Defending Democracy, News

The week’s Top Stories on Policy Watch

1. Pat McCrory, at last, makes a stand

North Carolina made history again Monday, the not-so-bad kind.

If you were in earshot of Raleigh Monday, you might have heard: The state’s five living former governors—two Republicans, three Democrats: Jim Martin, Jim Hunt, Mike Easley, Bev Perdue and, strangest of all, Pat McCrory—gathered to denounce a pair of blatant legislative power grabs masquerading as constitutional amendments.

The legislature, in its depressingly partisan march to the ballot box, has finally evoked a moment of bipartisanship from our former governors.

It was a remarkable scene, one appropriately assembled to combat remarkable affronts from the General Assembly. I can’t imagine these five sharing lunch, much less a brawl with the state legislature over two constitutional amendments that both deserve a swift defeat.[Read more…]

2. Meaningless or dangerous? Hunting and fishing constitutional amendment raises huge questions

The highest profile public policy debate in North Carolina in the summer of 2018 revolves around the controversial decision of state legislative leaders to place a package of six constitutional amendments on the November ballot. Just yesterday, all five living former governors of the state held an extraordinary press conference in which they decried two of the amendments as egregious and deceptively labeled power grabs that would fundamentally alter the balance of power in the state for the worse.

Two other amendments in the package have been rightfully blasted for the destructive impact they would have on the fairness and adequacy of funding for core state services (the proposed income tax cap) and the right of hundreds of thousands of residents to vote (the voter ID amendment).

One of the six amendments to receive comparatively less attention in recent weeks, however, is the proposal to establish a constitutional right “to use traditional methods, to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.” While many critics have derided the proposal as a blatant attempt to spur voter turnout this fall amongst conservative rural voters, substantive criticism of the amendment has been largely muted, with many critics simply arguing that the amendment is silly and unnecessary because it wouldn’t really change anything.[Read more…]

3. EPA officials get an earful at GenX hearing in Fayetteville

For the first 50-odd years of his life Rusty Goins was healthy and hale, a strapping man who never smoked or drank. Then shortly before last Christmas, he began bleeding.

Several days later, when Goins woke up from surgery, he told EPA officials, the doctor had removed 30 inches of his colon and 18 lymph nodes. His right kidney, double its normal size, “was eaten up by cancer,” he said.

Now his body has been whittled away by nine months of “the most excruciating chemotherapy,” Goins said, weeping as he described the treatment’s side effects, which blistered his mouth and corroded the skin from his hands. He now uses a cane to walk.

Hour after hour. Witness after witness. From 10 in the morning until 8 at night, the EPA hosted a community engagement forum on the crisis of fluorinated compounds, such as GenX, PFAS and PFOS, that are contaminating the nation’s air, drinking water and food supply.[Read more…]

4. Anglin, Edwards can keep their party labels
Wake County judge rejects legislature’s last-minute rule change on candidate party affiliation

Legislators cannot reach back in time and change the rules of an election after the fact, a Wake County Superior Court judge ruled Monday.

Judge Rebecca Holt issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement from printing any election ballots that do not reflect judicial candidates Chris Anglin’s and Rebecca Edwards’ chosen party affiliations.

Anglin is a candidate for the state Supreme Court who changed his affiliation from Democratic to Republican before he filed to challenge Republican incumbent Barbara Jackson and Democratic candidate Anita Earls. Edwards is a candidate for a Wake County District Court seat and changed her Republican affiliation to Democratic before she filed. [Read more…]

Bonus read:

5. ICE on campus? UNC reps mum, faculty concerned re: email warnings

The emails began going out at the University of North Carolina earlier this summer: Warnings that federal and state agents might be visiting campus to ask questions about immigration, export control, compliance with applicable laws and national security issues.

“I had a briefing today on Guidelines for Handling Information Requests from Federal Agents,” Dr. David Rubinow, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, wrote to his colleagues in the department.

“Apparently, visits to University work areas are now occurring,” Rubinow wrote, though he said he wasn’t aware of any impending visits to the Psychiatry Department.

Faculty and staff should contact their department heads, the University Counsel or the University Police if they are approached, Rubinow said in the email.[Read more…]

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