News

Lunch & Listen: The state of Affordable Housing in North Carolina

If you missed it over the weekend, be sure to listen to our latest interview with Satana Deberry, Exec. Director of the North Carolina Housing Coalition. Deberry chats with Policy Watch’s Chris Fitzsimon about the lack of high-quality affordable housing in our state and what lawmakers could do to address the problem.

Click below to hear the interview:

News

Four things to have on your radar — after Monday’s solar eclipse

#1 The path forward in Afghanistan – President Trump addresses the nation at 9:00 p.m. tonight outlining a “path forward” for the U.S. in Afghanistan. Multiple reports indicate the president will authorize sending another 4,000 troops to the region.

North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones, whose district includes Camp Lejeune, urged Trump in July not to increase troop levels.

Read Jones’ full letter here.

#2 The boys are back in town – House and Senate members return to Raleigh Tuesday where they will focus on six bills vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper and other legislation they may want to move before next year’s session. Lawmakers are also facing a September 1st court-ordered deadline to have new redistricting maps drawn and approved.

#3 Your chance to sound off on the proposed maps –  Tuesday afternoon legislators will hold seven public hearings across North Carolina regarding the new maps that are intended to correct their unconstitutional, racial gerrymandering.  Check out the newly released Senate and House maps below.

 

 

 

The public hearings begin at 4:00pm at the following locations:

  • Legislative Office Building: 300 N Salisbury Street, Room 643, Raleigh
  • Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute: 2855 Hickory Blvd, Building B, Room 108, Hudson
  • Central Piedmont Community College: 1112 Charlottetowne Ave, Charlotte
  • Fayetteville Technical Community College: 2817 Fort Bragg Road, General Classroom Building, Room 108, Fayetteville
  • Guilford Tech. Community College, Jamestown Campus: 601 E Main St., Medline Campus Center, Rm. 360, Jamestown
  • Halifax Community College: 100 College Road, Building 100, Room 108, Weldon
  • Beaufort County Community College: 5337 US Hwy 264 E, Building 9, Room 935, Washington, NC

Note: Individuals attending Tuesday’s public hearings are required to sign up and will have up to three minutes to speak.

#4 GenX back in the spotlight – On Wednesday, the legislature’s Environmental Review Commission holds an investigative hearing about GenX in Wilmington. The hearing at the New Hanover Government Center gets underway at 1:30pm.

Read more from environmental reporter Lisa Sorg on DEQ’s ability to regulate GenX in the Cape Fear River.

Commentary, News

The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. Merit or maps? Judges’ futures could come down to clashing legislative proposals
Senate favors form of merit selection for judges as alternative to House judicial redistricting bill

The fate of judicial selection in North Carolina may come down to a clash between the House and Senate.

The N.C. Association of District Court Judges was presented last Friday with a potential “alternative” to judicial redistricting – a merit selection plan with which Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger is testing the waters.

The nonprofit organization hired lobbyists Chuck Neely and Rick Zechini, both of Williams Mullen, earlier this month and Neely brought Berger’s chief of staff Jim Blaine to a meeting of the group’s board of governors last Friday to discuss merit selection.

It’s the first time the judges had been approached about the process, which would require a constitutional amendment and approval from North Carolina voters. [Read more…]

*** Bonus read: Lawmakers announce 7 public hearing locations for input on new proposed, but still secret, legislative maps

2. Americans want the Affordable Care Act improved not undermined

Here is something you probably haven’t heard much lately, if at all, given the shocking news from Charlottesville and the disturbing reaction by President Trump.

Roughly 80 percent of Americans believe that Trump and his administration should do all they can to make the Affordable Care Act work while only 17 percent believe they should try to make the law fail so they can replace it.

The numbers come from a recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation that also found that even more than half of the supporters of President Trump want him to do what he can to make the law work.

That hasn’t stopped Republican members of Congress from continuing to push for repeal of the ACA or to continue to misrepresent the bill they supported earlier this summer to allegedly replace it. [Read more…]

3. The thing that wouldn’t leave
Lawmakers to return to Raleigh yet again; agenda may include dangerous “de-reg” proposal

The North Carolina General Assembly will return to Raleigh yet again this week. Despite abysmal poll numbers, the toxic national political environment and their close association with a president of the United States who continues to set new standards for mendacity and outrageous behavior, legislative leaders will commence yet another special session on Friday to take up any number of matters that could include gubernatorial vetoes, new legislative maps, pending legislation from the “long session” that adjourned in June and maybe even constitutional amendments. Despite the Friday-at-noon start time, actual legislative action is not expected to get underway in earnest until next week – emphasis on the word expected.

