Commentary, News

Last Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. McCrory administration asks schools to submit plans for $173 million budget cut: Request comes despite large state surplus and big unmet education needs

After years of complaints of paltry spending on public education in North Carolina, public school leaders say they may soon be facing another round of devastating cuts.

School officials say a late August memo from Gov. Pat McCrory’s chief budget officer signals that all state departments, including the public schools, must soon present options for a 2 percent cut in their 2017-2019 budget, roughly a $173 million loss for North Carolina schools. [Continue reading…]

2. Military policy shift for transgender service members underscores discriminatory, outdated nature of HB2

Payton McGarry wants to serve his country – and this time around, his country wants him. In high school McGarry was part of the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. He dreamed of joining the Marine Corps. But while the corps is always looking for a few good men, McGarry was a young transgender man – and therefore ineligible for service. [Continue reading…]

3. McCrory seeks protection from explaining involvement in crafting HB2: Governor, legislative leaders claim communications are privileged 

Gov. Pat McCrory has indicated in a court filing seeking legislative privilege that he had more to do with the preparation and introduction of House Bill 2 than he previously let on.

In a speech a little over a month ago, McCrory claimed the North Carolina Chamber helped write part of the state’s all-purpose LGBT discrimination law. The lobby group, however, has denied participating in suggesting, drafting or reviewing HB2. [Continue reading…]

4. In its fight against Duke Energy, NC WARN is challenging utilities commission’s use of 50-year-old law

Access to affordable postsecondary education is important to building a workforce in North Carolina that attracts and retains good-paying jobs across the state. Around two out of every three jobs in the state will require some form of post-secondary education by the year 2020. Our state can meet this challenge, but only if we make sure that more people can access and complete these programs. And the biggest barrier to this remains the unaffordability of post-secondary education.

Unfortunately, in recent years, North Carolina has fallen short on the higher education affordability front. [Continue reading…]

5. Political lessons from a surprising source: What progressives can learn from Franklin Graham and his ilk

For a lot of caring and thinking people, the end of the current election cycle cannot come fast enough. Especially, of course, at the presidential level, there is a palpable sense shared by tens of millions of Americans that what they are watching simply can’t be happening. Even a few years ago, the notion that the contest for the most important elected office on the planet would descend into a debate over one candidate’s recorded discussion of sexual behavior and promise to jail his opponent if elected was unimaginable.

All that said (and as excruciating as the 2016 campaign has been), there are some important lessons that progressives may want to consider when it comes to the national policy debate – especially from their conservative adversaries. [Continue reading…]

Commentary, News

Vinroot on Voter ID: No secret about it – Republicans tried to “curtail” Democrats

The Charlotte Observer’s Taylor Batten has an amazing account of Republican Richard Vinroot speaking out on the motivation behind voter ID.

Vinroot, a respected Republican who served as Charlotte’s mayor from 1991–1995 and made three unsuccessful runs for governor, was asked about voter fraud and the need for voter ID at a Charlotte business lunch on Wednesday.

We’ll let Batten take the story from there:


Richard Vinroot

Vinroot said there have been instances of voter fraud over the years, and he cited Lyndon Johnson’s election to the U.S. Senate and John F. Kennedy’s election to president in 1960. But…

“It does go on; I suspect it’s at the margins,” Vinroot told the Hood Hargett Breakfast Club. “I don’t think it’s probably enough to justify, on the face of it, voter ID.”

He said almost everyone has ID or could easily get one.

“But it’s clearly about Republicans trying to curtail that voter, there’s no secret about that.

“There’s no doubt there’s some gaming going on on both sides. There’s no doubt the folks who don’t want voter ID are more interested in Democratic voters voting without regard to whether they can identify themselves or not. But you’d be hard-pressed probably today to say all these things (voting restrictions) are justified.”

Kudos to Vinroot for speaking the truth, even if it steps on the toes of most in his own party.

Read the full account here in the Charlotte Observer.

Voter ID will not be required this election cycle. A federal court struck down much of North Carolina’s monster voting law earlier this year.


CMPD releases remaining tapes in Keith Lamont Scott case; Charlotte officials stress the need to improve police-community relations

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department released on Tuesday the remaining body-cam and dash-cam videos in the officer-involved shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.

While advising discretion in the viewing of the video files, officers hoped the release would put to rest some questions about the September 20th shooting that led to the death of the 43-year-old Scott and sparked two nights of violent protests in uptown Charlotte.

You can view the videos and hear the 911 calls here. (***Note that these videos contain graphic images and content.)

And if you missed it over the weekend, Congresswoman Alma Adams, who represents Charlotte, spoke to NC Policy Watch about the need for greater transparency in such shootings, the trust of the public, and the insensitive remarks of Congressman Robert Pittenger. Click below for an excerpt of that radio interview with Chris Fitzsimon or here for the entire podcast.

The investigation has been turned over to the State Bureau of Investigation.

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Cooper bests McCrory in latest Elon poll; U.S. Senate race remains a virtual tie

Attorney General Roy Cooper now holds a 4.4% lead over Gov. Pat McCrory in North Carolina’s hotly-contested gubernatorial rate, according to to the latest Elon University Poll.

McCrory, who enjoyed a three point lead just last month, has seen some of his support erode because of the anti-LGBT law known as HB2. In recent weeks, the NBA, the NCAA, and the ACC have relocated championship games away from North Carolina in protest of the discriminatory legislation.

“Backlash over HB2 seems to have harmed Pat McCrory’s poll numbers,” Husser said. “McCrory continues to struggle with women and with African-Americans.”

So, with just over a month to go until Election Day, here’s what the numbers look like:

In the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Richard Burr and Democrat challenger Deborah Ross, it’s essentially a tie with Ross holding less than a 1-point lead over Burr — 43.6 percent to 43.4 percent.


At the top of the ticket, Hillary Clinton holds the lead with 44.5 percent of voters, compared to 39 percent of respondents who plan to vote for Trump.

Libertarian Gary Johnson has seen his base of support increase since September to 9 percent.Roughly seven percent remain undecided.

It’s also worth noting this poll was done immediately after the first presidential debate on September 26th.


The Elon Poll surveyed 799 registered voters from Sept. 27-30. Of those respondents, 660 said they are likely to vote in the November election. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.81 percentage points. You can find the crosstabs here.