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Members of NC’s congressional delegation condemn the violence, hate in #Charlottesville

Members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation took to social media Saturday to speak out against the violence that erupted at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Senator Thom Tillis:

Congressman David Price (NC-4):

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (NC-5):

Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-8):

Congressman Patrick McHenry (NC-10):

Congresswoman Alma S. Adams (NC-12):

Commentary, News

The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. Company that benefited from secret budget provision refuses to disclose chemicals it proposes to introduce into Triangle’s Jordan Lake

The SePro Corporation is receiving as much as $1.3 million in taxpayer money to chemically kill the algae in Jordan Lake, but the company is keeping key details of its proposal — including a full ingredient list of the products and the amounts to be released — secret from the public.

The proposed chemical treatment of a drinking water source for 300,000 people is yet another questionable technique backed by some lawmakers and business interests, who have been reluctant to instead enforce rules limiting development in the Jordan Lake watershed.

SePro’s proposals were marked “confidential,” but Policy Watch obtained them under the state’s public records law. However, more than half of the eight-page document had been redacted by SePro, under a state statute allowing companies to refuse to divulge material they deem as proprietary or a trade secret. [Read more…]

2. The scandalous special sessions that subvert our democracy

The General Assembly will convene a special session next week but most people in North Carolina, including the vast majority of the members of House and Senate, have no idea what legislation they will consider while they are in town.

Last week lawmakers met in a one-day special session supposedly to consider overriding a series of vetoes by Governor Roy Cooper. That was the stated purpose anyway.

But a number of lawmakers didn’t make the session so votes on the vetoes were delayed and instead the House and Senate considered a series of bills, including one that would make it far more difficult to enact new environmental or workplace safety regulations no matter how desperately they are needed. [Read more…]

3. Republicans and Democrats disagree on a lot at redistricting criteria meeting

Less than a month after publicly stating that he “sincerely” hoped Democrats would engage in the redistricting process, Rep. David Lewis kiboshed all of the minority party’s suggestions for map-making criteria Thursday.

Democratic Senators and Representatives offered several amendments throughout Thursday’s meeting to adopt criteria submitted by Republican committee chairs. None of their amendments were adopted, despite many reflecting the public comments from last week.

House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson said after the meeting that he didn’t feel like his party has been part of the process at all, not only in voting but also in the presentation of the criteria.

“The Democratic criteria were submitted in advance of today’s date, so that they were prepared, whereas we were handed theirs this morning,” he said, adding that they did get to caucus but didn’t have time to prepare beyond that. “I think if you want people to be included, you don’t wait til the last minute.” [Read more…]

*** Bonus video: Republicans reject the consideration of race in redrawing legislative maps

4. The fight for democracy gains momentum
Despite lawmakers’ latest big stall, redistricting reformers are on the offensive

“The dog ate my homework.” If you thought this old cliché of an excuse lost all currency in the world after about the fourth grade and/or when students start turning in their assignments online, think again. Unfortunately, the phrase also pretty much sums up the position of North Carolina Republican legislative leaders as they do everything they can think of to delay the process of redrawing the legislative district maps that a three-judge federal panel struck down as unconstitutional because of their “surgical precision” in discriminating against African-American voters.

That’s because the legislators’ excuse for their ongoing failure to draw lawful maps in the face of repeated findings that they have failed to do so and directives to get to work boils down to what one major North Carolina newspaper labeled yesterday as “pitiful stall tactics.” As Chris Fitzsimon observed in last week’s “Monday Numbers” column, the magnitude of the stall is pretty startling: [Read more…]

5. Hotly contested local races set to take the political stage in NC

Across the state, this year’s historically crowded municipal elections have drawn new types of candidates.

Young candidates. First time candidates. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates.

And, importantly, many more non-white candidates.

In each of North Carolina’s three largest cities – Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh – white female mayors are facing minority challengers.

That does not mean the races are all of one stripe.

In Charlotte, where the mayoral race is on track to be the most expensive in history, Mayor Jennifer Roberts faces two very different black challengers – both Democrats, like Roberts. [Read more…]

Uncategorized

The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. UNC Board vote on Civil Rights Center the latest move in an ideological crusade

Two and half years ago, the UNC Board of Governors voted to fire widely respected UNC President Tom Ross.

The move by the handpicked board of the Republican legislative majorities came with no public notice and there was no reason given for forcing Ross to resign.

The board chair said after the meeting that Ross had been doing a wonderful job. But everybody in Raleigh knew the reason.

Ross’ firing was the beginning of the Republican assault on the university system with most of the focus on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, long derided by forces on the Right as a key center of progressive thought in the state. [Read more…]

2. Parent of special needs child battles troubled Charlotte charter school
Case raises questions of whether charters are complying with state and federal law

Skye, a 10-year-old from Charlotte, was vomiting stomach bile when her mother decided something must change.

LauraLee McIntosh saw the health of her daughter, diagnosed with a rare chromosome condition and mitochondrial disease, declining steadily along with her weight. McIntosh blames the Charlotte charter school that refused to loosen its strict lunch policies to allow a modified lunch for Skye, despite doctor’s orders.