That members of the general public (and even close observers) have only a general idea of what might be on the legislative agenda is, of course, par for the course these days.[Read more…]

4. People rally in Durham to support activists in toppling of confederate statues
More than 100 people rallied outside the Durham County magistrate’s office Thursday morning, calling for the county to drop charges against activists who toppled a Confederate statue Monday.

Three activists for whom the sheriff’s office had outstanding warrants related to Monday’s protest turned themselves in Thursday. Dozens symbolically lined up to take responsibility for the toppling of the statue in solidarity but were not arrested or booked.

Among those who were booked Thursday were Aaron Caldwell, 24, of Raleigh and Elena Everett, 37, of Durham. The name of the third activist charged could not be immediately confirmed early Thursday.

Later in the day, Taylor Alexander Jun Cook, 24, also turned himself over to  Durham County Sheriff’s Office. [Read more…]
***Bonus read:
Senate President: Governor “reactionary” in call to remove Confederate monuments, legislature unlikely to repeal 2015 law

***Bonus audio interview: Dr. Michael Bitzer: Trump’s”baffling” remarks requires GOP to take a stand against “repugnant” racism

5. DEQ had GenX info under Secretary Donald van der Vaart; under Michael Regan, delay attributed to scheduling conflicts

Donald van der Vaart, former Department of Environmental Quality secretary, was in charge when state officials first learned last fall there could be a problem with GenX in the Lower Cape Fear River. And the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority knew even earlier.

But not until June of this year, when the Star-News in Wilmington reviewed and reported on the study, did DEQ under the current administration begin to investigate the presence of GenX in drinking water.

According to a letter sent Aug. 14 from DEQ and the Health and Human Services department to  Sen. Bill Cook, and copied to the Senate and House leadership, in November 2016, “the previous administration” received a research report from the EPA and NC State University scientists regarding the Cape Fear watershed. This study, conducted in part by NC State professor Detlaf Knappe, showed GenX was present in the Lower Cape Fear and in untreated water at the Cape Fear utility. [Read more…]

Commentary

Trump’s “baffling” remarks require GOP to take a stand against “repugnant” racism

Coming-up this weekend on NC Policy Watch’s News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon, we are joined by Catawba College political scientist Dr. Michael Bitzer.

Bitzer discusses President Trump’s “baffling” decision to abandon his earlier condemnation of racist hate groups for violence in Charlottesville, and instead blame both sides.

“The issues of the KKK and white supremacy is a stain on American history. These kinds of things are morally repugnant. And if those words cannot come out of a president’s mouth, then it is incumbent for members of his own party along with others of us to say those things.”

For a preview of our radio interview, click below:

News

Senate President: Governor “reactionary” in call to remove Confederate monuments, legislature unlikely to repeal 2015 law

When the General Assembly convenes in special session Friday, don’t expect lawmakers to rush to repeal a 2015 state law that prevents cities and counties from removing or relocating Confederate monuments.

Governor Roy Cooper called for the repeal of the law on Tuesday in response to recent violence in  Charlottesville, Virginia and the toppling of a confederate statue in Durham Monday night.

Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger responded to the governor’s appeal on Facebook Thursday:

Personally, I do not think an impulsive decision to pull down every Confederate monument in North Carolina is wise. In my opinion, rewriting history is a fool’s errand, and those trying to rewrite history unfortunately are likely taking a first step toward repeating it. Two years ago, the state Senate unanimously passed a bill that tried to reduce the politics in making these decisions. I believe many current members of the Senate would be hesitant to begin erasing our state and country’s history by replacing that process with a unilateral removal of all monuments with no public discourse.

I don’t have a lot of answers about what we can do to heal the wounds of racial injustice that still exist in our state and country. But I know it won’t happen with angry mobs. It won’t happen with opportunistic politicians trying to drive a wedge further between us. It will require our leaders to show some humility and compassion as we try to chart a path forward.

Berger also said the governor “falsely protrayed” House Bill 330 that would grant immunity from civil liability to a motorist who strikes a demonstrator with their vehicle.

HB 330 passed the House in April and possibly could see action by the Senate in an upcoming special session, if leadership decides to advance it.

You can read Senator Berger’s full statement about Charlottesville and Durham here.