1. Not much to celebrate about the legislative session’s final days
The 2015 session of the General Assembly adjourned just after 4:00 Wednesday morning, ending several days of frenzied activity that left many observers scrambling to figure out exactly what happened, much like surveying the damage in a neighborhood the morning after a ferocious overnight storm. And it may take a while.
Many of the news accounts of the session’s tumultuous last days left many progressive advocates breathing a sigh of relief that several especially regressive proposals ultimately failed, abandoned because lawmakers ran out of time or simply couldn’t muster enough support.
The Senate passed legislation Monday night that would divert more funding from traditional public schools to charters—even federal money that pays for school lunches that charters are not required to provide—but the proposal stalled in the House. [Continue Reading…]
One of the longest legislative sessions in more than a decade (possibly the longest since 2002) came to a close during the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Here’s a quick update on some last minute controversial proposals affecting public education that ultimately didn’t become law.
Charter school funding
Sen. Jerry Tillman breathed new life back into a proposal heard earlier this session that would have diverted funds typically reserved for traditional public schools over to charter schools.
Using the ‘gut and amend’ process, Tillman shoved the complicated language into a House bill that was previously about school playgrounds a week and a half before the close of session. Loads of push back ensued from the school boards association, school administrators and other education advocates.[Continue Reading…]
Last minute political slush fund bill draws opposition from across the spectrum
It should probably come as no surprise given the relentless drive of North Carolina conservatives to accumulate political power and silence their opponents, but there’s still something remarkably brazen about the late session campaign finance law change that lawmakers sent to Governor McCrory last Friday.
As reported in numerous venues (this summary by reporter Mark Binker of WRAL was one of the better ones), lawmakers appended the controversial provision onto a bill that would change next year’s primary election from May to March (itself a controversial and questionable change). The provision would allow the leader of each political party caucus of the House of Representatives and Senate (i.e. the Speaker of the House, the Senate President Pro Tem, and the minority leaders in both houses) to establish a separate, “affiliated party committee” to support the election of candidates of that leader’s political party. [Continue Reading…]
The U.S. Supreme Court opens its new term on Monday with several cases set for argument and others waiting in the wings. The high court’s docket for the term is by no means set, and the justices are likely to consider, among others, controversial cases involving abortion rights, immigration and religious freedom exemptions from contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Here are a few of the noteworthy cases the high court has already agreed to hear.
One person, one vote
Who should states count when tabulating populations for redistricting purposes? That’s the question presented in Evenwel v. Abbott, a case that’s as much about state’s rights as it is about voting rights. [Continue Reading…]
Aldona Wos may no longer be the Secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, but there’s still plenty of interest in how she ran the agency.
In particular, a federal grand jury wants to know how several contracts were awarded to members of her inner circle, as well as to a consulting firm that took over much of the management of the state’s Medicaid program.
The grand jury is also looking at a troubled Medicaid billing unit that was the subject of several audits that found the supervisor wasted more than $1.6 million in unnecessary overtime and the hiring of friends, family and her church members. The federal probe was first reported by the News & Observer late Friday.
DHHS spokesman Jim Jones said the agency is complying with the federal investigation. [Continue Reading…]