Commentary, News

The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. Company that benefited from secret budget provision refuses to disclose chemicals it proposes to introduce into Triangle’s Jordan Lake

The SePro Corporation is receiving as much as $1.3 million in taxpayer money to chemically kill the algae in Jordan Lake, but the company is keeping key details of its proposal — including a full ingredient list of the products and the amounts to be released — secret from the public.

The proposed chemical treatment of a drinking water source for 300,000 people is yet another questionable technique backed by some lawmakers and business interests, who have been reluctant to instead enforce rules limiting development in the Jordan Lake watershed.

SePro’s proposals were marked “confidential,” but Policy Watch obtained them under the state’s public records law. However, more than half of the eight-page document had been redacted by SePro, under a state statute allowing companies to refuse to divulge material they deem as proprietary or a trade secret. [Read more…]

2. The scandalous special sessions that subvert our democracy

The General Assembly will convene a special session next week but most people in North Carolina, including the vast majority of the members of House and Senate, have no idea what legislation they will consider while they are in town.

Last week lawmakers met in a one-day special session supposedly to consider overriding a series of vetoes by Governor Roy Cooper. That was the stated purpose anyway.

But a number of lawmakers didn’t make the session so votes on the vetoes were delayed and instead the House and Senate considered a series of bills, including one that would make it far more difficult to enact new environmental or workplace safety regulations no matter how desperately they are needed. [Read more…]

3. Republicans and Democrats disagree on a lot at redistricting criteria meeting

Less than a month after publicly stating that he “sincerely” hoped Democrats would engage in the redistricting process, Rep. David Lewis kiboshed all of the minority party’s suggestions for map-making criteria Thursday.

Democratic Senators and Representatives offered several amendments throughout Thursday’s meeting to adopt criteria submitted by Republican committee chairs. None of their amendments were adopted, despite many reflecting the public comments from last week.

House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson said after the meeting that he didn’t feel like his party has been part of the process at all, not only in voting but also in the presentation of the criteria.

“The Democratic criteria were submitted in advance of today’s date, so that they were prepared, whereas we were handed theirs this morning,” he said, adding that they did get to caucus but didn’t have time to prepare beyond that. “I think if you want people to be included, you don’t wait til the last minute.” [Read more…]

*** Bonus video: Republicans reject the consideration of race in redrawing legislative maps

4. The fight for democracy gains momentum
Despite lawmakers’ latest big stall, redistricting reformers are on the offensive

“The dog ate my homework.” If you thought this old cliché of an excuse lost all currency in the world after about the fourth grade and/or when students start turning in their assignments online, think again. Unfortunately, the phrase also pretty much sums up the position of North Carolina Republican legislative leaders as they do everything they can think of to delay the process of redrawing the legislative district maps that a three-judge federal panel struck down as unconstitutional because of their “surgical precision” in discriminating against African-American voters.

That’s because the legislators’ excuse for their ongoing failure to draw lawful maps in the face of repeated findings that they have failed to do so and directives to get to work boils down to what one major North Carolina newspaper labeled yesterday as “pitiful stall tactics.” As Chris Fitzsimon observed in last week’s “Monday Numbers” column, the magnitude of the stall is pretty startling: [Read more…]

5. Hotly contested local races set to take the political stage in NC

Across the state, this year’s historically crowded municipal elections have drawn new types of candidates.

Young candidates. First time candidates. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates.

And, importantly, many more non-white candidates.

In each of North Carolina’s three largest cities – Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh – white female mayors are facing minority challengers.

That does not mean the races are all of one stripe.

In Charlotte, where the mayoral race is on track to be the most expensive in history, Mayor Jennifer Roberts faces two very different black challengers – both Democrats, like Roberts. [Read more…]

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The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

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