Commentary, News

This week’s top five on NC Policy Watch

1. Chemours discharging other chemicals besides GenX in Cape Fear River; EPA releases data to DEQ today

As the House was winding down its debate on controversial legislation regarding GenX funding, federal and state environmental officials publicly released disturbing new data about other chemicals from the Chemours plant entering the Cape Fear River and downstream drinking water supplies. The findings indicate the the company, a spinoff of DuPont, has not been forthcoming about the various chemical compounds it is discharging into the river.

A preliminary analysis conducted by the EPA in Research Triangle Park showed that concentrations of two compounds — PFESAs or Nafion byproducts, for short — have not decreased since Chemours stopped discharging GenX into the river in Fayetteville. [Read more…]

***Bonus read: The hypocrisy of House Bill 56, the junk drawer of environmental laws

2. State Historical Commission members stake out divergent positions in Confederate monuments controversy ahead of September meeting

When the North Carolina Historical Commission meets on September 22 to take up the controversy over Confederate monuments on state property, Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson will bring a unique perspective to the debate.

Johnson is the Mott Distinguished Professor of Women’s Studies and Director of Africana Women’s Studies at Greensboro’s Bennett College and chair of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission. [Read more…]

3. Process at the General Assembly sinks to a new and remarkable low: House overrides Governor’s veto of consumer lending bill based on lawmaker’s incorrect description of what it would do

The notion that elected officials often debate and even enact new laws based on a faulty understanding of what they are discussing and/or voting on is, of course, nothing particularly new. With access to sufficiently detailed archaeological records, it seems a safe bet that one could find many an instance of ancient Roman senators voting one way or another on important proposals based on their utterly inaccurate understanding of the facts. Moreover, in 2017, Donald Trump has taken fact avoidance in law and policymaking to new and previously unimagined levels – at least with respect to acts of the world’s greatest democracy.

Still, when it comes to acts of properly constituted legislative bodies in the modern day United States, most Americans have come, rightfully, to expect some basic level of truthfulness and accuracy in the explanations and discussions of new laws that are enacted. [Read more…]

4. State Board of Ed chair laments legislature’s latest round of “difficult” cuts to DPI

“It looks like we haven’t communicated as well as we should.”

Bill Cobey, chairman of the State Board of Education, is perhaps a week away from voting through a second round of cuts for North Carolina’s top public school agency, part of about $3.2 million in funding reductions approved by state lawmakers this year.

Since 2009, the agency has weathered more than $22 million in legislative cutbacks, much of it sped by GOP lawmakers who argue the K-12 bureaucracy is wasteful or lacks accountability. Today, Cobey—a Republican appointed by former Gov. Pat McCrory in 2013—sounds particularly tired of talking about it.  [Read more…]

5. As new school year commences, shortage of basic supplies demonstrates legislature’s failure to invest

This week marks the beginning of the school year for most of North Carolina’s 1.5 million public school students. It’s an exciting time of year for students, parents, and educators, alike, as everyone considers the vast potential for the year ahead. Undoubtedly, this will be a great year for many students. But far too many North Carolina students still face barriers to reaching their full potential due to the General Assembly’s continuing failure to adequately fund our public schools. [Read more…]

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