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Progress made in conference budget negotiations, hashed out in rare public debate

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 13:45
North Carolina Senate and House budget writers met today in a rare public meeting to break the budget logjam and iron out a final budget deal for the 2015 fiscal year (FY)—which began yesterday. Because lawmakers approved a two-year budget last year as part of the biennial budgeting process, vital public services and programs are ...

New research: New NC voting laws produce confusion, little confidence

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 10:56
The voting and good government experts at Democracy North Carolina have taken a look at the impact of the state’s new “Monster Voting Law” on the May primary election. Here is their initial take: “Data Highlight: New Voting Law, Little Information, Less Confidence Volunteers with Democracy North Carolina and other groups conducted a large Exit ...

Eastern North Carolina housing non-profit accused of sexually exploiting clients

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 10:01
Here’s a disturbing story today from WNCN  in Eastern North Carolina about a non-profit housing authority based in Laurinburg where administrators are accused of demanding sexual favors from women seeking housing help. Lawyers from Legal Aid of North Carolina’s fair housing division, who are representing the victims in the case, are asking a federal judge ...

Moms demand that Target stores stop the assault weapons parade

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 09:17
The good people at Everytown for Gun Safety have launched petition drive to demand that Target stores join the growing list of responsible companies that ban customers from openly toting weapons in their businesses. This is from a recent appeal by a concerned mom in San Antonio, Texas named Jamie Addams: “Which seems more threatening ...

McCrory wants high academic standards, doesn’t care about Common Core “brand”

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 06:00
Gov. Pat McCrory told reporters yesterday that he favors high academic standards, but doesn’t care about the Common Core brand. “What we’ve got to talk about is high standards, especially in math and reading,” said McCrory following an event that awarded federal bonus dollars to teachers who develop new classroom materials for a statewide database.”If ...

As budget negotiations slow, advocates call for the state to restore the EITC (audio)

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 14:48
On the first day of a new fiscal year, it appears state Senators are in no rush to wrap-up budget negotiations with the NC House. On Monday, the Senate rejected the House “mini-budget” that has the blessing of Governor Pat McCrory.  Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger made it clear that without a more accurate ...

Understanding the basics of the budget stalemate

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 13:59
In case you missed it, be sure to check out today’s edition of the Fitzsimon File in which Chris explains what’s really at issue in the stalemated state budget negotiations. Most notable on the list: the remarkably regressive positions of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. “Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger told WRAL-TV that ...

Three problems with the Hobby Lobby decision

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 11:47
1. The unconstitutional application of religious liberty: The original purpose of religious liberty is defined as the separation of church and state, ensuring the protection of both through mutual autonomy. Health care coverage is an entity of the state. By permitting Hobby Lobby the refusal to cover certain forms of birth control on religious grounds in its female ...

One year anniversary of unemployment insurance changes, harm to jobless workers compounded

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 10:57
Beginning today, jobless workers in North Carolina can access fewer weeks of unemployment insurance despite a continued lack of jobs and the persistence of long-term unemployment. This is the direct result of a provision in HB4, the unemployment insurance overhaul bill that went into effect last July 1st. The provision establishes a sliding scale for ...

Baker Mitchell’s for-profit groups reap big rewards from charter schools he founded

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 10:47
The Wilmington StarNews reports that Baker Mitchell’s Roger Bacon Academy, the for-profit education management organization that oversees four charter schools Mitchell founded in eastern North Carolina, as well as another company that leases school equipment and supplies both take in considerable sums of money from leasing land, buildings, equipment and supplies to Mitchell’s schools. For the 2013-14 school ...

Pope group lauds university enrollment decline; cites “too much partying and sex”

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 09:07
We’ve known for a long time that the chief mission of the Pope Center for Higher Education is to undermine and dismantle North Carolina’s system of universities and community colleges. As reported in this space on numerous occasions, the group puts out almost-daily missives calling for higher education to be privatized, more expensive and more ...

Expert: Fracking in NC likely to produce little gas, lots of destruction

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 07:31
If you want to understand why the potential for fracking to be a success in North Carolina (either for our economy or our environment) is very, very small, be sure to check out Professor Rob Jackson’s op-ed in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer. His prediction: A very low economic impact driven my ...

Gay rights advocates call on McCrory to revisit executive order

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 22:39
Equality NC is calling on Governor Pat McCrory to revisit an executive order he signed Monday that requires equal employment opportunities for all employees and applicants for employment ‘without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, disability and genetic information.’ LGBT advocates say that the governor’s order referred to several specific classifications yet ...

N.C. Tracks has a birthday, while DHHS celebrates with video praising troubled system

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 17:00
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services released a cheerful video this afternoon touting the supposed successes of the state’s new Medicaid billing system that delayed payments for thousands of medical providers for months over the last year. The nearly 4-minute video produced by state employees includes interviews set to upbeat instrumental music with ...

Thank goodness we’re not in Kansas

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 16:24
A recent Washington Post story confirms once more that the anti-taxes, anti-government policies of the conservative leaders running Kansas continue to backfire. “Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal last month to tout the success of his economic program, particularly several rounds of income tax cuts amounting to ...

Extend the deadline for eugenics victims

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 14:27
As Chris Fitzsimon made clear in this morning’s “Monday Numbers,” there is simply no good reason for the state of North Carolina to shut off applications for compensation to surviving eugenics victims. Having made people wait decades, what is the point of limiting the possibility for recovery for people — especially since so many of ...

Hobby Lobby wins and women’s health loses at Supreme Court

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 12:56
The US Supreme Court decided today that “closely held” corporations that object to contraceptives on religious grounds can deny this preventive coverage to female employees. There will be a great deal of constitutional banter on this opinion but, not being a constitutional scholar, I will make a few practical points. First, when HHS wrote this popular ...

What Hagan and Tillis are saying about today’s Supreme Court rulings

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 12:45
Monday’s Supreme Court rulings on contraceptive coverage for women and public sector unions are predictably bringing very different reactions from U.S. Senator Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis, her Republican challenger. Hagan released a statement calling the Hobby Lobby v. Burwell ruling ‘shameful’: “I am extremely disappointed in today’s Supreme Court decision. It is shameful that ...

Hobby Lobby: The best eight lines from Justice Ginsburg’s dissent

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 12:21
As reported in numerous places — click here for Ian Millhiser’s quick take at the for the Center for American Progress — the widely-dreaded Hobby Lobby decision came down today from the U.S. Supreme Court. In response, the good folks at Mother Jones posted the following article. On Monday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned a blistering ...

Five must read stories to start your work week

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 10:44
Supreme Court Deals Sharp Blow To Public Sector Unions  Session stalemate no help to Tillis campaign Yes, if You Cut Taxes, You Get Less Tax Revenue (and why NC should pay attention) Third health insurer to enter NC exchange for 2015 Bacon Academy management company earns millions from schools