Commentary, News

The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. GOP pulling out all the stops to maintain its unconstitutionally elected majority

Legislative leaders are scrambling for their political lives after the conservative U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the legislative districts they drew to lock in the power they gained in the 2010 election were unconstitutional because they were racially gerrymandered.

They are desperately trying to avoid two things that could put their supermajority control of the House and Senate in jeopardy, holding a special election in 2017 and/or having the federal courts draw the districts themselves instead of letting lawmakers try again to manipulate the maps to extend their hold on power.

There is not much doubt about what would happen if voters went to the polls this year. President Trump is historically unpopular at this point in his presidency with only 36 percent of Americans approving of the job he is doing while 60 percent disapprove. [Read more…]

2. A plea to responsible North Carolina gun defenders
Please, please, please ask your hardcore allies to calm down

As anyone paying attention to policy debates in North Carolina in recent days is well aware, the age-old battle over guns and gun violence is front and center right now. Thanks to a proposal narrowly approved by the state House of Representatives last week, North Carolina is a step closer to deregulating the carrying of concealed weapons.

A practice that leaves millions of people feeling queasy (even when it’s closely regulated through mandatory registration and training laws) could soon be, for all practical purposes, a complete free-for-all. Under the proposed bill, 18 year old children whose brains, science confirms, are far from fully developed, could soon be completely within their rights to pack loaded handguns in their sweatshirt pockets without any training or oversight whatsoever – even as they are denied the right to lawfully purchase beer (and cigarettes in several states and cities).

Not surprisingly, the latest debate has raised temperature levels for many of those who have felt compelled to participate. [Read more...]

Bonus read:

3. Senate passes leachate aerosolization  (i.e. “garbage juice”) bill; now heads to Gov. Cooper

During her political career, Sen. Trudy Wade, a Guilford County Republican, has often heeded the beck and call of the solid waste industry. She has sponsored bills to relax protective buffers between landfills and wildlife refuges, to allow garbage trucks to be only “leak-resistant” rather than leak-proof, and to discontinue electronics recycling.

This afternoon, Wade again came to the defense of the garbage business, this time cheerleading on the Senate floor for House Bill 576. Sponsored in the House by Rep. Jimmy Dixon, the Allow Aerosolization of Leachate bill would allow waste companies and municipalities to spray leachate — essentially juice that has percolated from the garbage into tanks — over the surface of a landfill.

There are several problems with this bill, one being that DEQ is forced to allow the technology to be used as long as certain basic siting requirements are in place. [Read more…]

Bonus environmental reads:

4. Three-judge panel denies Gov. Cooper’s request to halt elections, ethics merger pending appeal

A three-judge panel has denied Gov. Roy Cooper’s request to halt a law that merges the State Board of Elections and State Ethics Commission pending his appeal.

The panel dismissed Cooper’s second lawsuit over the law about two weeks ago. He filed a notice of appeal on June 6 and a request to stay the merge pending that appeal.

The judges’ order denying his request does not state a reason, only that they reviewed case documents and other matters of record before coming to their conclusion. [Read more…]

Bonus read:

5. Draft policing reforms for Wake schools come up short say children’s advocates

A draft agreement that sets campus police policy in North Carolina’s largest school system has yet to be publicly released, but the much anticipated document is already fetching criticism from youth justice advocates.

That comes with school board members in the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) expected to hold a June 20 vote on a revised “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) with 11 local law enforcement agencies that, based on a draft obtained by Policy Watch this week, includes limited changes to district policies and eschews many of the broad calls for reforms from community advocates.

Wake County’s campus police rules have been under scrutiny since a 2014 federal complaint alleged inappropriate referrals to school resource officers (SROs) for black students and students with disabilities, although interest spiked again this year after a videotaped altercation between a SRO and a teenage girl at Rolesville High went viral in January. [Read more…]

*** Upcoming event on Tuesday, June 20: NC Policy Watch presents a special Crucial Conversation luncheon. The crises surrounding the Trump presidency:  A conversation with nationally acclaimed scholar, author and commentator Neil Siegel. Learn more and register today.

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