News

Common Core replacement experts – This afternoon the North CommonCore_NC1Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC) will hear testimony of three educators experts as the commission continues to develop a plan for replacing the Common Core State Standards.

On tap at today’s meeting is Common Core Validation Committee members, Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram, and Dr. Kevin Perks, a Senior Program Research Associate with Learning Innovations, WestED.

Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Milgram, both Common Core critics, will speak to the Commission about the various aspects of the Common Core Math and English Language Arts standards. Dr. Kevin Perks will address methods for effective implementation of standards to achieve desired outcomes.

The meeting will take place from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. in the State Board of Education Meeting Room in downtown Raleigh.

Can’t make it? That’s okay. Policy Watch education reporter Lindsay Wagner (@LindsayWagnerNC ) will be covering the meeting and will have more here on the Progressive Pulse.

Latest hearing on offshore oil and gas exploration – If you live drilling-pulsealong the coast, you’ll want to pay special attention to this afternoon’s public meeting in Kill Devil Hills with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

The BOEM will be discussing their proposal for offshore oil and gas leasing. Supporters say offshore drilling will create energy independence and new jobs. Folks who make their living off the pristine beaches and clean water worry about the disastrous effects of a spill.

Today’s meeting runs from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Ramada Plaza in Kill Devil Hills.

Fracking Permits – Just hours before that state could begin issuing its first Frackingfracking permits, the state Senate is expected to give final approval this evening to a bill that contains a controversial gas drilling air quality provision.

Essentially the provision would allow the N.C. Environmental Management Commission to opt out of drafting certain rules that address the air emissions from fracking operations.

Environmentalists say pro-fracking lawmakers are backing away from their promise in 2012 to have the strongest rules on the books before permits were issued. You can read Rob Schofield’s take on House Bill 157 here.

Introduction of the Healthy Food Small Retailer Act – On a more freshfruitpositive note, a bi-partisan group of legislators will introduce the Healthy Food Small Retailer Act on Tuesday, which is intended to improve the availability, affordability and accessibility of healthy foods at food retailers within areas of poor food access.

So, why does this matter? Well, North Carolina has over 349 food deserts across 80 counties, impacting 1.5 million North Carolina residents. Limited food access and insecurity adversely impact diet and health and is one of the causes of the state’s high rate of obesity.

Tuesday’s news conference led by Rep. Yvonne Holley and Senator Don Davis will be held at 10:30am in the Press Room of the Legislative Building.

Putting Working Families First – Finally, if you finished this year’s state taxes and EITC_ncfound yourself owing more than last year, you’ll want to check out this event in Durham on Thursday night.

Action NC, MomsRising, the NC Budget and Tax Center and RESULTS will co-sponsor a great (and free) event Thursday evening entitled “Putting Working Families First: Building a Fair Tax Policy for All.”

The event will be held in Durham at Full Frame Theater (318 Blackwell Street) from 6-7:30pm and will feature a short film and discussion about poverty and the Earned Income Tax Credit, as well as three video stories of amazing women for whom the EITC has helped contribute to their financial stability.

News

A final vote is expected today in the state Senate on a measure that would redraw the Wake County Board of Commissioners district boundaries.

Sen. Chad Barefoot told his colleagues Wednesday the new plan outlined in Senate Bill 181 would give small towns a greater voice at the local level. But opponents say the bill that redraws the lines and adds two new regional district seats would simply gerrymander the districts to give Republicans a majority on the board.

Senate Republicans used a procedural maneuver during yesterday’s debate to kill a proposed amendment by Senator Josh Stein that would have allowed Wake County voters to decide on redrawing the districts.

Barefoot’s bill comes just four months after Democrats swept Wake’s Board of Commissioners races last November.

If the bill wins approval today, it moves over to the state House for consideration. To hear lawmakers debate Senate Bill 181 and then table Stein’s amendment, click below:
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News

Two controversial redistricting bills, a last-minute fracking maneuver, the shifting budget outlook, and the return of Moral Mondays highlight the top tweeted stories at the legislature this afternoon:

News

dukelogoThe state Department of Environment and Natural Resources has slapped Duke Energy Progress with a $25.1 million fine for groundwater contamination caused by coal ash at the Sutton Plant near Wilmington.

The agency describes the fine as the state’s “largest-ever penalty for environmental damages.”

Here’s more from the state agency’s release:

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Sutton Plant/ (Photo credit: Duke Energy)

“Today’s enforcement action continues the aggressive approach this administration has taken on coal ash,” said DENR Secretary Donald R. van der Vaart. “In addition to holding the utility accountable for past contamination we have found across the state, we are also moving expeditiously to remove the threat to our waterways and groundwater from coal ash ponds statewide.”

At Sutton, the state agency determined that Duke Energy allowed a host of coal ash contaminants to leach into the groundwater at the facility for several years, in at least a few cases.

While Duke Energy Progress has 30 days to appeal to the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings, any fine paid by Duke would go into a statewide fund for public schools, according to DENR.

This has been an expensive week for the Charlotte-based utility. Earlier today, Duke officials announced the company had reached a $146 million agreement to settle a shareholder lawsuit linked to the 2012 merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy.

That agreement, subject to the approval of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, would end a class action lawsuit brought by certain Duke Energy shareholders.

Commentary, News

Travel by Governor McCrory, shifting taxes, new leadership for the NC GOP, and childhood well-being top this Monday’s stories that are trending on Jones Street: