Commentary, News

This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. Hopeful lessons from Saturday’s Moral March (and one important way in which progressives are screwing up)

This past Saturday’s 11th annual HKonJ-Moral March on Raleigh was by any estimation, a rousing success. At a point in time in which caring and thinking people are being inundated with multiple calls to action on a daily – if not hourly – basis, tens of thousands of people found the time and energy to make their way to downtown Raleigh to denounce Trumpism and the destructive actions of the North Carolina legislature and promote a vastly different vision of American society.

What’s more, in addition to the marvelous esprit de corps that the event helped to promote and infuse in those who marched and watched online, one couldn’t help but sense that there was a new level of power, efficiency and effectiveness in the movement spearheaded by Rev. William Barber, President of the North Carolina NAACP. [Read more…]

2. Berger rejects Cooper’s efforts to remove the dark stain of HB2
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and other Republican leaders have spent the last few days desperately distorting the facts and rewriting history to try to blame Governor Roy Cooper for the disaster of HB2 that was passed by the GOP supermajority in the House and Senate and signed into law by former Governor Pat McCrory last March.

There is a good reason for their renewed desperation to shift the blame away from themselves for the discriminatory law that has already cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs, not to mention demonized a group of people in the state.

The NCAA, which has already pulled several major sporting events out of the state because of HB2, is currently deciding where hundreds of championship events will be held in the next five years.  [Read more…]

*** Bonus Read:  Cooper tries again to broker a deal to repeal HB2

***Bonus video:
Rep. Meyer: It’s imperative legislators fully repeal HB2 in the next couple weeks (Rep. Meyer appears this weekend on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon.)

3. Conservative NC legislators eye national constitutional convention

The flurry of bills in the current session of the North Carolina General Assembly include some real political firestorm issues – guns, abortion, public education.

But several new bills deal with something that is, at once, a much more esoteric issue and a growing national controversy: the movement to amend the U.S. constitution.

House Joint Resolution 44 (Senate Joint Resolution 36) proposes an application to the U.S. Congress for a convention of the states under Article V of the U.S. Constitution for the purposes of proposing constitutional amendments. [Read more…]

4. Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: “Nobody is saying what’s happening to the little people”

Belinda Joyner rode shotgun and stared out the window at the fertile farm fields ripening with cotton. She pointed to the tidy brick ranch houses and modest modular homes that flanked U.S. 301 north of Garysburg: “African-American. African-American. African-American.”

We headed north about five miles to Pleasant Hill, near the Virginia border. Past the State Line Lottery and the Georgia-Pacific wood products plant, we crossed the railroad and pull onto Forest Road. Soon it turned to dirt. “Somewhere back there,” Joyner said, sweeping her hand toward a thicket of trees. “That’s where they’ll put it.”

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would begin the final leg of its 600-mile journey here, in North Carolina. If approved by federal regulators, the $5 billion project, co-owned by Dominion Energy and Duke Energy, would start at a fracking operation in West Virginia. The ACP would then transport natural gas across rugged terrain and federal lands in Virginia.[Read more…]

5. Fix to school funding crunch advances through N.C. House
North Carolina House lawmakers unanimously backed draft legislation intended to allay an imminent K-3 class size dilemma for public schools Thursday, despite criticism from both Democrats and Republicans.

House Bill 13 will offer local school districts flexibility over their average and maximum classroom sizes in the early grades, weeks before public school leaders say a GOP-led state budget provision could have forced districts to choose between axing arts and physical education classes or asking for major funding increases from local governments.

State officials say the the implications could be modest in smaller districts, but significant in some of North Carolina’s largest school districts. [Read more...]

***Bonus multimedia stories:

HB2, News, Trump Administration

ICYMI: McCrory defends HB2 on Meet The Press, claims Trump protesters are paid

If you spent most of Sunday outdoors enjoying the unseasonably warm weather, chances are you missed former Governor Pat McCrory’s appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press. In his role as a political pundit, McCrory continued to defend his decision to sign HB2 into law.

McCrory telling host Chuck Todd that other cities have legislation similar to North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’ and have seen no backlash:

So there’s a little selective hypocrisy right now in our country on which issues we’re going to boycott and which issues are we not going to boycott.

The former governor also suggested during the show that paid protesters where the explanation for the demonstrations swelling across the country following President Trump’s inauguration.

Fmr. Gov. Pat McCrory:

It takes money to coordinate these protests.

Greta Van Susteren:

No it doesn’t. It takes the internet. It takes the internet to coordinate.

McCrory’s remarks came one day after thousands of people packed the streets of downtown Raleigh for the 11th annual Moral March.

You can watch that exchange below or watch the entire program on the NBC website.

