
They’ve been in Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, and Greenville, but there’s still time to catch the “Nuns on the Bus” get-out-the-vote tour today or tomorrow if you’re in Asheville or Charlotte. To learn more about the tour, read here, or listen to NOTB Executive Director Sister Simone Campbell in her radio interview with Policy Watch’s Chris Fitzsimon ...

And same-sex marriage is now officially legal in Virginia

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 13:14
The Fourth Circuit has issued its mandate:  

What the Supreme Court’s inaction on marriage equality means

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:11
As reported, the ACLU will immediately file papers asking the federal judge handling same-sex marriage cases here to invalidate the state’s ban and allow marriages to go forward. For quick context on the the Supreme Court’s inaction today and what it means in North Carolina and elsewhere, see this VOX explainer. And for more detail, read ...

ACLU of NC responds to Supreme Court action on marriage cases

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 11:43
Mike Meno of the ACLU of North Carolina issued the following statement in response to the announcement this morning by the U.S. Supreme Court that would not take up the appeals of various circuit court decisions upholding marriage equality: U.S. Supreme Court today announced it would not review appeals court rulings in seven states, including ...

More you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up coal ash news

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 08:55
In case you missed it on Friday, Michael Biesecker at AP had another troubling story on Duke Energy’s seemingly metastasizing coal ash mess. This is the lead: Federal environmental officials spurred North Carolina regulators to reverse a policy allowing Duke Energy to drain massive amounts of polluted wastewater from its coal ash dumps directly into ...

Editorials blast cuts by legislature and McCrory to driver’s ed as shortsighted, threat to public safety

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 06:29
The practical, everyday examples of the the General Assembly’s and Governor McCrory’s penny-wise, pound-foolish approach to education funding keep emerging. As Chris Fitzsimon explained last week, one of those areas is driver education — an area in which the very lives of North Carolinians have been placed at greater risk because the tax-cuts-over-common-sense-spending approach. This ...

McCrory less popular than Obama in Republican district

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 14:41
Buried in one the latest “flash polls” from the Civitas Institute is what appears to be bad news for Governor Pat McCrory. The poll was taken to get a read on the race for the state House between Republican incumbent Michele Presnell and her Democratic challenger Dean Hicks in District 118—Madison, Haywood, and Yancey counties. ...

More drama as the voting rights case escalates

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 11:39
Nearly 48 hours had passed since the Fourth Circuit ruled that certain provisions of the state’s new voting law — namely the elimination of  same-day registration and the prohibition on counting out-of-precinct ballots — likely violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and shouldn’t be implemented for the coming election. And U.S. District Judge Thomas ...

How to end child labor in state’s tobacco fields

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 10:17
As has been reported on this site on multiple occasions (and as amazing and discouraging as the truth is), the scandal of child labor in one of the country’s most dangerous professions remains a reality in modern America. Children as young as seven are still trooping into America’s (and North Carolina’s) tobacco fields to harvest ...