NC congressional delegation denounces Florida school shooting; Rep. Price demands vote on gun violence bills

Wednesday’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida claimed at least 17 lives. Authorities say the 19-year-old suspect had been expelled from the school last year.

The following reaction is from North Carolina’s Congressional delegation:


Next fix for legislators to address – the nurse-to-student ratio in NC’s public schools

Legislators headed home Tuesday, wrapping-up the special session with a controversial fix to the unfunded class-size mandate. And with that issue off the front burner for now, lawmakers might want to revisit a recent legislative study that found the state would need to spend up to $79 million a year to meet the recommended school nurse-to-student ratio.

Currently only 46 of the state’s 115 Local Education Agencies (LEAs) meet the ratio of one school nurse for every 750 students.

More often than not, the average school nurse in North Carolina covers two to three schools, with the ratio of one nurse for every 1,086 students.

Add to that the challenge of keeping up with a growing number of students with asthma, diabetes, food allergies and other chronic health conditions.

If you missed it over the weekend, take time to listen to Rob Schofield’s interview with Liz Newlin of the School Nurse Association of North Carolina as they discusses the growing demands on these professionals and how the lack of resources impacts classroom instruction:

Read the Final Report: Meeting Current Standards for School Nurses Statewide May Cost Up to $79 Million Annually


Editorial: Why is Senator Berger ignoring a serious public-safety concern?

The StarNews Editorial Board bluntly asks in its Tuesday paper: Does Berger even care about GenX?

The newspaper that first broke the story of the emerging contaminant in the Cape Fear last year notes that it is long past due for Senate leadership to act.

Here’s an excerpt from the paper:

With voter outcry growing and crossing traditional partisan lines (a toxic chemical in your drinking water has a way of doing that), the House recently passed a bill that provides a much-needed boost to DEQ, enabling the overburdened and underfunded agency to respond more effectively to the GenX contamination, which has widened in both scope and geography.

But [Senate leader Phil ] Berger — the state’s most powerful political leader — is having none of it. We don’t know what his motives are, but we suspect they are simply political, related to the larger effort to make our traditionally moderate state a testing ground for laissez-faire government and faith that the invisible hand of the market will balance any corporate excesses like, say, contaminating the drinking water of a good chunk of the state’s population with a toxic chemical that, by design, pretty much never decomposes.

The good news is, the House now seems committed to better funding for DEQ, at least for the GenX response. In the Senate, Berger rules with an iron fist. So we have no doubt that he could turn the switch in an instant and have the chamber take up the House bill, quickly get it approved, and give DEQ the resources it needs to do its job.

Meanwhile, we are thinking about the folks we see with shopping carts full of nothing but bottled water; the kids who come over to play with our children, instructed not to drink the water; those affected by the economic uncertainty GenX has caused, including possible lost job opportunities after new companies nixed Wilmington as a location, or existing businesses opted not to expand here.

We are thinking, too, about those who now can’t help but look back at cancers and other illnesses — even deaths — with new questions; there’s no proof of any connection with little-studied GenX, we know; but we understand the questions and the fear.

What we don’t understand is Berger’s callous response to the very legitimate concerns of the good people of Southeastern North Carolina. Come down here and meet some of them, Sen. Berger. Maybe that would persuade you to act.

For now, we guess we’re supposed to believe Berger and Chemours have got our backs.

We have, however, spotted the “invisible hand” that’s supposed to help protect us. It’s flying high in Raleigh — symbolically, of course — directed toward Southeastern North Carolina, and with a certain finger extended upward.

Without a change of heart by Senator Berger, the earliest the General Assembly might revisit the GenX issue would be mid-May when they reconvene.

Read the Star News full editorial here.

Trump Administration

Trump unlikely to extend DACA deadline

The White House is showing no signs of extending a deadline for the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The Washington Post reports:

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly said Tuesday that President Trump is not expected to extend a March 5 deadline for when legal protection and work permits begin to expire for young immigrants known as “dreamers” — raising the stakes for lawmakers struggling to reach a solution.

“I doubt very much” Trump would extend the program, Kelly told reporters during an impromptu interview at the U.S. Capitol.

Kelly’s comments come as lawmakers are trying to come up with a plan to grant permanent legal protections to dreamers and resolve other aspects of the immigration system. Kelly also said he would recommend against Trump accepting a short-term extension of the program legislative patch.

NC Policy Watch spoke to NC Justice Center immigration attorney Raul Pinto last week about Trump’s immigration proposals and the fate of thousands of immigrants currently protected by DACA. (Click below to watch an excerpt of that interview or listen to the full podcast.)

Roughly 28,000 individuals in North Carolina are protected by DACA, with another 13,000 covered by a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation.