News

May_Day_Immigration_March_LA37Just days after Governor Pat McCrory announced he would join 14 states in a lawsuit challenging President Obama’s executive order on immigration, North Carolina advocates are speaking out.

Familias Unidas, Action NC and community allies are holding a Friday press conference in Charlotte to address their concerns.

Here’s more from the group’s press advisory:

According to Rosalba Tlalolini of Familias Unidas, “When he was Mayor of Charlotte, McCrory supported and praised immigrants and our contributions. Now that we have the opportunity to become documented and come out of the shadow, he now turns his back on us, the very same people who contributed to his success”.

Rogelio Reyes of Action NC said “I am confused by the governor’s actions. When he was mayor of Charlotte, he welcomed immigrants, the very same people who built this city and its infrastructure, including the Bank of America and Wells Fargo towers. Now that he is governor, he has changed, much like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”.

Latino and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers already add tens of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to North Carolina’s economy. In NC, 122,000 undocumented immigrants are eligible for deferred action under the president’s November 20th executive actions on immigration. If these immigrants are able to receive a temporary work permit, it would lead to a $197 million increase in tax revenues, over five years.

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Commentary

As media outlets focus on the news that GlaxoSmithKline will lay off about 900 research and development workers in the Research Triangle Park, be sure to make time to read Rob Schofield’s latest column on NC Policy Watch’s main website.

Schofield takes a critical look at North Carolina’s unemployment insurance system, and more changes on tap for 2015. Here’s an excerpt:

If a person wanted to understand what’s wrong with North Carolina’s government these days and how the folks in charge have lost sight of the forest in a wasteful and destructive obsession with inspecting the paperwork associated with each and every little tree, he or she would have done well to attend yesterday’s msrs-unemployment3eeting of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance.

The backdrop: A time of crisis

The meeting came at a time of what can only be described as profound crisis for the state’s unemployment insurance system – the social safety net program that’s supposed to provide a cushion for families whose breadwinner has lost his or her job through no fault of their own. Despite the fact that the state’s economy and employment picture remain extremely weak, the number of workers accessing insurance benefits has been dropping like a rock for months.

According to the most recent U.S. Department of Labor statistics, a scant 13% of unemployed North Carolina workers are now receiving unemployment insurance benefits. Add to this the fact that benefit levels themselves have been slashed and that the length of time that one may receive benefits has also been dramatically reduced (half of those who manage to obtain benefits now exhaust them before they find work) and you get an idea of just how grim the picture has become for hundreds of thousands of unemployed North Carolinians.

Read the full Setting the Record Straight column here.

News

NC Policy Watch’s courts and law reporter Sharon McCloskey has our  must read story of the day. She previews the case of Joseph Sledge, who has spent half of his life behind bars for a double murder in Bladen County that he maintains he never committed.

DNA testing ruled out Sledge as the murderer in 2012, and this week the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence is in court working to have Sledge exonerated.

What makes the case even more extraordinary is that Sledge, if cleared, would not be not alone in this wrongful conviction. Here’s an excerpt from McCloskey’s story:

Should he prevail there (and in a later court review), the now 69-year-old Sledge will be the fourth innocent person cleared this year in North Carolina — joining Henry McCollum, Leon Brown, and Willie Womble, who were exonerated earlier this year.

Together they have more than 100 years in time spent behind bars – certainly more than a measure of any life.

Read the full story – Wrong place, wrong time, wrong conviction – on the main NC Policy Watch website.  And click below to hear a portion of Policy Watch’s recent radio interview with Christine Mumma, executive director of the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence.

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News

Energy Exploration – Senator Bob Rucho and Representative Mike Hager co-chair Tuesday’s meeting of the Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy. The meeting includes discussion of oil and gas rulemaking and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project.

drillFor those who have been curious about the push behind plans to drill offshore, don’t miss our radio interview with reporter Nicholas Kusnetz with The Center for Public Integrity. The Center recently wrote a must-read piece about how the oil and gas industry are the driving force behind a coalition of governors (including Governor Pat McCrory) advocating for drilling in the Atlantic.

If you’re concerned about the next steps in allowing fracking in North Carolina, you’ll also want to keep an eye on Friday’s meeting of the full Mining and Energy Commission. You’ll find an agenda for that meeting here.  For more on the fracking rules, read Ned Barnett’s latest piece in the News & Observer.

Charter Schools – The state Board of Education holds its final monthly meeting for the year this Wednesday and Thursday. Members are expected to give final approval to as many as 11 charter school proposals for the 2015 school year.

If you missed it over the weekend, the staff of the Wilmington Star News recently published this editorial about the need for North Carolina’s charter schools to be held accountable for their use of  our tax dollars.

And the charter schools up for final approval this week include:

1. Charlotte Lab School
2. Excelsior Classical Academy
3. Ignite Innovation Academy – Pitt
4. KIPP Durham College Preparatory
5. Patriot Charter Academy — this applicant has requested to change its name to Winterville Charter Academy due to their proposed location.
6. PAVE Southeast Raleigh Charter School
7. Piedmont Classical High School
8. Queen City STEM School
9. Shining Rock Classical Academy: CFA
10. VERITAS Community School
11. Youngsville Academy

Fast Food workers rally for better pay – For the past two years fast food workers across the country have Fast food workers 2been fighting to change the $200 billion dollar fast food industry. What started off with a few hundred workers in New York City is now a movement of thousands of fast food workers across the country highlighting the struggles of trying to survive on $7.25 an hour.

The fight continues this week with three rallies set for Thursday:
• 6:00 a.m. Greenville 3602 Charles Blvd Greenville, NC
• 6:00 a.m.Durham 3558 Hillsborough Durham, NC
• 11:30 a.m. Greensboro 2700 Vanstory Street (Four Seasons Station Parking Lot)

Bad Bridges – Members of the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee meet Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. where they will get an update on North Carolina’s structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges. Legislators will also review a draft of the 2016 -2025 State Transportation Improvement Program. An agenda for the meeting can be found here.XMASTOWN

Board of Governors – The UNC Board of Governors will hold their final meeting of the year on Friday. N.C. State University and UNC-Wilmington are among the schools seeking the board’s permission to raise tuition and fees next year.

Best place to see Christmas Lights – McAdenville, North Carolina becomes Christmastown USA starting today. The small Gaston County town is expecting more than 600,000 visitors to travel through the town this holiday season for a glimpse of their iconic light display.