Commentary, News

The week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore1. Speaker Moore admits the alleged deal on HB2 was a sham

Two weeks ago Raleigh was buzzing about an alleged deal to repeal HB2, the anti-LGBTQ law that has demonized a group of people and cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and tens of thousands of jobs.

The N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association announced it was brokering an agreement under which the Charlotte City Council would repeal its nondiscrimination ordinance and then Gov. McCrory would call the General Assembly into special session to repeal HB2 and hopefully stop more economic losses in the state.

Legislative leaders were reportedly on board. That was the announcement anyway. [Continue reading…]

fROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Bonny Moellenbrock of Investors' Circle, Matthew Patsky of Trillium Asset Management, Joshua Humphreys of Croatan Institute, and Todd Sears of Out Leadership call for the full repeal of HB2. 2. Investors representing $2.1 Trillion push for full repeal of discriminatory HB2

Major investors representing more than $2.1 trillion in assets gathered in downtown Raleigh Monday to deliver a message to Gov. Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly. Fully repeal HB2, they said, before the damage to the North Carolina economy becomes irreversible.

“Obviously there has been overwhelmingly negative reaction to HB2,” said Matthew Patsky, CEO of Trillium Asset Management. “While the U.S. economy continues to grow, quite frankly North Carolina appears to be headed for what I would call a state government inflicted recession.”

Patsky said that’s because the controversy over N.C. House Bill 2, which prohibits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, has reached a fever pitch and is impacting how investors view the state and the businesses that call the Tar Heel state home. [Continue reading…]

ff-927-hb2logos3. McCrory, under siege, continues to lash out against critics of HB2

When it comes to HB2, the disastrous anti-LGBT legislation that he signed into law, Gov. Pat McCrory can’t seem to help himself.

Virtually every prominent individual or institution that criticizes HB2 in any way can count on a bitter and over the top attack from the governor and his top surrogates with many of their claims consisting of wild exaggerations and outright falsehoods.

It’s an odd strategy indeed for a governor who claims that economic development is his top priority, to aggressively attack prominent companies and organizations that have second thoughts about North Carolina because of a law that targets the LGBT community for discrimination.

This week brought another sobering reminder of what HB2 is doing to the state as investors with $2.1 trillion in collective assets under their management called for a repeal of the law, saying it is making it harder to get deals done and finance businesses in the state.[Continue reading…]

4. The EPA is practically toothless in its ability to protect the poor
Environmental justice rules regarding coal ash are weak, says US civil rights commission

By many standards of childhood, Tracey Edwards enjoyed an idyllic country life in Walnut Cove. Growing up in rural Stokes County, she and her friends played outside, picking fresh apples, blackberries and muscadine grapes, as if their neighborhood were its own private Eden.

But in the early 1970s, Edwards told a state environmental justice advisory committee in April, Duke Energy fired up a power plant, Belews Creek. It spewed coal ash into the sky that returned to earth like snow. The ash coated the predominantly African-American neighborhood, she said, so thick, “we could write our names on the cars.” The ash powdered the rooftops. It carpeted the family garden, where in the summertime, Edwards unaware of the contaminants in the ash, would eat “hot ripened tomatoes” right off the vine.

Edwards, now 48, said that over time many residents of Walnut Cove, including herself, became sick or died — of cancer, neurological disorders, respiratory illnesses — long before their time. [Continue reading…]

***Bonus inforgraphic: Demographics around North Carolina’s coal-fired power plants

Barber_112-20165. Attacking the messenger for delivering some hard truths
The Right launches another barrage of scurrilous attacks on the NAACP’s Rev. William Barber

As was discussed in this space a couple of years back when the Moral Mondays movement was center stage, there are few things that the political right in North Carolina loves more than bashing the Rev. William Barber. No matter what Barber actually says or how eloquent and insightful he is or how many personal sacrifices he makes or how many near-24 hour days he puts in in service of the causes of peaceful change and human rights, you can rest assured that uninformed blowhards will employ every tool in the character assassination toolbox to smear him and cue all of the worst racist dog whistles.

