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This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

WB-SNAP-10061. Cutting off food assistance to the poor? Really??
Governor McCrory will decide whether unemployed in hard hit counties should be denied $30 per week in federal food assistance

There have been a lot of cold and heartless acts committed by North Carolina political leaders in recent years that were directed against people in need. The decision to tear down the state’s middle-of-the-pack unemployment insurance system and the ongoing refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act stand out, of course. The former imposed what were likely the biggest cuts in unemployment insurance in U.S. history and the latter literally causes scores of premature deaths each month in North Carolina amongst the hundreds of thousands who remain uninsured.

But when it comes down to just the plain old spiteful and contemptuous treatment of one’s fellow human beings, it will be tough to outdo the eleventh hour legislation rammed through during the final days of the 2015 session to cut off food assistance to 100,000 or more down-on-their-luck people. [Continue reading…]

Bonus video: One of the most “spiteful and contemptuous” bills sitting on the Governor’s desk

ff-pilot10072. Beware of ideologues touting pilot programs

Pilot programs are nothing new in the state policy world and they often are a result of a compromise when sweeping new proposals run into stiff opposition. In theory they make sense.

Try something new in a limited area or limited number or for a limited amount of time and then evaluate the results. It sounds logical enough.

But not for the folks currently running the General Assembly. They seem to have a different definition of pilot programs, seeing them not as a way to try something new and then evaluate it, but as a strategy to launch ideologically based policies that they then expand before any meaningful evaluation of them is possible, sometimes even before the alleged pilot has begun. [Continue reading…]

Aye_No3. After the whirlwind: A preliminary damage report on the 2015 legislative session

The senators and representatives who make up North Carolina’s General Assembly let their 2015 session run on far longer than it should have. Let’s be glad that the curtain has come down. There’s been enough damage.

But as if our illustrious lawmakers wanted to give us the worst of both worlds, the session’s climactic phase featured a chaotic stagger toward the finish line that allowed major bills to be ramrodded through in a helter-skelter process that made a mockery of sober decision-making.

In other cases significant proposals were simply pushed aside (sometimes, it’s true, for the better). A session that began in late January ended with a 4 a.m. adjournment on Sept. 30 and legislators reeling with exhaustion. They’d had enough. [Continue reading…]

MR10064. New report: Child care often more expensive than rent, college tuition

Skyrocketing costs, lack of public investments leave thousands of families in an impossible situation

As families increasingly rely on both parents to work in order to make ends meet, child care is ever more important for promoting healthy children. Yet costs for child care services are skyrocketing, placing this important service out of reach for many families.

A new report from the Washington, DC-based Economic Policy Institute (EPI), “High Quality Child Care Is Out of Reach for Working Families,” highlights some startling new data on the high cost of child care throughout the country and identifies the difficulties that families have in meeting these costs. North Carolinians are among those who are hard hit.  [Continue reading…]

Fracking-10-08-155. More evidence of the problem with the way the legislature moves

Conventional wisdom about the General Assembly holds that nobody outside of Raleigh pays much attention to how the legislature works, what provision is snuck into what unrelated bill in the middle of the night and what secret clause is hidden in the budget to favor a well-connected special interest.

But that conventional wisdom is increasingly wrong. Just ask local officials in Stokes, Lee, Chatham and Anson Counties who found out recently that the so-called technical corrections bill passed in the waning hours of the legislative session included a provision to prevent local governments from restricting or regulating fracking in their own communities.

Stokes County Commissioners recently approved a three-year moratorium on fracking to allow local officials to make sure land use regulations were in place if fracking ever comes to the county.

Lee County Commissioners are considering a similar moratorium and commissioners in Anson and Chatham counties have also approved fracking restrictions. [Continue reading…]

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