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Democratic U.S. Senator Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis faced off Tuesday night in their second senatorial debate prior to the the Nov. 4 election. Just like their first debate, the two were quickly at odds over education spending. Watch an excerpt of their hour-long debate below:

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To watch the entire debate, click here.

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Tillis_McCrory_Berger-400Monday’s decision by the Supreme Court’s not to review the appeals court rulings striking down state bans on marriage for same-sex couples, has garnered this response from House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger:

“The people of North Carolina have spoken, and while the Supreme Court has not issued a definitive ruling on the issue of traditional marriage, we are hopeful they will soon,” said Tillis and Berger. “Until then, we will vigorously defend the values of our state and the will of more than 60 percent of North Carolina voters who made it clear that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

In a joint press release issued late Monday afternoon, Tillis and Berger said they intend to formally intervene to defend North Carolina’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Governor Pat McCrory also joined the Republican legislative leaders with this short statement:

“I disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision, which goes against the amendment that North Carolina voters overwhelmingly approved. We will continue to respect the legal process as it proceeds.”

Tillis is likely to face more questions about that decision, when he faces Senator Kay Hagan in their second U.S. Senate debate Tuesday evening.

For more on what’s next for same sex marriage in the state, click here to read Sharon’s McCloskey’s latest blog post.

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Petition delivery

Photo courtesy of Equality NC

Equality NC and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) delivered over 30,000 petitions to the Charlotte office of U.S. Representative Robert Pittenger (NC-09) Thursday morning.

The petition delivery was in response to Pittenger’s recent town hall remarks in which he told the audience that employers should have the right to fire or refuse to hire gay and transgender workers.

The Charlotte Republican stood by his remarks, saying that Americans are already well-protected by non-discrimination laws.

Here’s how the story was recently reported in the Pittenger’s hometown paper, the Charlotte Observer:

Pittenger stirred up the gay rights debate when he told liberal political blog ThinkProgress this month that governments shouldn’t “impose on the freedoms we enjoy.” Asked his opinion about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act pending in Congress, Pittenger compared adding more laws to protect gays in the workplace to smoking bans – which he said are fine for public places, but he questioned the government role when it comes to private spaces.

North Carolina is among 29 states that lacks statewide workplace protections for LGBT people.

“Congressman Pittenger’s inflammatory remarks represent an opportunity to make clear one simple fact: hardworking gay and transgender people of North Carolina are not “already protected” from workplace discrimination,” said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC. “With these petitions, we bring with us sobering portraits of widespread discrimination faced by gay and transgender people in the workplace.  We not only demand that Pittenger, a former businessman himself, recant his comments, but also join with the majority of North Carolinians and North Carolina business leaders, to ask that he and other politicians act quickly and update state and federal policies to include workplace protections for our gay and transgender friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.”

Learn more about  the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) here.

 

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State lawmakers won’t be making any major decisions on Medicaid reform before next year’s long legislative session, but Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos wants to make it clear she opposes any plans that would move Medicaid outside her agency.

Secretary Wos reiterated Wednesday that such a move would sidetrack her agency from the work that has been done over the past 19 months.

“Such a decision would be disruptive. It would divert resources and human capital from the ongoing day- to-day operations of the division,” said Dr. Wos.

Earlier this month, Dr. Wos found herself defending the hiring of outside contractors to assist her agency with reorganization while she promoted plans that “flattened” the structure of the state Medicaid program, which provides healthcare for more than 1.5 million North Carolinians.

Click below to hear part of Wos’ remarks, or watch Wednesday’s full hearing here.
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There have been plenty of polls in the news lately, and here’s one that really caught our attention:

A High Point University/News & Record Poll released Monday found that 58 percent of likely North Carolina voters believe the raises that teachers received from state lawmakers this year are too small.

Fewer than one-third (29%) said the raises were of an appropriate size; six-percent said the raises were too big. Read more about the findings here.

NC Policy Watch education reporter Lindsay Wagner has an excellent rundown of the first meeting of the North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission.

And if you have wondered just how hard it may be to replace North Carolina’s Common Core Standards with something new, check out this video with commission co-chair Andre Peek. Peek suggests that even before they can get down to the bulk of their work, they first need to settle on what is meant by the word ‘standards':

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Finally, the Washington Post’s Wonkblog has a great story on new research that found ‘even when people have access to the same kind of care, educational achievement still played a huge role in whether people are in good health.’

Here’s more from Jason Millman’s piece:

There’s a number of factors at play here. People with more education have lower disease risk factors, such as smoking and obesity; better education means better jobs with higher earnings and health insurance; and it means better access to healthy food and other services enabling healthier lifestyles. Past research shows that white men and women with 16 or more years of education have a life expectancy about at least 10 years longer than those who didn’t graduate high school.

Learn more about that research here.