Commentary, Environment, News

The week’s top stories on NC Policy Watch

1. North Carolina’s full-time part-time legislature

The North Carolina General Assembly adjourned its 2019 legislative session last week.

Sort of.

Lawmakers did head home, but unlike in years gone by when the end of the so-called legislative “long session” inaugurated a break that typically stretched to the following spring, the honorables have already announced that they will return next Wednesday, November 13, with a plan to take up redistricting legislation and, essentially, anything else that captures their fancy.

At the conclusion of that indeterminate gathering, they plan to return yet again in January for another session devoted to whatever matters suit the political needs of Senate and House Republican leaders.[Read more…]

Bonus read: Governor vetoes four bills, calls on legislators to stop shortchanging educators on pay

2. North Carolina lawmakers begin drawing new election maps…again

North Carolina lawmakers are drawing electoral maps for the second time this year – this time, they are tackling congressional districts.

A court ruled last week that the plaintiffs in a partisan gerrymandering lawsuit challenging the 2016 congressional map are likely to prevail on the merits of their case and enjoined lawmakers from moving forward with those districts in the 2020 election.

Lawmakers already redrew legislative districts because the court ruled in Common Cause v. Lewis that Republicans had an unconstitutionally unfair advantage that diluted Democratic votes. Appellate litigation is still pending in that case. [Read more…]

3. PW exclusive: Proposal for massive Caswell County granite mine fires up locals

Mine would cover 426 acres to depths as great as 550 feet, impact groundwater and, possibly, nearby drinking water sources

On the morning of Halloween, Randy Hester shifted the gears of his rugged pickup truck into four-wheel drive and headed down a knobby hill toward Roxboro Lake. Hester’s 200-acre farm, which abuts the shoreline, has been in his family for 10 generations, and he knows every fold and pleat in the landscape.

He stopped the truck, scaled a gate, traipsed through loose understory, and tiptoed across the muddy roof of a beaver lodge to the edge of the lake. Tornadoes were in the forecast. Already 80 degrees, the air near the ground felt as hot and thick as fondue. [Read more…]

4. Lawyer who obtained security video of ECU interim chancellor claimed to be working for legislative leaders

Peter Romary worked for UNC board member Tom Fetzer, but claimed connections to Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore

A Greenville lawyer claimed he was working with members of the UNC Board of Governors and leaders of the North Carolina legislature when trying to obtain video that led to the resignation of former Interim ECU Chancellor Dan Gerlach.

Emails and text messages released this week show attorney Peter Romary and UNC Board of Governors member Tom Fetzer applying pressure and referencing powerful state lawmakers in an independent investigation of the ECU chancellor. They kept this work hidden from the full board of governors, UNC System President Bill Roper and the international law firm the system had hired to officially investigate the matter.[Read more…]

Bonus read: UNC System releases documents detailing Gerlach investigation

5. State Board of Ed receives hopeful report of progress in slowing NC’s school-to-prison pipeline

GREENSBORO – A Pender County graduate almost missed an opportunity to pursue his dream job because he got into a fight while in high school at age 15.

New Hanover County Chief District Court Judge J.H. Corpening told the State Board of Education (SBE) on Wednesday that the young man dreamed of joining the U.S. Air Force to pursue a career in military intelligence.

But when he self-reported to a recruiter that he was charged in the school incident and sent to Teen Court, where the case was dismissed, Corpening said the recruiter told the young man he no longer qualified for the selective intelligence Military Occupational Specialty, commonly referred to as an “MOS.” [Read more…]

6. Weekly Radio Interviews and Micro-podcasts:

Click here to listen to this week’s newsmaker interviews and commentaries with Policy Watch’s Rob Schofield.

7. Weekly Editorial Cartoon:

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