Commentary, News

This week’s top five on NC Policy Watch

hb2-after-nov1. The courts or the legislature? The future of HB2 beyond November

With less than two weeks before the Nov. 8 election, North Carolina House Bill 2 continues to be a contentious rallying point for the political left and right.

But what is the future of the controversial law beyond election season? Is repeal possible, or would a definitive federal ruling on the law be preferable? [Continue reading…]

mccrory-coal-ash2. Gov. Pat McCrory’s trouble with coal ash

The latest revelations in court depositions about Gov. Pat McCrory’s role in weakening warnings about the safety of drinking water near leaking coal ash pits have prompted news headlines about a war of words.

But the sworn testimony in the case obtained recently by Lisa Sorg with NC Policy Watch does not reveal a disagreement between the McCrory administration and environmental groups or partisan opponents. [Continue reading…]

riparian-lands3. Hands off our buffers: Local governments to plead case before the state

Invisible to many people outside of city planners and wildlife biologists, stream buffers are the unsung heroes of the environment.

They control flooding and drainage. They protect stream banks from erosion. They remove pollutants from runoff and provide homes for wildlife. For example, in Carrboro in 2010, a new aquatic species, never before identified, was found in a small seep that had been protected by a buffer.

When planted with trees, buffers help keep streams cool, which is essential for many species of fish. And as a respite from cold concrete and hot asphalt, they’re pleasant for people, too. [Continue reading…]

immigrant-defendant4. Unusual NC Supreme Court action has significant impact on immigrants in legal system

Archie Nkiam was 22, going to school full-time for electrical engineering and working two jobs when he got caught up in the Wake County criminal justice system.

To his public defender, he was just an average kid who got carried away with the wrong crowd; book smart but not very street savvy.

Deonte Thomas worked hard for Nkiam, just like he would for any of his defendants, to get the best deal he could under the circumstances, and it seemed like he did: probation without jail time for charges of aiding and abetting common law robbery and conspiracy to commit common law robbery.

What Thomas didn’t know until the 11th hour was that Nkiam was not a U.S. Citizen, and his family had narrowly escaped political persecution in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [Continue reading…]

administrator-pay 5. Ranked 49th in principal pay, lawmakers who haven’t funded raises consider tossing out salary schedule

School administrator pay in North Carolina is dismal, says Frank Till Jr., superintendent of Cumberland County Schools, but a new legislative call to alleviate the problem by completely nixing the state’s principal salary scale could be disastrous.

“Without a salary schedule, it means we’d have to negotiate every single principal’s salary,” complains Till. “It would lead to inequities. You would open yourself up to a variety of things.”

That includes, according to Till and other critics, yawning pay gaps between rich and poor counties and uncertainty for school district leaders now tasked with negotiating scores of contracts with essential administration, critics say. [Continue reading…]

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