The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1.Trump’s most dangerous action thus far
For Americans serious about resistance, this is a fight to join

Thirty years ago, filmmaker James Brooks wrote and directed a biting, prophetic and painfully funny takedown of American television journalism called Broadcast News. In one of the better moments in the movie, a frustrated news producer played by Albert Brooks expressed his dismay to a colleague (played by Holly Hunter) about the rise of a vacuous, but attractive and popular news anchor (William Hurt):

“…please don’t get me wrong when I tell you that Tom, while being a very nice guy, is the Devil….What do you think the Devil is going to look like if he’s around?…Come on! Nobody is going to be taken in by a guy with a long, red, pointy tail! What’s he gonna sound like?…No. I’m semi-serious here. He will be attractive! He’ll be nice and helpful. He’ll get a job where he influences a great God-fearing nation. He’ll never do an evil thing! He’ll never deliberately hurt a living thing… he will just bit by little bit lower our standards where they are important.” [Read more…]

2. An in-depth look at N.C. lawmakers’ attempt to shrink the Court of Appeals

Each of the 15 North Carolina Court of Appeals judges writes on average about 100 opinions per year.

When former Judge Linda Stephens used to explain the court’s workload to students, she’d often compare opinions to term papers.

“But that’s a lot more than a term paper,” she said in a phone interview this week.

Appellate court opinions include a summary of the facts in a case, a recitation of applicable law, a breakdown of how that law relates to the facts of the case, an explanation that supports the judges’ decision in the case and a formal judgment.

Opinions are work and time intensive, and they’re not the only part of an appellate judge’s job.[Read more…]

3. The Senate’s Regulatory Reform measure could harm waterway, but help the bill sponsor

Just three paragraphs in the Senate’s Regulatory Reform bill could not only weaken the health of North Carolina’s waterways, but also increase the likelihood of devastating floods and mudslides.

As written, this portion of Senate Bill 131 could benefit not only the entire development industry, but one of the bill’s primary sponsors, Sen. Andy Wells. A Republican, Wells represents Alexander and Catawba counties.  He is the managing partner of Prism Companies, a “full-service” real estate company that includes development, brokerage, property management and investment services in the Hickory area.

Many of its current projects are near waterways. For example, Prism is selling 96 acres off Sand Pit Road near Hickory. The company’s website advertises the recreational/residential land as having a “quarter-mile bordering the Jacobs For River and six-tenths of a mile of creek frontage.”

Prism is selling another 46 acres with the amenity of 800 feet of creek.

Wells did not respond to an email seeking comment. NCPW also left a message in-person at his legislative office.[Read more…]

4. Cooper’s measured remarks and Berger’s bluster set the stage in Raleigh

Two different visions for North Carolina were prominently on display this week in Raleigh, both in terms of policy and also in tone, how political leaders work together and how they behave when they disagree.

The occasion was the first State of the State address from Governor Roy Cooper to the General Assembly. Cooper talked about raising teacher pay, making more investments in early childhood programs, reforming the criminal justice reform, and creating jobs.

It was the traditional mainstream and moderate Democratic message, with frequent calls for bipartisan cooperation with the Republican leadership of the legislature.

Cooper used the phrase “common ground” 13 times in his remarks that were interrupted frequently by applause and not just by Democratic legislators. Republicans clapped several times too.

Even when it came to the most divisive issue facing the state, the controversial anti-LGBTQ law HB2, Cooper’s words were measured.  He correctly called the law a dark cloud hanging over the state, but said he was willing to sign compromise legislation to repeal it. [Read more…]

5. House committee advances legislative crackdown on undocumented immigrants

A North Carolina House bill targeting undocumented immigrants charged with crimes, those who make or supply fake IDs and so-called “sanctuary cities” moved closer to becoming law Tuesday.

N.C. House Bill 63 was approved by the House Judiciary II Committee, clearing its first major legislative hurdle.

The final vote was 6-5, reflecting the controversy that has surrounded the bill since it was filed in early February. Tuesday was the third time the Judiciary committee has taken up the bill. Each time experts on immigration law and civil liberties advocates argued against the bill, which also faced scrutiny from both Democratic and Republican members of the committee.

More than a dozen members of the public came to speak again at Tuesday’s meeting but were not allowed. Rep. John Blust (R-Guilford), the committee’s chairman, said enough public comment had been allowed at previous meetings.

On Tuesday several Democrats on the committee reiterated fears that the bill could be unconstitutional. It treats undocumented people differently than other people charged with crimes, they said – and creates a “rebuttable presumption” against releasing them on bail. [Read more…]

***Upcoming: Next week, NC Policy Watch presents a special Crucial Conversation luncheon:

An expert panel discusses the state of North Carolina’s infamous discrimination law on its one-year anniversary

Click here to register

Amazingly, Thursday, March 23 marks the one-year anniversary of HB2 – the LGBTQ discrimination law that will forever be known by the name it received during a special one-day kangaroo session of the General Assembly. [Read more]

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