News

Undecided about taking part in Saturday’s 11th annual Moral March? Then just listen to its founder

Reverend William Barber, president of the NC NAACP and Moral Monday movement, recently discussed with Policy Watch why North Carolinians should participate in 11th annual march on downtown Raleigh.

Click below to hear that interview.

Saturday’s March begins at 9:00 a.m. at Shaw University.

Commentary, News, Trump Administration

This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

 

1. Despite GOP questioning, class-size legislation advances past House budget committee

Despite suggestions from some GOP members that local school districts may be misusing funded positions, a House budget committee gave its approval Thursday to legislation allaying a looming class-size crisis for North Carolina school districts.

Policy Watch reported in November that last year’s directive from the legislature to reduce class sizes in grades K-3 starting with the 2017-2018 academic year could have disastrous impacts for local districts, forcing them to spend millions more in local cash or shelve arts and physical education classes.

Public school advocates and lobbyists for the N.C. School Boards Association, which represents local boards in Raleigh, have been pressuring lawmakers to act quickly this session to resolve the problem, given local districts are already prepping their budgets for the coming school year. [Read more…]

***Bonus Education Reads:

2. The GOP’s false and telling choice for public schools

The 2017 General Assembly session is only a few weeks old but there’s already a compelling example of what’s wrong with the way things are being done in Raleigh and why the conventional wisdom about the legislature often misses the real story.

State lawmakers took up legislation Tuesday that would give local school systems more flexibility next fall dealing with a provision stuffed into last year’s budget directing schools to lower class sizes in the early grades.

The provision would lower the maximum number of children allowed in K-3 classes from 24 to between 19 and 21 depending on the grade and would lower the average class size overall.

Smaller classes are a good idea and they are especially important in the early grades—but there was a problem with the plan.

No extra funding was provided, forcing schools to consider cutting art, music, and physical education classes next year to come up with the money to pay for the smaller classes. [Read more…]

3. In opposition to Amazon Wind farm, NC lawmakers cite #alternativefacts

Overlooking the all caps, italics, bolded passages and occasional exclamation marks, on its face the two-page letter sent by eight North Carolina lawmakers looked overblown but possibly informed.

Last month, the lawmakers — all Republicans — wrote to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, asking him to permanently close the Desert Wind farm just west of Elizabeth City. The letter quoted impressive-sounding government-funded studies about the threat of wind turbines on military radar. It cited a meticulous set of facts and figures. It listed footnotes in superscript, just like the MLA academic style book instructs.

Two of the five citations, though, were from unreliable sources that undermine the truth about the feasibility of wind farms in North Carolina:

Breitbart News, a primary disseminator of fake news, whose former executive chairman and founder sits at the right hand of President Trump. [Read more…]

4. Berger and Moore’s latest destructive power grab
Why holding confirmation hearings for the Governor’s department heads is a lousy idea

Leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly have taken a lot of disastrous turns – both substantive and procedural – over the past six years. Denying health care and unemployment insurance benefits to hundreds of thousands, slashing taxes on the rich, eviscerating voting rights, waging wars on science, the environment, reproductive freedom and LGBTQ equality, pushing loaded guns into every corner of the state, and just generally undermining the health of government; the list of regressive policies goes on and on.

Meanwhile, most of these dreadful policy decisions have been abetted by a series of procedural moves designed to seize and concentrate more and more power in the hands of a narrow cadre of conservative legislative leaders. Whether it’s shutting off debate, ruling amendments out of order, calling sudden and repeated special sessions, altering the composition of committees to silence minority voices, rendering budget subcommittee work virtually meaningless, or seizing authority from local government and the executive branch, House Speakers Thom Tillis and Tim Moore and, especially, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger have taken repeated ends-justify-the-means steps to make themselves the final arbiters of all public policy in the state. [Read more…]

*** Bonus Reads:

5. Fear of Trump immigration order in NC spreads as potential human costs emerge

President Donald Trump has paid a lot of lip service to rounding up the “bad hombres” but it turns out he wants to deport a much larger group of immigrants than he led America to believe.

Trump signed an executive order in January to enhance “public safety in the interior of the United States.” The order did away a previous deportation priority list promulgated former President Barack Obama’s administration and is expected to have dire consequences for a majority of unauthorized immigrants, not just individuals with criminal convictions.

“It essentially renders meaningless this idea that there’s any prioritization,” said Avideh Moussavian, a policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “That’s how every law enforcement agency is supposed to function, you know, you don’t give the same weight to a jaywalker as you would to someone committing a much more serious or dangerous offense.”

The order specifically lists the following priorities (with no hierarchy) to target immigrants for deportation: [Read more…]

*** Bonus Read: