Commentary, News

The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. North Carolina voters give lawmakers tongue-lashing over new proposed legislative maps
North Carolina voters’ message to lawmakers Tuesday evening was clear: they’re unhappy with their representatives and they’re unhappy with the new proposed legislative maps.

Hundreds of speakers across the state attended public hearings to speak about the maps, which were released over the weekend as a remedy to correct unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.

Most of the people who spoke were disappointed that, according to demographic information released Monday, lawmakers appeared to trade in racial gerrymandering for partisan gerrymandering. [Read more…]

2. Lawmakers attempt to deflect blame, assail Cooper administration at special GenX hearing
On Wednesday afternoon, the legislature’s Environmental Review Commission looked to its legal staff, state environmental and health officials, and a UNC Wilmington scientist for answers to their questions about how GenX wound up contaminating the drinking water in three counties.

However, many of these same legislators failed to look at themselves.

And in doing so, they ignored the most recent history of budget cuts, their own anti-regulatory measures and the consequences of a “customer- and business-friendly” Department of Environmental Quality advanced under previous secretaries John Skvarla and Donald van Der Vaart.

In addition, they glossed over the fact that they, as lawmakers, could pass legislation to set standards or prohibit GenX in surface or drinking water. [Read more…]

3. One of the most important state Supreme Court cases in years
Justices will hear Cooper v. Berger and Moore next week and the stakes couldn’t be much higher

One of the most important matters to come before the North Carolina Supreme Court in a long time will be argued next Monday in Raleigh. At issue is nothing less than the basic structure of two vital North Carolina government agencies, the fairness of future elections and whether the state’s duly elected governor will be able to exercise the powers that voters thought they conferred upon him last November. As a practical matter, the case is also likely to have an enormous impact on the broader hard right policy agenda that state lawmakers have been aggressively inflicting upon the state since 2011.

The case in question is Cooper v. Berger and Moore – one of several challenges filed by Governor Roy Cooper and others against conservative legislative leaders as a result of their repeated efforts to limit his powers after his electoral victory last November. [Read more…]

4. Charlottesville presents lawmakers with clear choice between right and wrong
Every so often in our political discourse comes a moment that presents elected officials with a crystal clear choice between right and wrong, something that rises far above the usual partisan differences on education, taxes, or health care.

North Carolina now faces one of those moments in the wake of the march in Charlottesville by torch-carrying neo-Nazis and white supremacists chanting racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic slogans and the troubling reaction to the protest by the president of the United States.

The marchers were rallying around a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and the event has prompted protests around the county about the existence of similar confederate statues on public property, from university campuses to courthouses to town squares.

North Carolina has hundreds of the memorials and this is not the first time there has been debate about whether they should remain on public land, maintained and paid for by all North Carolinians. [Read more…]

5. The Confederate monuments controversy: What the law says; what historians say
Chapel Hill became the latest front in a battle over Confederate monuments Tuesday night, as hundreds gathered to protest the statue of ‘Silent Sam’ on the campus of the University of North Carolina.

The statue of a Confederate soldier, erected in 1913 as a tribute to UNC students who fought for the South during the Civil War, has drawn controversy for decades.

But in the wake of deadly violence at a white supremacist rally over the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, VA and the toppling of a Confederate monument in Durham last week, the push to remove the statue has taken on new urgency.

This week Gov. Roy Cooper joined a number of Democratic and Republican governors of southern states who called for Confederate monuments to be removed from state grounds.

“Some people cling to the belief that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights. But history is not on their side,” Cooper wrote in a statement on the issue. “We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery. These monuments should come down.” [Read more…]

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