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This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 16:00
1. Lawmakers move bill that would make it a felony offense for a student to assault a teacher Students who assault teachers could soon face felony charges in North Carolina, according to a bill that was green-lighted by a Senate committee on Wednesday—despite concerns raised that under the proposed law, even minor infractions could result ...

Follow the money: a primer on how outside $$$ have paved the way for vouchers & charters in NC

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 14:42
Millions of private dollars have made their way to North Carolina in an effort to encourage lawmakers to push a school privatization agenda. Those funds have resulted in the removal of the cap on charter schools and a new voucher program that takes money away from the public school system in order to fund unregulated and unaccountable ...

Partisan judicial elections likely to return in 2016 (video)

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 12:37
The state House is expected to give final approval Monday to legislation that would make North Carolina’s judicial races partisan in 2016. Rockingham County Rep. Bert Jones says clearly labeling candidates for the N.C. Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court with their party affiliation will increase transparency. Wake County Rep. Grier Martin told his ...

NC lawmakers vote to protect guns used by murderers

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 12:06
In case you missed it, North Carolina legislators produced another one of their inimitable, you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up moments yesterday. On the very same day that a disturbed and self-described Neo-Nazi confessed to shooting and murdering an innocent Wayne County Community College employee in cold blood earlier this week, House members defeated a bipartisan proposal that would have ...

Mental health parity and Medicaid expansion – why not?

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 09:57
Thanks to a report from the American Mental Health Counselors Association, North Carolina along with other states that have not expanded Medicaid have yet another feather to place in their caps – denying access to mental health care for nearly 600,000 uninsured adults that would have sought care last year. Approximately 21,000 of those uninsured ...

Another major tech company speaks out against N.C.’s religious freedom bill

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 09:22
IBM, which employs thousands in the Triangle area, doesn’t want North Carolina to adopt a controversial religious freedom bill that opponents say would allow discrimination against the LGBT community. The company’s senior executive in North Carolina, Robert Greenberg, wrote a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory noting the company’s opposition, as reported by WRAL earlier this ...

Tax cheats and the conservative budget cuts that help them

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 08:02
If there’s a “most frustrating set of tax facts” to be considered today as this year’s Tax Week comes to a close, it’s got to be this: the billions of dollars that tax scofflaws cheat their fellow citizens out of and the conservative, budget-cutting policies that help enable it. As Citizens for Tax Justice reported ...

New bill would prohibit teaching about emergency contraception

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 15:53
In the barrage of bad bills introduced at the legislature in recent days, there is one that would result in great harm to sexual health education but that has thus far drawn little attention. House Bill 596 would rewrite the current requirements for sex education in schools, making an already flawed law even worse. The ...

Mom explains to kids why she’s proud to pay on tax day

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 14:44
Editor’s note: The following post by Beth Messersmith, NC Campaign Director with MomsRising.org, is the latest installment in “Raising the Bar,” a new series of essays and blog posts authored by North Carolina leaders highlighting ways in which North Carolina public investments are falling short and where and how they can be improved. This week ...

N.C. Community College President Scott Ralls leaving for Virginia job

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 12:33
North Carolina is now on the hunt for new leaders of both its higher education systems, with today’s announcement that N.C. Community College President Scott Ralls is taking a job in Virginia. The News & Observer’s Jane Stancill reported early this afternoon that Ralls is taking a new job to head the Northern Virginia Community ...

Will SCOTUS take the NC redistricting case?

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 12:14
On tomorrow’s calendar of petitions for review by the U.S. Supreme Court is Dickson v. Rucho, the challenge to the state’s 2010 redistricting plan. The groups and individuals who initially sued lawmakers in state court — contending that the plan constituted an unlawful racial gerrymander — filed papers in January asking the justices to review the state Supreme ...

Undocumented immigrants pay taxes too

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 10:03
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study this morning highlighting the current contributions of undocumented immigrants through state and local taxes. In North Carolina, undocumented immigrants pay $278 million in state and local taxes currently. These tax dollars help the state invest in public schools and various other public services. From the ...

Obama is correct about NC’s education drop off

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 09:47
Governor Pat McCrory’s notorious hyper-sensitivity to criticism was on full display yet again yesterday. The Guv went to the trouble of issuing a special statement in response a mild and understated barb from President Obama about the well-documented decline in North Carolina’s commitment to public education. Here’s what the Prez said: “Funding now here in ...

Editorial blasts one of fracking’s most controversial components

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 07:04
This morning’s edition of the Greensboro News & Record has a fine editorial (“Whose property is it, anyway?”) that takes down one of the most pernicious aspects of fracking that was unaddressed by the state’s new law allowing the controversial energy drilling procedure: “forced pooling”: “Forced pooling began with good intentions. It was meant to limit ...

Why so far away? McCrory questions 50-mile drilling buffer

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 21:03
Governor Pat McCrory reiterated his support for offshore drilling to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Wednesday. But McCrory told the congressional panel the federal government’s 50-mile imposed buffer zone “unnecessarily puts much of North Carolina’s most accessible undiscovered resources under lock and key.” McCrory testified that the strict application of that ...

House committee advances bill allowing restricted driving permits for undocumented immigrants (video)

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 18:32
On a voice vote, members of the House Judiciary I committee gave the first approval Wednesday to a piece of legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for a one-year restricted driving permit. Rep. Harry Warren of  Rowan County says the legislation has nothing to do with immigration, and would establish a more uniform ...

#1 trending story on Washington Post: White parents in NC use charter schools to secede from system

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 11:25
Be sure to check out the #1 trending story on the Washington Post this morning — it’s entitled “White parents in North Carolina are using charter schools to secede from the education system.” After detailing the battle over charters and the promise that even many progressives see in them, the article notes: “The most recent ...

Former #ncga Rep. LaRoque gets delay in sentencing date

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 11:10
Former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque will find out his fate this summer , with his sentencing on a criminal charge of stealing federal funds now pushed back to July. LaRoque, a Kinston Republican and former co-chair of the powerful House Rules committee, plead guilty in January in front of Senior U.S. District Court Judge Malcolm ...

Early childhood budget trends in North Carolina

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 09:00
Editor’s note: The following post by Tracy Zimmerman at the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundations, is the latest installment in “Raising the Bar,” a new series of essays and blog posts authored by North Carolina leaders highlighting ways in which North Carolina public investments are falling short and where and how they can be improved. ...

Hillary and the courts

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 08:01
With the 2016 presidential election already taking shape, one issue that likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton seems certain to emphasize in the months ahead is the future of the federal courts. GOP candidates will no doubt trot out their tired and absurd old claims about opposing “activist liberal judges,” but the truth of the matter ...

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