immigration, News

Tillis weighs in on Trump policy of separating immigrant children from parents at the border

North Carolina U.S. Senator Thom Tillis took to Twitter to state his disapproval of the controversial practice of separating immigrant children from their families at the border.

Under mounting pressure, Tillis urged Congress to adopt an immigration reform policy that would be compassionate to children, but also discourage illegal border crossings.

Tillis’ three tweets were met with numerous calls for him to go a step further and co-sign the Keep Families Together Act.

SB 3036 has been signed by every Senate Democrat, and (as of this writing) yet to attract any Republican Senators.

Here are just a few of the responses Sen. Tillis received from his constituents on social media:

North Carolina Senator Richard Burr has yet to issue a public statement on the ‘zero tolerance’ policy.

Learn more about the Keep Families Together Act.

Defending Democracy, News

Democracy NC: Why North Carolinians should be wary of the legislature’s vague new voter ID proposal

If you missed it over the weekend, be sure to listen to NC Policy Watch’s radio interview with Democracy NC Executive Director Tomas Lopez on the legislature’s plan to pass a voter ID constitutional amendment before adjourning. Lopez explains how this voter ID proposal is different and perhaps more worrisome than what lawmakers put forth in 2013. Click below to listen to the full interview with Lopez and Policy Watch’s Rob Schofield:


Commentary, News

The Week’s Top Stories on NC Policy Watch

1. Conservative leaders go with corporate power over human wellbeing (and even property rights)

It usually happens a few times every legislative session: at some point during their annual stay in the state capital, North Carolina lawmakers come to a bellwether moment or two at which they provide a full expression of who they are and what they stand for. Sometimes, these moments are about race; sometimes they are about human rights or civil liberties; sometimes they are about basic questions of environmental sustainability; and sometimes they are about the clash of human beings and corporations.

Recently, we arrived at one such moment that arguably relates to all four categories. It happened when lobbyists for one of the state’s most powerful and frequently destructive industries prevailed upon conservative leaders in the state Senate to insert some significant new law changes into a previously innocuous bill. The changes would alter the relationship between industrial hog factories (“farms” seems much too genteel of a term to describe these massive and grim operations) and the mostly powerless people of limited means (many of them people of color) who tend to live nearby.

As Policy Watch environmental reporter Lisa Sorg has reported here, here and here, legislators are seeking to make it much more difficult for individuals and families injured by the overpowering and life-degrading output of these massive, corporate-controlled operations – the stench, the airborne fecal matter, the insect swarms, the buzzards, the truckloads of hog carcasses – to bring common law nuisance suits against the multinational corporations that control them. The action is in direct response to a series of lawsuits brought against the pork giant, Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of the Chinese corporate behemoth known as the WH Group. [Read more…]

***Bonus:  WATCH: Republican legislator chide colleagues on rushed process, legislation to protect “one giant corporation” (video)

2. Early voting bill stirs controversy among watchdogs, Board of Elections

3. GOP leaders seek to poison school safety bill with partisan attack on the Affordable Care Act

4. Allegations of sexism, partisanship follow local election board’s disqualification of Berger challenger

5. Landowners along potential MVP Southgate path fighting unwanted land agents still waiting for attorney general to intervene

6. PW exclusive: Previously undisclosed fiscal note says victims’ rights constitutional amendment could cost state millions

7. N.C. State’s hyped voucher study tells us nothing about N.C.’s voucher program

agriculture, Environment

WATCH: Republican legislator chide colleagues on rushed process, legislation to protect “one giant corporation” (video)

If you missed it with this week’s marathon sessions at the General Assembly, be sure to take 14 minutes this weekend to listen to Rep. John Blust repeatedly challenge his colleagues on the House floor for their efforts to rush through the controversial Farm Act.

(As Policy Watch’s Lisa Sorg has reported SB 711 would all but erase the rights of neighbors of industrialized hog farms to sue for nuisance. The bill follows a $50 million dollar verdict in April in which Smithfield Foods lost a high profile nuisance suit to several Bladen County families.)

Rep. Blust, a Guilford County Republican, blasted legislative leaders for fast tracking the bill in response to an April court ruling, and then refusing to allow any amendments to be considered.

“We’re the people’s house and the people’s legislature, and we ought to do business in a deliberative fashion that befits the trust that’s been bestowed on us by the people.”

And for those who opted not to speak up, Blust offered this blunt assessment:

“What we do here is not a small matter. And people who really don’t want to look at these bills and have the debates, there’s still time till August to go ahead and take your name off the ballot and your party can  replace you. This is our duty.”

Click below to watch Rep. Blust’s full 14 minute speech:

In the end, the Republican-controlled House voted 65-42 to approve the farm Act, sending the measure to Governor Roy Cooper’s desk.

Defending Democracy, News

Expert: Want to preserve our democracy? End gerrymandering (with video)

If this week’s roller coaster legislative sessions have left you reeling, take time today to learn about how redistricting reform could greatly improve the political discourse in our state.

Tom Ross, former President of the University of North Carolina system and co-chairman of the bi-partisan board of directors of North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform, will speak at Campbell University’s School of Law in downtown Raleigh at noon to address the benefits of reforming the way North Carolina draws its Congressional and legislative districts.

Mr. Ross’ presentation will include an update on the redistricting cases before the Supreme Court and other critical legal battles.  He will also outline a plan of action for North Carolina to fairly draw Congressional and state districts.

NC Policy Watch had the opportunity to talk with Ross this week about the benefits of an independent system of redistricting where politicians do not draw their own districts.

This afternoon’s event is open to the public and is co-sponsored by the North Carolina Business Council and North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform. It will take place in room 313 at Campbell University’s Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law, located at 225 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh.

Doors will open at 11:30am and the presentation will start at 12:00pm.