News, Special Session

Environmentalists: Regulatory Reform bill increases flood risks, ‘boggles the mind’

House and Senate members who took steps this week to aid the flood victims of Hurricane Matthew are now pushing legislation to increase future flooding.

Environmentalists note House Bill 3 proposes changing state law to allow up to 300 feet of a stream to be damaged before restoration is required, benefiting developers.

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) believes the short-sighted bill will place rural communities downstream of growing urban centers at a greater risk for flooding:

“It boggles the mind that lawmakers returned to Raleigh to fund disaster relief for flood and wildfire victims, and then quickly introduced a bill that sets the stage for even worse flooding in the future,” said Will McDow, director of habitat markets at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Raleigh, N.C., office. “This bill will give developers a free ride to destroy more streams and increase the risk of flooding in communities that are still struggling from flood damage.”

Learn more about the proposed reform bill here.

Commentary, News

The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

mccrory-concedes-his-defeat1. McCrory the mayor who never figured out how to be governor

Governor Pat McCrory finally conceded the 2016 election to Attorney General Roy Cooper on Monday, December 5 but he actually lost the race on March 23 when he signed the sweeping anti-LGBT law HB2.

That not only created a firestorm of protest and boycotts and damaged the state’s reputation around the world, it confirmed what voters had come to realize about him —that he was either unable or unwilling to stand up to the radical agenda of his own party in the General Assembly.

News accounts and recently released emails show that privately McCrory was both worried that the discriminatory law went too far and was unaware of everything it did until days after he signed it, a perfect microcosm of what eventually led to his defeat, his second unsuccessful run for governor in three tries. [Continue reading...]

***Bonus read: Gov. McCrory concedes election in video message

*** Bonus video: Roy Cooper celebrate victory – a month after Election Day

mc-112A2. McCrory sidesteps goodbyes, presses for sale of “crappy” historic buildings

Gov. Pat McCrory was jovial at his last Council of State meeting this morning, even cracking a few jokes, but he was also blunt and made no concessions about his feelings on developing dilapidated state buildings.

What he didn’t make clear at the meeting were his feelings about conceding the election and leaving his job after one term. Many of his colleagues at the table made small speeches at the conclusion of the meeting, thanking the Governor for his hard work and letting him know that he would be missed.

He smiled back at them, shaking his head a few times and then adjourned the meeting and quickly moved around the crowd, shaking just a few hands, before disappearing without taking any questions.

Most of the meeting was spent discussing the potential sale of three properties: a vacant Charlotte Correctional Facility; the Personnel Training Center across from William Peace University in Raleigh; and three buildings on Caswell Square on North Dawson Street.[Continue reading…]

cooper-education3. Public school advocates welcome “champion” in the Executive Mansion, offer advice on the challenges Cooper will face

The N.C. Association of Educators was one of the first major political advocacy groups to side with Roy Cooper.

So when news spread over social media Monday that Gov. Pat McCrory had at last conceded a bitterly contested gubernatorial race to Cooper—three weeks and six days after Election Day—it’s fitting that the 70,000-member political arm of teachers across North Carolina was one of the first to trumpet the news.

“North Carolina educators are Ready for Roy,” NCAE President Mark Jewell said in a statement, harkening to one of the state attorney general’s well-trod campaign slogans.

“Finally,” Jewell says he thought to himself when he watched McCrory’s taped concession, in which the Republican candidate urged North Carolinians to support Gov.-elect Cooper’s transition, which had been underway for days before McCrory acknowledged his defeat.[Continue reading…]

chandler-concrete-durham4. If you smell something, say something
Where state regulators fail, citizens step in to monitor the air

The view from the porch of a 1920s bungalow on East Pettigrew Street in Old East Durham is not of trees. Not of a grocery, a restaurant or a beauty salon. Not even another house or an empty lot. Instead, you can sit on your step with a cup of coffee and gaze upon the gates of a drywall supplier and the silos of a concrete plant.

This historic African-American neighborhood is hemmed between the NC 147, where tens of thousands of cars travel daily, and the railroad tracks, where about a dozen diesel trains each day leave contrails of black exhaust. Along both sides of this two-mile stretch lie a chemical plant and the Boys & Girls Club, the East Durham Children’s Initiative and four concrete plants.

These concrete plants are among roughly 400 facilities statewide that are no longer required to have a state air permit to operate. New rules passed this year by the state Environmental Management Commission exempt certain polluters, deemed low-level by the NC Department of Environmental Quality, from securing a permit. Based on their emissions levels, more than 1,110 facilities qualified to apply for what is called a “rescission.” As of Nov. 14, DEQ has rescinded nearly 400 permits. The agency has denied just two. [Continue reading…]

workers-adobestock-4505.Trump’s America is already here in at least one important area
New Duke study helps confirm that conservative policies have damaged American racial equality and economic wellbeing

Here’s some news for the many conservative supporters of Donald Trump who yearn to “make America great again” – you know, like it supposedly was in the 1950’s: In a very important and troubling way, we’re already there.

Confirmation of this fact comes from a pair of Duke University researchers who recently released a powerful and damning new study. The study, “Divergent Paths: Structural Change, Economic Rank, and the Evolution of Black-White Earnings Differences, 1940-2014,” makes painfully clear what happens when we turn away from public policies that promote equality and real opportunity for everyone. Researchers Patrick Bayer and Kerwin Kofi Charles found that the wage gap between black and white Americans has been growing steadily in recent decades and is now, rather remarkably, all the way back at the level it was at the midpoint of the last century. This is from the news release that accompanied the study:  [Continue reading…]

Commentary, News

Trending on social media: Reaction to Pat McCrory’s concession to Governor-elect Roy Cooper

News

Federal court orders General Assembly to redraw legislative districts; voters head back to the polls in 2017

A federal court ruled Tuesday that North Carolina’s legislature must redraw more than two dozen state House and Senate districts by March 15, 2017  with a primary slated for late August or September. A general election for those districts would follow in November.

Here are two key passages from the ruling:

While  special  elections  have  costs,  those  costs  pale  in comparison to the injury caused by allowing citizens to continue to  be  represented  by  legislators  elected  pursuant  to  a  racial gerrymander.

The Court concludes that March 15, 2017, is a reasonable deadline for allowing the State the opportunity to draw new districts.

This gives the State a total of seven months from the time the districts were held to be unconstitutional, which is longer than it took the 2011 legislature to redistrict the entire state; even if all the work is done by the newly elected legislature, they will have some six weeks to accomplish the task.

This schedule also will allow the Court enough time to consider whether the State has remedied its unconstitutional gerrymander and to act if it does not.

The districts to be redrawn include: House Districts 5, 7, 12, 21, 24, 29, 31, 32, 33, 38, 42, 43, 48, 57, 58, 60, 99, 102, and 107; and Senate Districts 4, 5, 14, 20, 21, 28, 32, 38, and 40.

Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg), Chairmen of the House and Senate Redistricting Committees, were quick to release a statement vowing an appeal:

“This politically-motivated decision, which would effectively undo the will of millions of North Carolinians just days after they cast their ballots, is a gross overreach that blatantly disregards the constitutional guarantee for voters to duly elect their legislators to biennial terms. We continue to believe the maps drawn by the General Assembly, pre-cleared by the Obama Justice Department and twice upheld by our state’s elected Supreme Court are constitutional, and we will move quickly to appeal.”

Read the full court opinion here.

House Districts:

house

Source: NCGA

Senate Districts:

senate