Paul RyanRep. Paul Ryan will serve as the next speaker of the House of Representatives, winning the vote of a majority of conservatives Thursday.

Ryan succeeds outgoing speaker John Boehner, who will resign his seat and leave Congress at the end of this month.

The Wisconsin Republican wants to rebuild unity in his party, and pledges to run the chamber more efficiently than it has operated in recent years.

“The House is broken. We are not solving problems. We are adding to them,” said Ryan on Thursday. “I am not interested in laying blame. We are not settling scores. We are wiping the slate clean. Neither the members nor the people are satisfied with how things are going. We need to make some changes, starting with how the House does business.”

For his part, Congressman David Price (NC-04) welcomes the fresh start:

“I am hopeful that under his leadership we will see more of the bipartisan cooperation that led to last night’s budget agreement,” said Price.

But Wednesday’s 266-167 vote on a two-year deal that raises the the nation’s debt ceiling, underscores just how much division Ryan will have to contend with.

While Ryan ultimately supported the budget deal negotiated by Boehner, only two of the ten Republicans in North Carolina’s congressional delegation backed the agreement.

Here’s how the entire North Carolina’s U.S. House delegation voted on the deal intended to avoid a potential fiscal crisis:

Rep. G.K. Butterfield – 1st District
Rep. David Price – 4th District
Rep. Robert Pittenger – 9th District
Rep. Patrick McHenry – 10th District
Rep. Alma Adams – 12th district

Rep. Renee Ellmers – 2nd District
Rep. Walter Jones – 3rd District
Rep. Virginia Foxx – 5th District
Rep. Mark Walker – 6th District
Rep. David Rouzer – 7th District
Rep. Mark Meadows – 11th District
Rep. George Holding – 13th District

Not voting
Rep. Richard Hudson – 8th District

To learn more about Speaker Paul Ryan, click here.

Commentary, News
McCrory-HouseBill 318

Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office

On Wednesday, Governor Pat McCrory signed the Protect NC Workers Act saying the bill would outlaw sanctuary cities and emphasize the value of work.

North Carolina is standing up for the rule of law, which is central to North Carolina values and our country’s values,” said Governor McCrory. “Public safety officials must have the flexibility and tools to investigate crimes and sanctuary city policies deprive law enforcement of those tools.”

House Bill 318 also forbids the use of consulate documents to determine a person’s identity while requiring state and local government agencies to use the E-Verify system. Another provision of the law places new restrictions on jobless workers’ ability to receive food aid.

Critics call the legislation dangerous, harmful, and unnecessary.

The ACLU of North Carolina believes HB 318 will only encourage discrimination:

“By making it harder for people to identify themselves to government officials, discouraging undocumented people from reporting crime, and banning local governments from passing measures aimed at improving public safety, this law makes all North Carolinians less safe,” said Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “Immigrants play important roles in our communities and economy. Laws like this encourage discrimination, send the message that North Carolina is unwelcoming, and make it harder for law enforcement officers to do their job keeping all members of the community safe.”

The NC Justice Center says the measure makes North Carolina seem like “a hostile place for newcomers of all identities”

We are also deeply disturbed by how this bill limits jobless workers’ ability to receive food assistance. This could affect up to 100,000 North Carolinians and their broader communities, most of which are rural. The bill would permanently prevent North Carolina from waiving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s benefit time limit. This time limit applies regardless of whether these individuals are actually able to find employment or training opportunities. The end of current waivers will come at a time when 77 counties qualify for the waivers due to a significant lack of jobs.

Angeline Echeverría, the Executive Director of El Pueblo, explains in an opinion piece:

…this bill eliminate[s] a common sense policy solution that municipalities throughout the country have adopted as a beneficial way to facilitate greater immigrant integration in local communities. Municipal ID cards and consular documents are some of the most practical means of identification for immigrant community members, and municipalities like Greensboro have cited their effectiveness in increasing efficiency within the Police, Water Resources, and Parks & Recreation Departments. HB 318 would put a strain on government by invalidating these documents and forcing local officials to dedicate precious resources to deciphering the implementation of this bill and its potential impact on procedures affecting everything from the issuance of birth certificates, school enrollment, and applications for marriage licenses.

…the prohibition on “sanctuary cities” will adversely affect local government autonomy and resources. While many in the General Assembly vocally support the ideals of limited state intervention in local government, this legislation will keep towns and cities from making their own decisions on the extent to which they choose to dedicate local resources, such as officers and jails, to federal immigration enforcement policies. State governments are under no obligation to enforce laws that are exclusively federal in nature, such as immigration. Removing the ability of local municipalities to make the perfectly legal decision to not use their own taxpayers’ money to enforce federal programs disrupts law enforcement agencies’ ability to set their own priorities for community safety. This provision certainly does not protect workers or our state’s economy by encouraging local officials to help deport immigrant community members: according to the Perryman Group, if all unauthorized immigrants leave North Carolina, the state would lose $14.5 billion in economic activity, $6.4 billion in gross state product, and approximately 101,414 permanent jobs.

The North Carolina State AFL-CIO calls the new law anti-worker:

Governor McCrory has signed a law, H.B. 318, that will starve people struggling to find work, will make it harder for local police and local governments to protect and serve the public, and will make it easier than ever for criminals and unscrupulous employers to exploit immigrant workers,” said MaryBe McMillan, secretary-treasurer of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO. “Signing an abusive law dishonestly named the ‘Protect North Carolina Workers Act’ is proof for any voter who still needed it that their governor cannot be trusted to defend working people.”

And Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“North Carolina, much like the rest of our nation, is at a crossroads: We can continue to ostracize and criminalize vital members of our communities, or we can work together to come up with inclusive policies that make us all safer, healthier, and better able to use essential services when needed. We – along with those elected to represent us – must move past the hateful, anti-immigrant rhetoric that spurs legally questionable legislation and instead get to work on solutions that move our communities forward together.”

Advocates for immigrant families and various grassroots groups are planning a 3:00 p.m. rally Thursday outside the Governor’s mansion to voice their opposition to HB 318. Learn more about that action here.


The Fayetteville Observer’s editorial board is the latest to weigh-in on the appointment of Margaret Spellings as the next UNC-system president. The paper writes:

BOG-807-CThe University of North Carolina system gets a new president next spring. And its Board of Governors will have a new chairman soon.

We hope both events will pull the system back from the chaotic discord that has marked the past year.

After presiding over a series of controversies, board Chairman John Fennebresque abruptly resigned on Monday. On Friday, the governors unanimously elected former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings as the next UNC system president. Spellings will take office in March. Current president Tom Ross will stay in place until the end of this year.

Ross, a widely respected system president, was ousted for one shortcoming: He was a Democratic appointee.

Under Fennebresque, politics increasingly intruded into the UNC system and liberal-leaning programs came under fire.

The last-minute scramble to hire Spellings drew anger from across the political spectrum, especially from the leaders of the state House and Senate, who decried his deliberate flouting of a legislative directive that the governors choose from among three finalists for the system presidency. Even Republican appointees to the Board of Governors called for Fennebresque’s resignation, saying the secretive presidential search was unacceptable.

It’s not yet clear what course Spellings will chart for the university system, although we do have some hints. She is best known as an architect and leading proponent of President George W. Bush’s signature No Child Left Behind initiative. But she also convened the Commission on the Future of Higher Education, whose report focused on the role of universities in serving the marketplace and economic development – a familiar theme from Gov. Pat McCrory’s comments about the role of the university system here.

Spellings is more politician than academic. She was a Bush adviser while he was Texas governor, and political director for his first gubernatorial campaign.

That background will help her navigate the halls of government in Raleigh and Washington, which is an important skill for the leader of one of the nation’s top public university systems. But it could be a liability as well if it opens the door to increasing political meddling with academia.

