WATCH: McCrory, Cooper spar over abortion restrictions in final debate

Hurricane relief, the Carolina Comeback, HB2 and coal ash were just some of the topics the three men vying to be North Carolina’s governor covered in their final debate.

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory found himself having to revisit a 2012 debate answer, in which he vowed that he would not enact any additional restrictions on abortion.

Tuesday night, McCrory tried to explain his decision to later approve a 72-hour waiting period on abortions. The governor said that decision ultimately prevented greater restrictions on women from the state House and Senate.

Democrat Roy Cooper suggested that McCrory reneged on his pledge to women and could not be trusted.

Watch the exchange below between Gov. McCrory, Attorney General Cooper, and Libertarian candidate Lon Cecil:

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Five fast facts about the Wake County Transit Referendum

With early voting beginning this week, Wake County voters will have a chance to decide on a $2.3 Billion transit plan to relieve congestion and dramatically improve public transportation over the next decade. Here are five fast facts about the initiative from the good folks at Moving Wake County Forward:

#1 – Wake County grows by 64 people every day. A modern, public transportation system that reduces traffic congestion will grow the economy and provide new and better transportation options for everyone.

# 2 – All towns will have new or expanded express bus service, and several communities will have commuter rail access as well. Some towns have no bus service today. Wake County Commissioner Sig Hutchinson tells Policy Watch the plan will be ‘transformational.’

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#3 – 50% of all homes and 70% of all jobs will be within 1/2 mile of a transit stop.

#4 – The 10-year plan is conservatively projected to cost $2.3 billion. The Wake County portion is around 50% of total costs; the federal portion is about 25%, with the balance coming from debt financing, farebox revenue, and other sources.

#5 – The best way to learn more about the Wake County Transit Referendum is to attend Tuesday’s Crucial Conversation hosted by NC Policy Watch. (Register today.)

Can’t attend, but want to know more?  Listen to Chris Fitzsimon’s full podcast with Commissioner Sig Hutchinson and Wake Up Wake County’s Karen Rindge.


Commentary, News

Last Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. McCrory administration asks schools to submit plans for $173 million budget cut: Request comes despite large state surplus and big unmet education needs

After years of complaints of paltry spending on public education in North Carolina, public school leaders say they may soon be facing another round of devastating cuts.

School officials say a late August memo from Gov. Pat McCrory’s chief budget officer signals that all state departments, including the public schools, must soon present options for a 2 percent cut in their 2017-2019 budget, roughly a $173 million loss for North Carolina schools. [Continue reading…]

2. Military policy shift for transgender service members underscores discriminatory, outdated nature of HB2

Payton McGarry wants to serve his country – and this time around, his country wants him. In high school McGarry was part of the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. He dreamed of joining the Marine Corps. But while the corps is always looking for a few good men, McGarry was a young transgender man – and therefore ineligible for service. [Continue reading…]

3. McCrory seeks protection from explaining involvement in crafting HB2: Governor, legislative leaders claim communications are privileged 

Gov. Pat McCrory has indicated in a court filing seeking legislative privilege that he had more to do with the preparation and introduction of House Bill 2 than he previously let on.

In a speech a little over a month ago, McCrory claimed the North Carolina Chamber helped write part of the state’s all-purpose LGBT discrimination law. The lobby group, however, has denied participating in suggesting, drafting or reviewing HB2. [Continue reading…]

4. In its fight against Duke Energy, NC WARN is challenging utilities commission’s use of 50-year-old law

Access to affordable postsecondary education is important to building a workforce in North Carolina that attracts and retains good-paying jobs across the state. Around two out of every three jobs in the state will require some form of post-secondary education by the year 2020. Our state can meet this challenge, but only if we make sure that more people can access and complete these programs. And the biggest barrier to this remains the unaffordability of post-secondary education.

Unfortunately, in recent years, North Carolina has fallen short on the higher education affordability front. [Continue reading…]

5. Political lessons from a surprising source: What progressives can learn from Franklin Graham and his ilk

For a lot of caring and thinking people, the end of the current election cycle cannot come fast enough. Especially, of course, at the presidential level, there is a palpable sense shared by tens of millions of Americans that what they are watching simply can’t be happening. Even a few years ago, the notion that the contest for the most important elected office on the planet would descend into a debate over one candidate’s recorded discussion of sexual behavior and promise to jail his opponent if elected was unimaginable.

All that said (and as excruciating as the 2016 campaign has been), there are some important lessons that progressives may want to consider when it comes to the national policy debate – especially from their conservative adversaries. [Continue reading…]

Commentary, News

Vinroot on Voter ID: No secret about it – Republicans tried to “curtail” Democrats

The Charlotte Observer’s Taylor Batten has an amazing account of Republican Richard Vinroot speaking out on the motivation behind voter ID.

Vinroot, a respected Republican who served as Charlotte’s mayor from 1991–1995 and made three unsuccessful runs for governor, was asked about voter fraud and the need for voter ID at a Charlotte business lunch on Wednesday.

We’ll let Batten take the story from there:


Richard Vinroot

Vinroot said there have been instances of voter fraud over the years, and he cited Lyndon Johnson’s election to the U.S. Senate and John F. Kennedy’s election to president in 1960. But…

“It does go on; I suspect it’s at the margins,” Vinroot told the Hood Hargett Breakfast Club. “I don’t think it’s probably enough to justify, on the face of it, voter ID.”

He said almost everyone has ID or could easily get one.

“But it’s clearly about Republicans trying to curtail that voter, there’s no secret about that.

“There’s no doubt there’s some gaming going on on both sides. There’s no doubt the folks who don’t want voter ID are more interested in Democratic voters voting without regard to whether they can identify themselves or not. But you’d be hard-pressed probably today to say all these things (voting restrictions) are justified.”

Kudos to Vinroot for speaking the truth, even if it steps on the toes of most in his own party.

Read the full account here in the Charlotte Observer.

Voter ID will not be required this election cycle. A federal court struck down much of North Carolina’s monster voting law earlier this year.