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Four stories you can’t afford to miss Tuesday

#1 – School Vouchers: The North Carolina Supreme Court will hear oral arguments beginning at 9:30 a.m. this morning  in the lawsuit that challenges the legality of the state’s school voucher program.  Want to hear both sides of the argument? WRAL.com will be live streaming the court proceedings.

#2 – Religious Refusal Bill: Over on Jones Street, SB2 – the Magistrates Recusal of Civil Ceremonies bill – will have its first hearing at 10:00am in the Senate’s Judiciary II committee. This bill, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, would allow magistrates and other government officials to opt out of providing marriage services to the public for six-month periods based on “sincerely held religious” objections.

The ACLU of North Carolina says the bill very simply would open the door to allow more government officials to refuse to perform their job duties:

“Religious freedom is one of our most valued liberties, but it should never be used as an excuse to deny government services to those who qualify, simply because of who they love,” said Sarah Preston, policy director for the ACLU of North Carolina. “This bill is clearly designed to deny gay and lesbian couples their legal right to marry, but it would also make it harder for all North Carolina couples, especially those living in smaller counties, to access their right to be married under the law. We urge lawmakers to reject this bill and ensure that government services in North Carolina remain open to all on equal terms.”

#3 – Women’s Advocacy Day – Tuesday is also Women’s Advocacy Day at the General Assembly. Tara Romano of NC Women United tells NC Policy Watch their members will be discussing access to health care, equal pay for women, and civic participation among other things:

Members of the General Assembly including Angela Bryant, Terry Van Duyn, Susan Fisher, and Rick Glazier will offer their support to NC Women United’s legislative priorities at an 11:00 a.m.  press conference in the legislative press room.

#4 – Incentives and economic development: Also at 11:00a.m. North Carolina Commerce Secretary John Skvarla will address the Senate Commerce Committee outlining his department’s agenda for the session.

You may recall Governor McCrory told the NC Chamber last month that his first legislative priority for this session is creating a new incentives fund.

Look for Senators to ask plenty of questions. A recent analysis by Raleigh’s News & Observer found the McCrory’s administration has nearly depleted the Jobs Development Investment Grants (JDIG) program with the bulk of the money going to projects in Mecklenburg and Wake counties.

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