Commentary, News

This week’s top stories on NC Policy Watch

1. PW special report: News and commentary on surprise NC House veto override vote

NC House overrides budget veto in surprise vote (Updated)

In a surprise move that Democratic members loudly decried as treachery, the North Carolina House of Representatives voted 55-9 this morning to override Gov. Cooper’s veto of the state budget bill passed in June…
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The day faith in the N.C. General Assembly’s Republican leadership bottomed out (Video)

We will remember a lot of things about this day.

We’ll remember how North Carolina’s Democratic state House representation — a large majority of which was missing Wednesday morning, some attending 9/11 memorials — finally disintegrated in fury when Republicans held a stunning vote to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto…
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Governor, lawmakers slam “bald faced lie” that led to override vote (Video)

Responding to a surprise N.C. House vote to override his budget veto, Gov. Roy Cooper excoriated legislative Republicans for using what he called a “bald faced lie” to break a legislative stalemate that has dragged on since June…

[Read more…]

**Bonus read: Editorials blast latest GOP power play

2. PW special update: Lawmakers commence court-ordered redistricting process

The North Carolina General Assembly is embarking on a historically transparent redistricting process without the use of partisan election data, but it’s been slow-going and not without snags.

Lawmakers were ordered by a court to redraw House and Senate districts after a three-judge panel found they used unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering to harm Democrats when they created the 2017 legislative maps.

Redistricting committees from both chambers met for the first time Monday. Lawmakers mostly agreed to use baseline maps from Jowei Chen, an expert for the plaintiffs in Common Cause v. Lewis, the litigation dictating the process. [Read more]

**BONUS READ: Court-ordered redistricting moving full steam ahead

3. Environmental Management Commission approves new compost rules; PW investigation spurs regulators

State environmental regulators will have the power to require most composting facilities to test for emerging contaminants, including perfluorinated compounds (PFAS) and 1,4-Dioxane, according to new rules approved today.

The Environmental Management Commission this morning voted to amend and readopt state rules over the 50 composters regulated by the Division of Waste Management….

The changes were prompted by a Policy Watch investigation published in April that revealed high levels of 1,4-Dioxane in wastewater sludge entering the McGill composting facility in Sampson County. [Read more...]

4. After deflating charter school report, NC must confront the failures of school choice

Surrounded by the labyrinthine performance metrics of North Carolina’s charter school sector, Comment 12, a Pepto Bismol-colored side note to a 2016 report for the North Carolina legislature, is easy to overlook.

The report dryly notes that, while charters may be more likely to earn an “A” than traditional schools, they’re more likely to earn an “F” as well, fitting for a K-12 movement often argued in the extremes.

But Comment 12, the cherry on top, a marvel of perhaps unintentional wryness, adds this revealing postscript:

“This explanation has been edited, per (Charter School Advisory Board) suggestion, to accentuate the positive; the content of the explanation has not changed since the prior draft.” [Read more]

5. A tale of two schools: One, taken over by the state, struggles. Another, controlled by locals, rebounds.

A few short years ago, Lakewood Elementary School in Durham was a low-performing school where only one in four students was proficient in reading.

The school’s poor performance landed it on a shortlist for potential takeover by the state’s new Innovative School District (ISD) – a controversial initiative created by lawmakers in 2016 that could allow private operators to seize control of consistently low-performing public schools.

Lakewood and Glenn Elementary School, also in Durham, were among six finalists the state considered in 2017.

But ISD leaders underestimated the vigor with which Durham education and community leaders would push back. [Read more]

6. Gerrymandering in NC: Not dead yet

Nomination of longtime conservative financier and partisan as possible referee makes clear that GOP is still resisting real change

There has been a great deal of understandable celebrating in recent days in the aftermath of the September 3rd ruling by a bipartisan panel of Superior Court judges that struck down North Carolina’s state legislative maps as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.

Across the state and nation, good government and civil rights advocates have welcomed the decision as a bellwether victory. [Read more]

7. DuPont tested Fayetteville workers’ blood, found elevated levels of PFAS

Congressional testimony on PFAS and accountability by DuPont, Chemours and 3M was damning

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Florida, glared with the intensity of a welder’s torch at top officials from three chemical titans — DuPont, Chemours and 3M — seated at a table in a congressional hearing room.

For more than two and a half hours on Tuesday, Wasserman Schultz and many of her colleagues on the House Oversight and Reform Committee grilled and castigated company officials over their refusal to accept responsibility for the widespread contamination of drinking water by perfluorinated compounds.
[Read more]

8. Policy Watch podcasts:

Click here for the latest commentaries and newsmaker interviews with Rob Schofield

 

9. Editorial cartoon:

 

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