This is especially true when, as was the case last week in Charlotte, large numbers of people of color are in motion and demanding change. What’s more, this phenomenon is not just confined to fringe bloggers and Internet trolls. Supposedly responsible voices with actual paid jobs and offices engage in this kind of shameless behavior too. [Continue reading…]

***Upcoming event on Wednesday:
Crucial Conversation — How do we repair our broken democracy?
Join us October 5th as N.C. Policy Watch presents a special Crucial Conversation luncheon – Karen Hobert Flynn, President of the national nonprofit watchdog, Common Cause: How do we repair our broken democracy? Has American democracy reached a crisis point? Register today.

NC Budget and Tax Center

New Report Finds Impact of Immigration is Positive

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has just released a new report measuring the impact that immigrants have on federal and state budgets. The report follows up on a 1995 NAS study on the same topic. Since the release of the previous report, the United States immigrant population has more than doubled, from 24.5 million immigrants to 42.3 million in 2014.[1]

The issue of how immigration affects state and local costs as well as the economy overall is a pressing one where rhetoric on this topic has often trumped facts.  The authors find that in addition to the positive net benefits of immigration at the federal level, second generation immigrants produce a long-term net benefit for state and local economies, so long as states educate immigrant children.

Here are some other key findings from the report:[2]

  • Between 2020 and 2030, the only increase in our labor force population will come from immigrants and their children. Therefore, in order to sustain our labor force, a level of immigration is needed going forward.
  • Immigrant workers grow the size of the economy by approximately 11 percent each year. That would amount to approximately $2 trillion in 2016.
  • Immigrants today have more education than previous generations, making them stronger contributors to government finances than immigrants in the past.[3]
  • Second generation immigrants have an overall higher positive impact on the nation’s economy than other immigrant groups.
  • Overall, there was little impact on the economy in terms of wages and employment. The only negative impact was on native-born residents who do not hold a high school degree.

The report also adds to a growing body of research about the economic effects of immigration in North Carolina. In June, for example, the Budget and Tax Center released a report that underlined the benefits of immigration to the state’s economy. The report pointed out the contributions of immigrants as business owners, consumers and workers – pointing out that the long-run effect of immigration was the growth of most native-born workers’ wages.[4] Similar to BTC’s findings, a 2014 report from UNC’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business found that immigration produced a net fiscal surplus for the North Carolina when immigrants’ estimated public cost was subtracted from their estimated tax contributions.[5] The government’s challenge going forward is to introduce immigration policies that better support immigrants as participants in our economy and labor force, and as students in our education systems.

[1] The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2016). The Economic and

Fiscal Consequences of Immigration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23550.

[2] The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2016). The Economic and

Fiscal Consequences of Immigration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23550.

[3] The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2016). The Economic and

Fiscal Consequences of Immigration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23550.

[4] McHugh, Patrick. Smart Choices in an Era of Migration. Rep. Raleigh: Budget and Tax Center, 2015. Web.

[5] Johnson, James H., Jr., and Stephen J. Appold. Demographic and Economic Impacts of International Migration to North Carolina. Rep. Chapel Hill: Kenan-Flagler Business School, 2014. Web.


Lt. Gov. Dan Forest warns farmers of ‘environmental terrorism’


Lt. Gov. Dan Forest: Striking fear in the hearts of farmers (Photo: Official portrait, Forest’s office)

The aroma of hog waste hung in curtains of humidity outside the Duplin County Event Center last night, where inside, in the air-conditioning, 400 or so farmers and their families enjoyed pork loin sandwiches.

The agriculture forum was attended by several elected state officials, including Gov. Pat McCrory and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. An architect by trade, Forest sported dungarees and a plaid shirt, then warned the crowd that “environmental terrorism is coming after you, trying to shut down your businesses while you’re trying to work harder and harder.”

Environmental terrorism has become a common refrain in the McCrory administration, although no one in state government, publicly anyway, has identified the bogeyman. Based in New York City, The Waterkeeper Alliance, is the most likely target. The nonprofit group has national and international affiliates, including about a dozen riverkeepers/watchdogs in North Carolina. They are demanding better environmental protections for communities, particularly minorities, who live near giant hog farms and their waste lagoons.

The NC Department of Environmental Quality has asked the EPA’s Office of Civil Rights to reject a complaint over the permitting of lagoons. The complaint was filed by the alliance, REACH, NC Environmental Justice Network and the UNC Center on Civil Rights.

The specter of meddling continued when Gov. McCrory took the stage, which was decorated with large bales of straw, luxurious ferns, plump pumpkins and yellow mums. McCrory, who opted for khaki pants instead of blue jeans, tried to commiserate with the farmers, saying they only want people to “leave us alone and let us do our job.”

“That’s what we’re trying to do in this administration,” McCrory went on. “One of the great challenges we have right now is that we got a guy in Washington, D.C., in the White House who doesn’t want to leave you alone. In fact he wants to interfere in your business more and more every day. We need to stop Washington, D.C. from taking over North Carolina’s lakes and streams and waters, especially as it relates to the farmland.”

The rule adds and clarifies protections of waterways that have been historically covered under the Clean Water Act: tributaries, wetlands, and waters that connect with oceans and rivers that cross state lines. However, as NCPW reported in July, the EPA is clear that the new rule doesn’t require any new permitting from farmers and retains most of the agricultural exemptions. In fact, many agricultural practices, such as planting, harvesting and moving livestock, have been exempt from the Clean Water Act.

North Carolina is one of  18 states suing the federal government over these additions to the Clean Water Act.



North Carolina draws more national attention as Comedy Central’s Daily Show lampoons HB2 (video)

As Policy Watch has noted before, HB2 is about far more than bathrooms.

Comedy Central’s Daily Show decided this week to demonstrate what the discriminatory law looks like when a business puts it into effect.

Click on the picture below to go to Comedy Central’s page. (***Note that while certain words are bleeped in the video, some viewers may consider this language NSFW – not safe for work.)



In Guilford County, charter school candidates take aim at school board incumbents

In Guilford County, where the North Carolina General Assembly has changed elections to the school board from non-partisan to partisan, the race is taking on a new and different edge.

From a story by Jordan Green in this week’s Triad City Beat:

With all seats on the reconfigured Guilford County School Board up for re-election this year, two Republican candidates with deep ties to the charter school movement are challenging longtime Democratic incumbents intent on defending traditional public schools.

Republican Alan Hawkes, a member of the NC Charter School Advisory Board who was appointed by Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, is challenging board Chairman Alan Duncan, a Democrat first elected in 2002, for the countywide at-large seat. Hawkes current serves on the board of directors of two local charter schools: Greensboro Charter Academy and Summerfield Charter Academy.

“We’ve got incumbents making excuses as to why public schools of choice shouldn’t have a seat at the table,” Hawkes told an audience at a candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Piedmont Triad on Sept. 20, referring to charter schools. “Every option should be on the table to get our children reading at grade level and not ending up incarcerated or on the streets or substance abusers.”

The story goes on to delve into the financing behind the pro-charter candidates’ campaigns:

The Hawkes campaign received a $1,000 contribution in February from Jon Hage, CEO of Charter Schools USA, a Florida-based charter school company that operates schools in seven states, including North Carolina. The contribution accounts for a considerable portion of the $2,596 total raised by the Hawkes campaign as of the most recent report at the end of June.

Problems with existing charter schools and virtual charter schools have been well documented.

But with the General Assembly simultaneously pushing charter school expansion and funding and redistricting and reconfiguring local school boards, more conflicts such as these shouldn’t come as a surprise.