News

Governor calls for legislative special session to fund Hurricane Florence recovery

Governor Roy Cooper briefs the media on the destruction caused by Florence.

Less than a week after Hurricane Florence battered North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper announced Thursday evening that he would bring legislators back to Raleigh in special session to address recovery needs.

In a statement issued by his press office, Gov. Cooper said he would be issuing a proclamation requesting legislators to return Tuesday, October 9th.

“As I’ve traveled around the state surveying damage and meeting with people who have lost everything, it’s clear that the destruction in eastern North Carolina is historic,” said Governor Cooper. “Now is the time to come together and begin the work of rebuilding our communities and making families whole.”

Cooper is working with local communities, stakeholders as well as the appropriate state agencies to compile a more detailed legislative appropriations request.

Work is also underway with North Carolina’s congressional delegation to put together the state’s federal assistance request.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump traveled with Cooper to get a firsthand look at the devastation.

Commentary, Courts & the Law, Education, Environment, Legislature, News

The week’s top stories on Policy Watch

1. The dirty half dozen: What you need to know about all six proposed constitutional amendments

The 2018 midterm elections are upon us and North Carolina voters will soon pass judgment on, among many other things, an unprecedented raft of six constitutional amendments.

The proposals include:

  • a proposal to permanently cap the state income tax rate,
  • a proposal to remake the state Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement so as to alter its composition and how its members are selected,
  • a proposal to dramatically alter and limit the Governor’s authority when it comes to filling vacancies that occur on the state courts,
  • a proposal to require some undetermined form of photo identification for in-person voting,
  • a proposal to establish a state constitutional “right” to hunt and fish, and
  • a proposal to enact a multi-faceted “victims’ rights” amendment known as “Marsy’s Law.”

There are many compelling reasons to oppose all six – starting with the absurd and outrageous lack of process that accompanied their approval by the General Assembly during the final harried days of the 2018 legislative session, the hurried rewrite of two amendments in late August, and the deceitful and dishonest way the proposals will be summarized and presented on the ballot.

Still, even if one were to set aside all of the profound problems of process and procedure, there are numerous important substantive deficiencies in each amendment that are more than adequate to justify a “no” vote. Here is a brief list: [Read more...]

2. Old and in the way: Hurricane Florence could barrel over landfills, waste lagoons, hazardous waste sites and more toxics

Thousands of animal waste lagoons, hazardous waste sites and other repositories of toxic material lie in and near the projected path of Hurricane Florence, increasing the risk of breaches or leaks of dangerous chemicals into the environment. (This is one important reason you should avoid wading through or touching flood waters.)

The NC Department of Environmental Quality has a new mapping and data feature, which shows the locations of these sites, both in map form and spreadsheet. All of the maps below are from the DEQ site and can be clicked on to enlarge them. We’ve linked to each map; once you get to that DEQ page, click on the “data” tab to view the addresses and facility names in spreadsheet form.

The first map shows all of the animal feeding operations for permitted swine, cattle and poultry farms that use wet litter. (Dry litter poultry farms are “deemed permitted” and are largely unregulated.) With more than a foot of rain forecast, there is a higher risk of lagoon breaches, which can send millions of gallons of animal waste to rivers, wetlands and nearby property. [Read more…]

Bonus read:

Read more

Commentary, News

NC’s largest community college prepares to say goodbye to its longtime leader

If you missed it over the weekend, be sure to make time to listen to Rob Schofield’s recent radio interview with Dr. Stephen Scott, president of Wake Tech Community College.

Dr. Scott, who is retiring at the end of this month, has devoted more than 40 years of his career improving higher educational opportunities for students.

We were fortunate to have Dr. Scott join us in studio recently to discuss his commitment to improving the largest community college in North Carolina and his use of “applied benchmarking” to inspire faculty and staff.

Scott also used the opportunity to voice support for a $349 million bond proposal for Wake Tech that will be on the ballot this fall.

Click below to listen to our full interview with Dr. Scott as he discusses higher education, the jobs of tomorrow, and his lasting legacy.

News

NC’s congressional delegation honors John McCain as a hero, statesman

Senator John McCain

Members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation are honoring the life and legacy of Arizona Senator John McCain who died Saturday at the age of 81. The former POW and presidential candidate served 30 years in the U.S. Senate.

Senator Richard Burr:

I am deeply saddened by the passing of my friend and colleague, John McCain. John was a true patriot, who placed his duty to his family and his country above all else.

He faced this battle, which would be his last, with the courage that defined his career and the grace that comes from a life well-lived. He will be remembered as he hoped to be remembered: as a man who served his country with honor.

Sen. Thom Tillis:

America has lost John McCain – a true titan of the Senate who was one of our nation’s greatest war heroes and public servants. He will be long remembered for his principled leadership, courage, grit, and always putting country first.

It was an honor to call John McCain a friend and serve alongside him in the Senate, especially on the Armed Services Committee where he acted as a mentor to myself and the other members.

Susan and I are deeply saddened by John’s passing, and we send our condolences to Cindy and the McCain family, who have demonstrated incredible grace and strength during this difficult time.

Congressman G.K. Butterfield:

I join countless Americans in mourning the loss of one of our nation’s greatest leaders, Senator John McCain. Thank you for your sacrifice, bravery, and leadership. Godspeed.

Congresswoman Alma Adams:

Sen. John McCain was a true statesman. His love and devotion to our country and for his family is admired by all. We are forever grateful for his sacrifice and stalwart leadership, both on the battlefield and in elected office. My prayers are with his wife and family.

Defending Democracy, News

The week’s Top Stories on Policy Watch

1. Pat McCrory, at last, makes a stand

North Carolina made history again Monday, the not-so-bad kind.

If you were in earshot of Raleigh Monday, you might have heard: The state’s five living former governors—two Republicans, three Democrats: Jim Martin, Jim Hunt, Mike Easley, Bev Perdue and, strangest of all, Pat McCrory—gathered to denounce a pair of blatant legislative power grabs masquerading as constitutional amendments.

The legislature, in its depressingly partisan march to the ballot box, has finally evoked a moment of bipartisanship from our former governors.

It was a remarkable scene, one appropriately assembled to combat remarkable affronts from the General Assembly. I can’t imagine these five sharing lunch, much less a brawl with the state legislature over two constitutional amendments that both deserve a swift defeat.[Read more…]

2. Meaningless or dangerous? Hunting and fishing constitutional amendment raises huge questions

The highest profile public policy debate in North Carolina in the summer of 2018 revolves around the controversial decision of state legislative leaders to place a package of six constitutional amendments on the November ballot. Just yesterday, all five living former governors of the state held an extraordinary press conference in which they decried two of the amendments as egregious and deceptively labeled power grabs that would fundamentally alter the balance of power in the state for the worse.

Two other amendments in the package have been rightfully blasted for the destructive impact they would have on the fairness and adequacy of funding for core state services (the proposed income tax cap) and the right of hundreds of thousands of residents to vote (the voter ID amendment).

One of the six amendments to receive comparatively less attention in recent weeks, however, is the proposal to establish a constitutional right “to use traditional methods, to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.” While many critics have derided the proposal as a blatant attempt to spur voter turnout this fall amongst conservative rural voters, substantive criticism of the amendment has been largely muted, with many critics simply arguing that the amendment is silly and unnecessary because it wouldn’t really change anything.[Read more…] Read more