Skye, whose symptoms include neurological problems, could not adapt to the school’s rigid healthy and organic lunch requirements. Skye’s response to various textures and tastes made meal time difficult, so she all but stopped eating at Veritas, while school leadership refused to make adjustments. [Read more…]

3. Even after revisions, Atlantic Coast Pipeline plan still threatens NC rivers, drinking water

The temperature in Rocky Mount was tipping 100 degrees and the hallway of Nash Community College was hot, as it held hundreds of people lined up to speak on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Nothing sounded better than a cold glass of water.

But these days, with contaminants known and unknown flowing from their taps, North Carolinians can no longer take clean water for granted.

Worries about their drinking water, as well as property values and environmental damage, compelled hundreds of people to attend the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s two recent public hearings on water quality and buffer requirements for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. [Read more…]


4. Republicans silent in wake of court order to draw new maps in one month

Republican legislative leaders are staying mum about a federal court ruling that requires them to submit new maps by September 1.

The date is almost three months in advance of the deadline they asked for, though the three-judge panel did deny a request for a special election – a win for GOP lawmakers who argued against such a request after delaying drawing new maps until the 11th hour.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore and Redistricting Committee chairmen Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) have not responded to an email request seeking comment about the court’s timeline. They also have not released any public statements.

Democrats and advocates, on the other hand, have both commended and criticized the court’s ruling.[Read more…]

5. What the fight over fair elections is really all about
As NC looks at election rules and redistricting, a powerful new book reminds us why these issues are even on the table

This is an especially busy week in the fight for fair elections in North Carolina. Late yesterday, a panel of three federal judges issued an order in the case of North Carolina v. Covington – a challenge to North Carolina’s unconstitutionally gerrymandered legislative districts. The ruling came just hours after the North Carolina State Board of Elections conducted a hearing on a set of new proposed rules that could rein in some of the worst voter suppression tactics employed by conservatives during the 2016 election.

With any luck, we could be on the verge of some important breakthroughs in the effort to enfranchise voters and reclaim our democracy. [Read more…]

Commentary, News

A must-see documentary on North Carolina’s heroin epidemic

This evening WRAL-TV airs the documentary Searching for a Fix that explores the path from prescription opioids in North Carolina to the much cheaper and more readily available heroin.

Documentary producer Clay Johnson sat down with NC Policy Watch’s Chris Fitzsimon over the weekend to give us a preview of the hour-long special. Click below to hear our interview.

If you miss tonight’s (August 1st) 7:00pm broadcast, you can watch on-demand at WRALdocumentary.com. You can also catch Searching for a Fix on WRAL’s Roku, Amazon Fire TV and AppleTV apps.

To learn more about opioid abuse in the Wilmington-area, check out Joe Killian’s recent reporting for NC Policy Watch:

 

Commentary, News

Five things to have on your radar this week

#1 Black Women’s Equal Pay Day  – Today is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day making it a good time to learn about the wage discrepancy between black women and their white counterparts. Here are a few fast facts:

  • More than 50% of Black mothers bring in 1/2 or more of their families’ income.
  • 40% of Black female-headed households are in poverty. We need #BlackWomensEqualPay
  • Black moms are up against racism, sexism, AND the maternal wage gap, making just 51¢ for every $1 paid to white dads.

Learn more about Black Women’s Equal Pay Day 2017 during this afternoon’s Twitter storm.

Follow the hashtag #BlackWomensEqualPay on Twitter from 2:00 – 3:00 pm today. ***

#2 UNC Center for Civil Rights finds a new ally  – This Tuesday a UNC Board of Governors committee discusses the future of UNC Center for Civil Rights. The Education Planning Committee has scheduled a special meeting to consider and vote on banning the center from handling future litigation.

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt recently wrote a powerful letter in support of the Center.

“I am concerned that eliminating or even weakening the Law School’s ability to train the next generation of civil rights lawyers will reflect poorly on our university and the school, as well as the university system and our state.”

Photo: Phil Fonville

Read more about the Center’s history and Folt’s position here.

#3 Healthcare back in the spotlight – Also on Tuesday, activists will hold a “Healthcare Victory Rally” outside the Raleigh office of U.S. Senator Thom Tillis starting at 11:30 a.m.

The group is protesting Senator Tillis’ recent vote for the “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act and calling on him to hold a town hall meeting to discuss healthcare reform.

#4 State Board of Education holds monthly meeting – The State Board of Education meets Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. and Thursday at 9:00 a.m. It’s their final meeting before the start of a new school year. Find the agenda and streaming link here.

If you missed it last week, the board announced $2.5 million in cuts mandated by the General Assembly.

#5 Special session offers chance to do the right thing – Members of the House and Senate reconvene for a special session on Thursday. Two important funding issues await state lawmakers:

#1 – Governor Roy Cooper wants $3 million in emergency funding to help address concerns over GenX in the Cape Fear River.

# 2 – Attorney General Josh Stein wants the NC General Assembly to reconsider the $10 million cut they placed on his department in the waning days of the session. Stein detailed how much damage this would cause in a weekend radio interview with Chris Fitzsimon. Click below to hear the full interview.