Commentary, News

This week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. Budget bill fires State Board of Ed director, DPI staffers with ties to Atkinson

A N.C. General Assembly budget mandate to fire certain North Carolina public education officials would target Republican rivals’ allies and the top staffer in the State Board of Education, N.C. Policy Watch has learned.

Of the five filled positions set for termination within DPI—including an associate state superintendent, an education consultant, a business and technology analyst, a clinical research specialist and the agency’s director of external meetings and special projects—three are currently held by former campaign volunteers of Democratic ex-state Superintendent June Atkinson.
[Read more…]

2. The outrageous partisan payback continues: GOP absurdly targets Elaine Marshall for impeachment investigation

North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler and Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry could both be eligible for impeachment soon. At least, that’s the obvious conclusion one must draw from the laughably outrageous action taken yesterday afternoon by members of the Rules Committee of the North Carolina House.

In a strictly partisan vote, Republican members of the committee approved a resolution introduced just hours before “establishing a select committee to investigate, report findings, and, if warranted, file articles of impeachment regarding Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall.”
[Read more…]

3. The gloomy, blustery and vindictive session drawing to a close

As the 2017 General Assembly session draws to a close, reporters, pundits and partisans will all soon be putting their session wrap-ups together, reminding us all of what has happened in the last six months at the Legislative Building in Raleigh.

It would be a mistake to start the review in January when the session formally convened. This session really started a month before that, in December when Republicans adjourned a special session called for hurricane relief and immediately convened another one—with no notice or warning—to take power away from newly elected Governor Roy Cooper who would be sworn into office a few weeks later.  [Read more…]

***Bonus read: NC GOP leaders are now mimicking Trump
                

4. Politically-driven judicial redistricting halted…for the time being

North Carolina lawmakers’ latest attempt to insert politics into the judiciary was thwarted Tuesday but is expected to be taken up again the next time they gather in Raleigh. Legislators unveiled new prosecutorial and judicial district maps this week that would dramatically change the way district attorneys and judges are elected across the entire state. A committee meeting Monday set the stage for the measure to be pushed through the General Assembly by the end of this week and the expected end of the 2017 “long” session but it came to an abrupt halt Tuesday. [Read more…]

***Bonus read: Attorneys for Board of Ed, Superintendent clash over transfer of power

5. The end is nigh: Just 36 hours until controversial environmental bills meet their fate

If the environment could talk — come to think of it, she does, actually, through climate change — she would protest the myriad insults she has suffered in the legislature this session. As on the federal level, the environment has lost — or threatens to lose — most of its state battles: Budget cuts to the NC Department of Environmental Quality, an undermining of renewable energy, coal ash recycling requirements, the rights of citizens to contest environmental permits. The environment can celebrate only one major victory of this very long legislative session: the defeat of the billboard bill.

With thirty-six hours, give or take a few, until the final gavels drop, here is the status of key environmental bills: [Read more…]

***Bonus read: Windbreaker John Droz pleaded with GOP senators to kill H589; Senate to hear bill today

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