Spellings and the next chairman of the Board of Governors will start with a clean slate. We’ll be best served if they use it to advance academic excellence.

The UNC Board of Governors meets again this Friday. Spellings assumes her post in March.

For more from the Fayetteville Observer’s editorial board, click here.


If you’ve ever wondered how others view the state of education in North Carolina, The Virginian-Pilot offers a pretty blunt assessment in Tuesday’s paper.

The editorial board writes that North Carolina demonstrated last week how not to choose a leader for the state’s university-system, in a largely secretive and controversial search.

[Margaret] Spellings’ official selection came a week after the board’s chairman called an emergency meeting to interview Spellings privately. Under a bill overwhelmingly passed by the General Assembly – but not yet signed by the governor – the Board of Governors’ search committee was supposed to submit three names to the full board for a vote.

Instead, the only name presented to the 32-member board at Friday’s meeting was Spellings, who was there. She will be paid a base salary of $775,000 – $175,000 more than her predecessor – plus deferred compensation and performance bonuses.

Legislative leaders, who appointed the board, as well as board members who weren’t part of the search committee, have been critical of the closed, chaotic process. The search undermines any hopes Spellings had of immediate support or success.

Spellings, who sat on the boards of companies working to privatize education, including Apollo Education Group (parent company of for-profit college University of Phoenix), has much work to do. She starts the job with little trust on the campuses she’ll oversee.

And while Spellings works to establish her vision for the 17-campus system, she’ll need to work with a legislature that has its own ideas.

Rep. Verla Insko, whose district includes Chapel Hill, suggested in a recent interview with NC Policy Watch that it’s time for the General Assembly to stop trying to micromanage university faculty:

“There is a concern among faculty members about academic freedom,” said Rep. Insko.

“A university professor is not just a teacher. There are professors that spend hours guiding their students in the lab, doing research, analyzing data, writing papers.”

Click below to hear Rep. Insko’s comments. Her full interview with Chris Fitzsimon can be heard here.

To read the rest of the editorial in The Virginian-Pilot, click here.
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fenn3Just days after praising the selection of the next president of the University of North Carolina -system, John Fennebresque has resigned his seat on the UNC Board of Governors, effective immediately.

Fennebresque was widely criticized for the process used to select Margaret Spellings, with faculty, students, and even members of the board complaining they had been shut out of the selection.

In a release issued by the UNC system on Monday, Fennebresque said he felt he had shepherded the system through the most important task of his chairmanship:

“With the search completed, I believe now is the time for a fresh start for our University system and its 17 campuses, as well as for this Board of Governors.  So today I am stepping down from the Board to make way for and encourage new leadership. Significant challenges lie ahead for the system as it continues to provide the unparalleled education our students deserve. I want to thank the Board of Governors, my family and friends, my law firm and my many supporters who have rallied around me throughout the difficult process of change and the great promise of opportunity for the University of North Carolina system.”

Readers of the Progressive Pulse may recall that Fennebresque had become a lightning rod of controversy since the ousting of system President Tom Ross in January.

More recently, former state senator Thom Goolsby went so far as to write to his fellow board members calling for Fennebresque’s resignation as chair.

“You should step aside before you do irreparable harm to the University System that we all love and in which the people of North Carolina have invested us with the responsibility of running.”

As for Ross, who will leave the post in January, he praised Fennebresque for his commitment to the university system:

“While John Fennebresque and I may have had our differences at times, he truly loves the University of North Carolina and has been a tireless, passionate advocate for it,” said UNC President Tom Ross. “He has served the UNC system with great dedication and commitment.”

Fennebresque’s seat on the board will remain vacant until the NC Senate elects a successor to serve out the remainder of his unexpired term. Current vice chair “Lou” Bissette, Jr. will assume the chairmanship in the interim.

Learn more about recent appointments to the Board of Governor’s here.